History of hot melt in the packaging industry

Hot melt packaging became mainstream in the 1960's. Hot melt adhesive is the most common method in the packaging industry. It is generally used for carton closing, sealing and pallet stabilization.

Hot Melt in Packaging Overview

During the 1960's hot melt became widespread in packaging & converting applications. The major benefit of using hot melt was the adhesion was greater than water based adhesives. Hot melt also was superior to water based adhesives because of it's shorter set time, water resistance, and allowed for packaging lines/space to be reduced. The next major advancement to adhesives in the packaging industry came in the 1980's with the development of PUR hot melts. PUR has stronger adhesion and ages better than the tradition hot melts.

Why Hot Melt is Great for Packaging

Hot melt adhesives can bond small detailed cartons to heavy duty wraparound cases. It's perfect for bonding all types of packaging because the variety of formulas available make fitting every application need easy. Hot melt not only has a high heat resistance, but there are also formulas that can withstand temperatures as low as -40 degrees C and humid environments. Packaging comes in a wide array of materials, but even that does not effect the use of hot melt as it can firmly adhere to all types of paper, board and plastics along with various other substrates. Hot melt products are available in bulk making it cost effective.Packaging Case Sealing Venn Diagram

What it's Used for in Packaging

  • Carton Closing
  • Sealing
  • Pallet Stabilization

Overall, hot melt is the better choice when it comes to case sealing and erecting. Hot melt adhesives are cost effective and when used with hot melt systems they can run continuously rather than having to stop and to refill tape rolls. When case sealing and erecting is performed with hot melt, the adhesive is applied to the flaps which creates a strong bond. This bond helps the cases stay intact and sturdy during transit.

Ways Hot Melt Adhesive is Applied by Hand for Packaging

Hot Melt Handguns:

Used in the most basic packaging applications. These hot melt guns are the tools of choice when applying hot melt adhesive. Having the hot melt handgun allows you to apply hot melt in necessary patterns and create a quick permanent bond.

High Power Hot Melt Stick Guns:

These guns quickly apply consistent patterns and compress materials rapidly.

Self Contained Hot Melt Guns:

These hot melt guns have a reservoir built in that melts bulk hot melt prior to application. This type of hot melt gun allows for fast application and can also be equipped with a range of nozzles. Being able to change nozzle to a multi-hole nozzle that is used for case erecting and sealing.

Hot Melt Tanks:

Larger scale than a self contained hot melt gun, these tanks melt large volumes of bulk hot melt and allows for very fast application using high pressure hose to a hand gun.

LS10 10lb (Complete System)
Melt Pro 30lb
Swirl Bulk Hot Melt Hand Gun
Standard Bulk Hot Melt Hand Gun

Systems for Applying Hot Melt Adhesives:

Hot Melt Handguns, Roll Coaters, Benchtop Extruders, Automatic Extrusion, Fiberization System.

Full list of bulk hot melt equipment here


Picking the correct adhesive for your packaging application is necessary to insure the best bond possible. For instance, if you are using hot melt to seal frozen pizza boxes you are going to want to make sure the seal can withstand freezer temperatures.

The best way to choose a bulk hot melt for packaging is to ask an adhesive engineer (like us!) and then get a sample for testing. 

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