Know What Sticks With Adhesives Research

(Image Courtesy of Adhesives Research)

At Tom Brown, we provide a range of foam tape products from Adhesives Research, an independent developer of pressure-sensitive tapes, coatings, laminates and release liners. Adhesives Research manufactures a full line of pressure sensitive tapes to solve a variety of bonding and assembly challenges.



Tom Brown Inc. and the ARclad® Series

The ARclad® series foam tapes are designed to glaze insulated glass units (IG units)into PVC framing systems. At Tom Brown Inc., we carry ARclad® 2000, 3000, 4000 and 8000 series products. Each product has increasing strength and performance, with ARclad® 8000 providing the highest design pressure ratings. For customers seeking a cost effective foam glazing tape, the ARclad® 4000 series is durable and affordable. Tom Brown Inc. provides the following ARClad® products:

  • ARclad® 2000 Series- The ARclad® 2000 features a rubber based, high tack, high shear adhesive system. This product is perfect for PVC and aluminum.
  • ARclad® 3000 Series- This is a glazing tape series for PVC and aluminum. ARclad® 3000 is available in black and white, a range of thicknesses and can be delivered in long length spools.
  • ARclad® 4000 – ARclad® 4000 is a high performance acrylic adhesive that is available in a range of colors and thicknesses. This is the workhorse series in the line and has excellent resistance to moisture and UV light.
  • ARclad® 8000 – This top of the line product provides the best design pressure ratings and overall performance.

You can check out more about the Adhesives Research products that we sell by taking a look at our website.  


Contact Us To Purchase A Product

At Tom Brown, Inc., we carry a full line of foam sealing and bonding tapes. Our tapes can hold together metals, plastics, and almost anything you can think of. Our tapes keep out water and literally hold together trailers, trucks, and commercial window and wall systems.. We’re a behind the scenes company, but our role in the lives of our customers is important. Located in Pittsburgh and Salt Lake City, we serve customers all over the surrounding areas and beyond. We’re committed to providing the best tape products, in the right width, at the right time.. For samples or to discuss our tapes in greater detail, call us today at (800) 446-2298.


Trends Impacting the Global Adhesives and Sealants Industry

The Global Adhesives and Sealants industry has been changing quickly over the past decade. Not only have substantial strides been made in the chemical and physical composites available to the industry, but new uses have been discovered for adhesive and sealant products. Here are some of the major trends impacting the industry now.

Environmentally-Friendly and Sustainable Options

As with most sectors, the adhesives and sealants industry has been working towards more environmental and sustainable options. This is occurring in two major ways:

  • Sustainably sourcing chemicals and materials. The actual components of adhesives and sealants must be able to be recovered and created in a sustainable way. This means finding better locations to source these chemicals and materials and safer ways of doing so, often working on an international scale.
  • Producing safer end products. Adhesives and sealants are now being produced with lower amounts of emitting materials, thereby reducing the amount of environmental damage they could potentially cause. Many adhesives and sealants have now achieved 100% safety for VOC content, which makes them safer than many other types of chemical bonding.

Expansion Into New Sectors

Certain types of adhesive and sealant, such as tapes, are now being used throughout additional industries and applications. The adhesives and sealant industry is now working to ensure that these transitions occur smoothly and that their ramifications and potential consequences are fully explored. This may include stress testing, consultants, and revising standards of care. At the same time, the industry is also seeking new sectors in which products can expand. Adhesives and sealants are constantly improving, both in terms of sustainability and in terms of cost.

New Reforms for California and the TSCA

The U.S. Toxic Substances Control Act has needed reform since it was first adopted in 1976; at least that is the widely held opinion of the global adhesives and sealants industry. The industry has been working hard to revisit this issue, as it may block off chemicals that are both useful to the industry and that are not harmful to either the environment or to consumers. Since 1976, many additional processes have been discovered and new chemicals have entered into widespread usage. It is believed that it is now necessary to revamp the act to be more realistic. A larger variety of chemicals would  both improve the adhesives and sealants in use today and contribute to increased safety and industry growth.

Continued Growth Within the Market

Not only is the market expanding substantially in areas such as South America, but the industry totals were reported as a total of $12.5 billion as of 2013, which shows a gross profit of 29.5%. These profits are substantial and growing, covering exports to a total of 170 countries.

