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Permanent bonding projects take on various formats and requirements. The one thing true in all cases is the need for putting two items together so they don’t come apart. Regardless of how well the surfaces match or mismatch, they must be bonded to hold for the long term.

Have you ever wanted to adhere two items that can survive water damage, solvents, temperature extremes, and UV Light?

3M VHB Tapes are double-sided foam tapes that can contour to the shape you’re working with and seal for the long term. Made from high-performance acrylic adhesives, these tapes are easy to work with and get the job done.

Want to know which kind of VHB tapes work best for your project?

Learn more about the various kinds of tape here.

3M VHB Double Sided Tape Products

The peel adhesion and tensile holding power of 3M VHB tapes are significantly higher than typical pressure-sensitive tapes. The secret behind the exceptional strength and durability of the 3M VHB tapes is the technology. This cutting-edge science allows for even greater flexibility than conventional double-sided tapes.

The product is also distinguished by having several different core constructions and a variety of adhesives. Thousands of visible fasteners have been replaced with high-strength, double-sided acrylic foam tapes that actually build strength over time. This product continues to be a resilient bonding solution for a variety of materials.

Closed Cell Technology

The strength of the bond resists all environmental elements that typically wear down bonds. This technology survives water damage, temperature extremes, and UV Light.

The durable bond is powerful enough to replace a wide range of mechanical fasteners. The acrylic core of the tape empowers connections with an array of materials. This core behaves like both a viscous liquid and an elastic solid.

Viscoelasticity

The combination of viscous and elastic is called viscoelasticity.

The “visco” allows the adhesive to flow into the irregular portions of a surface to form a strong bond. The “elasticity” empowers the tapes to absorb dynamic loads. It also accommodates the differential expansion between surfaces and distributes the load over the broadest area.

Benefits of Using 3M VHB Tape Products

The greatest benefit of using 3M VHB tape is how clean the product is to work with. There is no need for messy processes like drilling holes and dripping glue. There is no clean-up after the job is done.

The tape is strong enough that it can be used in place of rivets and small welds. Think about how many unsightly spot welds, screw heads, or scratched nuts and bolts can be avoided. The best part is that the 3M VHB tape can be used on glass, metals, woods, composites, and many plastics.

The elastic properties are maintained between -40°C and 90°C depending on the product. It resists solvents and saltwater. And, the tape seals and bonds in all adverse and extreme environments.

The 3M VHB tape reduces vibrations and related noises. The tape even adjusts to the thermal expansion and contraction of the bonded parts. When stress is applied, the thin tape distributes the stress evenly.

Long-Term Success

The 3M VHB tape has a long history of success dating back to the 1980s. Much of the tape’s use back then was in construction, transportation, and signage. This history gives credence to the tape’s long-term aging resistance as it continues to age well in demanding applications.

In 1987, 3M VHB tape was used on the exterior cladding panels of a building in Newmarket, Auckland. It was fast to apply and left no mess. Plus, the durable acrylic chemistry continues to hold for an entire generation.

To be clear, durability is dependent on the specific application and working conditions of any given project. However, the sun has no significant effect on the bond. Nor do harsh environments negatively impact the tape.

Continuous Testing

To continue the flow of historical data, several test areas were established to measure specific areas of concern. The below area is consistently tested and measured to validate the 3M VHB tape’s long-term durability.

Outdoor Weathering

In Florida, outdoor weathering decks are used to measure the impact of hot, moist air and high UV light on the bonds. Arizona is used to measure extreme heat and high UV light. Other global locations are also used to capture various data points that might impact other climates.

The outcome over the long-term of these test areas shows retention of 100% bond strength after 2-5 years 

Fatigue and Vibration

Bendix Automotive Proving Ground in Indiana was chosen to test fatigue and vibration measurements. A semi-truck with a sleeper cab was built with all exterior panels and doors taped to an underlying frame. The truck was driven 500,00km on the harsh durability track.

The tape’s results against fatigue and vibration were better than some of the mechanical and weld parts. The tape bonds were 100% intact, but several of the welds and bolts, which were not being measured, failed and had to be rebuilt during the tests.

