Some of you may have read my last post on supply chain challenges with silicone sealants used in residential window fabrication. I’m going to reiterate a few of those same points as they also relate directly to commercial fenestration applications.

The Background

Silicon is the key ingredient to produce the organosilicones used for silicone rubbers, sealants, and adhesives. China is responsible for approximately 70% of the world’s silicon production. 30% is used for the polycrystalline silicon used for chips and photovoltaics, 40% is used for organosilicones, and 30% is used for silicon alloys. China has experienced severe flooding in areas that produce the raw silicon. Power outages and production cutbacks have strained their ability to meet demand. (Silicon production is a very energy intensive process). These circumstances along with manpower cutbacks due to the pandemic and logistics challenges have created a “perfect storm” leading to multiple price increases, allocations, and severe supply chain disruptions. Fortunately, there is a very robust tape option from 3M that can potentially mitigate some of the supply chain disruptions.

Structural Glazing Tape

Since 1990, 3M has been providing B23F and G23F VHB structural glazing tapes as the primary bonding method for permanently bonding glass and spandrel panels to aluminum framing systems in curtain wall, window wall, and other commercial applications. The acrylic foam core of this viscolelastic tape dissipates energy (think of sudden wind gusts) and relaxes stresses along the entire bond line. The result is a strong, tough, yet durable bonding system that has been installed in over 30,000 building projects.    Silicone Alternatives for Commercial Fenestration Applications | Pittsburgh | Tom Brown, Inc.

(Diagram of structural silicone and structural glazing tape joints courtesy of 3M)

  The biggest “aha moment” that fabricators experience when they try these tapes is increased throughput. You can tape much faster than you can apply sealants. Applying tape takes fairly simple tools and easy-to-follow processes. The learning curve is very short. There are no pumps to maintain and no ongoing quality checks to verify that two-part sealants are being mixed correctly. Additionally, you can handle and transport taped units immediately. Now productivity benefits in the fab shop are great. However, at the end of the day, this is about adhering glass and panels to buildings. 3M has done an outstanding job putting these tapes through some very serious test protocols. They have one of the most sophisticated accelerated aging labs in the world. These VHB structural glazing are the most thoroughly tested, and documented tapes in the history of the industry. One small sample table of accelerated aging with temperature and humidity cycling appears below.  Silicone Alternatives for Commercial Fenestration Applications | Pittsburgh | Tom Brown, Inc.

 (Data table with up to 10,000 hours comparing VHB to two-part silicone courtesy of 3M)

  Not every fenestration system is designed to incorporate structural glazing tapes, but a surprising number are made with an SGT option. Those systems appear in the table below:  


The supply chain disruptions with silicone materials are forecasted to last another 12 plus months. Additional monomer production capacity is underway by Dow, Momentive, Wacker Chemie, Elkem, and Shin-Etsu Chemical Co. but, these capital expansion projects are not short-term fixes and take time to bring online.  We’ve learned some hard lessons about how fragile supply chains can be over the last 20 months. Having options gives us some leverage to solve problems creatively and 3M VHB structural glazing tape is one of those options. Want to know more about 3M VHB structural glazing tapes and what they can do for you? Contact Tom Brown, Inc today at Silicone Alternatives for Residential Window Glazing Applications | Pittsburgh | Tom Brown, Inc   The demand for silicone rubber materials surged in late 2020 and has increased through 2021. While the aerospace and medical markets have long used silicone materials, the automotive market is increasing its’ usage. Car manufacturers now use silicone materials in under the hood applications and the growing electric vehicle sector is utilizing silicone products for battery packs.  This demand has stressed the supply of silicone sealants used in the fabrication of residential window systems. Fortunately, there are tape options to help window companies manage this challenge.

The Background on Silicon Shortages

Silicon is the key ingredient to produce the organosilicones used for silicone rubbers, sealants, and adhesives. China is responsible for approximately 70% of the world’s silicon production. 30% is used for the polycrystalline silicon used for chips and photovoltaics, 40% is used for organosilicones, and 30% is used for silicon alloys. China has experienced severe flooding in areas that produce the raw silicon. Power outages and production cutbacks have strained their ability to meet demand. (Silicon production is a very energy-intensive process).  These circumstances along with manpower cutbacks due to the pandemic and logistics challenges have created a “perfect storm” leading to 300% increases in prices, allocations, and severe supply chain disruptions.

Residential Windows

Residential window manufacturers sometimes use fast-curing silicone sealants to install the IG unit into the sash. Without question, these sealants provide an excellent bond and a water-tight seal. Glazing tapes can be an excellent option to use in place of sealants while the supply chain remains unpredictable. Tapes are easy to apply, require little in the way of specialized training for correct application, and offer no mess or squeeze out into the sight lines.

Technical Data

Tapes are certified to AAMA (now FGIA) 810.1 “Expanded Cellular Glazing Tapes, Type1” and have been used successfully since the 80’s on PVC, fiberglass, and aluminum framing systems.