As the market continues to grow, the need for superior products, better sustainability, and standardized testing becomes even more important. The market is growing and a wider variety of products are becoming available for different commercial, industrial, and even residential purposes. And that means that there are increased requirements for expertise. For everything from foam tapes to surface protection films, Tom Brown, Inc. can provide both consultation and quotes.

3M Extreme Sealing Tape – Yes, it really works!

(Photo courtesy of 3M)

My typical approach for this blog is to offer readers some explanation of the various terminology, materials, test methods, and design considerations they might encounter when using pressure-sensitive tapes and gasket materials. I don’t usually critique or review specific products but sometimes certain tapes really turn my head (you’re probably thinking I have no life or am a real tape nerd…which is true!)

Many of you have heard of 3M’s VHB tape products. VHB tapes have been around since the mid 80’s. Those products were truly ground breaking at that time and the product portfolio has grown substantially over the years to enable manufacturers to assemble anything from a cell phone to bonding an insulated glass unit into a high rise building. The Extreme Sealing Tape is born of this heritage but has some really interesting properties worth knowing about.

What is Extreme Sealing Tape?

The tape consists of a flexible ionomer film with a foamed mass of 40 or 80 mil acrylic adhesive (and a very tacky acrylic at that) on one side. A film release liner protects the ionomer film /adhesive layer and allows the product to be self-wound into a roll.

In case you are not familiar with the term “ionomer”, the technical definition is a polymer that is comprised of repeating electrically neutral units with a fraction of ionized units that are covalently (shared electrons) bonded to the polymer backbone. A more practical way to think about ionomers is by thinking of DuPont’s Surlyn which is a tough film made from ethylene (electrically neutral) and methacrylic acid (ionic). It’s the tough outer cover used on golf balls and the film on the Extreme Sealing Tape is tough too.(and you can paint it)

The 40 or 80 mil acrylic adhesive layer bonds on contact to many metal and plastic surfaces and can generate peel values in excess of 15 lbs./inch. It’s “softness” allows it to easily conform over metal seams, contours and fastener heads and it seals out water like nobody’s business!

Extreme Sealing Tape was meant to compete with liquid sealants. It is easy to apply, and eliminates the mess associated with caulking guns. Its’ unique design prevents it from cracking or crumbling, it resists high pressure washing, and can compensate for thermal expansion and contraction. All that in a roll of tape!

What can you do with it?

You can seal the roof seams on utility trailers or RV roofs, seal metal enclosures, tape around vent windows and skylights, seal a gutter or downspout, and use it pretty much anywhere you want to keep water out. Application steps are very easy:

(Photo courtesy of 3M)

Want a sample roll, technical data, or to discuss how to use this unique product? Call Tom Brown, Inc.

Release Liners – The Unsung Hero of the Tape World

Release liners are that piece of paper or film that you remove to expose the adhesive on tapes or labels. Some people call it “the backing” but that is not exactly correct terminology.

Release liners are produced for the most part by applying very thin coatings of silicone release agent to one or both sides of various papers or films. (there are some non-silicone release liners but they are very specialized and will not be covered here)

Because the release liner is thrown away, not many give it a second thought-until it doesn’t come off or function as intended. The truth is that there is an entire release liner industry that is a critical ally to the manufacturers of tape and label materials and there’s a lot more going on than meets the eye.

The Basics- Carriers

First, let’s look at the types of carriers that are typically used to produce most release liners:

  • Densified Kraft- a machine grade paper that has been run through a series of calendaring rolls to “smash down” the paper fibers into a sheet that has improved caliper control and ability to accept a silicone coating. These papers do not exhibit good dimensional stability in humid environments. They are often used in high speed rotary de-cutting operations.

  • Clay Coated Kraft- papers that have added clays or fillers added to the paper to improve surface characteristics. These fillers reduce the amount of exposed paper fibers and the paper exhibits better dimensional stability.

  • Polycoated Kraft- a paper that has a coating of polyolefin extruded onto one or both sides. The ‘poly” coating (often polyethylene) encapsulates the paper fibers except on the edges and greatly improves dimensional stability. These papers resist curling better than other kraft liners. The poly coating does compromise the heat stability of the sheet during the adhesive coating operation so care has to be taken when using them. Also, the hardness of the poly coating has to be considered when they are used for kiss cut part production.

