Supply chain disruptions have been a fact of life for the past two years. Even a large company like 3M has not been spared. Some of the VHB tapes in their portfolio such as the workhorse RP series were part of that disruption. To 3M’s credit, they put their best and brightest technical minds on the problem and developed the new VHB RP+ series in several months.

What is RP+?

The RP+ series features a conformable acrylic foam core and a multi-purpose adhesive ideally suited for medium and high surface energy materials including metals, plastics, and glass. The “RP” stands for Right Product, Right Performance, Right Price while the “+” was added to show the addition of improved short-term high-temperature performance (up to 450°F) and long-term performance up to 250°F. There is also a 90-mil version now available.

Physical Properties

The RP+ series combines good peel adhesion with solid dynamic shear values that enable it to perform well in many applications. This combination of properties makes it a “workhorse” type product.


VHB applications fall into four broad categories:

  • Panel to frame
  • Stiffener to panel
  • Lens window /glass bonding
  • Trim and nameplate attachment

These four applications can be found in six core market areas where VHB tapes have performed well for many years:

  • Transportation
  • Construction
  • Metal Fabrication
  • Appliance
  • Electronics
  • Signage

How Can a Converter Help?

An experienced converter can help you select the best VHB tape for your application, provide guidance on the appropriate surface preparation to ensure long-term performance, and discuss options for VHB tape application from manual to fully automated systems.

The 3M VHB RP+ series and many other VHB tapes can be supplied as custom slit rolls to any width, die-cut parts, or spools.

Want to know more about 3M VHB tapes? Contact Tom Brown, Inc, today.

Viscoelastic Behavior in Tapes | Tom Brown Inc Viscoelasticity. It’s a big word and might sound a bit intimidating but the concept is not difficult to grasp. The pressure-sensitive adhesives used to make tapes are “sticky” or “tacky”. It feels this way to your thumb because these adhesives are really very high viscosity (“visco”) liquids that also exhibit elastic (rubber band like) properties. It’s the combination of these physical properties that allow the tape to “wet out” or develop intimate contact with the microscopic hills and valleys of a surface and then demonstrate resistance when you try to remove them.

Why Viscoelastic Behavior Matters

Adhesive bonding can be achieved through chemical mechanisms as in the case of structural adhesives (epoxies, acrylics, and urethanes) or primarily via mechanical means such as pressure-sensitive tapes. The mechanical “flow” or “wet-out” of the adhesive tape onto a surface with low to moderate application pressure is the driving force for adhesion (smaller forces such as electrostatic and Van der Waals forces can also be present). On the other hand, the pressure-sensitive adhesive must also exhibit cohesion or intramolecular binding forces that give it elastic properties. These two contradictory requirements need to be balanced depending on the intended application. Viscoelastic Behavior in Tapes | Tom Brown Inc In more technical terms, at low shear rates, the PSA must flow (or wet out) and at high peeling or debonding rates, it must exhibit an elastic response as seen in the graph above.

Temperature Dependency

Polymeric materials like tapes are also temperature dependent. This means the viscoelastic properties described above can vary with temperature. An easy way to visualize this is with your common rubber garden hose. If your hose sits in the sun on a hot summer day, it’s soft, compliant, and easy to roll up. If you try the same thing on a cold winter day, it’s much stiffer and harder to coil. This temperature dependency is why you see tapes come with a recommended application temperature (usually between 50°F and 120°F. The warmer the surface and surrounding air, the easier the tape will flow or wet out on the surface (like the hose example). Once the tape is applied and proper wet out has occurred, it can then be exposed to much wider temperature ranges (referred to as service temperature) and the full viscoelastic response can be observed.


Three applications where the viscoelastic behavior of tapes really shine:
  • Glazing insulated glass units (IGU) onto aluminum framing systems in curtain wall and window wall
  • Stiffener attachment on metal façade panels
  • Side panel attachment on a truck or utility trailer
In these applications, if you were to use a rigid adhesive system, the structures would vibrate with every strong gust of wind or in the case of the trailer, as it bounced down the highway. With thermal expansion and contraction, the insulated glass unit would crack as the aluminum frame and glass have very different coefficients of thermal expansion. If you use an acrylic foam tape in these applications (such as 3M VHB™), once the “viscous” flow of the tape onto the surfaces is achieved, the resulting bond will be highly durable and can withstand decades of temperature variations, weather extremes, and dynamic stresses (wind, shock, and vibration). The stress and energy will be absorbed by the foam tape and not transferred to the bond line.


Polymeric materials are time/temperature dependent. Pressure-sensitive adhesives are viscoelastic which allows them to flow or wet out onto a surface (“Visco”) and then absorb and dissipate energy through elastic response. By selecting the right tape, the resulting bonds are highly durable and will hold up for decades in indoor and outdoor applications. Want to know more about how tapes can solve your bonding and assembly challenges? Contact Tom Brown, Inc, today at   A Great Trade Show and Learning Experience | Pittsburgh | Tom Brown   I’m stating the obvious here, I know, but the pandemic put the brakes on nearly all in-person trade shows during the past 14 months. There were certainly some innovative attempts at holding “virtual” trade shows and conferences, but I’m old school. I think nothing beats going to a show looking at new materials, machinery, talking with the technical and sales folks, and generating new ideas. From July 13-15, 2021 the Foam Expo and Adhesives and Bonding Expo will take place at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, MI. It is the premier event for “tape nerds” like me, and my fellow industry colleagues.

