Protective tapes, often times referred to as mask, are designed to protect various surfaces during manufacturing, assembly, shipping and delivery. While these tapes typically only rest temporarily on a substrate, selecting the correct tape for the application can be a critical and an often overlooked processing step.
There are a variety of protective masks available in the marketplace. LDPE or low density polyethylene tapes are probably the most prevalent. However, co-extruded, paper, polyester, co-extruded UV inhibitor and polypropylene protective tapes are also available. Understanding some of the key attributes of the different films can be helpful in the product selection process.
- Polyethelene (LDPE) tapes provide better transparency, good abrasion resistance and are cost effective. LDPE tapes come in a variety of gauges. Thinner gauge materials (2 mil) will be more conformable while the thicker gauge materials (3-4 mil) will provide better abrasion resistance and rigidity.
- Co-Extruded (Co-Ex) tapes have excellent conformability, enhanced abrasion and puncture resistance as well as good heat resistance. The tapes come in a variety of gauges ranging from 2-5 mils
- UV resistant co-extruded tapes come in clear, blue and black/white. They provide outdoor UV resistance for 5-6 months.
- Paper tapes are highly conformable, have good temperature and abrasion resistance but lack rigidity.
- Polyester protective tapes provide the best optical clarity and have excellent heat and puncture resistance.
- Polypropylene tapes have good abrasion resistance, good heat resistance and good short term outdoor UV resistance.
Tack levels of protective films vary as well. For simplicity sake, the adhesive on protective films are typically defined as being:
- Very low tack
- Low Tack
- Medium Tack
- High Tack