Shelf Life Calculator – Why You Need To Use One

Shelf Life Calculator – Why You Need To Use One

Calculating shelf life is very important, whether in manufacturing, foods, or medicine. It determines the maximum time for which products can be stored and used by. Otherwise, the defined quality of the products will not be as good and the properties that made the product so good in the first place start to diminish.

Having good quality management systems in place allows you to know what products need to be used so you don't suffer wastage or sell a product that isn't fit for purpose.

ATS not only deals with converting and distributing pressure-sensitive, electrical, and packing tapes but we also have a FREE shelf life calculator that tells very clearly how much shelf life your product has left.

There are many different types of tapes for various applications – packaging, electrical, mechanical but for most of them, their shelf life is pretty much the same.

Standard Tape

Most tape products have a shelf life range between 6 months to 2 years. There are several factors that determine this that affect the performance of the tape in real time and cause accelerated aging conditions. Studies have shown that the shelf life is determined by the composition of the tape, backing, and release liner. The conditions they are stored can affect longevity. 

Packaging Tape

Providing it's been stored properly, packaging tapes are usually given a standard 12month shelf life from manufacturers. The precise shelf life of your custom packaging tape varies depending on the adhesive and the storage and handling environment which can affect the quality of the adhesive.

Pressure Sensitive Tapes

Pressure Sensitive Tapes are well known for their flexibility across a range of applications. The adhesive used gives them the flexibility to be used across different industries. As good as this tape is, there are still many factors that impact the shelf life of adhesive tapes:

  • Type of adhesive used
  • Substrate
  • Release liner
  • Application its used for
  • Manufacturer
  • Storage Conditions

However these factors are utilized will determine the length of time you will be able to use the tape effectively, they can also increase or decrease the tape's shelf life.

As good as these specialist adhesives are, they are sensitive to environmental conditions which can often change the adhesive's properties, this is why following the recommended storage advice is a must. Whether the silicone-based material is self-wound or comes with release liners, may extend the shelf life from 6 months to a year. For example, Paper release liners are susceptible to moisture and therefore it weakens the adhesive, so proper storage extends the liner's usability.

When it comes to adhesives, the shelf life is the period of time an adhesive remains usable after being manufactured and before the material is converted for a specific application (which ATS specializes in).

Manufacturer's typically give pressure-sensitive adhesives a shelf life of 1-2 years.

This is condition dependent, as it needs to be stored out of direct sunlight, in ideal temperatures of 60° to 80° degrees Fahrenheit and at 40 to 50 percent relative humidity.

What's the difference between and a Manufacturer's and a Converter's Expiration Dates?

In simple terms: A Manufacturer's Expiration date is the date the product is no longer either usable or its properties will start to diminish in a certain time set by the manufacturer after assembly. A Converter's Expiration date is a date they have given the product directly after they have converted it.

ATS is a converter and distributor of pressure-sensitive tapes, rubber & silicone gaskets, and more. Some converters once they have converted a product put their own warranty part date that replaces the manufacturer's shelf life date, however at ATS, even after we have successfully converted a product, the manufacturer's shelf life still stands. As long as the converted product is stored in the appropriate conditions, it should continue to perform as prescribed by the manufacturer.

One key thing to mention regarding the application of pressure-sensitive adhesive tape is, that once it's unwound and successfully attached to its designated surface, its stability greatly increases and is far less susceptible to performance issues.

It is up to the customer to test and validate that the pressure-sensitive adhesive will adhere for the life of the product. But how do you go about this?

Where do I Send My Product For Testing Shelf Life?

There are many specialist companies out there who you can send your products too like in the US and in the UK, especially when checking food. It's a bit different when it comes to tapes, paints, sticky plastics as they more often have a specific date for the shelf life.

This is the amount of time that the product is guaranteed to be useful. After this time, the general quality of the product may degrade, resulting in a tape that's less sticky, or paint that splits. Storing your products in the right conditions will usually help you to extend their life as much as possible, but even if you do this, you still have to make sure that you take into account the shelf life requirements.

What if I Don't Know the Shelf Life?

If you have had your product or tape sat in a warehouse or garage for quite some time, then you may not know if the product is still useable, especially if it is not kept in the right storage condition. When this happens you become unsure how long of a shelf life it has left, luckily, the ATS shelf life calculator instantly and accurately tells you how long your product can be used for.

Sending your Product for Testing

If you don't have the date of manufacture of your product and have kept in a warehouse for quite some time, it leaves you blind in terms of knowing how much shelf life a product has before it needs to be used, and if the conditions stored in have fast-tracked the shelf life. Without knowing the date of manufacture or if you can't remember when you bought the product, the simplest and most efficient way to establish your product's existing shelf life is to send it away for testing.

There are different product testing companies for food, plastics, and medicines. Once they have tested your product they will inform you how long you have left to use it. This eradicates any guesswork and gives you the answers you need so you can utilize what you have with the time left. It also prevents from having to worry about throwing items away needlessly. As previously highlighted, tapes are a prime example of why you should use them before the shelf life expires.

A tape past its shelf may not be as strong or grip as well as it could, or be as effective if it can't deal with temperature, which will only cause more issues later down the line. Something you don't want, especially if it is used for a specialist application. You can avoid any potential issues by opting for testing, giving you peace of mind by knowing the timeframe it has to be used by.

3M Tapes Shelf Life

3M™ VHB™ Tapes

3M™ VHB™ Tapes is one of the most popular tapes from the 3M brand, as its properties allow the tape to be incredibly versatile. It has been designed for a smooth side and a durable ride and can withstand the extreme heat and cold, vibration, moisture, and UV light specialty vehicles encounter. The fact it can cope equally well in total opposite temperatures and conditions means the storage conditions have to be spot on.

3M state “All 3M™VHB™Tapes have a shelf life of 24 months from date of manufacture when stored at (4°C to 38°C) and 0-95% relative humidity. The optimum storage conditions are (22°C) and 50% relative humidity”.

It should be noted that the performance of the tape is not projected to change even after shelf life expires (should it be stored in the conditions mentioned above), however, 3M do suggest whenever possible the VHB™ Tapes are used prior to the shelf life date.

3M™ Vinyl Electrical Tape

This has one of the longest shelf lifes out of all the tapes, as 3M™ states that the vinyl electrical tape has a 5-year shelf life! (from date of manufacture) but only when stored under the following recommended storage conditions:

  • Store in a clean, dry place behind the present stock
  • Temperature of 21˚C
  • Relative humidity must be between 40-50% 

How to find out your product shelf life?

We have a FREE Shelf Life Calculator to help people determine the remaining shelf life of their product. This can also be used to determine the shelf life of a product prior to purchase. Our calculator is simple to use and gives you accurate information in seconds, presenting it in a very user friendly manner.

If you want to check on your product's shelf life, then visit our Shelf Life Calculator– we hope you find this very useful!

Anything else we can help with, don't hesistate to contact us. 

Advanced Technology Supply, Inc.

1001 W. Newport Center Drive, Suite 111

Deerfield Beach, FL 33442