Why Attend?

It’s impossible to imagine all the applications and industries where foams, adhesives, and tapes are used as engineering materials. Here is where you can truly grasp how many types of foams there are, where they are used, and how they’re processed. Same with the adhesives and tapes section of the expo. One of the best things about this show is the free conference sessions that take place on the show floor. This year there are three tracks:   Day 1: Sustainability. These are sessions on bio content, meeting consumer and regulatory requirements, and overcoming product fatigue through manufacturing methods and material selection. Day 2: Applications and Manufacturing. These are sessions on acoustic, thermal, and shock absorption, adhesive selection and surface preparation. Day 3: Regulation and Testing. These are sessions on regulation reviews, preventing adhesive failure using data analysis, and certifications. Click here to view all the speakers and session times. Be sure to visit this blog after the trade show. We’ll provide a post-show blog to let you know about the more interesting things we see at the show. If you’d like to meet up with us, contact me at  Understanding the Shelf Life and Storage Conditions of Adhesive Tapes and Die Cut Parts | Pittsburgh | Tom Brown, Inc.

Many of us have a roll of masking or duct tape that’s been sitting in our garage or basement for quite a while. It probably doesn’t unwind as easily as it did when it was new and it might look a little rough.

What you are observing is the interplay between shelf life and storage conditions. Tapes and die cut parts made from tape products come with a shelf life and a set of recommended storage conditions. It’s easy to overlook this seemingly mundane information but it’s important to understand them both so that you get the best performance from your products.

Shelf Life

All reputable tape manufacturers list the recommended shelf life for their products. The most common time frames listed are anywhere from 6 months to 2 years. The primary reason for the difference in shelf life is the composition of the tape itself; the adhesive system, the backing, and release liner if it has one. Certain adhesive systems such as acrylics and silicones are very stable chemically and resist aging. Other adhesives such as rubber/resin systems often have antioxidant and UV stabilizer packages added to improve aging characteristics. 

Another factor in determining shelf life is an aging study. Aging studies can be conducted using natural or real time aging, accelerated aging, or a combination of both. Real time aging is very reliable but is not always practical as this process can require too much time to get to market. 

Accelerated aging is a procedure that utilizes elevated temperature as a way of exposing the tape or die cut part to stresses that will simulate real time aging in a compressed time frame. Physical testing on the aged tape specimens (peel, tack, shear, and liner release) are performed after exposure and this data can be compared to room temperature control samples and real time aged samples to understand which properties might have been negatively affected by the accelerated aging conditions. The stability of the physical properties can then be used as evidence to establish a shelf life.

The last factor is determining shelf life is risk management. Risk management is where product managers, business leaders, and legal tend to get involved. They typically consult with the technical group to get a recommendation but they will decide how much risk they are willing to incur as a business and this will influence the stated shelf life. Some companies are more risk averse than others and their shelf life statements often reflect this bias.

Understanding the Shelf Life and Storage Conditions of Adhesive Tapes and Die Cut Parts | Pittsburgh | Tom Brown, Inc.

Storage Conditions

There tends to be strong agreement among tape manufacturers that optimum storage conditions are 70°F (21°C), 50% relative humidity, out of direct sunlight.

Some will expand this by quoting a range; 70°F +/- 20°F and 50% RH +/- 20% as an example. There is little doubt that optimum storage conditions will maximize (and even prolong in many cases) shelf life. 

Tapes and die cut parts are stored in warehouses most of the time. Some of these warehouses are temperature and even humidity controlled. Many of them are not. Warehouses can experience large swings in temperature and humidity as the seasons change. If your warehouse sees large swings in temperature; particularly high temperatures over 95°F, the tape is experiencing accelerated aging in a similar way to a formal aging study. 

Extending Shelf Life

We are often asked if a tape or die cut part is “still good” after it may have been at the customer’s facility for an extended time; usually beyond stated shelf life. The good news is that unlike the fairy tale “Cinderella”, tapes and die cut parts don’t turn into a pumpkin at midnight of their shelf life. The performance of most tapes is not projected to change significantly even after the shelf life expires.

In most cases, questions will be asked about storage conditions and then the tape or die cut part can be inspected to check appearance and tack and compared against unaged material. Samples can also be sent for physical testing either to the tape manufacturer or an outside lab. 

If the material has not been adversely affected and especially if it has been stored correctly, the shelf life might be able to be extended for a short period of time. 


The shelf life and storage conditions are often the most overlooked items on a technical data sheet. Most tape products list a 6 month to 2 year shelf life. Shelf life is determined by the composition of the tape, backing, and release liner along with aging studies that document the performance of the tape in real time and/or accelerated aging conditions. 

