PST technology to the rescue

Converters of adhesive-based die cut and custom parts are presented with special challenges from OEM customers. Colin Carrington, applications technical services manager for Avery Dennison explains how PST technology provides a solution

With mandates to meet exacting product specifications and consistent product quality, European converters of adhesive-based die cut and custom parts constantly face challenges from their OEM customers. Meeting them often requires deep technical knowledge, an understanding of industry standards and keen problem solving abilities. Fortunately, assistance is available from the pressure-sensitive adhesive tapes industry. Leading manufacturers have engineering, product testing and application solution resources available to meet all kinds of requirements. For example, a converter was assigned to produce polypropylene moulding for an automotive OEM’s air conditioning unit. The application was especially challenging because the moulding wound through the car’s interior passenger compartment and bulkhead and into the engine compartment.

The moulding had to withstand high heat from the engine, maintain its integrity despite stresses caused by its winding pathway and remain reliably bonded to two low surface energy (LSE) surfaces. The converter initially used an off-the-shelf pressure-sensitive adhesive tape but in four months the product failed to maintain the values necessary for reliable performance.

In search of a better solution the converter consulted a leading pressure-sensitive tapes manufacturer and provided that company with actual components including the polypropylene moulding and polyurethane foam substrate along with the OEM‘s specifications for temperature and oil resistance. The tapes producer which was ISO TS certified for automotive and quality related systems embarked on an extensive testing program that entailed wrapping the polyurethane foam around the polypropylene moulding’s plastic components to duplicate the stresses the adhesives would face in actual conditions. Additional evaluations were made for initial adhesion, temperature versus stress, shear and environmental testing, and water and fuel resistance.

After three weeks of laboratory analysis, the pressure-sensitive adhesive tapes manufacturer recommended a flexible modified acrylic adhesive transfer tape that combined the highest performance with the lowest cost. The tape has now performed reliably for an extended period.

Equally effective solutions have been provided by European tapes suppliers in industries where reliable bonding is a critical concern including building construction, appliance, graphics and packaging and electronics.

Sourcing a manufacturer

When selecting a pressure-sensitive tapes manufacturer to address demanding application challenges, look for those with full laboratory testing facilities, not merely a test rig. You will want your application analysed in circumstances that accurately reflect online conditions and with the actual parts you are charged with converting into reliable components.

Your provider should have a full range of potential solutions readily at hand along with the expertise necessary to create tailored solutions that successfully address the application. Leading producers will have rubber-, acrylic- and silicone-based technologies in their repertoire of solutions along with processing capabilities that can enhance each adhesive type with a host of additional characteristics. Furthermore, they will offer a full range of single- and double-coated, self-wound and heat-activated tapes.

Producing the best solution often requires cooperation between converter and tapes supplier to deliver the right combination of performance and cost-effectiveness while contributing to ease of convertibility and end-user convenience. Your supplier will need to fully understand the application. For example, will your end user customer be applying the part by hand? Will assembly workers be wearing gloves? Your tapes manufacturer may recommend adding a finger-lift tab for such applications to facilitate easy removal of the liner.

Converters can approach leading manufacturers for troubleshooting purposes. Because their engineers and technical staff have experience with a wide range of applications they can often provide simple answers to problems. Are you having difficulty during the conversion process? Are the parts not cut to the proper specifications? A tapes manufacturer’s recommendation might be as basic as changing to a thicker liner or adjusting your equipment’s speed or pressure settings.

Maintaining end user customer satisfaction levels is a prime directive for any successful converter. Put technical and problem solving capabilities foremost in your supplier selection criteria and earn greater assurance of consistently reliable products for cost-effective operations.

Business considerations

Just as your tapes manufacturer should be equipped to readily choose from any of the adhesives families for the most reliable and cost-effective solution so should it be solely dedicated to the business of manufacturing pressure-sensitive tapes. Some suppliers have forward integrated into the business of converting, supplying tapes to its converter customer only until the business reaches a critical mass and then vying for the converting business direct with the end user.

A pressure-sensitive tapes manufacturer’s suitability as a preferred resource stands side by side with its quality product line, technical and service capabilities and its manufacturing expertise.