Adhesive shelf-life is the amount of time that exists between the production date and the valued period in which the adhesive is expected to lose its fitness for use, no longer behaving by the technical data sheet. Once this date has passed, the adhesive tape begins to progressively lose its properties, which is why it is important to know the shelf life of an adhesive solution. It is not the same for all adhesive tapes, but differs from product to product: it generally ranges between six months and two years from the date of manufacture when unopened and stored correctly. After the opening, the life of the product will be much shortened due to the type of adhesive and how it is stored. In every painting project, it is important to consider how much the shelf life can affect the project to plan expenditure carefully, avoiding the risk of expired materials.
As previously indicated, the most common timings related to the shelf life of a painter's tape depend on the tape itself, the substrate, the adhesive system, the release liner, if present, and storage. Some types of adhesive tapes, acrylic and silicone ones, are much more chemically stable and, thus, more resistant, while others, based on rubber or resin, take advantage of antioxidant and UV stabiliser packages added to increase their ageing characteristics. To determine the shelf life of an adhesive tape is very important to study its ageing. How? By studying natural or real-time ageing, accelerated ageing or both. Studying real-time ageing, while very reliable, is also very time-consuming and costly. Accelerated ageing studies are therefore often conducted: this procedure uses high temperatures to expose the adhesive tape to stresses that simulate the natural ageing process over a brief time. After the material has been exposed, physical tests are conducted on aged tape samples, the results of which will be compared to room temperature control samples and real-time aged samples to determine which properties were most negatively affected by the accelerated ageing conditions.
In order not to compromise the adhesive capacities of painter's tape (and of tape, in general) and not to accelerate the ageing process, this tape must be stored properly. The environment in which a tape is stored will determine its usability and adhesive shelf life: it is, therefore, necessary to ensure that the adhesive is stored in an environment with controlled temperature and humidity (temperature from 59°F / 15°C to 77°F / 25°C with max relative humidity of 50), out from direct sun exposure. If stored properly, a painter's tape does not immediately lose its properties after the expiry date, it is a progressive process: if the material has not been damaged and especially if it has been stored in the right environment, the shelf life of an adhesive tape can be extended for a short period. Furthermore, to ensure that tapes retain their adhesive capabilities for as long as possible, it is necessary to package them as safely as possible to ensure that they do not lose their shape no matter how long they sit on the shelf. In terms of avoiding wasting, however, a storage system that respects stock rotation can be planned so that products with the shortest shelf life are used first.
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