Typical Physical Properties on ARclad® 4000 Series Glazing Tapes

    Silicone Alternatives for Residential Window Glazing Applications | Pittsburgh | Tom Brown, Inc  

Outlook For Silicone Materials

The supply chain disruptions with silicone materials are forecasted to last another 12+ months. Additional monomer production capacity is under way by Dow, Momentive, Wacker Chemie, Elkem, and Shin-Etsu Chemical Co. However, these capital expansion projects take time to bring online. It’s another wake up call for companies to have multiple sourcing options to help manage these supply chain challenges and assure consistent supply to customers. Want to know more about how glazing tapes can be integrated into your window production? Contact Tom Brown, Inc. today at How to Manage Noise and Vibration with Fabricated Foams and Adhesive Materials | Pittsburgh | Tom Brown, Inc. The two primary sources of noise are airborne noise and structural noise. Airborne noise results from the interaction of a vibrating surface with the surrounding air (think of a speaker) while structural noise results from the vibrational energy that travels through a structure, as well as other surfaces it might contact. While the noise from a radio or television might be desirable, other sources of noise from machinery, between floors in a building, or inside our car can be highly undesirable. There are a variety of strategies to reduce and control unwanted noise. Fabricated foam and adhesive parts play a significant role in achieving those reductions.

Airborne Noise

The primary strategies for reducing airborne noise are absorbers and barriers. Lightweight open cell foams are a very cost-effective way of attenuating noise in the air; particularly low frequencies. The open cell structure can absorb sound waves reducing the amplitude of the wave as the sound energy is transformed into heat. These materials include open cell polyether and polyester foams as well as reticulated (cell walls are removed to increase porosity) foams. Managing Noise and Vibration with Fabricated Foams and Adhesive Materials | Pittsburgh | Tom Brown, Inc.

 (Open Cell Urethane Foam)

  Low density, closed cell foams can act as both an absorber and a blocker and do better with medium to high frequencies. PVC and low density cross-linked polyolefin foams can be used in these applications. Synthetic blanket materials such as 3M Thinsulate and fiberglass composite materials are also effective solutions for attenuating unwanted airborne noise. These materials can be supplied with a pressure-sensitive adhesive backing to facilitate easy installation and are easy to die cut into the final shape using flat bed, waterjet or flash knife cutters. Low density, closed cell foams can act as both an absorber and a blocker and do better with medium to high frequencies. PVC and low density cross-linked polyolefin foams can be used in these applications. Synthetic blanket materials such as 3M Thinsulate and fiberglass composite materials are also effective solutions for attenuating unwanted airborne noise. These materials can be supplied with a pressure-sensitive adhesive backing to facilitate easy installation and are easy to die cut into the final shape using flat bed, waterjet or flash knife cutters.

Structural Noise

The solutions for structural noise are a bit different. In a manufacturing environment, machinery is the typical source of vibrational noise. In a car, the engine and associated systems are usually the sources. Left unchecked, the repetitive motion of parts and surfaces can result in material fatigue and reduce reliability over time. Isolation is one of the principal strategies to minimize vibrational noise. Dense foams and microcellular foams are ideal material choices for use with heavier objects as these foams decouple the source from surrounding surfaces or housings that would otherwise amplify the sound and vibrations. These materials can be offered with or without adhesive and are easy to die cut for easy application. In some applications, bonding and isolation can be accomplished in one step. The use of acrylic foam tapes such as 3M VHB permit two rigid surfaces to be bonded together (for example a metal building façade panel to a stiffener). Any vibrational energy places the tape into elongation mode even though it is constrained by the two rigid surfaces. (constrained layer damping) The energy is transformed into heat as it damps the vibrations. Another strategy to use constrained layer damping is to apply a thick foil with a soft pressure sensitive damping adhesive such as 3M’s Vibration Damping Foil Tape. The thick foil acts as a constraining layer and the adhesive goes into elongation mode converting the vibrations into heat. Again, these products are easy to die cut and apply. Tom Brown, Inc has the experience to help you address your noise and vibration challenges with a broad portfolio of foams and tape products designed to meet your needs. Contact us today at   There are truly some fantastic buildings that were recently built or are in the construction process. The curtain wall, window wall and metal building panel designs have pushed the envelope in terms of aesthetics and environmental performance. Our eyes are immediately drawn to the glass, metal panels, and other features as they should be because the real beauty is truly there. However, I’m always curious about the things behind all that beauty; the thousands of fasteners, caulking, backer rod, tapes, and other components that help hold it all together and make it functional. I was walking by the waterjet the other day and saw windowsill splice blocks being cut for a metal building panel project. It got me thinking about many of these small, seemingly insignificant parts that we provide or façade applications. Sometimes, these small parts play a big role!   Waterjet Parts for Architectural Façade Applications | Pittsburgh| Tom Brown, Inc.

