The global seam tapes market, which is mainly dealt with adhesive or seam sealing business sector, is growing primarily due to the rapid development of textile and apparel industries over the years. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has brought harsh impact on almost all industries worldwide; however, seam tapes industry is among the few that has escaped from the burden of the pandemic’s severe effects.

Instead, seam tapes market is witnessing a remarkable growth during the pandemic mainly because of the increasing demand for protective clothing including personal protective equipment (PPE) kits in the healthcare sector. Seam tapes are the vital components for manufacturing PPE suits that are required to those employees who are working in industries with extreme weather such as chemical, construction, and fire service sectors. Besides protecting clothing, the adhesives are widely used in many apparel products including sportswear, military kits, waterproof apparel, and footwear. Depending on the end use applications, the tape may consist of two or more layers that finally act either as a waterproof or a heat-resistant agent in various industrial sectors.

Growing investment from manufacturers for extensive R&D activities to produce innovative and advanced materials for the production of seam tapes represents a key opportunity for the steady expansion of the market. Advancement in the backing materials for the adhesive tape including Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and Polyurethane (PU), which help to improve their physical properties such as strength and resistant capacity, shapes to grow the market in a larger extent. Moreover, the development of refined fabrics has enhanced flexibility and optimized the rigidity of the backing material in apparel, which in turn, is creating lucrative opportunities to grow the global seam tapes market.

Considering the current market trend and emerging opportunities, a detailed report by Growth Market Reports shows that the global seam tapes market is projected to reach USD 346.0 Million by 2027, expanding at a CAGR of 6.6% during the forecast period. The market was valued at USD 208.1 Million in 2019.

Adhesive and Seam Tapes History

The invention of adhesive tapes has changed and made the overall commercial production of various products easy by facilitating a quick repair and holding different components together. Despite different sort of adhesive substances were found using in the early ages, the first patent for an adhesive was given in 1750 in Britain after a fish based glue. The first commercial glue factory was opened up in Holland in the early 18th century and the animal-based glue was widely popular until the mid-20th century.

Advent of synthetic glues in the second half of the 20th century has brought a dynamic change in the adhesive industry as they were easily available, cheaper, advanced quality, and more durable as compared to natural-based glue. Thus, the introduction of seam tapes was a result of the rapid expansion of synthetic glues, which led to make the industry multimillion dollar industry.

The origin of adhesive tape can be traced back to 1845 after Dr. Horace Day, a surgeon used a rubber adhesive applied to strips of fabrics to make a new invention called “Surgical Tape”. In 1921, an American pharmaceutical company, Johnson & Johnson (J&J) introduced “Band-Aid,” a brand adhesive product and another American company, 3M under the initiative of Richard Drew had invented the world’s first masking tape in 1925.

Coated with Polyethylene over the cloth tape, which led to the birth of Duct Tape in 1942, developed by J&J during World War II since the American troops needed a waterproof tape that could seal and repair equipment. With the evolution and research work in the field of tape industry, seam sealing was proved to be useful for preventing perforation corrosion in the 1980s.

Understanding Seam Tapes and its Applications

Seam taping or seam sealing are primarily multilayered adhesive films that are applied to the sewn seams to prevent water penetration through the stitch holes and seams. It is widely used as a waterproof tape that covers seams and holes, which are left over when two different fabrics are sewn together. So, the tapes seal or cover up those tiny punctures of stitches of fabrics to prevent from moisture or heat penetration through that small holes.

For instance, these tapes are used to waterproof seams in booties, ski boot bladders, hiking boots, and military footwear. On top of that, the tapes that are used for military suits including ECWAC Jackets, Tents, Boots, Ponchos, Fire Suits, Flight Jackets, Medical Gowns, Protective or Chemical Suits. These adhesive tapes have a high resistance to chemicals and other toxic or corrosive substances; so, they are used extensively to seal the seams in these protective garments. 