Optimum tape and die cut part storage conditions are usually listed at 70°F (21°C) and 50% relative humidity but warehouse conditions are usually more variable than the ideal. The best way to understand how to store your tapes or die cut parts is to talk with a knowledgeable converter. Contact us at

Tape Failure Pittsburgh | Tom Brown, Inc.

Pressure sensitive adhesive (PSA) tapes and die cut parts provide efficient methods of assembly in many applications. If die cut parts or tape failure occurs, the entire assembly or subassembly is at risk.

In most cases, failure can be anticipated and avoided. This post will provide some insight into the types of failure and success factors to be considered so failures can be avoided.

Types of Adhesive Failure

There are four basic types of failure modes with tapes and associated die cut parts: adhesive failure, cohesive failure, mixed mode and substrate failure.

As the most common, adhesive failure occurs when the adhesive delaminates or de-bonds from the intended surface(s) without leaving any residue. However, there are certain applications where adhesive failure is actually desirable. Think of the protective film on an appliance or paint masking tape.

Cohesive failure occurs when the adhesive “splits” or is sheared through the bulk of the coating. This usually leaves adhesive residue on both the tape backing and the intended substrate.

Mixed mode failures occur as a combination of both adhesive and cohesive failures. It is not uncommon for external factors such as plasticizer migration or elevated temperatures to have occurred when encountering a mixed mode failure.

Substrate failures are technically not adhesive failures but a tape design problem. These failures happen less frequently but point to a tape backing delaminating or otherwise destructing in some fashion. This can often be the result of environmental or mechanical forces that were unforeseen or misunderstood.

Success Factors

We’ve examined the four types of adhesive failures, now let’s explore the four categories of factors that increase the chances for success.

  • Surface – this includes surface energy, geometry, texture, and preparation.
  • Environment – what chemicals will the tape or die cut part encounter? What about UV exposure and high/low temperatures?
  • Joint Stresses – understanding the physical forces that will be acting on the bond line during service
  • Tape or Part Application – understanding best practices for application success

Surface Energy

Knowing the chemical makeup of the surface you want a tape or die cut part to adhere to is a key step in proper product selection. In our last blog post, we discussed surface energy and its influence in depth.

Simply put, surfaces such as metals and glass exhibit high surface energy, making it easier to bond to them. Plastics such as polyethylene and polypropylene exhibit low surface energy similar to the surface of a freshly waxed car. This makes them more difficult for bonding. Also, there are many plastics in between both extremes.

Tape manufacturers offer a variety of tapes that feature bonding capabilities with the wide range of surfaces available. Your converter can help you in selecting the best candidates.

Surface Geometry

Not every bonding surface is flat. Often, you’ll find tapes and die cut parts required to adhere to concave or convex curves and over sharp angles. These curves or angles create tensile, cleavage, and other forces on the bond line that will impact performance over time. The example below shows how using a thicker and slightly softer adhesive can overcome the forces that would otherwise cause lifting or “flagging.”

Surface Geometry Pittsburgh | Tom Brown, Inc.
Diagram courtesy of Berry Global

Surface Texture or Roughness

Bonding surfaces might come embossed, debossed, stippled or feature any number of functional coatings. These treatments can add aesthetic beauty but also add performance benefits such as anti-slip properties, water resistance, etc.

Adhesive Contact Pittsburgh | Tom Brown, Inc.
Diagram Courtesy of Berry Global

The adhesive systems on tapes behave like both a solid and a liquid—called viscoelastic behavior. The diagram above shows the benefit of selecting the right adhesive thickness to maximize the flow or “wet out” of the adhesive into the microscopic valleys in the surface. This increased wet out translates directly into improved bond strength.

Tape manufacturers offer a variety of tapes with varying adhesive coat weights or thicknesses to allow the end user to account for any surface texture and achieve the best possible bond.

Surface Preparation

As silly as this may sound, tapes are not particularly smart. They can’t delineate between dust, oils, mold release and other contaminants that might be on a bonding surface from upstream operations. Instead, they adhere to the first thing they encounter. If that’s contaminants, you’re headed for trouble.

In most cases, a simple wipe with a 50/50 or 70/30 blend of isopropyl alcohol and water (common rubbing alcohol you can buy in a drug store) is enough to remove most contaminants.

However, some situations require more aggressive surface prep. Some metals have cutting fluids or oils that might require a degreaser or a more aggressive solvent than IPA to cut through and remove the oil.

Some plastics might require a surface treatment such as corona discharge, plasma or flame treatment to gain sufficient surface energy to achieve high bond strength. In some high performance architectural applications such as curtainwall and window wall bonding, a primer might be needed on the metal extrusion and a silane coupling agent on the glass or infill panel to achieve bond strengths capable of withstanding wind loads.

Operating Environment

Another critical success factor is understanding the environment the bonded assembly will be exposed to during service life. This includes (but not limited to) chemical/solvent resistance, UV resistance and temperature.