Foam Technical Properties for Façade Applications

There are a number of choices for the elastomeric foams that might be considered for these types of parts. One of the workhorse products is SCE41B from Rubberlite, Inc. SCE41B is a blended foam consisting of neoprene, EPDM and SBR (styrene butadiene rubber). This blend offers excellent oxidation and ozone resistance, resistance to acids and alkali, and passes UL 94 HBF burn tests. This foam is easy to compress for easy installation yet has high enough tensile strength for easy removal.   Waterjet Parts for Architectural Façade Applications | Pittsburgh | Tom Brown, Inc. Want to know more about how foam parts can help with façade applications? Contact Tom Brown, Inc today. Seven Popular Workhorse Gasket Materials | Pittsburgh | Tom Brown, Inc.   I’ve always liked the term “workhorse”.  Some might think that anything called workhorse is common, unremarkable, or just boring. I’ve always thought workhorse is a compliment. It means strong, reliable, and able to work day in and day out without drawing a lot of attention to itself. When considering gasket materials, the workhorse analogy is very useful. There are a handful of gasket materials that do an excellent job for 75-80% of gasketing and sealing applications. The “thoroughbred” gasketing materials such as silicones and fluroelastomers are highly specialized. They have broader performance properties especially for low and high temperature exposure but come with a much higher price tag.

Background on Gasket Materials

The materials outlined in this post will typically have an operating temperature range of -40° to 250°F (-40° to 121°C). Some of them such as cross-linked polyethylene (XLPE) will only handle an upper temperature limit of about 200°F (93°C). Some of them are available as solid rubber and also in foam or sponge format (foam and sponge are often used interchangeably but there are some differences).  Some are only available as a foam. In the case of foam or sponge, there can sometimes be open cell versions or closed cell versions.

PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride)

Closed cell PVC is available in a variety of densities and exhibits excellent UV resistance, cushioning, and sound damping properties. It is used in many gasketing and sealing applications with a service temperature range of -40°F to 200°F. The Norseal® brand of PVC foams from Saint Gobain are available in gray and black with or without adhesive for easy installation.

Polyurethane (PU or just urethane)

Polyurethanes are available in both foam and solid forms. Solid polyurethane is extremely abrasion resistant and typically used in very special applications. The foam version, also called microcellular urethane foam, is more common. The very fine cell structure gives this foam excellent compression set resistance so it will not collapse and can be resealed many times. These foams also offer excellent shock dissipation along with moisture and chemical resistance and are available in several densities.

EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer)

EPDM is a synthetic elastomer that is available in both solid and sponge form. The diene monomer permits this rubber to cross-link giving EPDM it’s excellent UV and aging characteristics; especially outdoors. EPDM performs well in temperatures from -60° to 250°F but its’ Achille’s heel is poor resistance to hydrocarbons such as oil, gasoline, and kerosene.

Neoprene (Polychloroprene)

Neoprene is also a workhorse synthetic elastomer available in both solid and sponge form in soft, medium, and firm densities. It is the antithesis to EPDM in two ways; it has great resistance to oils, gasoline, grease, and kerosene but does not exhibit the UV and aging stability that EPDM possesses. It has the same 250°F upper end service temperature as EPDM.

Nitrile Rubber (Nitrile Butadiene Rubber – NBR, Buna-N, Acrylonitrile Butadiene – ACN)

Nitrile rubber is also a synthetic elastomer with very good resilience. Properties can be adjusted by varying the acrylonitrile to butadiene ratios. The lower the acrylonitrile content, the lower the Tg and the higher the ratio the better resistance it will have to gasoline, oils, and many other chemicals. It has excellent tensile strength and is resistant to petrochemicals. This makes it the ideal choice for O-rings and other automotive and aerospace gasket applications. Nitrile rubber has a service temperature range of -40°to 225°F.

Cross-Linked Polyethylene (XLPE)

Cross-linked polyethylene foam undergoes a cross-linking step via irradiation or chemical cross-linking to yield a closed cell foam with higher tensile strength and compression set resistance than common polyethylene foams. It is an ideal gasket material where the upper temperature limit will not exceed 180°F.

Blended Foams

As the name implies, blended foams seek to capitalize on the strengths of some elastomers and limit weaknesses by blending them. Two workhorse foams from Rubberlite are their SCE41B (a blend of neoprene, EPDM, and styrene butadiene rubber) and their VNN IV1 (a blend of PVC, nitrile rubber, and chlorinated rubber. Both of these blended foams  have a service temperature range of -40° to 200°F. and excellent physical properties for gasketing applications.

Summary of Gasket Materials

The term “workhorse” does not necessarily mean unremarkable or boring. It can signify strength and reliability. There are seven classes of workhorse foams that can handle 75-80% of gasketing and sealing applications. These gasket materials can be provided as die cut parts, slit rolls, or laminated to other materials. TBI has the materials science and process expertise to help you with your project. Contact us today at The Thickest 3M VHB™ Tape Yet! | Pittsburgh | Tom Brown, Inc. Many folks know that I’m a huge fan of 3M VHB™ acrylic foam tapes. I was in the industry when they were introduced in 1980 (yes, I’ve been in this field that long and longer) and I continue to be a strong advocate. Why? Because VHB™ tapes  continue to push the boundaries of what a tape can do. The newest addition to the North American VHB™ portfolio (now near 100 products) is 4972-35. This is a 0.138” (3.5mm) thick, gray tape. The thickest VHB tape available before the release of this new offering was 4959F which is a .120” thick, white foam.  

