What is the Strongest Double Sided Tape? | Pittsburgh | Tom Brown, Inc.?   Recently, I was reviewing the keyword search terms people used to reach our website. The following is just a sampling of the searches that came up most frequently:
  • “Most powerful double sided tape”
  • “Strongest double sided tape”
  • ‘Super strong double sided tape”
  • “Strongest double sided tape for glass”
  • Strongest double sided tape for walls”
  • “Best double sided tape”
  • “Super strong sticky tape”
You get the idea. People want an easy way to determine the best double sided tape to use. It’s human nature to want to know who or what is “the best”—the best NFL team, baseball team, college, restaurant, etc.—we like to know where we should invest our time and attention. With sports, it’s not as hard to answer that question. There are agreed-upon rules and competitions to rank teams or individuals. The person or team with the best results is the winner. For other things, it’s not nearly that easy. Here’s the spoiler; tapes are one of those things and answering the question about “the best” tape overall is technically impossible. The applications, surfaces, and operating conditions vary so much that tapes that are the best in one arena might fail badly in another.  However, it is possible to talk about double coated tape products that do several things exceptionally well and are excellent “go-to” products when considering bonding and assembly applications.

Defining a Double Coated (Sided) Tape

A double coated or double sided tape is a specific tape format where a pressure-sensitive adhesive is coated onto both sides of a carrier or in some cases with acrylic foams — a foaming agent can be incorporated into an adhesive matrix and then” foamed” so the resulting tape is monolithic but in fact, has adhesive on both sides. A release liner can be applied to both sides of the tape or more often a double siliconized liner is used that allows the tape to be wound on itself (also referred to as self-wound).  

What is the Strongest Double-Sided Tape? | Pittsburgh | Tom Brown, Inc. (Photo Courtesy of 3M)

Types of Carriers and Impact

Carriers or backings are an important element of the double coated tape because they have a significant influence on the physical properties and the ultimate performance of the tape. These properties impact the selection of the best tapes for a given application.

Contributions of Carriers

  • Flexibility
  • UV resistance
  • Thickness and density
  • Tensile strength
  • Elongation
  • Moisture resistance
  • Abrasion resistance
  • Electrical/ and thermal conductivity or insulation
  • Color
  • Transparency
  • Flame Retardance

Common Foam Carriers                       

Acrylic  Polyethylene  Polyurethane  PVC (polyvinyl chloride) 

Common Film Carriers

Polyester Polypropylene UPVC (unplasticized polyvinyl chloride)                                                   

Other Carriers

Tissue Paper Nonwovens   What is the Strongest Double-Sided Tape? | Pittsburgh | Tom Brown, Inc.

Matching Tape and Application: Questions to Narrow the Field

Ask the following questions to decide which tape will work best for your situation.
  1. What is the end-use and what are you trying to accomplish? You should be able to answer this in one sentence most of the time.
  2.  What materials are you bonding? There is no “one tape fits all” with double coated tapes. You have to identify what you want to   bond together so you pick the best candidates. Different classes of materials act very differently.
  3.  Are there any gaps to fill? The tape must have the right gap-filling ability for any uneven or non-planar surfaces. 
  4.  What stresses or loads will be present in the application? The forces can include shear, tensile, cleavage, and peel. If you can identify these forces, you can choose a tape that will maximize your chances for success.
  5.  Is the bonding surface rough or smooth? Rough surfaces usually require tapes with higher adhesive coat weights or thicknesses to allow the adhesive to flow into surface irregularities and provide better wet out. Better wet out will yield higher bond strengths.
  6.  What are the application temperature and service temperature? What are the conditions where the tape is applied and what high or low temperatures will be encountered during service life? Some tapes work exceptionally well at low temperatures and others have excellent high-temperature performance. 
  7.  Will there be any exposure to UV light, chemicals, or moisture? These factors along with temperature and the various forces outlined in question 4 will create the operating environment for the tape. 
 

“Go-To” Product Recommendations

In the introduction, I stated that it is impossible to pick only one “strongest double coated tape” due to the high degree of variability and performance requirements encountered in each application. There are, however (in my opinion) a group of “best in class” or “go-to” tapes that are a great starting point for many applications. Here they are:

Double Coated Foam Tapes

Acrylic Foam Tapes

  1. 3M VHB – the VHB portfolio contains almost 100 products and they are all excellent! 
  2. Saint Gobain Norbond® Acrylic Foams – especially the new A7600

Double Coated Polyethylene Foam Tapes

  1. Adhesives Research – 2000 and 4000 Series
  2. Berry Plastics – GTW / GTB Series
  3. Adhesives Applications- 7016B, 65016B, and 7316B
  4. Mactac – IM1863

Double Coated Film Tapes

This section is broken down by surface energy classification since there are more double coated film tapes than any other type.

Double Coated Film Tapes for HSE (high surface energy metals and plastics)

  1. 3M 92015

Double Coated Film Tapes for Foam Bonding and Rough Surfaces

  1. 3M 9832
  2. Berry Plastics 350 Series

Double Coated Film Tapes for LSE (low surface energy plastics and paints)

  1. 3M 93015LE
  2. Berry Plastics 650 Series
The products listed are those where I have observed success with a number of customers over many applications. It is not intended to be all-inclusive or to leave any manufacturers out. I can attest that there are other double coated tape manufacturers such as Scapa Group, Intertape Polymer Group, Tesa, and Avery Dennison who all produce excellent high-performance double coated tapes. If you have an application for bonding or assembly where you think a double coated tape might work, don’t hesitate to contact us at Tom Brown, Inc. We’ll set you up with the samples and the technical data you need to begin your evaluation and succeed! www.tombrowninc.com 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. 

Summary

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 www.tombrowninc.com

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.

Peel

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

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

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

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.

Compression

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.

Pressure

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.

Time

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.

Summary

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.