What Are the Differences Between High Tack and High Peel Permanent Adhesives?

3 Minute Read
Posted by Jim Hingst, Former Nekoosa Team Member on 7/29/20 8:58 AM

Terms of the graphic trade are often misused and misrepresent the true characteristic of the adhesive – two of those terms that are misrepresented often are high tack and high peel. Depending on the application (i.e., Wall Graphics®, Walk-On Graphics®, window applications, indoor, outdoor, short term, long term, etc.) and the surface (painted smooth drywall, unsealed cinder block, acrylic, glass, stone tile, stainless steel, etc.) choosing the right medium / adhesive will ensure a successful installation and job.

The definition of high tack adhesive is a measure of force required to remove the graphic from the substrate immediately after application with minimal effort and no adhesive transfer onto the substrate. This refers to the measure of initial attraction or bond of the adhesive to the substrate that is measured in units of force usually in pounds and ounces within the first 15 minutes of application. Many people simply apply their thumb onto the adhesive and feel how sticky or tacky it is for a simple test, this simple quick test by no means gives you an idea of the long term bond the graphic will have to the substrate. One critical difference between tack and peel is the amount of force applied to adhere the graphics. With high tack a very light force is needed to make the bond, with high peel more force is needed to bond the substrates together.

What exactly is a "high peel adhesive?" The definition of high peel adhesive is a measure of the bond strength between the substrate and the adhesive after application. Most pressure sensitive coating companies measure this bond 15 minutes and 24 hours after application to show how the adhesive builds to the final bond strength. An example would be Nekoosa’s GMI cut vinyl that allows “open” time to easily move / adjust part of the cut graphic for alignment purposes. This product line uses a high peel adhesive that doubles in bond 24 hours after application making it easy to work with.

When to use one or the other? With the thousands of adhesive combinations the graphics industry works with every day, the best method is to test the substrate and adhesives. However, sometimes there is not enough time for formal testing and an educated guess is what we have to work with. As a take away, to help simplify future projects think about high tack as an adhesive to use on harder to adhere to low surface energy substrates like polypropylene, polyethylene, polystyrene, polyurethane and polycarbonate. Best to use if applying through a laminator, rather than by hand. High peel adhesive is better suited for applications that need a long term bond and hand applied installations.

person installing a vinyl graphic to a glass product shelf