How 4972-35 Can Help

Parts to be bonded can have a myriad of features such as channels, lips or rolled edges, and complex geometries. Large parts will sometimes have planarity issues between one bonding surface and the other. These features often necessitate the need a thicker tape to extend beyond the feature or fill a gap so that a good bond can be achieved. The 4972-35 delivers that capability and in a neutral gray color for a nearly invisible bond line.

Features and Technical Data

  • Gray, 0.138” (3.5mm) conformable foam with a multi-purpose acrylic that bonds to medium and high surface energy materials including glass, metals, and a wide variety of paints and plastics including plasticized PVC
  • Creates a permanent seal against water and moisture
  • Stresses and energy are absorbed by the foam and protect the bond line
  • Closed cell acrylic chemistry is proven to withstand extreme environments
  • 90°Peel (ASTM D3330) 28 lbs/inch
  • Normal Tensile (ASTM D987) 70 lbs/sq. inch , 480kPA
  • Overlap Shear (ASTM D1002) 57 lbs/sq. inch, 393kPA
  • Excellent resistance to salt water, motor oil, hydraulic fluids, and kerosene
  • Good resistance to alcohols, jet fuel, and gasoline

Summary of The Thickest Tape

The addition of 4972-35 to the VHB™ portfolio adds design flexibility for bonding applications that may have channels, rolled edges, complex geometries, or planarity issues. The tape can be delivered in slit rolls, spools, or as die cut parts. Want to learn more about 4972-35 or try it in your next application? Contact Tom Brown, Inc. today.           Bryan Harrison is the Technical Service Manager for the Thermalbond® spacer tape product line at Saint-Gobain. He kindly agreed to be interviewed for this blog post. All images used are sourced by Saint-Gobain Tape Solutions.

Bryan, can you give us a little history lesson on the Thermalbond® portfolio? How long has it been around and what prompted its’ development?

Sure. We were approached when structural glazing was really getting off the ground. It was 1978 and the industry knew that a structural silicone could do the job, but they needed a solution that would allow them to fabricate the facade while maintaining spacing until the one part structural silicone cured. Back then the glass would be held in place with Dutchman clips for 21 days until the silicone fully cured. The first job that we did was a Saks Fifth Avenue retrofit in Pittsburgh. It was mirrored glass glazing and we used the V2100 series. They came to us and explained the criteria; avoiding three-sided adhesion, an open cell structure to allow moisture in, and a high performing adhesive. In 1985, we launched a sister product (to the V2100) V2200. It was a darker shade of black to better match most of the structural silicones being used. Also, a lot of the glazing was starting to be performed in a shop environment rather than on site so things were easier to control. For example, you don’t have all the issues of field glazing with the outside of a building in the elements. Around the 2010 timeframe, structural glazing trends shifted to using more gray colored silicones. We launched a gray color option meant to address that trend. It’s not meant to be an exact match for any one gray, but it’s meant to blend in when you’re stepping back and viewing the building. In 2012, we launched Thermalbond® Xpress. It was really designed to continue the move toward design flexibility. It has features that allow it to be used in applications where you don’t need adhesive on one side, want easy repositionability and a very consistent look through glass.

Can you describe in more detail how the Thermalbond® structural spacer functions in the application?

At the start of the fabrication process, you clean your frames and get those ready to apply the Thermalbond®. You apply the adhesive on the face (unwind) side of the Thermalbond® to the frame. You can proceed with attaching the glass immediately or may tape several frames first (in a batch process). The blue release liner is left in place until you’re ready to apply the glass, marble, or other material to the frame. Typically, people use small pieces of wood as spacers to help get the glass properly positioned.  You then pull out the blue release liner to the side and work your way around the frame removing the wood pieces as you go to produce a nice, smooth appearance.  The adhesive system is strong enough to allow the unit to be moved to another station immediately. At that point, the structural silicone is dispensed around the perimeter and the Thermalbond® maintains the space. The open cell structure allows any gas to escape and permits moisture penetration to help facilitate sealant cure. Some shops will stack the units vertically but most will stack horizontally or put them right into a shipping container.

When you think about Thermalbond® versus other competitive products, what makes it distinct and unique versus other materials?

