Few things are more rewarding than taking material and transforming it into a product. It’s what manufacturing is all about. Raw materials are impressive, but they’re not exactly something people actually want or can easily use.
An adhesive converter typically takes large rolls of raw material — tape, films, paper, plastic, foam, soft metals, and more — and “converts” them into usable parts. As technologically advanced as the materials themselves may be, the large, continuous rolls (called master rolls) provided by a manufacturer (such as 3M) are of practically no use to customers; they’re too large to handle, not the right shape or size, or the material isn’t finished the way it needs to be.
How is an Adhesive Tape Converter Like a Baker?
When it comes to understanding adhesive converting, the perfect analogy is to think of a commercial baker in your neighborhood. A baker buys raw ingredients — flour, sugar, salt, milk, eggs, etc. — but they don't make them. However, they do know the market and the best vendors from which to get those ingredients.
That baker then uses those raw materials wisely, turning them into delicious baked goods that their customers want. Sugar is essential and can be somewhat interesting on its own, but most customers don’t want to satisfy their sweet tooth by consuming raw sugar.
Similarly, an adhesive tape converter doesn't make their adhesives, foams, films, paper, plastic, soft metals, etc. Top-end converters are very familiar with the market, so they know virtually all the tape manufacturers that make these materials. They’re uniquely superior at sourcing the right materials and turning them into products that customers want.
Converting Materials is Done Multiple Ways
Many adhesive tape converters possess many capabilities in-house, from slitting or spooling a single material to laminating multiple materials to create a unique product. Most often, an adhesive converter will die cut materials — using flat bed, rotary, or laser — to create a custom size and shape product that fits the customer’s needs.
Adhesive converters may also combine thin bonding adhesive tapes with other materials (polyesters, foams, felts, etc.) to create specialized solutions. Again, it depends on the customer’s needs, which are the priority as the converter works closely with application engineers to select the right adhesive product and the right design.
Adhesive converters are sometimes referred to as “pressure sensitive adhesive converters” because those materials are so popular. Pressure sensitive adhesive tape (PSA) is a category of adhesive tapes that are usually a thin and flexible material with single- or double-sided adhesive coating and are applied with simple pressure.
Why is Converting Important to the Product Development Process?
Converting large rolls of adhesive into a final product requires collaboration between the converter’s engineers and the OEM’s engineers. Together, they determine the properties and dimensions of each adhesive product.
Initially, a prototyped part is produced based on technical drawings and the material specified. Prior to production, discussions likely include tolerance levels, determining if the adhesive will be applied by hand or using automation, and the environment in which the product will need to perform (humidity, temperature, and UV rays can affect an adhesive’s effectiveness).
Choosing an adhesive converter may seem as difficult as developing the eventual solution, but it doesn’t have to be. Consider a converter that will 1) be dedicated from the project’s beginning to the end; 2) shows proven problem-solving skills; 3) have necessary industry connections; and 4) keep the project’s budget top-of-mind at all times.
The best adhesive tape converters are full-service converters with experience determining what die cut adhesive solutions work best while considering all aspects of a project. They also should ask specific questions to ensure smooth progress.
If you think you need help choosing an adhesive converter, read this guide: How to Choose a Converter. Get your copy by clicking the link below or call Stouse today (800)-410-8273.