Solvent and Moisture

The splash tests included water, petrol, white spirits, motor oil, ammonia cleaner, acetone, methyl ethyl ketone (MEK), and isopropyl alcohol. The tape continues to prove itself, 100% of the time, as a seal against moisture. The 3MVHB tape has also been proven to prevent corrosion between dissimilar metals.

Laboratory tests have also pitted tape bonds against saltwater. The tests have shown no degradation after ten years of bonds submerged in saltwater. However, the tape has not been rated for applications that include continuous submersion.

Shelf Life

Tape that is stored on the shelf under cool and dry conditions is rated for a shelf-life of 24 months from its manufactured date. The ideal storage condition is 20°C with 50% relative humidity.

Selecting the Right 3M VHB Tape

There are several VHB tapes to cover many solutions for combining various types of surfaces. Some tapes are for general purposes, while some have special features for specific solutions. Tapes are available for situations with high dynamic stress, applications to paints and plastics including plasticized vinyl, and situations that need transparent tape.

Special tapes also are available for work situations where the tape is used in 0° to 10°C. There are also special tapes for parts that have to withstand higher temperatures or are bonded before powder coating.

General-purpose tapes are ideal for interior and exterior industrial applications. Also, the tapes with softer cores and are well suited for textured surfaces. The general-purpose tapes work well when sealing is required.

Good Adhesion

All 3M VHB tapes adhere well to glass, metals, and high surface energy plastics that include acrylic, ABS, polycarbonate, PVC, polyester, Polyamide, Polyimide, Phenolic, and Noryl. Low surface energy plastics like PVA, EVA, polystyrene, acetal, and some paint, may require priming with 3M Tape Primer 94 or 3M VHB LSE.

Some surfaces might require some level of abrasion. Any dirt or oxide from metals or paints needs to be removed. A finely abraded surface (approximately 180 to 320 grit scratch) can help adhesion.

Ultra-small circular abrading motion is more desirable than straight-line motion. Since the micro-scratches increase the surface area used for bonding, the bond’s strength will improve.

The 3M™ Scotch-Brite ® Hand Pads (7447 Maroon or Heavy-Duty Green) will achieve the right level of abrasion. Palm or dual-action sanders can help with large surface areas. Be careful not to grind the surface with coarse materials or they will create too much texture for the adhesive to adequately flow into the surface.

Clean the substrate with the IPA/water solution after abrading the surface. The exceptions for these abrading guidelines are 3M VHB tapes 4932 and 4952. They perform best on smooth surfaces.

Right Tape, Right Job

When bonding paints and plastics, use VHB tapes 4941, 4991, 5925, 5952, 5962, or 4945. When bonding to unlike materials, the liner side of VHB tapes 4618, 4622, and 4624 has good adhesion to paints and plastics.

For surfaces with texture needing a more solid bond use VHB tapes or 4941 or 4991.

For flexible vinyl use only plasticizer resistant 4941, 4945, or 4991. When bonding to unlike materials the liner side of 4618, 4622, and 4624 is also plasticizer resistant for vinyl.

Tape Thickness

The more precise the surfaces of the two materials being joined, the thinner the tape can be. The more mismatched or textured, the thicker the tape must be. The thickness should be up to 50% of the mismatch for a good bond.

When bonding large pieces of material, the material shouldn’t be more than 2X the thickness of the tape. In other words, a 1.0 mm tape can bond a sheet of 2.0mm material.

The tape thickness to cover thermal expansion and contraction in a joint should not exceed 3X the tape thickness. For instance, a 2.4 mm sheet of plastic can be bonded to a metal using 1.1mm thick tape.

Amount of Tape Used

When hanging a sign or a panel (about 1 kg) to a wall, the general amount of tape needed for safety reasons is 430 mm for a 12.7 mm wide tape, 290 mm for a 19.0 mm wide tape, and 215 mm for a 25.4 mm tape.

This may vary based on the selected tape specifications.

Application Temperature

The general application temperature range for 3M VHB tapes is 20ºC - 40ºC. However, each type has its own specifications.

