Testing time for tapes
FORMULATORS AND manufacturers of adhesive tape have expanded application possibilities through manipulation of adhesive properties and through improvements in functionality. Many advances have been made in response to customer ‘wish list’ requirements. These improvements include, but are not limited to: better heat resistance, heat conductivity, insulation, soundproofing, vibration resistance, peelability and flame resistance.
In the past much of the self-adhesive tape industry was subject to product polarisation. This means the production and supply of low priced items on the one hand that needed to be sold in high volume in order to realise a profit, and on the other, products with a high degree of in-built sophistication that could command a premium unit price. With regard to the latter: electronics and electronic communications centred on mobile phones and the PC are examples of application areas that have enabled the adhesive tape/film industry to avoid stagnation and renew and revive the profitability growth curve. In summary – techno-centric products are economically attractive, providing tape producers with the inpetus to innovate and expand product portfolios at the higher profit margin end.
In techno-centric sectors such as electronics/aerospace/aeronautics and defence, adhesive tape is rarely required to simply adhere; it nearly always has to serve several or more requirements; sometimes these are of a contractitory nature. In the processing of electronic components, for example: a tape is frequently required to provide firm adhesion during a processing stage, but then needs to be peeled away afterwards. Manufacturers have devised various ways to meet these contrary productivtiy objectives, one way is to manipulate heat energy in a way that the adhesive firmly adheres when required and releases when needed, either thoruogh chemical means, i.e., foaming agents in micro-capsules or by using ultraviolet radiation that when applied causes a contained chemical reaction in the components of the adhesive system so that the adhesive agent hardens and shrinks. In essence: light (heat) energy is converted into the mechanical energy needed for adhesive release.
Despite their low tech looks the adhesive tape is widely used for the convenience offered, the ability to contribute to final product weight/material reduction and its multi-functional nature. Clean to apply, non-wasteful (only apply what is needed) and for the most part environmentally friendly adhesive products such as tapes and surface protection films can be integral to final product performance. Consequently for products targeted towards techno-centric areas adhesive tapes/films have to be engineered to tight tolerances and with specific properties and distinctive capabilities that are above and beyond those of standard commercial products.
In order to ensure products are fit for purpose a degree of quality control monitoring; product trialling and other tasks need to be undertaken. Testing new adhesive formulations, compressible foams and backing materials under conditions experienced in a real world environment is essential. Systems, both standard and bespoke, are available for this purpose.
Designed and developed by UK-headquartered RK Print Coat Instruments are systems that enable personnel such as laboratory staff, production operators and others to undertake the various quality control procedures, research and development and small-scale production needed to determine that a tape or indeed other product is fit for purpose, fit for production and will past muster in a commercial/industrial environment.
RK PRINT COAT INSTRUMENTS: