Converting to tapes

Dec 22, 2011 | Fasteners & adhesives

‘Converted adhesive tapes’ are customised to exactly match the requirements of the task. Simon Treharne, Industrial Adhesives & Tapes Division, 3M UK, looks into their benefits. To those in the know, ‘converted adhesive tapes’ can deliver multiple benefits. Put simply, converted tapes are those which have been customised to exactly match the requirements of the task. So, when bonding parts to components, tapes specifically designed for the application mean no cutting or shaping is required by the user, resulting in huge time and cost savings.

Tapes can be pre-cut to any shape – even highly intricate shapes that would be very challenging, or even impossible, to cut by hand. This removes the need to manually trim adhesive tape for each operation, reducing waste and helping to maintain consistency and quality standards.

Converted products can also include flexible substrates, such as polyester films or thin foils, which are laminated with adhesive to make what is essentially a self-bonding product.

A solution for all industries

While the electronics, medical equipment, automotive and aerospace sectors are particularly suitable for converted tape applications, almost any industry could potentially benefit. Applications themselves vary widely, but converted tape solutions, combining the right pre-cut shape with the correct bonding solution, can be designed and manufactured to meet almost any manufacturing adhesive challenge.

Converted tapes are typically die cut, and presented in a format which allows the product to be easily used within the application process. Tapes can, for example, often be created with an oversized liner, providing finger lift for quick and easy placement onto the component. This makes the adhesive product more user-friendly and assists in the assembly process.

In many manufacturing operations, joins are made using liquid adhesives, mechanical fastenings or whole rolls of tape, and while these approaches do offer a fixing solution, it is worth considering alternative options. Mechanical fasteners, for example, can be weighty and prone to corrosion, while potentially adding stress points to finished products. Converted tapes on the other hand are designed for each specific application. They are quick and simple to apply, and can provide an effective solution. In particular, high-strength tapes (such as VHB tape from 3M) can be die cut to replace mechanical fastenings in almost any application.

Converted parts are not an off-the-shelf solution. They are generally specific to customer requirements and are therefore best developed as a part of a comprehensive service that makes sure application demands are met. This not only ensures the right adhesive is used, but that the correct quality standards and usability criteria are met.

Here, the adhesive consultant and client work together to understand the manufacturing process in detail as well as the bonding and application requirements. Most standard adhesive tapes can be converted to customer specific designs, delivering significant cost, performance and production efficiency improvements.

Bespoke products

Customers are often only aware of the converted tape options after they have called in experts to consult on issues facing an existing work process, such as long curing times, production bottlenecks or inconsistent adhesion. However, converted options should not just be considered when there is a process problem – taking a proactive approach and moving to a converted tape solution can often deliver time and cost savings that would otherwise never be achieved. Indeed, the use of converted tape should ideally be considered early in the design process and not just for items already in production.

Bespoke products can increase process efficiency, generate labour savings and reduce waste, and these benefits can far outweigh the incremental cost of moving to converted tape, providing a rapid return on investment.

By dealing with acknowledged experts in adhesives, the converted tape development process can be straightforward and trouble free, ensuring a lasting fix.


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