Although you’re excited about your new product design, you’re unsure how to make it a reality.
Few things are more rewarding than transforming material into a product. Raw materials are impressive, but by themselves, they’re not exactly something people can use easily.
Strouse specializes in turning customer designs into accurate and usable components as a material converter. To help you understand and prepare for the future, we’ll cover the definition of adhesive converting and discuss the role of converting in product development.
What is an Adhesive Tape Converter?
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 advanced as the materials themselves may be, the large, continuous rolls (called master rolls) provided by an adhesive manufacturer (like 3M) are of practically no use to customers; they’re too large to handle, not the right shape or size, and the material isn’t finished the way it needs to be.
Note: Adhesive converters are sometimes called “pressure sensitive adhesive converters” due to the popularity of those materials. Pressure sensitive adhesive tape (PSA) is a category of adhesive tape usually made of thin and flexible material with single- or double-sided adhesive coating and applied using only pressure.
ADHESIVE TAPE CONVERTERS: THEY’RE LIKE A BAKER
One of the best analogies for adhesive converting is your local baker, who buys raw ingredients — flour, sugar, salt, milk, eggs, etc. — but often doesn’t make the ingredients themselves. However, they know the market and the best vendors to get those ingredients.
While sugar is essential, most customers don’t satisfy their sweet tooth by consuming raw sugar. Instead, the baker turns those raw materials into delicious baked goods for their customers.
Similarly, adhesive tape converters don't necessarily make their own adhesives, foams, films, paper, plastic, soft metals, etc. However, top-end converters are very familiar with the market, so they know virtually all the flexible material manufacturers that make these materials. They’re uniquely superior at sourcing the right materials and turning them into customers' desired products.
DIFFERENT WAYS TO CONVERT MATERIALS
Adhesive tape converters possess many in-house manufacturing capabilities, from slitting or spooling a single material to laminating multiple materials to create a unique product.
An adhesive converter processes materials with flat bed, rotary, or laser cutting methods to create a custom size and shape product that fits the customer’s needs.
Adhesive converters may 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 a suitable adhesive product and the right design.
Why Converting is Important to the Product Development Process
Converting large rolls of adhesive into a final product requires collaboration between the engineers of both the converter and the OEM. Together, they determine the properties and dimensions of each adhesive product.
A prototyped part is produced based on technical drawings and the material specified.
The initial discussions clients have with a converter before production will include tolerance levels, determining if the adhesive will be applied by hand or using automation, and the environment in which the product must perform (humidity, temperature, and UV rays can affect an adhesive’s effectiveness).
At first, choosing an adhesive converter may seem nearly as difficult as developing the product solution— but it doesn’t have to be. Qualities you’ll want your converter to have:
1) Remaining dedicated from the project’s beginning to the end
2) Showing proven problem-solving skills
3) Having the necessary industry connections
4) Keeping the project’s budget top-of-mind at all times.
If you want to know more about adhesive converters, consider checking out our Learning Center for more specific information with examples.
Originally published: July 28, 2021