Chemical Resistance

Contact with solvents and chemicals are an innate part of many tape applications. This can be as simple as common household window cleaners used on residential or commercial windows; the grease, oil and gasoline encountered under a car hood or exposure to jet fuel in aerospace applications.

Solvents and chemicals can have different effects on the adhesive bond line. Some chemicals can swell or soften the adhesive affecting bond strength while some solvents can partially dissolve the adhesive. Tapes with rubber based adhesive systems typically don’t do very well with solvents or chemicals. However, they perform quite well in aqueous environments. Acrylic adhesives, particularly those that are highly cross-linked, tend to exhibit good solvent and chemical resistance.

UV Resistance

UV exposure is another environmental factor that should must considered. Prolonged UV exposure can affect the adhesive system and even the backing or carrier the adhesive is coated on. UV light can cause the backing or adhesive to embrittle, discolor and degrade over time. Tape portfolios abound with products that can easily handle UV exposure and certain products like protective films will even state how long they can resist UV exposure.

Service Temperature

The last critical factor is service temperature. Low temperature exposure can cause some adhesives to become very firm and lose tack and adhesion as the glass transition temperature is approached (the adhesive becomes more “glass like” rather than more “rubber like”).

High temperatures can cause the adhesive system to soften and even flow in some cases. The associated drop in cohesive strength can result in failure if there are any shear, tensile or cleavage forces acting on the bond line. Tape manufacturers are aware of the range of temperatures that are encountered in industrial bonding applications and have a host of products that can handle a variety of temperature extremes.

Joint Stresses

Joint Stresses Pittsburgh | Tom Brown, Inc.

After any tape is applied, there will likely be a force (or forces) acting on it—even if very minimal. These forces typically consist of peel, shear, tensile, cleavage and compression.


Some tape applications are very “peel intensive.” When you apply a paint masking tape for a painting project, apply a Post-It® Note to your office wall or buy a new appliance covered with protective film, you have a peel intensive application. In these cases, you know that the application of the tape is temporary and it needs to remove cleanly after some period of time.


Shear forces are present in applications where a tape is asked to support a load. This can be a static load such as using an adhesive backed hook to hang a picture in your home. Also, it can be a dynamic load such as a strong wind gust hitting a side wall panel on a truck or utility trailer.


Tensile forces are forces that act in the ‘Z” direction of a bond uniformly over the entire bond area. A tensile force can act on the bond line or the tape carrier itself. The tensile strength of tapes, particularly self-wound tapes is often included in technical data sheets to make comparisons easier.


Cleavage forces are a type of pull force that acts on the leading edge of a bond line. It is analogous to using a crow bar on the end of a board that is nailed down to pry it loose. This leverage effect on the small area of the leading edge causes failure at lower levels than what might be observed in shear or tensile tests.


Compressive forces are basically the opposite of tensile. This type of force “crushes” the bond line by applying a downward force over the entire bond area. The negative effect of compressive forces can be “squeezed out” along with the edge of the bond line unless the proper adhesive is selected.

Tape and Die Cut Part Application

Tapes and associated die cut parts are made to attach quickly. That’s a big part of their attraction as an assembly method. Application can be by hand, (which is still the way many tapes are applied) by a taping machine or automatic applicator.

Time, application temperature and pressure are the three variables that should be controlled at the application stage.

Application Temperature

Most tapes are best applied at room temperature and most tapes will specify an application temperature range of 60-100°F. Higher application temperature will enable faster wet out of the adhesive and a corresponding build in adhesion levels. Colder application slows the wet out process considerably. If an application requires low temperature application, there are specific tapes designed to accommodate application temperatures down to 0°F.


Good application pressure can accelerate the wet out process and increase adhesion. In many cases, tapes or die cut parts might be applied using only finger pressure. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Smaller parts or narrow tapes can be easily applied using finger pressure in many instances. Larger parts and wider tape can benefit from using a rubber roller or squeegee to help expel air from the bond line. Air bubbles are areas where the adhesive is not in contact with the intended substrate and a reduction in adhesion will result.


Dwell time is also a factor when looking at tape and die cut part application. It is particularly critical when testing these products. Different tapes have different build times with adhesion. Rubber based adhesives tend to build quickly and can reach peak adhesion levels very quickly—often in leas than 24 hours. Acrylic and silicone adhesives require build slowly and can require up to 72 hours to reach their peak adhesion levels.


Tapes and die cut parts typically have four types of failure modes. These failures can be attributable to four categories of factors: surface, environment, joint stress and application.

By asking good qualification questions up front, these factors can be understood and managed. The right tapes and materials can be selected that will handle the specific requirements of each application. This understanding can eliminate most die cut parts and tape failures before any significant cost is incurred. This not only saves money and time in the long run but also protects the end user’s credibility by providing robust assemblies that utilize the best materials for the job.

Need help determining which tapes or die cut parts will work for you? Contact Tom Brown, Inc. today.

