Finding the proper adhesive for your product will determine whether or not your product will last for years to come and be considered high quality. There are several things to take into consideration when trying to find what is considered the “proper adhesive” for your application and these things must be cross examined with one another in order to find what kind of materials you will need for the best results. However, in order to make an educated decision, you must understand the fundamentals of adhesion.
Understanding the Fundamentals of Adhesion
Surface energy refers to the strength of attraction between two materials and begins to determine what type of adhesive to use. The higher the surface energy, the greater the attraction, while the lower the surface energy, the weaker the attraction. High surface energy allows the adhesive to “wet-out” to create a stronger bond. High surface energy materials typically include metals (copper, aluminum, tin, lead, etc.). Low surface energy does not allow “wetting-out” and therefore, there isn’t enough for the adhesive contact to bond with. Therefore, you will need special adhesives specifically designed for the task. Low surface energy materials may include polystyrene, polypropylene, etc. Make sure you know what you are applying your product to first, before choosing an adhesive. It makes a difference in the strength of the bond and whether or not your product will stay put for years to come.
Being able to maintain proper adhesion will require the right conditions. This includes a dry and contaminant free surface. Make sure that the area that you are applying your product to has been cleaned first, before application. Firm pressure must be applied when installing your product in order to ensure a strong bond. It also allows the adhesive to “wet-out”. Keep in mind that the time and temperature that the product is being applied in will have an effect on the adhesion bond and value. The longer the dwell time, the stronger the bond. Lastly, oil contaminated materials will require special adhesives, and if you are applying to this kind of surface, you may want to resolve the oil contamination, or consider the options that our sales assistant will walk you through.
Different designs challenges will require different solutions. By designs, we mean the conditions in which the product will be placed under. Different adhesives will react under different conditions, so it’s best to be sure to select the one that adheres specifically to your product’s needs. How is the adhesive going to need to perform? What environment will it be subject to? The following are some ways that adhesives may react to different conditions:
Tensile: refers to the pull over the entire surface, equally from both directions. The pull is straight away from the adhesive bond.
Shear: refers to the pull in opposite directions, forcing the two surfaces to rub in opposite directions from one another across the adhesive bond.
Cleavage: refers to the pull concentrated at on particular area – typically the edge – and both surfaces are pulling straight away from the adhesive bond.
Peel: refers to the edge of the adhesive bond on one substrate that is peeling away from the second substrate.
These different situations call for different kinds of adhesives to be used in order to find the right fit for proper adhesion and making sure everything stays put.
Understanding Application vs. Function
Application refers to where the product is being applied to, which includes the environment and conditions the product will undergo. There are different areas of applications and this includes appliances, transportation, electronics and industrial.
Meanwhile, the Function refers to how the product is going to be used. There are also different functions in which a product can have - which include identifying, bonding, protecting, electrical shielding and conducting.
Both function and application need to be considered. Say for example you have an industrial application that is being used for identifying. The adhesive you will need to use will need to be able to bond the graphic label to the substrate that will allow for rugged use and be resistant to harsher, industrial strength environments. You must be able to identify the application and function of your product before even beginning to consider the type of adhesive you would like to use.
ECI’s experienced staff has 25 years of knowledge and understanding of proper adhesive applications. We can work with you to help you understand the type of application your product will be applied to and guide you in making the best choices to maximize quality. Our goal is to make sure your product will be able to withstand the tests of time and environment all while presenting a quality, aesthetically pleasing product that will make a lasting impression for years to come.