I already mentioned the open cell structure. The idea behind that was that structural sealants require moisture to cure and we really want to get the maximum amount of penetration, especially when you’re on the side of a building. Most polyurethane foams are water blown. Thermalbond® is a different type of technology. The cells are very fine and discreet. If you look at the edges, it looks just like a closed cell material. Some of that is for the aesthetics but also for its’ ability to hold weight. Several years ago, we instituted a branded liner on the Thermalbond® line. We did that because we were starting to see counterfeits from overseas. If you’re counting on a spacer to make sure that your structural silicone sealant project is done correctly, you want to make sure you’re getting the right material. We then introduced new technology with Thermalbond® Xpress. Spacer Tapes for Structural Silicone Glazing | Pittsburgh | Tom Brown, Inc.   You don’t have a release liner with this product so there’s very little subsidiary waste and it lets you apply the product very quickly anywhere on the surface. From an aesthetic standpoint, there’s a huge advantage with the way the air / glass interface looks, much more consistent. It does have some real advantages for flooring applications. Beyond that is silicone sealant compatibility, which of course is the starting point for everything. If you aren’t compatible with the structural sealant, you have a big problem.

Since Thermalbond® is designed to work hand in hand with structural silicone can you talk a little bit about compatibility with sealants that are typically used in this type of application?

Sealant (compatibility) tests have been around for quite a while. ASTM 1087 is fairly standard. Some companies will do a modified version of 1087. You apply a bead of the structural sealant to whatever it will contact in the structure and age for 21 or more days in a variety of conditions; mainly UV exposure. You’re looking for any color shift because the sealants, interestingly enough, will exhibit a color change if there’s any incompatibility. Whatever (structural silicone) you use it must be compatible otherwise your warranty is at risk. Nobody wants a facade to come off a building prematurely. One of the great things about being in this market for a long time is that the major sealant manufacturers have Thermalbond® compatibility data on file.

Can you expand a little bit on the Thermalbond® Xpress part of your portfolio?

We use the same core technology as the rest of the Thermalbond® line so the compatibility, the curing advantage, and the vapor transmission properties are still there. Unlike the standard Thermalbond® with adhesive on both sides, there’s adhesive on the unwind side and a release surface on the other side. it allows you to do two things. Since there is no release liner to remove it’s very quick to apply. Since the second surface has a release coating, the IG unit can be easily maneuvered into place. The Xpress is used in flooring applications, ground floor, and sometimes second floor levels where you want really nice aesthetics.

You’ve been the technical service manager for this product line for quite a while. What are some of the coolest projects where you’ve seen Thermalbond® used?

One that’s near and dear to my heart is One World Trade Center. I was involved with The Freedom Tower and I like the way the building looks. It’s got sloped glazing and is part of a skyline that people recognize from all over the globe. The project used our V 2100 series. There’s also the Marina Bay Sands Resort in Singapore. That structure has a very iconic look. There are three towers and they end up going up to a huge infinity pool on the roof. The building used V 2200 series. Then going back to a job that was before my time was the Jumeirah Beach Hotel in Dubai. The hotel really has this amazing design feature that’s designed to look like a wave and a ship. One of our other divisions produced a film that makes the sail for the ship. Structural sealants in general have allowed buildings to really become the vision of the architect. Thanks for joining us Bryan!     It’s probably obvious by these blog posts that I really enjoy sharing the innovation I see in the tape world. It excites me that we continue to see tapes doing things that most folks never thought they could. I was able to join a virtual “3M Converter College” session this week on 3M’s newest thin film bonding tape; GPT-020F.

What is GPT-020F?

The folks at 3M will be the first to tell you that they love acronyms. Some have related meanings to the products and some don’t. This new tape’s name actually does have some meaning. The “GPT” stands for general purpose tape. The 020 correlates to the tape’s thickness of 200 microns (about 8 mils) and the “F” at the end stands for a film release liner. The GPT-020F is a double coated film tape. It features 3.7 mils of clear, solventless acrylic adhesive coated on both sides of a ½ mil polyester film. It comes with a tear resistant, 3.9 mil white BOPP (biaxially oriented polypropylene) film liner.

What Makes It So Special?

The adhesive system on this tape is what really sets it apart. It adheres to high surface energy materials (like stainless steel) but also has excellent adhesion to medium surface and low surface energy materials such as polypropylene. Peel adhesion values are over 100 ounces/inch (about 11N/cm) for most surfaces. The thick adhesive coating allows fast wet out (instantaneous adhesion) and can easily handle textured surfaces. The amazing feature (and testament to the innovative chemists at 3M) is that these high adhesion values don’t come at the expense of shear strength. There are a number of “red liner” double coated tapes that have been on the market for long time. They do have good peel values but they don’t have the shear strength, chemical resistance, and temperature resistance of the GPT-020F. It really is a leap forward in tape performance.

