The debate still continues and both products offer benefits over the other, but depending on application, hot melt adhesives are usually the best option for most customers.
The first difference is cost; hot melt systems are more expensive than tape machines to purchase and operate, but after the initial investment, hot melt adhesives typically cost 60-80% less than packaging tape. This can save businesses thousands of dollars each year and even each month. Hot melt also offers structural strength to a box and is important for heavy packages or long term bonds that will be strained during shipping. Tape does not offer structural benefits to the box and is used for the packaging of low weight products.
Consumers can also benefit from packaging applications that use hot melt adhesives instead of tape. Hot melt adhesive applies glue to the major flaps of the box and are torn away when opening. Tape has to be removed by the consumer usually with a knife or scissors. The aesthetics of packaging also favor adhesives as cases that use hot melt have a better appearance than taped packages.
Another advantage of hot melts over tape is how both operate in production. Hot melt adhesives are used extensively for high-speed case and carton sealing and can run continuously without having to stop product to re-load material. Tape on the other hand is used for slower intermittent case erecting and sealing and must stop the line for roll changes.
When making your decision it is important to choose what will perform best with your application process.