Specifying adhesive products for Point-of-Sale applications

POINT-OF-SALE DISPLAY (POS) units and containers are becoming ever more sophisticated as the drive to grab customer attention and increase sales grows in momentum.

As POS products develop in terms of both materials – cardboard, PVC, metal and other plastics are all widely used – and design, so must the adhesive products, which hold them together to create an attractive yet strong and durable display.

A range of specialist products are available on the market for all of these tasks, depending on the materials used, the strength and durability of the bond required and whether that bond needs to be temporary or permanent.

As most displays are not designed to be permanent, adhesive needs only to be applied in strategic places. It can be expensive, time-consuming and wasteful to apply all over and the cost of the adhesive could potentially outweigh that of the substrates.

Before the adhesive is applied, the overall design of the POS display should be considered, in terms of where the main loads will be, and the points at which the display is liable to shear or rotate, potentially leading to damage. With the right adhesive, it is more likely that a display will fail by collapsing under its own weight than because of the failure of the adhesive product.

Laminated cardboard is often made of material that has been recycled several times. As the number of times it has been recycled increases, the size of individual fibres can decrease, leading to the presence of loose material on the surface. Box sealing tapes are available that are designed for such materials; standard products may not cope with the loose material. Hot melt adhesives also work well on these surfaces.

For bonding plastics or glass, or where complicated shapes are involved, UV curing adhesives are ideal as they give a controlled open time or working period. The adhesive is applied where desired on the substrate and a UV light introduced when the operator is ready, allowing the bond to be made.

Where speed is of the essence, or in applications where aesthetic considerations are paramount and the bonding product must not be easily visible, a two-part clear acrylic adhesive can be specified. Products are available which will bond plastic, glass or metals, with strong UV resistance making them ideal in situations where direct sunlight may cause colour changes. These clear adhesives are also useful in any application where a coloured adhesive could detract from overall appearance. While typically more expensive than UV curing adhesives, their particular features make the price premium a small consideration where speed of use and versatility are key requirements.

Factory environments

POS display or dump bins are used to sell many different types of products and can be very simple or highly decorative with many features. They are usually made of laminated cardboard, which requires gluing at strategic points during assembly. Jet melt thermoplastic adhesives with a low application temperature are ideal in this scenario.

Meanwhile, the ever-increasing use of laminated composite materials, which typically have very shiny surfaces, presents particular challenges to the specifier and applicator. Here, the requirement is for an adhesive product with the ability to bond low surface energy materials, spreading the load across the surface while maintaining a high degree of flexibility.

The most widely specified option in these applications is a double-sided acrylic foam tape that is designed to distribute stress over a uniform area where adjoining materials have different expansion rates, creating a stronger and longer-lasting bond.

This type of product is also good for bonding irregular surfaces, materials with different textures, and joints where holes and voids are present, although hot melt or liquid adhesives offer even better performance in these applications.

Tapes of this kind are available in white, clear, black or grey versions that are ideal for applications involving transparent materials or where the bond line needs to blend in with the design.

Adhesives can also be used on laminated composite materials, but products that offer a good degree of flexibility will likely be better suited to deal with all the handling and use that a POS display will see.

For bonding heavy products – such as showroom display tiles – to boards, jet melt thermoplastic or single-part polyurethane adhesive products are excellent as the rear of the tile will ‘draw in’ the adhesive to form a strong bond. If the front of a tile needs to be bonded, a special primer may be needed as these surfaces are hygrophilic –moisture – that may affect the bond.

Meanwhile, metal packaging, such as that used for perfume bottles, presents its own set of challenges. The choice here is usually between a surface-insensitive structural acrylic adhesive – which does not generally require a clean surface and so removes the risk of operator error – and a high-bond double-sided tape.

Customer environments

For POS applications which are either temporary or where the materials may need to be moved around without damaging them, such as exhibition stands or mobile display units, a variety of temporary fixing solutions are available. These usually take the form of two-part ‘hook and loop’ products on the reverse side of an adhesive tape that is attached to the back of the product to be fixed.

Dual Lock fasteners from 3M, for example, use hundreds of mushroom-shaped stems that interlock when pushed together to create remarkable strength. The durability of the design allows the fasteners to be opened and closed hundreds of times and still retain the same strength. Special low profile versions are also available. Their low engagement width means this product type can be applied to a whole range of fittings and allows specifiers to do away with unsightly and often cumbersome mechanical fasteners. They are ideal for materials where a durable, yet temporary bond is required.

This type of technology is also ideal for temporarily affixing smaller POS items such as leaflet dispensers to vertical surfaces including counters and walls. Clear acrylic tapes can fulfil a similar role where aesthetic considerations are key.

Meanwhile, cosmetics displays, which typically consist of multiple layers with spaces for products, mirrors and graphics and where aesthetics are paramount, are suited to the use of multi-purpose double coated tapes of up to 0.2mm in thickness and also foam tapes, which are thicker and so more visible but do offer greater flexibility.

The decision on what adhesive products to use will depend on the strength and duration of bond required, the substrates involved, and where and by whom the product is to be used. Consulting an expert manufacturer on the application will help ensure the correct decision is made.


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