Last Minute Product Development Challenges… When Tape Converters Do Their Best Work

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.Last Minute Product Development Challenges… When Tape Converters Often Do Their Best Work Pittsburgh | Tom Brown, Inc. Engineers spend endless hours developing new products and revising current designs to meet market demand. The timelines are demanding, which can make it feel like there are never enough hours in the day. It’s understandable that tapes (and die cut parts made from tape products) are not always at the top of the to do list.  Yet these products can be critical in the bonding and assembly process or for sealing and gasketing applications to maintain product integrity. Fortunately, tape converters are well positioned with a unique set of “tools” that can produce solutions to save both time and money.

Material Portfolio and Selection

Converters know and source products from a variety of the most reputable tape and raw material manufacturers. Each manufacturer offers certain product lines that are “best in class” in terms of performance and cost.  Having a broad product portfolio brings maximum problem solving capabilities to almost any project. However, a broad product portfolio is nothing if it can’t be applied effectively. Invest time answering key questions with a converter will shorten the path to a solution. These key questions will typically involve looking at the surface, environment, joint stresses and the product application. Questions to ask include:
  • Surface –What is the type of surface, surface energy, geometry, texture, and preparation?
  • Environment –What are the chemicals the tape or die cut part will encounter?   What is the UV exposure and the high/low temperatures?
  • Joint Stresses –What are the physical forces that will be acting on the bond line during service?
  • Tape or Part Application –How will the tape or die cut part be applied?
Answering these questions typically takes less than half an hour.  More importantly, these questions  acts as a “screening system” that allows products to be included or eliminated from further consideration. Last Minute Product Development Challenges… When Tape Converters Often Do Their Best Work | Pittsburgh | Tom Brown, Inc.

Rapid Prototypes

Competent converters have equipment and processes that allow prototypes to be prepared quickly. This can be as simple as slitting rolls for evaluation or by utilizing “digital die cutting” methods such as waterjet, flash knife, or laser to produce precision parts; often within 24 hours. When you combine the material selection screening questions with the rapid prototyping capabilities, the evaluation and qualification process can start immediately. Any additional tweaks or changes can be usually be incorporated rapidly and new prototypes presented.


While the final evaluations are in process, it’s time to consider effective deployment of the tape or die cut part. If the solution requires rolls of tape, decisions on how the tape will be applied need to be considered. In many cases, tape is hand applied and there is nothing wrong with this approach. In other cases, a hand held, tabletop, or semi automatic dispenser might be much better suited for certain manufacturing situations. The converter should have the right connections to help with these requests. Die cut parts can have even more options. The parts can be cut through into discrete parts, kiss cut on a roll, or have tabs and extended liners. While removing a liner from a discrete part is fairly simple, it may take an extra second or two to do this instead of removing a kiss cut part or utilizing an extended liner. A second or two doesn’t seem like much. However, when you add up thousands of seconds over a year, the savings can usually be measured in days or weeks.

How Can We Help?

Tom Brown, Inc. is a full service converter with a unique set of tools that can be rapidly deployed to help customers solve product development challenges; especially those that happen under time pressure. Our broad product portfolio, material selection experience, rapid prototyping capabilities, and process engineering knowledge can significantly reduce product development time when solving bonding, assembly, gasketing, and sealing challenges. Contact us to discuss your project.
Rick Alexander

About the Author

Rick Alexander is the National Sales Manager for Tom Brown, Inc. His early experience was in R&D, product management, and sales management for both Main Tape and Adhesives Research, Inc. Rick brings over 40 years of pressure-sensitive tape experience and Tom Brown’s world class converting capabilities to help solve customer bonding, assembly, and sealing challenges.