We’re all familiar with duct tape. It’s been around since it was first developed for the military in 1942 and most of us have a roll or two in our toolbox, garage, or kitchen drawer. Duct tape is popular because the adhesive has good “quick stick” properties and easily bonds to many surfaces while the backing is strong and can be torn by hand. (more…)

Adhesive Failures and cohesion failure Adhesive bonded joints, whether made using pressure-sensitive tapes or liquid adhesives, can experience failure. Oftentimes, the comments we hear are, “It’s not sticking,” “It’s coming off,” or “It’s just not working.” Fortunately, there is a method for understanding adhesive failures, and that knowledge can lead to an effective solution.

Types of Failure

Adhesive failure occurs when the adhesive system debonds or separates prematurely from one of the surfaces or substrates. In some cases, you want adhesive failure; particularly if you want the tape to peel cleanly away from the substrate (think of a Post-It Note). In most cases, however, the reality is a bit more complicated. Sometimes, the adhesive selected  incapable of developing a strong bond, due to its chemistry and limited ability to wet out a surface with a lower surface energy than the adhesive can handle. Other times, there can be contamination left on the surface, preventing   the adhesive from bonding properly. Cleaning and proper surface preparation (including primers in some cases) can resolve this issue. Environmental factors, like temperature, water, chemical contact and radiation are common culprits that can also deteriorate the adhesive bond to a substrate. Still, other times, there are migratory species in substrates.  Even the adhesive itself, such as plasticizers or other additives, can migrate to the substrate interface and disrupt the bond. Lastly, the release liners that protect a tape product can sometimes leave behind uncured silicone or fluorocarbons residue that can inhibit the formation of a good bond.

Cohesive Failure

This is the breakdown of the intermolecular forces within the adhesive itself, and its occurrences in the bulk layer of the adhesive. This breakdown can be caused by shear, tensile or cleavage forces that are acting on the bond line. Often, there are the environmental factors already listed that are acting simultaneously with these forces that exacerbate the effects and cause a failure. Adhesive Failures joint stress Just as the name implies, mixed mode typically exhibits both adhesive and cohesive failures. This failure is not uncommon when plasticizer migration is involved, particularly after exposure to elevated temperatures.

Substrate Failure

This is not the only failure where the adhesive is not the culprit. The implication is that the strength of the adhesive bond exceeds the strength of the substrate itself. In some foam materials, you can observe this type of failure and, frankly, it is not always a bad thing. Have more questions about adhesive bond failures? Call Tom Brown, Inc. today. We’re here to help!

What Is Spooling?

Spooling is a process where rolls of tape products can be spliced together and wound onto a common core, similarly to  fishing line or thread wound onto a reel. This traverse winding process allows significant footage to be wound onto a single roll without becoming excessively large and difficult to handle.

How Spooling Benefits Your Process

Spooling allows your machines to keep running longer and thereby reducing costs associated with downtime, labor and changeovers.
  • More material per spool as compared to pancake rolls
  • Fewer changeovers per shift
  • More up-time on automated equipment
  • Decreases downtime
  • Saves warehouse space
  • Quicker run-times

What Tape Products Can Be Spooled?

The more common types of tapes typically spooled are:

  • Double coated foam tapes
  • Single coated foam tapes
  • Double Coated Film Tapes
  • Nonwovens and tissue supported tapes

Specialized Spooling Services

There are some tapes that are difficult to spool, namely acrylic foam tapes (VHB type tapes) and unsupported transfer adhesives. These products are challenging because they tend to “knit” back together along the edges. Tom Brown has the right spooler to solve this issue and successfully spool these products. A slightly wider secondary liner can be introduced just prior to application and the tape will spool beautifully. There are some tape products that need a finger lift, or dry edge, along one side for the tape to facilitate easy release liner removal. Tom Brown has the right equipment to add a dry edge and wind a functional, attractive spool package.

Critical Spooling Parameters

It’s important to discuss the “put up” or spool configuration with your supplier to make sure the spools work as intended.

The first thing you typically discuss is the required width of the tape and the requested length of the spool. This discussion usually goes hand-in-hand with the core diameter and spool width. The most common core diameters for spooling jobs are 3” or 6”. But spool widths can vary greatly, with  6”-12” wide spool packages as the most common.

The thickness of the tape, the spool width, and the machine’s capabilities are three factors that most influence how long the spool can be. The thinner the material, the more you can put on the spool. A 3” ID core can usually be wound with additional material (up to a point), but is a little harder to handle. With a 6” core, you sacrifice a little length, but the spool package is a little easier to maneuver.

For example, a 1/16” double coated foam tape can be spooled on a 7”-10” width spool with anywhere from 2,500- 4,700 ft depending on the three factors mentioned above.

By adjusting the “pitch” – the distance between the adjacent winds of tape and the “dwell” (how long the traversing head stays on the edge prior to making the next pass or layer) – you can create different types of spools:

  • Normal
  • Pineapple
  • Pancake
  • Fixed Lobing
  • Cyclic
  • Step Pack

Want to know more about spools and how they can help your process? Contact Tom Brown, Inc. today.