The rising demand for protective clothing occurs because of the increasing expansion of chemical and construction industries across the globe, which in turn, leads to boost the seam tapes market. Among the major suppliers of the global chemical industry, the world’s two biggest economies i.e. China and the United States (US) remained in the top of the global supply chain. According to the European Chemical Industry Council, China accounted for 1,412.7 billion worth of chemical sales, followed by the United States (US) with 551.9 billion in 2018.

With the development of chemical industry, the demand for protective gears also increases significantly since the employees need these suits to protect from chemical or toxic gases released from the production activities in the industry. In addition to this, demand for protective suits increases due to the high rise of the construction activities in major economies from both developed and developing countries.  

Meanwhile, the availability of abundant seamless fabrics and growing usage of seamless technologies in the apparel industry represents a key restraining factor for the market growth. The use of seamless clothing technology in the apparel industry has eliminated the requirement for fabric laying, cutting, and stitching, which ultimately help manufacturers in the direct production of finished goods and reduction the production process. This results to an overall cost cutting of up to 40% as compared to customary knitting.

Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic

Unlike other industries, seam tapes market operations witness a rapid surge of their businesses as the demand for masks and PPE kits, in which seam tapes are used as a vital component, are growing tremendously during the COVID-19 outbreak. Emergency lockdown due to the COVID-19 outbreak has demanded the urgent supply of PPE kits from manufacturers for the treatment of the COVID-19 patients in hospitals and health clinics.

Thus, increase in the use of PPE suits by medical personnel such as doctors, nurses, and other medical staffs to ensure complete protection from coronavirus during the treatment of the COVID-19 patients have boosted the market growth. Manufacturers have to ramp up their production to meet the global demand for the suit and are actively investing a huge investment in research to produce more effective technologies, which drive the market expansion. With this reason, Growth Market Reports projects that the market is expected to witness increment of over 6.4% between 2019 and 2020 owing to the positive impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the seam tapes industry.

The ongoing research for the global race to find a vaccine for COVID-19 across the globe, which involves a large number of private as well as public organizations, would push a significant growth of seam tapes market.

Market Segment and Performance

On the basis of the product type, seam tapes market is categorized into two segments: single-layered and multi-layered. The single-layered segment is expected to witness an impressive growth during the forecast period due to the wide range of applications in the textile and sports industry. The segment is growing due to its wide productions including intimate apparel, casual apparel, sportswear, sports innerwear, and outerwear. Meanwhile, multi-layered tapes are expected to grow at a higher rate because of its advantages such as superior waterproofing, excellent adhesion, and a wide range of applications including apparels, tents, tarpaulins, footwear, and backpacks.

In terms of backing material, the market is segmented into polyurethane (PU), thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), Polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and others. The PU segment is projected to register at the highest CAGR during the forecast period owing to its superior physical properties as compared to TPU.

PU has properties such as high abrasion, moisture-resistant, waterproof, and high flexibility as well as a wide range of applications including intimate apparel, sportswear, sports innerwear, casual apparel, outerwear, shoes, and bags. However, the TPU segment is anticipated to expand at a CAGR of 6.9% during the forecast period due to its broad usage in single layer seam tapes. Furthermore, the PVC segment is expected to witness a steady growth during the forecast period due to its advanced properties of excellent waterproofing. The growth of this segment is attributed to its usage in rainwear to ensure water-resistant under the most extreme weather conditions. PVC-based seam tapes are considered to have a high resistance against moisture, abrasion, oils, and solutions with acids and alkaline.

On the basis of applications, the market is primarily categorized into roofing/ flooring, apparel, sports, protective clothing, and others. The protective clothing segment is projected to contribute a major share of the market during the forecast period owing to the increasing demand in various industries including chemical, building and construction, and military clothing and gears. The ongoing pandemic has pushed manufacturers to produce more protective suits for the medical personnel as they are required for the treatment of patients in healthcare industry.

Regional Market Outlook

The market is segmented into key five regions: North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Latin America, and Middle East & Africa. Among these regions, Asia Pacific has emerged a potential destination of the seam tapes market and is expected to witness a robust market growth in the coming years. The region contributed 44.3% share of the global market in 2020, with this trend, the market in the region is expected to expand at a CAGR of 6.7% during the forecast period.

