Gummed tape is a great tool for creating clean, tight seals on your packaging. The only problem is that the process of using the tape can be cumbersome if you do not have a gummed tape dispenser.
Gummed tape can be difficult to use because you have moisten the adhesive side with water. Luckily, there are gummed tape dispensers available that make it incredibly easy to use this type of adhesive!
What Is Gummed Tape?
Gummed tape, also known as water-activated tape, is a type of paper adhesive tape where the adhesive layer is made from plants. It's used to seal envelopes, small boxes, and other corrugated cartons. The adhesive on gummed paper tape forms a strong bond with whatever you're sealing it to—which means that once applied, it becomes a permanent seal: removing the tape after this will leave a mark on the package.
This makes gummed paper tape particularly useful for tamper evident applications such as shipping and mailing packages where you need to prove that the contents haven't been opened or tampered with since they were sealed.
There are usually two types of gummed tapes: reinforced and non-reinforced tapes. Non-reinforced tapes don't have the fiberglass strands which are suitable for packages up to 10 lbs., while reinforced tapes are suitable for heavy packages from 10 lbs and up.
Note: The non-reinforced tapes are also sometimes called non-fiberglass water-activated kraft tape, in case you need to search for them.
What Is Water-Activated Tape Dispenser?
Gummed tapes are different from other plastic tapes or even kraft paper tapes, where you can use a hand-held tape dispenser to cut the tape while applying it to the packages. Since the adhesive side needs to be wet for the glue to be activated, you will need a specific water-activated dispenser.
There are three main types of gummed tape dispensers. They range from automatic to completely manual dispensers, but the mechanics are all similar.
They are all designed so that the tape would run through a wet "sponge" and then get cut at the desired length and ready to be applied to the package.
Finding the Right Gummed Tape Dispenser You Need
Once you’ve figured out what kind of water-activated tape you need, it's time to find the right dispenser for your tape.
There are a few things to consider before purchasing a gummed tape dispenser:
The number of packages you need to send out daily
If you are sending less than 50 packages a day, consider getting a semi-manual dispenser or compact manual dispenser. Neither of those require electricity so they are generally harder to break down.
Some of the automatic dispenser models even allow you to print dates, codes or custom messages on our tapes that change from time to time.
How big your tape rolls are
Not all dispensers are suitable for larger tape rolls (up to 1,000 ft long), especially the small manual dispensers. Make sure to check with the seller before you buy.
How much space you can afford for your tape dispenser
If space is an issue, consider getting a semi automatic dispenser, and the compact manual, which are the smallest options, will fit almost anywhere. They also don't need to be plugged into a power source so they are both fairly portable.
The different package sizes you have
If you are like us, you would usually have packages of multiple sizes, according to the number of items in each order. Therefore, the semi automatic will not be a great fit, because there is not an option to choose different lengths of tape.
The price of the dispenser
It is completely different when your business is at a different stage from other fellow sellers that are also using gummed tape. You might be selling 60 orders/day while they are just about to get started.
Although they might argue that "they're just tapes, and I don't want to spend a couple of hundred bucks on a dispenser while I can do it manually and use that to order more materials for my products." To a business packing those 60 orders a day, the story could be "every day, we spend about 2 hours applying tapes to our packages going out. Because of this electric tape dispenser, we have been able to cut down prep time to almost 50%.
Everyone's need is different, and we all have different budgets.
Automatic Water-Activated Tape Dispensers
Automatic water-activated tape dispensers are the most expensive of the three, but they're also the fastest. They are made to work with a variety of tape roll sizes, all the way up to 1,000 feet rolls. These electric run dispensers are great for applications where speed matters—for example, if you need to seal more than 50 packages a day.
Aside from improving the overall packing speed, these machines also offers a few other benefits, such as being able to save a wide variety of tape lengths, custom length, or even allow you to print (single color) on the tape. This makes it the ideal choice when you want to include information such as date of packing, warehouse location, etc.
Semi-Manual Water-Activated Tape Dispensers
Manual dispensers are less expensive than automatic dispensers, but they are still a good option for relatively high volume use and if you need the tape's length to be uniform. Although it is still a desktop tape dispenser, it can also be used in smaller workspaces because of the compact size. Since it is operated by hand, you also don't need to place it near a power source.
It’s easy to adjust the preset length of the tape on manual dispensers, so you won’t waste any time measuring it out each time you use it. However, this also means that if you have packages of various sizes, you will need to adjust the preset length every time you pack a different package size from the last time.
Compact Manual Water-Activated Tape Dispensers
This is hands down the cheapest and smallest gummed tape dispenser we examined. If you do low-volume carton sealing every day, or if you need to move around to pack often, this is one of the best options for you. The compact design also makes it easy to store when not in use.
The dispenser has a water reservoir that needs more frequent refilling than its counterparts (a task that can be accomplished by simply pouring water into its mouth). This makes it suitable for smaller operations or for businesses that are just starting out and don't need to spend a ton an expensive packing tape dispenser when you only have a few orders a day.
This tape machine is also great when you have packages of different sizes because you can easily and manually cut the tape to the length you need every time. Imagine the first order being packed in a kraft paper envelope and the second being a big cardboard box. You can decide to stop and cut anytime.
If you’re looking for a water-activated tape dispenser to help you get organized and keep your workspace clean, check out our top picks in this article. We hope we have helped you find the best gummed paper tape dispenser for your needs and budget.