  • Polyethylene- a conformable film with excellent tear resistance that is available in a variety of thicknesses and densities. It has limited heat resistance during adhesive coating operations and silicone transfer can happen if the coating process is not properly designed. This liner (along with polypropylene) is often used on high performance bonding and assembly tapes since it exhibits excellent tear resistance and allows the liner to come off in one piece.

  • Polypropylene- not as thermally sensitive as polyethylene, this liner too has exceptional tear resistance and good dimensional stability.

  • Polyester- this film has superior caliper control and is often used in high speed kiss cutting and dispensing applications. Polyester liners are very popular for converted products in the medical and electronics industries.

The Basics- Silicone Chemistries

The two most common ways to think about silicone chemistry are in terms catalyst used and the energy system employed. The catalyst refers to the chemistry selected to “cure” the silicone coating (without proper cure, the silicone ends up contaminating the adhesive which is a not good!). The energy system refers to the type of equipment and process employed to achieve the cure.

  • Thermally Reactive Systems- these silicones use tin or platinum as the catalyst to initiate silicone cure in the presence of heat. Tin is the oldest type of silicone curing catalyst. It is available in emulsion and solvent forms and cures very well with low potential for silicone transfer but the longer dwell times needed for cure limit the substrates or carriers that can be selected. Platinum catalyst systems cure faster than tin based systems and are available in emulsion, solvent, and 100% solids forms.

  • UV Reactive Systems-these systems use a photo initiator in conjunction with a UV light source to cure the silicone release coating. The lower heat associated with this type of curing allows temperature sensitive materials such as polyethylene to be processed without excessive shrinkage.

  • Electron Beam Systems- the least common type of system due to the expense of electron beam curing equipment, these high energy systems use the energy from the electron beam discharge to initiate the reaction to cure the silicone coating.

Adhesives and Silicones- Working Together

The tape or label stock manufacturer and the release liner supplier have to be natural allies. Not every liner will work with every adhesive. The adhesive chemistry has to be considered along with the coating process for the tape or label stock. downstream converting operations such a slitting, die cutting, kiss cutting, and laminating need to be understood along with how the product will be applied in the field.

For example, some rubber based adhesive don’t work well with UV cured liners and some high tack acrylic adhesives don’t like electron beam produced liners. Improper selection will result in a liner that is difficult to remove or doesn’t remove at all. An unhappy customer is the result!

If a densified kraft liner is selected for high speed kiss cutting and cost but will be applied via a dispensing system in an uncontrolled environment with high humidity, the applicator might jam and not perform properly.

Throw away items like release liners and product packaging often get little of our attention. We want to get to what’s inside the package or what’s behind the release liner.

The truth is that there is an incredible amount of science behind the selection of release liners and tape products. Tom Brown Inc. understands the importance of proper liner selection and can work with our customers to pick the right liner to meet your needs.

What Exactly Is Adhesive Strength?

Just looking at the question above you will notice two very broad terms- “adhesive” and “strength”. There are thousands of adhesive formulations-structural systems (such as epoxies, acrylics, and polyurethanes), pressure-sensitive products (tapes), and a myriad of sealants.

If you ask someone what they imagine adhesive strength means, they will typically say something like, “how well it bonds one thing to another.” That is a perfectly valid thought but a bit incomplete.

For example, one adhesive might exhibit tremendous shear and tensile test values but might also be brittle and crack when exposed to excessive shock or vibration while a system with lower absolute tensile and shear values will handle the shock and vibration with no problems. So which system is stronger?

Another adhesive system might demonstrate exceptional peel and shear strength when tested on one surface such as aluminum but fail miserably if the same aluminum has a powder coat paint applied.

So the real question is, strong after exposure to what and in contact with what? Is it strong after underwater exposure? Strong after exposure to elevated or low temperatures?

I recently attended a seminar for distributors and installers hosted by a premier supplier of architectural metal panel systems. This seminar featured “hands-on” instruction on installing several of their wall systems. One of the systems requires the use of a non-skinning butyl sealant along with a self-adhesive flashing tape on the interior corners.