Here are the minimum application surface temperatures for 3M VHB tapes:

  • 16°C: 4936, 4941, 4945, 4991
  • 10°C: 4611, 4618, 4622, 4624, 4905, 4910, 4915, 4918, 4930, 4950, 4959, 5925, 5952, 5962, 9473
  • 0°C: 4951, 4957 (high surface energy substrates only)

After the application is secure, the lowest holding temperature can be -40°C.

Tapes to Consider

There are several families of tapes available within the 3M VHB tape products. Each has its own design considerations and properties. The below samples will clarify the types of elements available for consideration in the decision-making process before purchase.

3M VHB Tape 5952 in Detail

Tape 5952 was manufactured in accordance with ISO 9001 standards. This black double coated acrylic foam tape is 0.045 in. (1.1 mm) thick. The tape bonds to high, medium, and medium/low surface energy substrates.

The tape bonds to the following metals: aluminum, stainless steel, copper, zinc, tin, lead, and anodized aluminum. It also adheres to glass and numerous plastics and paints. This list includes powder paints.

There are charts available that cover the specific list of plastics. Within the chart, each substrate is categorized by a high to low surface energy for adhesion purposes.

This family of 5952 tapes has conformable foam to make good contact between substrates that are slightly mismatched. Each product in this family of tapes has modified acrylic adhesive but varies in thickness, color, and liner type.

The tapes all feature:

  • Fast and easy-to-use permanent bonding method
  • High strength and durability
  • Fastens virtually invisible
  • Strong enough to replace mechanical fasteners and liquid adhesives
  • Creates a permanent seal against water and moisture
  • Bonds with differing materials

Adhesion to Substrates

Adhesion is determined by the adhesive’s flow onto the substrate. Another factor is the amount of tape to the weight/size of the substrate. A general rule for the 5952 tape holding static stresses is using about four square inches of tape for each pound of the substrate (57 cm² of tape per kg).

In the case of dynamic stresses or loads in general applications, a good estimate formula is 12 lbs./in.2 (85 kPa).

When it comes to thermal expansion/contraction, assuming good adhesion to the substrates, the tapes can tolerate differential movement up to 3 times their thickness.

Bond flexibility is beneficial with the 5952 tape unless additional stiffness is required. If not, then this tape can replace any mechanical fasteners.

If the tape is required to perform in extremely cold weather, you can review the technical bulletin “3M™ VHB™ Tape Cold Temperature Performance” (70-0707-3991-0) for additional information.

Application Techniques

Prior to applying 3M VHB tape, clean all substrates with a 50:50 mixture of isopropyl alcohol and water (IPA/Water).

Exceptions that may require additional surface preparation include:

  • Heavy Oils: Use a degreaser to remove heavy oil/grease from a surface.
  • Abrasion: Abrading a surface can remove heavy dirt or oxidation.
  • Adhesion Promoters: Priming a surface can significantly improve adhesion to plastics and paints.
  • Porous surfaces: Porous and fibered materials including wood, particleboard, and concrete need to be sealed to provide a unified surface.
  • Unique Materials: Special surface preparation is needed for glass, copper, and plastics or rubber that contain components that migrate (e.g. plasticizers).

All of the above cleaning prep work must be followed by cleaning with IPA/Water. For additional reading on surface prep, look up the 3M Technical Bulletin “Surface Preparation for 3M™ VHB™ Tape Applications” (70-0704-8701-5).

Adherence Pressure

Bond strength is dependent upon the amount of adhesive-to-surface contact developed. Firm application pressure develops better adhesive contact and helps improve bond strength.

Typically, good surface contact can be attained by applying enough pressure to ensure the tape experiences approximately 15 psi (100 kPa) pressure. Either roller or platen pressure can be used. Note that rigid surfaces may require 2 or 3 times that much pressure to make the tape experience 15 psi.

Application Temperature

The ideal application temperature range is 70°F to 100°F (21°C to 38°C). Since the pressure-sensitive adhesives use viscous flow to achieve substrate contact area, the minimum suggested application temperature for the 3M VHB tape 5952 family is 50°F (10°C). Check each tape’s specifications for the actual minimum temperature for each tape.