Glass is known to be a “water loving” (the technical term is hydrophilic) surface and this makes adhesive bonds, particularly with acrylic adhesive systems, susceptible to change in high humidity conditions. The good news is that a simple treatment of the glass surface with a silane coupling agent reduces this “water loving” behavior and improves the bond strength of the tape when subjected to high humidity and moisture.

What are Silane Coupling Agents?

The chemical name for the class of silane coupling agents found to be most effective as a glass pretreatment is 3-Glycidoxypropyl trimethoxysilane resin (commercially known as Dow Corning Z6040). The important thing to understand is that this class of silanes possess both organic and inorganic reactivity that allows them to “couple” organic polymers (tape) and inorganic surfaces (glass).

The trimethoxysilyl group is subject to hydrolysis (reacts with water) and that is why the pretreatment is offered in a water/isopropyl alcohol blend (like the rubbing alcohol you can buy at the local pharmacy). The alcohol helps to stabilize the liquid and the alcohol flashes off easily at room temperature and makes it easy and safe to use.

These silanol groups condense with the hydroxyl groups on the glass surface. After this condensation reaction, the coupling agent is bonded to the glass and is now reactive with the organic material (the tape). These properties allow these materials to withstand physical, chemical, weather, and thermal degradation.

chemical symbols on silane treatment for the use of glass protection tape

Where are they used?

Silane pretreatment is essential when fabricating curtain wall and window wall systems that relay on acrylic structural glazing tapes. The added bond stability afforded by the use of the silane coupling agent reduces the risk of de-bonding in high humidity and moist conditions.

The silane pretreatment is also used in attaching muntin bars for creating simulated divided lites on residential and commercial window systems.

How to Apply Silane Coupling Agents

  1. The glass surface should be clean and dry. If it is contaminated, it should be cleaned with a 50/50 mixture of isopropyl alcohol and water using a clean, lint-free cloth.
  2. Moisten the clean, absorbent, lint-free cloth with the silane solution and wipe over the area to be bonded with the tape in one direction. Alternately, the silane solution can be sprayed onto the perimeter to be bonded and wiped with a clean cloth around the perimeter. More is NOT better! Experience shows that a thin layer (monolayer) is much more effective and gives the best performance.
  3. To get that monolayer, the primed area should be re-wiped in one direction with a new lint-free cloth after the initial application. Under normal room temperature conditions, the tape should be applied within 2 minutes so that any residual moisture can evaporate.

Final Notes

Sometimes we’re asked how a silane coupling agent works if it’s such a small concentration (less than1%) in the liquid. We remind them to think of baking muffins or biscuits at home where you use baking powder. You use a lot of flour and other ingredients but only a very small amount of baking powder because it is highly reactive. (in case you’re wondering, it works when the dry acid and base in the powder hits water and reacts to make carbon dioxide). You don’t need a lot to get a very big result.

Tom Brown, Inc. offers premixed silence coupling agents under the 3M AP115 brand in convenient 4 oz. spray bottles. Contact us today if you’d like to learn more.

Intumescent foam tape
Photo Courtesy of Saint Gobain
Intumescent is a big word and not familiar to many people. In simple terms, an intumescent material swells with exposure to heat. This swelling increases the volume of the material and produces a char which is a poor conductor of heat. The combination of swelling and the associated reduced heat transfer blocks fire, smoke and hot gasses. Intumescent materials are often liquids, putties, or sealants but they can also be foams and can be applied like a tape which offers a variety of benefits. The foam is available in 4 thicknesses- .18,.24, .34, and .51 inches (4.5, 6.0,9.0, and 13 mm) with a pressure-sensitive adhesive on one side. You remove the liner, and apply the foam tape to the surface. The product is watertight and airtight   when compressed 30% and releases no toxic gases when heated.
Intumescent foam actual process
Photo Courtesy of Saint Gobain

Intumescent Foam Applications

Intumescent foam fire door gasket
Photo Courtesy of Saint Gobain
The largest use of intumescent foams is in construction applications such as joints in floors, ceilings, windows, and doors. They can also be used in HVAC applications where fire compartmentation is needed. Intumescent foams can also be used in automotive fuel tank areas and around battery packs in electric vehicles. In aerospace applications, these foams can be used in freight compartments or other critical areas. Intumescent foams combine passive fire protection with the ease of installation common to tape products. Want to know more about intumescent foams? Contact Tom Brown, Inc. today. Polyethylene plastic chemical symbolPolyethylene plastic is ubiquitous in our lives. The most common use is packaging for food and plastic garbage can liners. Most of us also have that “plastic sheet” somewhere in our basement or garage that we use to cover firewood, our grill, or anything else that we need to protect.

What is Polyethylene and Where Does it Come From?