Thin Film Bonding Applications

Sometimes when you call something “general purpose” it can imply that it’s not a high performance product. Nothing could be further from the truth with this tape but I think 3M called it “GPT” because this tape can do so many things so well! Here are just a few application areas where the GPT-020F can really shine:
  • Light boxes and indoor/outdoor signs
  • Decorative trim attachment for appliances
  • Furniture trim attachment
  • Metal fabrication
  • Sporting good and gym equipment
  • Plastic to plastic bonding
  • POP/POS displays


3M GPT-020F is the newest thin film bonding tape that features solventless acrylic adhesive technology that combines both outstanding adhesion to high, medium and low surface energy materials along with excellent shear strength. The high shear strength provides excellent top end temperature resistance (375°F), chemical resistance, and UV stability. Want to know more about GPT-020Fand how it can solve your bonding application? Contact Tom Brown, Inc today! Norseal® PVC Foam Tapes - Workhorse Products for Gasketing, Sealing, and Cushioning Applications | Pittsburgh | Tom Brown, Inc. Some tapes, like some people, don’t draw a lot of attention to themselves. They might not be particularly flashy but they consistently get the job done. Saint Gobain’s Norseal® PVC foam tapes are a great example. When you have gasketing, sealing, and cushioning applications, these products are real “players” and deliver proven performance time after time.

What is PVC Foam?

PVC (polyvinyl chloride) foam is a compressible, flexible, closed cell material available in various densities (6-15 lbs./cubic foot). This versatile foam is produced by applying a PVC resin matrix onto a single side siliconized paper release liner. The liquid PVC is applied to the non-silicone side of the paper and then heat along with blowing agents initiate the “foaming”. Process controls allow the foam thickness to be controlled. An acrylic pressure-sensitive adhesive is then applied in line, dried, and then wound into a master roll.

Technical Advantages of PVC Foam Tapes

PVC foam tapes provide an effective seal against water, dirt, and air infiltration when compressed 30%. Additional advantages include:
  • Mitigates vibration and impact
  • Good weathering resistance
  • Superior chemical resistance to polyurethanes
  • Service range of -40°F to 180°F
  • Available in thicknesses from 0.063” to 0.500”
Typical physical properties of the Norseal® V740 series (medium density)  

PVC Foam Tape Applications

PVC foams are used in the automotive, building and construction, transportation, HVAC, general industrial, and many other markets. The lower density foams are great for weather-stripping and thin gauge materials where you need maximum conformability and sealing at lower pressure. The medium density with their added strength and impact resistance are used widely in many applications and the high density PVC foams offer maximum cushioning, vibration damping, and abrasion resistance. Some specific application examples:
  • Truck cab and body seals
  • Foundation to sill gaskets
  • Die cut gaskets
  • Window and door weatherstripping
  • Concrete forms
  • Wall systems
  • Toolbox lid seals
  • Corrugated wall seals
  • Log home seals
  • HVAC seals
  • Shipping container seals
  • Roof rail seals

Use and Handling

PVC foams are most often used in roll form. Large 54-56” wide log rolls of the foam are loaded on to a “log slitter” or single knife slitter and the individual slit rolls are cut to the precise width for each application. The slit rolls can easily be hand applied or affixed using a semi-automatic lamination station. The paper liner carrier sheet is then removed to expose the PVC foam surface for sealing. Slit rolls can also be traverse wound into spools. Spools are very similar to the line on a fishing reel or a spool of thread. The main advantage of spools is that much longer lengths of PVC foam can be wound onto a common core. This is particularly useful for continuous manufacturing operations such as extrusion lines where downtime for roll changeovers must be minimized. PVC foams can also be easily die cut using a variety of techniques. Flat bed and rotary die cutting are most common for small to medium size parts. Larger parts can be processed on waterjet or flash knife cutting equipment. Laser cutters can be used but there will be noticeable char on the edges of the parts which is usually unacceptable.


PVC foams are extremely versatile materials for sealing, gasketing, and cushioning applications. They may not be the fanciest tape products but they offer exceptional, consistent performance in many diverse applications. Want to learn more or get samples for your project? Contact Tom Brown, Inc. today.         Macbond Artic extreme temperature Performance| Pittsburgh |Tom Brown, Inc. In a previous blog post, we discussed the importance of observing the application temperature recommendations provided for each tape (typically between 60-100°F).  It is hard to find a tape that quickly bonds in an extreme temperature since low temperatures can prevent a tape from achieving the  “wet out” or flow needed to create a good bond. There are exceptions to every rule and this is one of them – Macbond® Arctic. Mactac (a Lintec Company) headquartered in Stow, Ohio has developed an aggressive rubber-based adhesive platform (MX10) that permits tape application in temperatures as low as -10°F (-23°C).

