Non-Adhesive Wire Harness Tape: The Ultimate Guide

The tape acts as an adhesive and is available in different materials. There are several types of adhesives, each serving a specific function. Choosing the wrong tape could damage a wire’s insulation. And compatibility with wires and temperature resistance should guide your choice. However, a better option is a non-adhesive wire harness tape or the self-amalgamating tape made of silicone or rubber and lacks adhesives. The tape only sticks to itself, tightly wrapping the wire to protect against liquids, making them the ideal choice, especially in automotive wire harnesses.

What Are Self-Amalgamating Tapes/non-adhesive wire harness tape?

Self-amalgamating tapes are non-tacky silicone or rubber tapes stretched and wrapped around components like cables, hoses, pipes, and electrical joints. They bonded into a waterproof, rubbery, seamless, strong, and electrically insulating layer. Unlike most fibers and polymers, these tapes have heat, sunlight, and weather resistance. In the US, they’re described as self-vulcanizing or self-fusing. 

Self-Amalgamating Tape vs. Silicone Tape Comparison

Which tape should you use between the two? The self-amalgamating tape will be ideal for those working in the automotive industry. Silicone tape will serve you better when dealing with pipes and cabling. Why? Let’s compare them.

Material

Manufacturers make self-amalgamating tape using EPR, EPDM, butyl, or PIB rubber. On the other hand, to make silicone tapes, they use a silicone elastomer, which, although referred to as silicone rubber, does not contain any rubber.

Performance

Self-amalgamating tape is heat resistant, allowing it to withstand temperatures up to 130 degrees Celsius, whereas silicone tape is 260 degrees Celsius. However, silicone tape tends to have greater resistance levels to cold than self-amalgamating tape since it can remain flexible even at temperatures of -65 degrees Celsius. It is also the same for tensile strength, which is about 450PSI to 950PSI for silicone and 150PSI to 300PSI for self-amalgamating tape.

Color

Another advantage of silicone tape is that it is easier to color, making it more commonly used throughout various applications. Self-amalgamating tape is only available in black and white colors. 

Bonding strength

Compared to self-amalgamating tape, one of the most significant advantages of silicon tape is fusibility, which also refers to bonding strength. The high fusibility levels of silicone tape that often occur within a few seconds or minutes mean that it is more widely used than self-amalgamating tapes.

Various tape colors

Caption: Various tape colors

Self-Amalgamating Tape Application

Self-fusing silicone tape is highly robust regarding consistency, which usually occurs over a long period. It will also not get stiff or brittle or leave any sticky residue because it doesn’t have an adhesive. The other significant advantage of silicone tape is its stretching ability and ability to withstand high temperatures. 

Self-fusing silicone tape tends to be very thick, about 20 mils. If you decide to double or triple-layer it, the whole thing will look unappealing and probably get in your way. On the other hand, if you use minimal amounts, there may not be sufficient contact, which you need to create a good bond over time. 

That kind of tape is also very soft, which causes it to grab or catch even the mildest sharp corners or surfaces. Such a structural tendency means that having the tape bare on the outer surface of a wire bundle can lead to problems. Shifting the harness around may also cause you to pull and stretch silicone tape inadvertently. 

Despite IMO being the most significant advantage of self-fusing silicone tape, it is also its most critical problem. It is because self-fusing means that you must maintain each taped area separate from the others. Ensure they don’t stick to each other, meaning that you will never be able to store your harness by rolling it up whenever you need to. 

Properties of Self-Amalgamating Tape

Below are some of the properties of the self-amalgamating tape.

Self-Bonding

Self-amalgamating tape lacks the sticky adhesive characteristics of electrical tape. It means that it tends to bond, leading to a watertight seal. In the case of electrical tape, it starts to ooze its adhesive whenever it’s heated, creating a sticky mess inside the car. Because it is also self-vulcanizing, its removal process is easy, making it ideal for conducting fast automotive repairs. 

Heat-Tested

Self-amalgamating tape can withstand extreme temperatures emitted by a car’s engine. Each type of tape produced gets tested up to a specific temperature and is flame retardant. 