Polyethylene is produced from the polymerization (controlled reaction) of ethylene monomer is the presence of catalysts to form a stable plastic. The ethylene monomer feedstock in North America comes mostly from our abundant supply of natural gas but it can also be produced from the naphtha portion of crude oil. The abundance of natural gas production in the USA has helped to stabilize the price of ethylene monomer and ultimately has kept the price for polyethylene stable as well.

Types of Polyethylene

Polyethylene is classified primarily by density, branching (think of a tree with either very different or uniform size branches), and molecular weight. These properties affect the tensile strength, ductility, hardness, and impact strength of the material.

For tape products, the most common types of polyethylene are:

  •   Low Density Polyethylene Film (LDPE)- has a density range of 0.91-0.94g/cm³ along with both short and long chain branching which translates into lower tensile strength but great ductility.
  •   Linear Low Density Polyethylene Film (LLDPE)- has a density range of 0.915-0.925 g/cm³. LLDPE has consistent short branching in the polymer structure which leads to higher tensile strength and puncture resistance.
  •   Medium Density Polyethylene Film (MDPE)-has a density range of 0.926-0.94g/cm³.  MDPE exhibits a lower degree of short and long chain branching compared to LDPE so tensile strength is significantly improved.
  •   High Density Polyethylene Film (HDPE) – has a density range of 0.941 and above. It has a very low degree of branching and offers a significant improvement in tensile strength over both LDPE and MDPE.
  •   Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene Film (UHMWPE)-has a density of 0.93 and 0.935 g/cm³ but also has a molecular weight that far exceeds the others. This results in an exceptionally tough material that offers outstanding cut, wear, and chemical resistance.
  •   Coextruded Films- also called “Coex” for short. This is essentially an “alloy” in which two films such as LDPE and HDPE are extruded together offering the good stretch and conformability of the LDPE along with the  improved toughness of the HDPE.
  •   Cross-Linked Polyethylene Foam- (PEF or XLPE)- a medium to high density polyethylene that has cross-linking bonds on the structure of the polymer. This is then exposed to radiation or a chemical reactions that creates a semi-rigid

How is Polyethylene Used in the Tape World?Polyethylene plastic film in blue color

One of the largest uses for polyethylene film is for surface protection films. If you’ve ever purchased a new refrigerator, wash machine, or dishwasher, you most likely have had to remove “that film” from the painted metal or stainless steel. LDPE is the prevalent film used for this application along with Coex. Aside from appliances, surface protection films are used widely in electronics, building and construction applications, and in the painted metals industries. These films are mainly coated with acrylic pressure-sensitive adhesives which are “tuned” to be removable from the applied surface. LDPE and MDPE are often used in tapes for patching, bundling, sealing, and wrapping. The conformability of the film allows intimate surface contact and enables good adhesion. A rubber-based adhesive system is commonly used for adhesion to a broad range of materials. These tapes are also used as a separator between dissimilar metals such as steel and aluminum. The tape creates an interface that prevents galvanic corrosion. HDPE is often used for release liners. Silicone release coatings can be applied to the film and then adhesives can be coated on them allowing a tape to be produced with a tough release liner that is difficult to tear during application and removal. UHMWPE tapes offer very low friction and can be used to protect surfaces that experience repeated contact and wear. The UHMPE absorbs shock without fracturing and can be used for hopper liners, chutes, and in high wear furniture applications. These tape are usually coated with an aggressive acrylic adhesive system that has excellent adhesion to many surfaces and can be used indoors or outdoors. Polyethylene foam is renowned for its’ ability withstand pressure without losing its’ cushioning ability. These foam tapes are coated with either acrylic or rubber-base adhesives and can be used for mounting mirrors, POP displays, clips, signs, and as glazing tapes to seal insulated glass units into framing systems. Want to know more about polyethylene tapes? Contact Tom Brown, Inc.

Foam tapes are often gauged by a variety of physical properties; compression, compression set, density, and tensile strength. One of the important properties is temperature resistance. As foam tapes become more readily utilized throughout a large variety of industries, temperature performance becomes critical in deciding which tapes are best suited to which applications.

Engineering for Hot and Cold Applications

Though elevated temperature resistance is the most common attribute when testing foam tapes, foam tapes are also needed for cold temperature applications. Foam tapes can be used throughout cold temperature environments such as truck and trailer applications, refrigerated facilities, and construction.. These tapes must be able to be used in temperatures that may sometimes be lower than -20 degrees Fahrenheit. On the other end of the spectrum, tapes may need to be used in very high temperature environments, particularly for under the hood automotive and transportation applications. These foam products need to resist temperature cycling from cold to extremely hot and maintain their integrity and ability to seal. Some common temperature performance data for acrylic, polyurethane and polyolefin foams are listed in the table below.

Note: The temperature data is general and not specific to any one product.

 Accommodating Expansion and Contraction

Foam tapes can experience both expansion and contraction as the temperature rises and falls. Not only must foam tape be rated for specific temperature extremes, it must also be tested for intense variations within those extremes. Some foam tapes are going to be held at a consistently high or consistently lower temperature. Others need to be able to resist cycling within a temperature spectrum. The best bonding tapes accommodate the expansion and contraction of the materials that they are bonding. This is a feature that makes foam bonding tapes superior to other methods of bonding, such as mechanical fasteners or other adhesives. In this situation, the foam tape operates as a buffer, distributing stress and offering additional flexibility.