The butyl sealant would not be considered particularly “strong” with respect to tensile and shear values but it remains extremely flexible over its’ service life and offers superior ability to seal out water and prevent incursion into the building.

How Is Adhesive Strength Measured?

Adhesive strength is often measured by tensile, shear and peel tests. (There are others too but we’ll keep it simple for now)

Tensile ia a pull exerted equally over the entire joint. The pull direction is straight and away from the bond line. This is a useful test to understand how an adhesive might perform when a sudden load is applied such as a wind gust.

Shear is a pull directed across the adhesive, forcing the substrates to slide past each other. The test might be dynamic where one panel is bonded to another and pulled apart in a testing machine. The higher the load needed to “shear apart” the test panel the better its’ ability resist sudden loads and thermal expansion.

The test can also be run in a static mode where a constant load is applied and time to failure is recorded. Static shear value are useful in understanding how a system might perform if it must support a vertical load during service.

Peel is concentrated along a thin line at the edge of the bond where one substrate is flexible. This test is used extensively for pressure-sensitive tape systems to understand how well the adhesive “sticks” to the surface to which it is applied.

All of these tests can be performed after various environmental and chemical exposures that mimic service conditions.

This is why thorough testing and comparisons are needed before adhesives are recommended for each application. The adhesives, sealants, and tapes that are provided by Tom Brown, Inc. have been very thoroughly tested with different types of tape and adhesive products available for a multitude of commercial applications.

Tapes and Primers and How They Work Together (and why not to avoid using them)

People use tapes every day and typically don’t think much about them. They just expect them to stick when they’re applied and most of the time they do just that with nothing more than light pressure from your fingers or hand.

There are industrial tape applications however where things get a little more complicated and the risk of bond failure must be avoided at all costs. This is especially true for high strength acrylic tapes that are used in architectural and automotive applications.

The use of painted metals that are painted with high performance architectural coatings, thermoplastic elastomers for automotive parts, and various other plastic and glass surfaces all can challenge acrylic bonding tape adhesion.

Fortunately, there are very effective primers to help the fabricator or manufacturer overcome these adhesion challenges. It may be tempting to avoid the extra step associated with priming but here are three reasons not to do that:

  1. Challenging Substrates

Many of today’s engineering plastics, rubbers’ and coatings are designed to take a beating and yet be cost effective. They can also be difficult to bond to due to inherently low surface energies.

Primers acts as a  ”bridge “ between the tape and the surface. This is especially true when using silane coupling agents between a tape and glass surface. The appropriately named coupling agent has chemical functionality on one end of the molecule to assist with bonding to inorganic surfaces such as glass along with an organic side that works well with the tape. Result? A really great bond!

  1. Superior Adhesion and Compatibility

The right primer results in superior adhesion between the tape and substrate. Simple peel testing will clearly show the significant increase in adhesion between an acrylic tape and a properly primed surface. The failure mode on a properly primed surface will be a cohesive failure meaning that the tape itself literally ruptures before the adhesive will let go. For those that know something about just how strong these acrylic tapes are, that’s saying something!

  1. Improved Quality and Longevity

Primers for tapes are relatively easy to apply. Only a thin coating is necessary and capital intensive equipment is not needed. Very often, simple dust free wipes are all that is necessary.

The resulting increase in adhesion that is gained from the use of the right primer allows the bond to survive and thrive in adverse conditions. This might be sudden high wind loads on a high rise building façade or resisting repeated high pressure car wash cycles on automotive trim parts.

Customers don’t want their building, car, or other assembly to fail.  Proper tape and primer selection can make that a reality. Have questions about primers for high performance acrylic bonding tapes? Contact Tom Brown, Inc. for answers.

Understanding Large Surface Lamination Assemblies

There are times when a single layer of a material simply is not suited to a project. This can occur throughout a myriad of industries, ranging from construction to furnishings. When multiple layers of material are needed, one of the easiest methods of assembly is through lamination. The process of large surface lamination occurs when two different surfaces are bonded together. These surfaces are generally the same size, but they may have differing properties.

