How is duct tape made?

Duct tape may just be the “ultimate material.” This sticky and versatile adhesive is useful in everything from making prom formalwear to covering heating and cooling ducts to removing warts.

According to the Duck brand company’s recipe, duct tape is comprised of three different layers that give the tape its distinct properties. The outermost layer contains a waterproof polyethylene film. Polyethylene is one of the most popular plastics in the world, found in grocery bags, bottles, and many toys. This plastic gives duct tape its lustrous, silvery color and water-resistant quality.

Next, the middle layer is a strong, cloth mesh that makes the tape as “curiously strong” as Altoid mints yet as easily tearable as string cheese. Just as luxury bed sheets have higher thread counts, premium duct tape also has a higher number of cloth strands per square inch.

Finally, the most expensive component of duct tape is its rubberbased adhesive layer. Natural rubber, while more expensive, is used more often than synthetic rubber because it better maintains the stickiness of the tape.

The three layers can come together in several ways. In the traditional calendar laminating process, the layers are synthesized separately and then laminated together under thousands of pounds of pressure.

An alternative method that is often preferred has been dubbed “Durabond Construction” by the Duck brand. This technique involves ejecting polyethylene pellets onto a thin film, then blending the film with the cloth mesh while the plastic is still hot, and finally spreading the adhesive onto the film. This process produces a more consistent tape product that is less likely to delaminate when exposed to the elements.

Finally, the tape is rolled on to a cardboard barrel; and the rest is up to your own creativity.