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You have adhesive options.

Two of today’s most popular are adhesive tape and liquid adhesive. Of course, both have their advantages and drawbacks. Let’s not waste any time. We provide the pros and cons for an attribute of each, and you make the call. Your quick comparison checklist starts right now!

Strength

Liquid Adhesive — Traditional thinking of liquid adhesive is that it provides a stronger bond than adhesive tape because it’s reliable and long-term. For instance, epoxies — one of the oldest synthetic adhesive chemistries — have a very high ultimate strength, are resistant to temperature and environmental factors, and have a long shelf-life, depending on the formulation. Many liquid adhesives are used for structural applications, especially when the load is high, and the bond area is small.

Adhesive Tape — Some adhesive tapes can match liquid adhesive’s bonding capabilities (one example is 3M™ VHB™ (Very High Bonding) tape), while others don't perform at the same level at ultimate strength. With adhesive tape, the bond is distributed over the entire adhesion surface. A uniform thickness provides a consistent coverage that also spreads out any physical impacts or bumps, lessening their impact. Plus, the backing of some adhesive tape helps balance different degrees of expansion of certain materials in heat or cold.

Flexible material converting is complex! Get your questions answered in this  handy Q&A guide.

Curing

Liquid Adhesive — Liquid adhesive must dry and become hard to make a bond. Why? The adhesive is mixed with a solvent keeping it a liquid until applied to a surface when the solvent evaporates. The adhesive then becomes hard, and a bond is formed, which can take seconds or hours.

Adhesive Tape — Always sticky; adhesive tape holds immediately upon contact. There is no need for a chemical reaction or time for drying. Pressure-sensitive adhesive tapes are always ready to use; just remove the protective liner and apply pressure.

Application

Liquid Adhesive — When joining two pieces, it may be necessary to move a piece into place. Liquid adhesives are positionable because they don't immediately cure, but the process is messy. Applying liquid adhesive on a long part may take less time than applying a strip of tape. A liquid adhesive may be easier to automate (no liner to remove, no pressure to apply). Still, it requires specialized equipment, including an applicator and additional training to get the mixing right. A liquid adhesive can drip, splash, or overflow, resulting in a sticky mess and expensive waste. Lastly, liquid adhesives don’t always consistently cover the bond site.

Adhesive Tape — Flexible yet easy to handle, adhesive tape can accelerate the application processes due to no drying time needed. There are no air quality concerns because there’s no poisonous evaporation (some liquid primers expose employees to harsh chemicals). Adhesive tape applies cleanly, and no follow-up work is needed to remove any remains of the adhesive. With die-cut adhesive tape, shapes are cut to the part’s exact dimensions (more on this below).

Versatility

Liquid Adhesive — Both liquid adhesive and adhesive tape are versatile and can do many of the same jobs. In many assemblies, either will work. However, liquid adhesive is not the right joining method for all joint types.

Adhesive Tape — The benefits of adhesive tape shine when creating long-lasting bonds between materials with different surface characteristics. They can be bonded to both low-surface-energy (LSE) and high-surface-energy (HSE) substrates. When temperatures change, a bond of different materials may experience different elongations, plus over time, static and dynamic forces act on the bond and need to be dissipated, which adhesive tape does.

Adhesive tape’s construction allows it to be easily converted. Die-cutting adhesive tape into complex shapes and exact dimensions allows for accurate application and minimizes waste. Not only does this provide long-term and reliable bonding, but it also enhances sealing and dampens vibrations.

Final Thoughts

Adhesive tape has the edge as far as aesthetics. Bonds formed by ultra-thin adhesive tape allow for innovative combinations of materials and product designs. The bond is confined to a small area without dripping or overflow. No cleaning materials or clean-up time is needed, saving time and money.

A converter can help with nearly any bonding challenge because they can help determine the best adhesive tape and source the right materials to exactly what’s needed.

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Scott Chambers

Written by Scott Chambers

Business Development Manager for Strouse Scott graduated from Coastal Carolina with a degree in Business Management. He then attended the University of Baltimore School of Law earning his JD in 2016. He passed the bar later that year, and he started working for Strouse in 2017. Scott is in charge of marketing and business development in addition to being Strouse's In House Counsel.

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