The Most Common Uses for Large Surface Lamination

  • Wood veneer. Wood veneer is frequently attached directly to other, less expensive types of wood. Both these materials are porous, but it’s important that the lamination be very strong, as this material will often be further processed to make furnishings and tools.
  • Transportation flooring. The non-skid flooring of transportation equipment often has to be bonded directly to metal and other materials. Transportation flooring adhesion is particularly important because it is a safety issue; failed adhesion could lead to tripping hazards.
  • In furnishings, fabric is often bonded directly to various foams. In this situation, flexibility is very important in the application; the materials will both need to retain their bond even as they may both experience bending or warping . Some furnishings may be made out of multiple bonded materials, such as leather over cloth.
  • Surfaces such as counters and table tops require a high pressure laminate material. This adheres a decorative (but still long-lasting) material to a more solid base, which could be made out of wood or even metal. This type of surfacing may need to be heat and damage resistant.

Requirements for Large Surface Lamination

When large surface lamination occurs, the most important aspect is the bonding. Both adhesives and tapes are frequently used for large surface lamination, and these materials need to be able to bond to both of the surfaces. Requirements include that the adhesive used must be able to cover the full surface of both materials. They need to be flexible in some instances and more rigid in others. The adhesive needs to allow for the positioning of parts in relation to each other, and it needs to be able to bond fairly quickly and permanently without the need for excessive fixturing.

Large surface lamination isn’t only about the type of lamination, but also the size; because the surfaces are fairly large, the lamination needs to be strong, flexible, and more versatile. For situations in which a single-layer material cannot be used, TBI offers multi-layer laminates up to 64 inches in width. These premium multi-layer laminations can be further improved through the use of foils, plastic layers, pressure-sensitive layers, and other modifications. Both heat assisted lamination and cold roll lamination processes are available. If you’re interested in a multi-layer laminate assembly, contact TBI today.


Tom Brown, Inc. and SEAL: Distributors and Manufacturers working together

Brendan Brown, the COO of Tom Brown, Inc. has become the president of the SEAL (Sealant Engineering  and Associated Lines) Group. The SEAL Group is going to be meeting twice in 2017, both in Spring and Fall. These meetings are going to be incredibly important for those within the industry. 

Mission of SEAL Group

SEAL Group has been established for the networking and trading of knowledge for those within the sealant and sealant-related industries. By bringing together the most notable voices in the business, the SEAL Group is able to further improve upon their products and deliver even better solutions for their clientele. Sealant engineering, waterproofing, and associated lines are all B2B industries with rapidly expanding applications. This means that a lot of adaptation and evolution has to occur within the industry. The better connected the industry is the more opportunities will arise. 

Matt Birk will be a guest speaker on Tuesday. This is a great addition to the industry information that will be disbursed. Matt Birk is a former players for the MN Vikings and Baltimore Ravens. Twice all-pro and six times Pro Bowl, Matt Birk was also the 2011 Walter Payton Man of the Year. In his presentation, he is going to discuss his career and how it relates to success in business. This will be an inspiring and unique presentation that is sure to give visitors something to think about.

The SEAL Group Spring Meeting

Registration is presently open for the SEAL Group Spring Meeting, which will take place from May 1st to May 3rd at the Radisson Blu Downtown Minneapolis Hotel. This exciting industry event is designed to bring those within the industry together to network, socialize, and discuss new and important trends. The industry and the technology that supports it is growing very quickly. Companies that aren’t able to keep abreast of these new trends aren’t going to be able to remain competitive. These industry meetings are held in areas with large numbers of entertainment venues, restaurant options, and even spa opportunities. 

For those who can’t attend the Spring Meeting, a Fall Meeting will also be held from November 5th to November 8th, at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point in Bonita Springs, Florida. Registration will occur for this relaxing event in the summer of 2017. This similar event will likewise bring with it many opportunities for network and connection. It’s also located in a fantastic place for all types of relaxation; it’s a vacation and an industry event in one.

Tom Brown, Inc. is proud to have a part in the SEAL Group and proud to represent a large selection of products from leaders within the industry. For more information about the many adhesives that can operate as sealants, consider reviewing the adhesive selection at Tom Brown, Inc.

Glass to Glass Bonding Tapes

The first thing people think of when they think of glass is usually a window or a car windshield. While those are certainly the dominant applications for glass globally, glass is finding increasing use as an architectural design element on the interior of commercial and residential buildings.