Besides the rapid flourishing of the apparel and footwear industries, the region has several advantages such as the availability of abundant raw materials and cheap labor forces, which would enhance the market growth in the near future. Apart from this, the region witnesses a presence of large number of textile companies in the countries including China, India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Indonesia, which represents another key factor to help the market expansion. The industry is expected to grow steady growth in Latin America at a CAGR of nearly 6.2% due to the growing diseases penetration in the region.

India’s Initiative on PPEs Manufacturing

Among various government initiatives, India made a major breakthrough after its scientific research organization, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has developed a special sealant as an alternative to seam sealing tape which is critical in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in April 2020. The introduction of a bio suit was aimed at keeping safe of the medical personnel and other staffs, who are engaged in combating COVID-19 pandemic. The Indian Ministry said in a statement, “Presently, bio suits prepared using this glue for seam sealing by an industry partner has cleared test at Southern India Textile Research Association (SITRA), Coimbatore.”

The country was facing a shortage of seam sealing tapes due to the harsh impact of the pandemic and the DRDO’s aim for producing protective suit for medical personnel was hampered due to non-availability of the tapes. Currently, DRDO is working with industry partners, who are experts in suit manufacturing, to produce this special glue for sealing activities.  

Presently, collaborating with technology transfer from DRDO, Kusumgarh Industries Inc. is producing the raw material and coating material, which are the vital components for manufacturing the bio suits. About 2,000 participants mainly apparel exporters from across the country logged on to ‘Manufacturing of PPE Products under Medical Textiles’ webinar organised by Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC) along with South India Textile Research Association (SITRA) and Indian Technical Textiles Association (ITTA).

The DRDO has already developed a number of products and technologies for defense against Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) agents for the armed forces. The Defence Research and Development Establishment (DRDE), Gwalior, a laboratory of the DRDO, has developed CBRN Permeable Suit Mk-V and 53,000 of them have been supplied to the Army and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF).

Competitive Landscape and Market Strategies

Major players in the global seam tapes market include Bemis Associates Inc. (US), Toray Industries Inc. (Japan), Framis Italia (Italy), Himel Corp. (Korea), LOXY AS (Norway), Gerlinger Industries (Germany), DingZing Advanced Materials Inc., (Taiwan), Adhesive Films (US), Branded Apparel Enterprises, LLC (US), and Henkel Adhesive Technologies (Germany). These companies are considered manufacturers of seam tapes based on their revenue, research development (R&D) activities, regional presence, and supply chain management system.

Some of these companies are actively involved in enhancing their market position by implementing various market strategies such as acquisition and merger, expansion of their production plants, and product launching. Apart from companies, several national governments have been investing their agencies to develop products to avoid the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic such as manufacturing PPE and other kits including masks.

To mention a few examples of expansion of production plants, acquisition agreement, and product launch that help push the seam tapes market expansion.  

  • In September 2020, Henkel Adhesive Technologies expands its new production plant for UV-curable acrylic pressure sensitive adhesives (PSA) at the site in Salisbury, North Carolina. The new facility is expected to be operational by the end of 2021. This expansion of Henkel’s existing site is focusing to broaden the company’s capabilities to provide more sustainable and innovative pressure sensitive adhesive solutions to the tape, label, medical, and graphic films markets.
  • On August 7, 2020, Bemis Associates Inc. (Bemis Associates), an American leading manufacturer of thermoplastic films, tapes, and adhesives for bonding, announced the acquisition of a Taiwan-based textile company, Safe Reflections International, LLC (Safe Reflections). Combining reflective technologies solutions for sportswear, athletic, performance, active wear, and casual wear of Safe Reflections with Bemis Associates’ adhesive technology aimed at creating the next generation of bondable aesthetic films for the apparel market.

The global market for seam tapes is offering lucrative opportunities for future investment since the need for PPE kits are increasingly growing due to the expansion of chemical, construction, and apparel industries. The COVID-19 pandemic plays an important outlook for investment since the medical researches for the virus treatment are expected to continue for a longer period of time.