MX10 Adhesive Platform

Some environments will never be warm enough to apply many tape products. For example, freezer and refrigerated spaces must be kept at low temperatures to ensure food safety. Also, building and construction sites don’t have heat until late in the building process, yet tape products may still need to be used. The chemists at Mactac developed an adhesive with these environments in mind. The MX10 adhesive system features a unique rubber-resin blend that has a very low glass transition temperature (Tg). This means that the adhesive transitions from a “rubbery phase” to a “glass phase” at much lower temperatures than most pressure-sensitive adhesives. This allows the adhesive to “wet out” at much lower temperatures and still form a strong bond. In addition to low temperature application, the MX 10 offers the following benefits:
  • Maintains tack in cold, wet conditions
  • Service temperature range of -65°F- 150°F (-54° -65.5°C)
  • Approved for direct food contact (FDA 175.125)
  • Excellent adhesion to low surface energy materials (polyoelfins, EVA, EPDM, and other LSE surfaces)
  • Excellent adhesion to paper and corrugated containers (including wax coatings)

Extreme Temperature Product Options and Performance

The Macbond Arctic portfolio consists of two products, ATRX1162 which is a double coated polyester film and ATRX1062 which is a 2 mil unsupported transfer adhesive. The ARTX1162 double coated film tape can be used as is, laminated to a foam, or die cut into a specific shape. The ARTX1062 can be laminated to foams, films and foils to add low temperature performance to most anything. The MX10 adhesive has some great adhesion properties. For example, it has a 30 minute peel adhesion on stainless steel (high surface energy) generates values from 99-121 oz/inch and still maintains peel values from 96-116 oz/inch on HDPE (low surface energy). In addition to great peel values, dead load shear values with a 1 Kg (2.2 lbs) are over 75 hours. This test shows us that Mactac did not trade away the adhesive’s ability to handle shear stresses to gain good adhesion values.

 Links to YouTube Videos on the Macbond Arctic Products:

In this video, the Mactac MacBond Artic Tape shows how it adheres in an extreme temperature by forming an instant bond to a frozen stainless steel plate. Here you can see the Mactac MacBond Artic Tape forming an aggressive bond to a frozen HDPE plate, wet and dry. Want to know more about solving low temperature bonding issues? Contact Tom Brown, Inc. today.   Cutting Thick Foam Materials - A Waterjet Cutting Case Study | Tom Brown, Inc.

Cutting thick, soft foam materials accurately can be challenging. If you try cutting them with a knife, the foam compresses. As the foam thickness increases, blade deflection increases. Sometimes a steel blade simply isn’t the answer.

Enter the waterjet cutter. The waterjet creates a needle-like stream of water about 0.010” in diameter that is under 60,000 PSI of pressure. At that pressure, the speed of the water exiting the nozzle is almost supersonic. (which is why waterjet cutters can be a bit loud).

The Case Study

Geotechnics is a group of really smart guys in East Pittsburgh, PA who understand a lot about testing dirt. They offer extensive geotechnical and geosynthetic testing services that support the energy, highway, civil, and landfill industries.

One of their testing projects involved collecting soil samples from hundreds of feet below the surface. The sampling process involved a cylindrical steel tube that was pushed down through the soil using a ram to collect the soil specimen. The tube was capped and then brought back to the surface.

It was critical that the sample remained undisturbed through the shipping process. The tubes were 3 feet long and multiple tubes needed to be supported in a drum for transport.

Randy O’Rourke and his team from Geotechnics met with our CEO Kenny Brown about potential solutions.


The tubes were heavy and required support on the top and bottom to maintain a vertical position. Damping vibration during transport was also key to maintaining sample integrity. Kenny suggested a thick, closed cell foam that would be cut to match the diameter of the sample cylinders with support on the top and the bottom of the tubes.

A 4” thick, closed cell foam made from Armacell’s Ole Tex® BDJN 200 was selected. This foam is a blend of polyethylene and EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate). The polyethylene is chemically compatible with the EVA which adds softness and flexibility to the foam matrix.

A CAD drawing was created to produce a part to match the diameter of the drum and to support 10 sample tubes. Sample parts were cut and given to Geotechnics for testing.

Cutting Thick Foam Materials - A Waterjet Cutting Case Study | Tom Brown, Inc
A capped Geotechnics sample tube sitting in the bottom nest in the shipping drum.

Why Waterjet?

Waterjet cutting has significant advantages when cutting large parts from thick, soft foams:

  • The narrow cut width or kerf permits cutting intricate shapes with minimal deflection so there is minimal material distortion
  • No heat is involved unlike a laser cutter which can melt or char the edges of the finished part
  • Cuts very square, even on thick foam materials
  • No tooling is required. Once the CAD program is loaded into the waterjet, it’s ready to cut.
  • Easy to fabricate one off prototypes to test a design and make sure it functions properly
  • No chemicals or hazardous waste from the cutting process
  • Can handle part sizes up to 60”x 120”

Want to learn more about how Tom Brown, Inc. can create waterjet parts to solve your design challenges? Visit us at


Pressure Sensitive Tapes for Truck Trailer Fabrication Pittsburgh | Tom Brown, Inc.

We see tractor trailers every day. They are the critical link between producers and consumers. However, like most things we see often, we tend to take them for granted.

The truck trailer may appear to be just a box on wheels, but it is a sophisticated piece of equipment. The trailer protects the cargo from the elements and stabilizes it. Also, it keeps the cargo cold if perishable. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the trailer does this all safely while traveling at highway speeds.

