Adhesive tapes come in seemingly infinite permutations, with different adhesive types, backing materials, dimensions, physical properties and intended applications. Given the variety of tapes on the market today, it’s not unreasonable to think that an off-the-shelf tape is available for every industrial process, manufacturing activity or product assembly job.
However, the engineers and technicians involved in day-to-day manufacturing operations realize that standard adhesive tape or bonding products are inadequate, but they have neither the time, nor the ability to bring new design innovations to life.
Tape customization requires a seasoned, established partnership to optimize tape performance. With more than 50 years' experience, Saint-Gobain Tape Solutions provides experience in helping manufacturers and suppliers bring innovative products to life.
Innovating a custom tape for an application is not a straightforward task. It requires intimate knowledge of material relationships and application conditions. It also takes a strong understanding of available manufacturing methods. Design begins with a complete review of the application by experienced engineers. This provides insight on what components and materials will be adhered and the exact needs of that bond. Some materials need to be permanently fixed under extreme conditions; others may require a temporary bond and a residue-free adhesive. Ultimately, this review provides insight into the types of adhesives that are acceptable.
Another consideration is the tape’s backing material. Many factors enter into the selection such as strength, thickness and elasticity, as well as requirements for electrical conductivity and thermal or chemical resistance, among others. Backing materials are an important variable in the tape development equation. Common performance attributes that need to be accounted for in tape design include:
- Dielectric break-down strength
- Force to Compress or Compression Set Resistance
- High/Low temperature resistance
- Bond strength
- Weather resistance (UV and moisture)
- Masking properties (clean release and conformability)
- ESD resistance
- Thermal insulation and conductance
- Shock and vibration damping
- Chemical resistance
- High or low coefficient of friction
- Abrasion resistance
- High or low tensile or cut strength
Another aspect the product development team reviews is how the tape integrates into current manufacturing equipment and processes. Throughput is key to success, so the tape must be easy to work with for production personnel and machines alike. This might mean that a tape is precut to a dimension or shape to increase assembly speed. Or a special release liner is applied to aid in automated processing.
At the end of the development process, customers should have a tape that has the perfect tack, meets all of the required performance specifications and is easily integrated into existing workflows. This also equates to a more profitable enterprise, as product quality and throughput is improved, leading to greater efficiency and reliability.
Saint-Gobain Tape Solutions is the leading provider of customized tape solutions. With extensive experience in the aerospace and defense, electronics, energy, general industrial and automotive segments, we know how to deliver innovative tape designs for demanding applications.
Saint-Gobain Tape Solutions has dedicated engineering teams around the globe to help improve products and processes with innovative tape designs. Proactive communication with the customer ensures that expectations are met and new issues or challenges are addressed. Often, a single individual serves as the liaison to the customer, providing a single source of expert communication between engineers.
Saint-Gobain Tape Solutions uses a streamlined version of the Stage-Gate Process commonly used in R&D, allowing subject matter experts from different parts of the business to collaborate to find the best solutions using a “Co-Development Toolbox.” Using a project management tool called “PACE” (Prototyping and Co-Development Effort), we work swiftly and carefully from the start and throughout each project to understand the application, and to get feedback from the customer. CTQs are defined early in the process using Product Requirement Outline (“PRO”) sheets tailored to the specific Bonding, Protection, or Insulation function. We can rapidly develop and test tape designs via pilot lines and in-house testing and simulation. Our on-site support allows customers to try tape designs and provide feedback in the field before committing to a final solution. As a materials manufacturer, Saint-Gobain Tape Solutions can provide tapes in many sizes and formats, ensuring the material is optimal for any process or volume.
(For a review of the selection criteria that goes into building a custom tape for a specific application, view our Product Requirement Outline (“PRO”) Sheets for Bonding, Protection and Insulation. Design experts are available to discuss how the details of your application can affect the need for specific tape characteristics, contact us today to learn more.)
To illustrate the value that Saint-Gobain Tape Solutions can bring to your design challenge, we offer a few examples of collaboration that led to product innovation.
- When a manufacturer of aerospace composite parts made process changes to speed up throughput and significantly increase part size, they began to experience issues with the PTFE/Glass Cloth Tape lining their molds. The existing Composite Molding Mold Release Tape was unable to withstand the demolding process under these new conditions and exhibited significant wrinkling and delamination. To overcome this issue, Saint-Gobain Tape Solutions provided a customized product with both higher adhesion and increased shear performance which was able to withstand new processing conditions. This custom solution has led to fewer defects, reduced downtime, and increased productivity for the customer.
- A customized laminated construction of Polyimide Adhesive Tape and Silicone Coated Glass Fabric Adhesive Tape was created for the a high profile deep space mission. This project moved very quickly from the lab prototype scale to full production in order to meet an aggressive customer schedule. This interplanetary mission will survey Jupiter’s moon to learn more about chemistry of the surface and select sites for future missions. In the application, the customized tape functions as a spacer and release surface critical to component separation.
- A Fluoropolymer Adhesive Tape in multiple colors was designed using a heat activated adhesive. This combination allowed the customer to adhere the tape to fire retardant textile components at relatively low temperature, while still meeting high temperature performance conditions required for UL compliance. As a result, the customer was able to meet UL guidelines for their product without any additional investment in processing equipment.
- A Silicone Thermal Management product was modified for a new electric vehicle battery pack. The properties of the existing solution were not ideal due to the complexity of the automotive assembly process. Saint-Gobain Tape Solutions provided a completely customized formula, and a special protective liner, tab tape, and fingerlift to allow the customer significant flexibility in their assembly process.
- A customized bonding tape was developed to affix a silicone rubber device to the inside of automotive windshields. This tape was designed to have good UV and temperature stability in order to withstand exposure to the sun and seasonal temperature variation. The tape construction incorporated a company logo visible from the exterior of the vehicle, and a special tabbed liner. The unique combinations of adhesives, backings and liners allows the driver to install device quickly.
- A specially formulated Polyurethane Foam Compression Pad was developed to meet a new forklift battery pack design. Existing products on the market could not meet the specifications for force to compress and deflection force. The product design included a protective liner specifically adapted to the customer’s assembly process and enabled them to launch production within their tight timeline (from specification to product design and production, the whole process took just 6 months).
A custom tape solution can pay for itself many times over thanks to the process and product improvements it can provide. Tape development engineers at Saint-Gobain will work with partners to provide innovative and effective tape products.
Saint-Gobain Tape Solutions can deliver a custom-made tape with optimal adhesive, the perfect backing materials, seamless process integration and superb performance.
Learn how we can help solve tape and materials' engineering challenges. Contact us today.