Is Duct Tape Conductive? What You Should Know About Physical And Chemical Features Of Duct Tape

Is Duct Tape Conductive

Duct tape can be described as the thick aluminium foil used in the making of heat-resistance insulation in HVAC systems and some other non-HVAC components. Despite being one of the most valuable insulators in the world today, there are still some limitations to the use of duct tapes in mechanical and electrical components. Duct tape is very durable and comes with a sturdy design that makes it resistant to several things, including water and heat. Duct tape has become a go-to repair component for millions of people worldwide.

So is the Duct Tape Conductive?

Yes, duct tape is conductive due to its metal components.

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What Can You Should Know About Duct Tape

You can use duct tape in repairing just anything. From automobile cars to leaky pipes and damaged clothing, there is no end to the lists of duct tape applications. The following are things you should know about duct tapes.

1. The History

There are conflicting reports on the origin of duct tape, but some manufacturers believe it was first created by Permacell, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, during world war 2 in the 1940s. Some people claim that duct tape was first discovered in the 1920s by 3M company researchers.

Though there were conflicting reports about the origin of duct tape, it was clear that Permacell perfected the material during World war 2 . with advanced technology, experts at Permacell could combine several layers of adhesives into a coated backing of polyethylene materials. On record, duct tape was the name used in describing or coding the earliest research outcome. The reason for the naming is that the mesh or coating of the material was made from bird clothing.

Regardless of where the duct tape originated from, the military was the first to apply it, and one of such applications is its use in holding ammunition boxes together. With its ability to hold ammunition boxes together, soldiers referred to it as gun tape. 

The Air force also discovered several uses of duct tape. For instance, it was used in covering gun ports on the air crafts to reduce air friction, especially when taking off.

History also revealed that duct tape was initially colored olive green, but after the second world war, it was changed to a silver color. Later in the 1970s, duct tape manufacturers eventually marketed the product to household users, who also discovered lots of uses for it. Duct tape was a lot easier to use but as effective as bolts and nuts. Today, duct tape is very useful in forced-air heating and HVAC systems.

As the demand for duct tapes grew in the 1980s and 1990s, marketers began packaging duct tapes in a more consumer-friendly way. The first company to shrink and wrap duct tape to make it easier for display on shelves is Manco. By 1999 Manco was already manufacturing and selling some 5,352 metric tons of duct tapes worldwide yearly.

2. Duct Tape Design

Duct tape comes in different designs depending on its application. The design also depends on the grade. The duct tape grade depends on the adhesive type used and backing material. For instance, the strength of the outer fabric will depend on the number of threads used in the design. The thread numbers, therefore, determines rip strength. A 40 lbs. military-grade duct tape has a fabric with rip strength higher than those found in the 20-lb duct tape range.

There is a 12-page guide that must be followed when designing government-grade duct tape and military range duct tapes. On the other hand, commercial duct tapes can be less demanding and are often classified either as utility, general or premium grade. Nuclear tapes used in reactors and those found in race cars can have the highest tensile strength.

What Are The Raw Materials Used In The Making Of Duct Tapes?

There are three primary raw materials used to make duct tapes: cotton mesh, polyethylene coating, and adhesive material.

1. Cotton Mesh

Cotton mesh is the backbone of any duct tape design. The cotton mesh determines the tensile strength of duct tape, and it also allows the duct tape to turn in different directions. A cotton mesh with a tighter weave plus a higher thread count often provides better quality than one with a lower thread count. The duct tape with a higher thread count will also produce a cleaner tear. You can expect premium duct tape to have a thread count of about 44 x 28/sq-inch. As expected, duct tapes made with higher thread counts are more expensive. The web is the name used in defining the cotton mesh.

2. Polyethylene Coating

The cotton mesh used in making duct tape is typically coated with polyethylene. This is a plastic material that protects the duct tape from the effect of moisture and abrasion. This coating is very flexible and allows the duct tape to attach more efficiently to irregular and regular surfaces. During duct tape making, the polyethylene is melted and used in the fabric as a coating operation. Once the polyethylene is applied, the end product is stored on the rolls until the application of the adhesives.

3. Adhesive Substances

The adhesive used in the making of duct tape comprises rubber compounds to produce permanent bonding. Some tapes also allow adhesive polymers, but these may not have as much binding power as those found in rubber compounds.

The adhesive substances here are applied to the substrate in a much thicker coating than in masking tapes. Adhesives serve the purpose of increasing the bonds within duct tapes.

What Is The Manufacturing Process Like In The Making Of Duct Tapes?

There are four basic procedures in the making of duct tapes: adhesive compounding, adhesive application, respooling and slitting, and Packaging operations.

1. Adhesive Compounding

This is the process of preparing the rubber adhesive first in a mixer. The mixer comes with a steel tank plus a steam jacket heater to produce a pellet adhesive formula. The high torque rollers in the mixer rotate the rubber adhesive at high speed with temperatures in the machine controlled by constant water pumping. Rubbers are fed into some cylinders as they are continuously rolled until the molten adhesive form a thin sheet on the surface of the rollers.

2. The Adhesive Application

This is the phase where the adhesive is combined with the cotton fabric via a sophisticated coating process. The adhesive is first softened inside the roller mill while the roller is held at temperatures of about 120C degrees. The friction generated in this process will soften the rubber.

Once the melting of the rubber is completed, the fabric is pushed into the coating machine by some other smaller rollers. The adhesive generated from the first step of rollers is transferred to the fabric, and this is known as a coating. As the fabric comes out of the roller, it attaches itself to some of the adhesives. The operator must also determine how much of the adhesive must be attached to the fabric. Calendaring is the process used in attaching heavy adhesives to fabrics during this stage. Coatings can also be varied at this stage to control how many adhesives are applied.

Once the coating is completed, the duct tape fabric is wound around some cardboard cores, and when a roll is full, it is taken away from the spindle and cut into its proper size.

3. Slitting and Re-spooling

Duct tape rolls are normally cut into their final sizes, and it is known as Un-spooling. It involves pushing the rolls into a machine with several types of knives, and these cut the rolls into narrower segments before they are rewound on the smaller cardboard cores. The rewinding of duct tapes on cardboard cores is known as slitting.

This process is followed by some packaging operations involving the shrink-wrapping of the duct tapes before they are boxed and then marketed and shipped to the final destinations. There are standards set for duct tape products, and each product must meet such; failure to meet such standards can lead to forfeiture and confiscation.


Companies like Permacell have redefined and upgraded the way duct tapes are produced today. They have set the standards for the making of duct tapes of different categories and applications. The future of duct tape manufacturing looks great, and we expect to see them being used for many other applications. Duct tapes do come with a great tensile strength that cannot be rivalled by many other tapes, and that is one reason why we can find them around us today. Duct tapes are also used negatively, especially in sealing a victim’s mouth to prevent them from making suspicious noises.