Glass can be used as a partial partition, to enclose a full office or conference space, in glass elevators, or as a shower enclosure. These glass panels can contain unique graphics due to the prominence of large format printing processes and can also be etched or coated to look like stone or other surfaces.

As you might expect, adhesives and sealants play a large role in the installation of glass panels and yes, “there’s a tape for that”!

These tapes are designed with a transparent acrylic core in thicknesses from 20 mils to 118 mils. They are typically applied along the edge of the glass panel and provide an easy, clean way to unitize the panels and provide nearly invisible sight lines.

These tape systems can be applied in a shop environment or in the field and the installation steps are not complicated.

First the glass edges needs to be cleaned. A simple 50:50 blend of water and isopropyl alcohol will remove any contamination and provide a ready to bond surface. Primer containing silane coupling agents can be used to enhance bond strength of needed.

Next the slit roll of tape is applied with a hand held guide along the edge of the glass panel and a small rubber covered roller is used to secure the exposed adhesive to the edge.

Next, a small piece of the release liner is “pig-tailed” to allow it to be removed when the panels are ultimately brought into contact. The panels can then be set into the bottom channel and brought into near contact. A double vacuum pad at the top and bottom of the partition can be applied to bring the panels into contact with one another.

That’s it! Once the panels are brought into contact, the tape will achieve 50-60% of it’s bond strength and will reach 80% within an hour.

Want to learn more about transparent acrylic glass to glass bonding tapes? Contact Tom Brown, Inc. for more details.

Over 80 Years of Service – History of Tom Brown Inc.

For over 80 years, Tom Brown, Inc. has been providing high quality building supplies to construction companies throughout the nation. First launched as Tom Brown Builder’s Supply in 1936 and later incorporated as Tom Brown, Inc. in 1946, the business has remained dedicated to its customers and its product throughout the many decades. In recent years, Tom Brown, Inc. has focused on the manufacture of specialty tape and gasket materials, and remains a distributor of a wide array of specialty construction products.

A Century’s Worth of History in Every Product

At the age of 13, Tom Brown took control over his father’s business, The James Brown Feed and Grain Company. This was Tom’s introduction to the world of business ownership. In 1915 he began working at Duncan and Porter Company, developing an interest in supplying industrial lime to the steel industry. He began to sell lime to building and construction companies in 1936 under the name Tom Brown Builder’s Supply.

It wasn’t until 1940, after the purchase of Heppenstall and Marquis Builder’s Supply, that Tom Brownwould begin interest in wholesale distribution. Later, Tom Brown would go on to purchase the largest distributor of Andersen windows in the country, in addition to a wide variety of other businesses. In 1949, the focus would shift to architectural precast concrete, when Don Brown joined the company.

From Concrete to Sealant: A Natural Evolution

For decades, Tom Brown, Inc. focused on precast concrete production. Through this specialization, Don Brown learned more about the adhesives, sealants, and caulking materials that were needed to work with the concrete. Eventually, this led to the distribution of new tape and adhesive products. In the 1983, Kenny Brown shifted the organization’s focus once again: this time to tape converting. 

TBI has remained a successful and growing business over the past 80 years by adapting to the changing needs of the market, and always staying a step ahead of the competition. While other suppliers were content to provide what the construction and building industry demanded, Tom Brown, Inc. was always looking for the next development in specialized technology. By adapting to changing markets, the business has been able to succeed where others have failed. 

Tom Brown, Inc. Today

Though its products may have changed, the company’s expertise within the construction and building industry remains unmatched. Headed by Brendan Brown, TBI today focuses primarily on tape and gasket manufacture and converting, sealants, caulking, and waterproofing. TBI provides tape conversion for both Norton (Saint-Gobain) and 3M, in addition to a variety of other industry leaders. Through a partnership with Garvin Construction Products of Boston, Tom Brown, Inc. is also able to provide concrete repair and sealing products. 

Tom Brown, Inc. hopes to celebrate many more decades serving the industrial, construction, and building industries. It’s not known what challenges lie ahead for the business, but the industry for specialty tapes and gasket materials is strong and growing. As a family-owned business that has spanned nearly a century, TBI puts its relationship with its customers and the industry first… and that’s something that will continue for a long time to come. For more information about the history of TBI and to inquire about any of their specialty products or services, contact them today.