Weather Proof

When appropriately utilized, the self-amalgamating tape can create a weatherproof seal. It helps protect the wire harness from engine oils and fluids that can seep through. Other elements, like moisture, can also get into the engine. In the case of silicon tape, it is not specially designed to offer protection against the weather and humidity. As a result, it is most likely to lose its adhesive properties and pull away from the harness. 

Common Causes for Wire Harness Repair

When looking at the automotive sector, wire harness tape is something you can use across various applications. In most cases, antique vehicles may require their wire harness rebuilt, which means new wrapping once you splice all the correct wires. That said, the following are some common causes of wire harness repair. 

Extensive Body Damage

Most kinds of harness run within the body panels of a car. Therefore, the wires inside the body can also sustain damage whenever an accident occurs. 

Improperly Installed Harnesses 

After-market components for a car, like a new stereo, are usually installed in a hurry using electrical tape. These kinds of quick-fix wire harnesses can lead to faster degradation resulting in a need for wiring repairs. 

Water Damage

It is one of the most common causes of electrical failure in cars, typically leading to the harness having to be rebuilt. Water damage can also result from rusted-out body panels, allowing it to reach the harness. 

Improperly Routed Wiring

In most cases, anybody repairing or doing major engine work will mean removing wiring. As a result, these wires can be improperly routed during the fixing process, causing them to be nearer to a heat source, eventually leading to different kinds of electrical damage. 

How Does Self-Amalgamating Tape Work?

The self-amalgamating tape uses chemical bonds that lead to the permanent bonding of two layers of the tape. You can also refer to the process as vulcanizing or cross-linking, which takes place on a molecular level. You will also find handling the tape easy and pliable before bonding. However, once the bonding occurs and given time to set it, it will become permanent, resulting in a mold-like material forming around whatever component you apply it to. 

How Can One Apply Self-Amalgamating Tape

You do not need gloves or special protective materials to fix self-amalgamating tape. Using a blade or some scissors will do the trick. 

You can use some magic tape to ensure that the tape does not adhesively bond to itself. The tape consists of shielding, a plastic layer you can easily peel away to roll up the tape as needed and ship. So you will have to peel back a section of the shielding plastic, stretch the area of the tape you wish to apply, and then cover it around the item you are trying to shield. You will then take an additional piece of tape, stretch it, and cover it so that around ½ of it overlaps the other prior layer. Drawing back the tape as you do the installation will create a tight wrap and, more importantly, enable it to better amalgamate or adhere to itself as you cover it. 

What Duration Does Self-Amalgamating Tape Take to Set?

The bonding process typically takes a couple of minutes for both tape layers to amalgamate. Even though your wrapping method does not have to be perfect on your first try, you must make the necessary adjustments as soon as possible before the bond settles. You will also need to ensure that you create a close-fitting overlapping wrap. It will enable you to get the results you want from the self-amalgamating tape. 

What Amount of Time Can Self-Amalgamating Tape Last?

Usually, a self-amalgamating tape lasts for years, but in some cases, even decades. Using such tape also avoids problems normally associated with adhesives, which typically don’t hold up well when placed in high or low-temperature situations. 

What is the Process of Removing Self-Amalgamating Tape?

Since self-amalgamating tape lacks adhesive, you can easily remove it with a box cutter or blade. However, it would be best to exercise caution to avoid damaging whatever is beneath the tape while cutting. 

Box Cutter

Caption: Box Cutter

Conclusion

When dealing with automotive wire harnesses, electrical tape typically does the job. However, only for a short while. Electrical tape bonds utilize harsh adhesives and glues that break down in places of high temperatures. If you need to pull the harness, bring a wet napkin.

On the other hand, self-fusing tape bonds to itself without glue, creating a customized rubber sleeve. The chemical bonding on the tape will also not break down under the harsh environmental conditions within a vehicle’s hood. In some cases, it can withstand temperatures of as high as 65°F to 500°F, which duct and electrical tapes do not even come close to. Feel free to contact Cloom Tech with any related queries.

Hey, I am John, General manager of Cloom and OurPCB.

I am a responsible, intelligent and experienced business professional with an extensive background in the electronics industry.

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