For decades, mechanical fasteners have been used in these trailer fabrications. However, they come at a cost. That’s why we’re sharing various brands of pressure sensitive tapes and their benefits for truck trailer fabrication.

Truck Trailer Pressure Sensitive Tape Applications

Dry freight vans and refrigerated vans contain a myriad of components and sub-assemblies that need to be reliably put together and sealed. Typical applications include:

  • Panel to Frame Bonding (skins, roofs, sidewall and ceiling liners)
    • Replaces rivets and welds for metal and composite panels
  • Stiffener to Panel Bonding
    • Easily apply stiffeners to improve panel rigidity and support
  • Sealing Roof, Deck, and Panel Seams, LED Lighting and Access Ports
    • Single coated PVC and acrylic foam sealing tapes bond immediately to metals and plastics and form watertight seals
  • Self-Adhesive Gaskets
    • Gasketing foams of different densities can be die cut to any shape
  • Differential Metals
    • Single coated polyethylene tapes provide a barrier between commonly used metals and prevent bimetallic corrosion

Mechanical Fastener Challenges

As stated above, mechanical fasteners have been used in trailer fabrication for decades but come at a cost. Holes must be drilled into the panels and framing. The real problem comes as the trailer is used. Road vibrations cause the drilled holes to elongate over time. The fastener is no longer seated properly and the elongated hole is now an ingress point for water. In fact, it is not unusual for 25-30 percent of the fasteners to loosen after just 30,000 miles.

As the trailer body heats up and cools down, thermal expansion and contraction occur. This cycling results in point stresses at the fastener head farther elongating the holes and allowing water penetration.

Engineering Benefits of Pressure Sensitive Tape Bonding

It can be difficult to imagine that pressure sensitive tapes can replace metal fasteners or welds. After all, fasteners and welds are metal and metal is strong, right? (The answer is yes.) However, metal is strong in very specific ways and weak in other ways.

A bonding tape’s strength does not come from high compressive forces. Its strength comes from establishing intimate contact with the surfaces involved and from viscoelastic behavior.

  • Tapes distribute stress along the entire joint—rivets, welds and bolts concentrate stresses that can degrade material performance over time.
  • These tapes exhibit high load bearing capability with excellent dynamic shear and tensile strength. This viscoelastic behavior permits the joint to dampen vibration, absorb shock and recover time after time.
  • Also, pressure sensitive tapes bond and seal simultaneously. Tapes form strong bonds that seal out water, dirt and other contaminants.
  • They eliminate the need for drilling or punching holes and reduce the chance of water infiltration and corrosion.
  • Tapes prevent galvanic corrosion. They also act as a barrier between dissimilar metals and the associated chemical interactions.
  • Finally, pressure sensitive tape permits thinner, lighter and less expensive material selection. It permits selection of materials that can’t be welded or might be compromised by the use of mechanical fasteners.
Pressure Sensitive Tapes Pittsburgh | Tom Brown, Inc.
Courtesy of Saint-Gobain 

Waterproofing the Trailer

Any time one metal component is brought in contact with another to complete an assembly, a weatherproof seal cannot be achieved. Closed cell PVC sealing tapes are critical to keeping water from infiltrating the seam.

Top and bottom rails, side lap seams and panel seams can be sealed effectively against water, dust and dirt with an easily applied sealing tape. These tapes are available in a variety of densities to match the gauge and compression required to achieve a reliable seal. Plus, they can also be compatible with metal fasteners and won’t twist or distort when the fastener is affixed.

These tapes bring significant advantages over liquid applied sealants:

  • They won’t ooze or squeeze out of the joint
  • Also, they won’t embrittle or crack
  • No curing or waiting
  • Lastly, they are easy to apply
Pressure Sensitive Tapes Pittsburgh | Tom Brown, Inc.
Courtesy of Saint-Gobain 

Our Brands

Tom Brown, Inc., offers the most respected brands that have been recognized as best-in-class for truck trailer fabrication:

  • Norseal® PVC Sealing Tapes
  • Norbond® Acrylic Foam Tapes
  • 3M VHB® Acrylic Foam Tapes
  • 3M Extreme Sealing Tape®
  • Rubberlite gasketing materials
  • Intertape Polymer Group PE Tapes

Want to know more about how pressure sensitive tapes can help with trailer fabrication? Contact Tom Brown, Inc. today!

DeGoop Pittsburgh | Tom Brown, Inc.

No matter how skilled you might be with a caulking gun, sealants will inevitably end up on a surface where they shouldn’t be. Tapes that have to be removed often leave residue after they’ve been peeled away. How do you fix these problems in a safe and effective way? Meet DeGoop, the new sealant and adhesive remover from Tom Brown, Inc.


3M VHB™ acrylic foam tapes were introduced in the early 1980s and blazed the trail for high performance bonding and mechanical fastener replacement. 3M recently introduced a new series of tapes to the VHB portfolio and they are truly an exciting innovation – the LSE series! Let’s take a look at what the 3M VHB™ LSE series can do. (more…)