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NOTE: This is Part 2 of a 3-part series on Pressure Sensitive Adhesive Tape. Read Part 1 — which features PSA’s performance and versatility — in the Strouse blog. Check back next month for the third and final article in the series.

When it comes to bonding applications, there’s no shortage of options: screws, bolts, mechanical fasteners, rivets, welding, liquid adhesives, and more. We recently covered the history of bonding options; what adhesive bonding is and how it’s changed over time. Read that here.

Yet, as you’ve guessed from the title of this article, there’s one solution that’s so superior to others that it’s hardly a choice at all: it’s 3M VHB Tape. It’s cost-effective, flexible, durable, and high bonding, so let’s explore this solution in more depth.

VHB Tape — Basics of This Bonding Solution

Originally introduced to the market in 1980 by 3M, Very High Bonding (VHB) tapes permanently bond and seal many surfaces and are stronger than most construction adhesive. In addition to providing incredible bonding, VHB tapes are durable and improve the appearance of the product on which they’re placed. Engineering and product designers have embraced VHB tape and used it for thousands of different applications.

VHB tapes have no separate backing; instead using a thick material for bonding. Designed for applications that require a permanent bond, the bond of an VHB tape becomes nearly indestructible after 72 hours. A fully cured pressure sensitive adhesive tape, VHB tape is made with an acrylic polymer foam that’s viscoelastic in nature, and the foam is energy absorbing.

Since the introduction of VHB tape, other bonding tapes have entered the market, including Ultra High Bonding (UHB) tapes and Acrylic Foam Tapes (AFT).

The Benefits of Using 3M VHB Tape

1. Light Weight
For products that require lightweight permanent bonding solutions, 3M VHB tape provides the needed performance and efficiency. It’s supplied in many thicknesses and widths so the material matches the exact specification for each project.

2. High Performance
3M VHB tape outperforms traditional bonding solutions and is 10x stronger than rivets. By using strips of VHB tape along a surface, concentrated stress points (often experienced when using rivets and fasteners) are avoided. 3M VHB tape spreads stress loads across the entire area on which the tape is applied while creating a permanent, high-performance bond. 

3. No Mess
Many traditional bonding solutions are a hassle to apply. Liquid adhesives and other solutions that require primer can be extremely messy and create a poor-looking finished product. 3M VHB tape is easily applied to surfaces by hand or by using machine automation. Either way, smooth and clean bond lines are created that many finished products require. 

4. Safer to Use and Apply
The use of primer, or adhesive promoter, creates many pain points for manufacturers:

  • Employees are exposed to harsh chemicals that can create health issues
  • Primer application slows down production; it’s time consuming to apply and creates another step in a complex process
  • Some states (California, for instance) limit the use of solvent-based adhesion promoters

Not all VHB tapes require the use of primer, and 3M even offers Primerless Acrylic Foam Tape that’s designed for automotive manufacturers, making the assembly processes safer, cleaner, and more efficient.

5. Versatile and Easily Die Cut
With over 40 different products in the VHB brand, 3M VHB tapes come in a variety of colors and are designed for bonding to specific substrates. Due to the construction of the material, 3M VHB tape can easily be converted and die cut to custom shapes and sizes. Converters work closely with engineers to provide the right material in the right format that leads to product or project success.

The Go-To Bonding Solution for Many Industries

In addition to being the preferred permanent bonding application for numerous industries, 3M VHB tape is used on many demanding applications: electronics, outdoor signs, construction and manufacturing solutions, automotive products, medical devices, aerospace applications, and so much more. 3M VHB tape delivers a lightweight, permanent bond that doesn’t negatively impact product performance.

Bonding to What Materials?

While other assembly options (fasteners, rivets, welds, etc.) bond metal-to-metal or plastic-to-plastic, 3M VHB tape can create a secure bond between two or more different surfaces, either smooth or irregular. Material examples include:

  • Brick, concrete, wood
  • Composites
  • Foams and fiberglass
  • Glass and ceramics
  • Metals
  • Painted surfaces
  • Plastics and plasticized vinyl
  • Rubber

Bonding in What Environments?

3M VHB tape’s durability and versatility are incredible. Use it indoors and outdoors, and with these various environmental factors in play:

  • Chemicals — Passes splash test of common solvents (acetone, ammonia, isopropyl alcohol, oil, and more)
  • Humidity — Performs in environments with high humidity
  • Moisture — Resists freshwater and saltwater, even submersion in water
  • Temperature — Performs in environments -40°F to 200°F
  • UV Light — Resists natural and artificial ultraviolet rays

Speaking of strange environments, 3M VHB tape was even featured on HISTORY’s long-running show, Modern Marvels.

The key to using 3M VHB tape properly is to get it in custom lengths, widths, sizes, shapes, and formats to help solve application challenges while creating impactful business outcomes. Plus, if costs can be cut, performance improved, and assembly process efficiencies created, it’s a huge win for that product and the entire company.

That’s why selecting a full service adhesive tape converter that knows VHB tape and is 3M Preferred is such an advantage. The right converter finds the right materials, understands the importance of adhesive tape to a project’s success, and solves problems. Expect all this and more when you work with Strouse. If you have any questions or comments about 3M VHB tape, contact Strouse. Or, ask an engineer about adhesive solutions today!

Enjoy this article? If you have not read Part 1 in this series, we recommend checking that out. Thanks for reading and have a great 2021!

Scott Chambers

Written by Scott Chambers