Two rolls of adhesive tape

Pressure-sensitive tape or pressure-sensitive adhesive tape (PSA tape) is an adhesive tape that will stick with application of pressure, without the need for a solvent (such as water) or heat for activation. It is known also in various countries as self-stick tape, sticky tape, or just adhesive tape and tape, as well as genericized trademarks, such as Sellotape, Durex (tape), Scotch tape, etc.

PSA tape consists of three components:

It will stick without the need for a solvent such as water or heat for activation. By contrast, "gummed" or "water activated" adhesive tapes require warm water for activation and "heat activated" tapes require heat.

Single-sided tapes allow bonding to a surface or joining of two adjacent or overlapping materials. Double-sided tape (adhesive on both sides) allows joining of two items back-to-back.

Varieties of PSA tape

1945 advertisement for cellulose tape

Tape glossary

PSA tape standards

The PSA industry is in the process of unifying the several standards presently in use. The most active organizations are:

ASTM International has dozens of standards related to pressure-sensitive tape. Some of them are for general types of PSA tape; others are for specific types. For example, ASTM D1000 has test methods for electrical tapes. There are ASTM specifications for many tapes including D2301 for vinyl electrical tape, D5486 for box-sealing tape, etc. Several of the ASTM test methods are coordinated with PSTC, other trade associations, and other international organizations.

Following are a few examples of some ASTM standards and counterparts:

ASTM designation ISO designation PSTC method AFERA method
D3121 Standard test method for tack of pressure-sensitive adhesives by rolling ball PSTC-6
D3330 Standard Test Method for Peel Adhesion of Pressure-Sensitive Tape EN 1939 PSTC-101 AFERA 5001
D3654 Standard Test Methods for Shear Adhesion of Pressure-Sensitive Tapes EN 1943 PSTC-107 AFERA 5012
D3759 Standard Test Method for Breaking Strength and Elongation of Pressure-Sensitive Tapes EN 14410 PSTC-131 AFERA 5004
D3811 Standard test method for unwind force of pressure-sensitive tapes PSTC-8
D5750 Standard Guide for Width and Length of Pressure-Sensitive Tape PSTC-71

Environmental considerations

Life cycle assessments of the tape and the item being taped are useful to identify and improve possible environmental effects. For example, there may be instances where the use of a PSA tape, compared to an alternative solution, improves the overall environmental impact, or vice versa.[2]

Reuse or recycling are sometimes aided by a tape being removable from a surface. If a tape remains on an item during recycling, a tape should be chosen which does not hinder the recyclability of the item. For example, when taped corrugated boxes are recycled, film-backed box-sealing tapes do not hinder box recycling; the adhesive stays with the backing and is easily removed.[3][4]

See also


Pressure-sensitive adhesives were first developed in 1845 by Dr. Horace Day, a surgeon.[5] Commercial tapes were introduced in the early twentieth century. Hundreds of patents have since been published on a wide variety of formulations and constructions.


  1. ^ "Scotch Tape". doi:10.1038/scientificamerican0909-74b. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  2. ^ Jensen, Timothy (September 1992). "PSA Tapes Offer Environmental Advantages in Packaging". Adhesives Age. Archived from the original on 2010-06-25. Retrieved 2007-11-06.
  3. ^ Jensen, Timothy (April 1999). "Packaging Tapes:To Recycle of Not". Adhesives and Sealants Council. Archived from the original on 2007-11-09. Retrieved 2007-11-06.
  4. ^ Gruenewald, L. E.; Sheehan, R. L. (1997). "Consider box closures when considering recycling". J. Applied Manufacturing Systems. St Thomas Technology Press. 9 (1): 27–29. ISSN 0899-0956.
  5. ^ Journal of the American Institute for Conservation, by Merrily A. Smith, Norvell M. M. Jones, II, Susan L. Page and Marian Peck Dirda; JAIC 1984, Volume 23, Number 2, Article 3 (pp. 101–113)

Further reading