Bonding, Sealing, and More

Foam tapes are designed to bond and seal in one easy application. (many foam tapes require some type of compression but not all). When you look at these properties in conjunction with temperature resistance, the number of applications can be astonishing.

Specialty tape products are often needed whenever temperature extremes are going to be present. Foam tapes are tested to varying temperature extremes, and different tapes may be necessary depending on the application’s needs. Tom Brown, Inc. has a wide variety of foam tape products, including Saint-Gobain, 3M, Foamseal, and Adhesives Research series.

Structural spacer tapes are used alongside one or two part structural silicone sealants to ensure that glass remains bonded to the metal framing system for the life of a building. The controlled density and thickness of a spacer tape provides a highly consistent gap or channel into which the silicone sealant is applied. A diagram of a typical application is shown below: spacer Tapes typical applications What might not be obvious is how the cell structure in the spacer tape enables the silicone sealant to cure.

How Structural Silicone Sealants Cure

One part silicone sealants are formulated with all the ingredients needed to reach a cured state (paste phase to rubber  phase). The curing process is initiated by a reaction with moisture in the air. One part systems are low cost and easy to use and apply. Two part sealants separate the reactive portion or catalyst from the base adhesive formula and then join them together via a mixing and pumping process. Two part systems lend themselves to higher volume, higher speed operations where quick handling and cure time are needed in an assembly operation. Both one and two part sealants outgas and do generate small amounts of VOCs (volatile organic compounds); even the low VOC grades.

Spacer Tape Cell Structure and Sealant Curing

Closed cell foams consist of a series of unbroken chambers or cells which resemble small inflated balloons in a compact configuration. Closed cell foams are very strong durable materials but they don’t permit the passage of air or moisture through the foam matrix. Open cell foams by contrast have cell walls that are broken with air filling the spaces in between. This series of “broken cells” create a pathway for the movement of air, moisture, and VOCs. Examining the chart below tells the story of why cell structure is so critical. water vapor transmission rate for spacer Tapes High WVTR values like those seen above allow moisture to reach the one part system to facilitate curing and simultaneously provide a pathway for the escape of VOCs from the bond area. Structural spacer tapes and silicone sealants are made to work hand in hand. Each truly enables the other and when done correctly, long lasting, reliable, structural silicone glazed facades will result. Want to know more about structural spacer tapes? Call Tom Brown, Inc. for samples or a quote.

Foam bonding tapes feature a variety of core materials and it can be a bit bewildering as to why.

The most common types of foam core chemistries are:

  •    Acrylic
  •    Polyurethane
  •    Polyethylene

The foam core performs several vital functions within the bond area:

  •    It distributes loads over a large area enhancing energy absorption
  •    Improves stress relaxation
  •    Compensates for substrate mismatch and lack of planarity
  •    Enhances conformability

Each core chemistry offers a unique set of properties making it suitable for certain applications. The best way to visualize this is by observing the stress strain curves of each type:

(Photo Courtesy of Saint Gobain )

Advantages and Applications for Core Chemistries

(Photo Courtesy of Saint Gobain )

Want to learn more about how foam bonding tapes can provide multiple benefits over traditional mechanical fasteners and liquid adhesives? Contact Tom Brown, Inc. today.

The term “glazing tape” is frequently used throughout the residential and commercial window industry and it can mean very different types of products to different users.

If you’re in the curtain wall or window wall segment, the “glazing tape” you refer to would be a “structural glazing tape”. This type of tape uses a high strength, monolithic, foamed acrylic adhesive system that can bond an insulated glass unit into a metal framing system. The acrylic foam is very viscoelastic and gives high elongation properties allowing it to effectively handle the varying loads of wind and weather.

If you are a commercial glazier or fabricator making or installing storefronts, low rise office buildings, and schools, the “glazing tape” you refer to might also be called a “spacer tape” or “structural glazing spacer”. This tape relies upon a semi-rigid, open cell polyurethane foam core that allows air and moisture to reach the structural silicone sealant that is the primary system bonding the glass unit in place. The open cell structure allows the silicone to cure and reach maximum bond strength. This is an example where tape and sealant work hand in hand to deliver the best of both worlds.

If you’re a manufacturer of residential windows, the “glazing tape” you use will likely be made from a polyethylene (PE) or polyvinyl chloride (PVC) core that has been coated with an acrylic or rubber –based adhesive system. These are lower density materials that are easier to compress to form a seal for the window. They are more economical than the commercial type products and are well suited to the sizes and loads common to residential windows.

So as you can see, “glazing tape” is a rather broad term that covers many different yet high performing products. Want to learn more about all of these products from 3M, Saint Gobain, and Adhesives Research? Contact Tom Brown, Inc. for samples and to have your questions answered.