Bonding Time

During the wet-out period, where the adhesive flows into the textured surface of the substrate, the bond strength will increase. Based on room temperature, 50% of the bond strength will be achieved in 20-minutes. The strength will increase to 90% after 24-hours. It typically takes 72-hours to reach 100% strength.

This time period can speed up with warmer temperatures and slow with cooler temperatures. When the wet-out process is in progress, exposure of the substrates to 150°F (66°C) for one hour can increase the bond strength. The bond strength can also be increased with the use of abrasion and primers.

Storage and Shelf Life

All 3M VHB tapes have a shelf life of 24 months from the date of manufacturing. This schedule is true when the tape is stored at 40°F to 100°F (4°C to 38°C) with 0-95% relative humidity. The optimum storage conditions are 72°F (22°C) and 50% relative humidity.

3M VHB Tape 4959 Summary

Tape 4959 belongs to the 4950 family of tapes. The 4959 is ideal for attaching logos to appliances, decorative material, and trim, nameplates and logos, electronic displays, panel frames, and can be used as a stiffener for panels.

The white tape is 0.120 in. (3.0 mm), general-purpose adhesive. It has a firm acrylic foam core with a balance of strength and conformability. The tape consists of a durable acrylic adhesive with viscoelastic properties. The product is double-sided foam tape.

3M VHB Tape 4611 Summary

Tape 4611 belongs to the 4611 family of tapes. This dark gray tape is 0.045 in. (1.1 mil) and features a high-temperature resistance. Most often the tape is used on metal substrates such as aluminum, galvanized steel, and stainless steel. The tape is also used as a stiffener and panel attachment.

The tape can be used in assembly prior to high-temperature paint ovens. Its thinner, lighter weight makes it ideal for dissimilar materials, decorative materials, and trim. The tape can also be used for attaching nameplates and logos.

3M VHB Tape 4950 Summary

The 4950 belongs to the 4950 family of tapes. This white tape is 0.045 in. (1.1 mm) and features a sensitive adhesive that bonds on contact to provide an immediate handling strength. This thin, general-purpose adhesive has a firm acrylic foam core. It keeps the surface smooth and is virtually invisible.

Applications can include decorative material and trim, nameplates and logos, panel to the frame, and stiffener to the panel.

3M VHB Tape - Specialty Tape 4910 Summary

The 4910 tape belongs to the 4910 family of tapes. The clear tape is 0.040 in. (1.0 mm) and features a clear acrylic core. This family of tapes bond well to high surface energy materials. Bonding in severe cold temperatures is challenging and must be evaluated by the user.

Wide Array of Tapes

There are many types of 3M VHB tapes available for every industry. For instance, there are several types used for automotive including double-sided tape and specific tapes for use with commercial vehicles. Industries requiring clear tapes have several to choose from.

Applications also determine which tapes can be used.

There are tapes for high-temperature situations and cold temperatures. There are tapes designed to pass significant strength tests. And others that are waterproof.

Are you in need of heavy-duty mounting tape? You have several to choose from.

There are tapes that will show 90% of their strength within seconds of application and others that will increase their strength over 72-hours.

All of the 3M VHB families of tape have specifications to review before purchasing the needed tape. Many have information on specific applications too. The number of applications continues to grow faster than the lists can be updated.

A 3M™ VHB™ Tape for Your Needs

The 3M VHB family of tapes has a specific tape for your next project. Whether you’re replacing a fastener or bonding dissimilar and mismatched materials, there’s a tape solution for you. Regardless of the conditions your project faces, you can count on a tape uniquely designed to facilitate your needs.

Check out the industries and applications that 3M VHB tapes have supported over the past 40 years. 

For an entire generation, 3M VHB tapes have maintained consistency from design to construction. Thousands of visible fasteners have been replaced with high-strength, double-sided acrylic foam tapes that actually build strength over time. This product continues to bond a variety of materials and provides a resilient bonding solution for just about anything you can dream up.

Do you want 3M VHB for your company's bonding needs? Contact Strouse to start the process.

Scott Chambers

Written by Scott Chambers

Strouse Business Development Manager

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