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Application Techniques

For best results from 3M™ VHB™ Tapes the surfaces should be clean and dry, and provide adequate pressure for ensuring a permanent bond with substrates. Also, ensure the application temperature is sufficient to build adhesion. 3M™ VHB™ Tapes will build adhesion with time. You can use adhesion promoters to increase adhesion or improve durability on select materials.

Before applying 3M™ VHB™ Tapes ensure the substrates are cleaned with a 50:50 mixture of isopropyl alcohol (IPA)* and water. Exceptions to the general procedure, which may require additional surface preparation include:

  • Heavy Oils
    A degreaser or solvent-based cleaner is required to remove heavy oil or grease from the surface. Note here that this process should begin only after cleaning with the mixture of IPA/water.
  • Abrasion
    This process should begin only after cleaning the surface with the IPA/water mixture – abrading a surface can remove heavy dirt or oxidation and increases surface area to improve adhesion.
  • Adhesion Promoters
    To enhance adhesion properties ensure the surface is primed. It also provides excellent adhesion to many materials like plastics and paints.
  • Porous surfaces
    Most porous and fibered materials such as wood, particleboard, concrete, etc. should be sealed to provide a unified surface.
  • Unique Materials
    Special surface preparation is required for glass and glass-like materials, copper and copper containing metals and plastics or rubber that contain components that migrate (e.g. plasticizers).
For additional details and suggestions refer to the 3M™ VHB™ Tapes technical bulletin "Surface Preparation for 3M™ VHB™ Tape Applications" (PDF, 34 KB)

* Note here the cleaning solutions contain more than 250 g/l of volatile organic compounds (VOC). To ensure compliancy, please check the local Air Quality Regulations. Follow the manufacturer's precautions and directions of use when handling on using solvents.

Strong adhesion is developed on the amount of adhesive-to-surface contact developed. Firm application pressure develops better adhesive contact and enhances adhesion. Typically, a good surface contact can be attained by applying enough pressure by ensuring that the tape experiences 15 psi (100 kPa) pressure (approx.), either by using roller or platen pressure. Note that the rigid surfaces may require 2 or 3 times more pressure to make the tape experience 15 psi.

The ideal temperature for application is between 70ºF to 100ºF (21ºC to 38ºC). Pressure sensitive adhesives use a viscous flow to achieve substrate contact area. Minimum suggested application temperatures are:

  • 50ºF (10ºC): 4950, 5952, 4910, 4952, 4611, 4622 tape families
  • 60ºF (15ºC): 4941, 4945 tape families
  • 32ºF (0ºC): 4951 tape families
Note:here that the initial tape application to surfaces at temperatures below the suggested minimum temperatures is not recommended, because the adhesive becomes too firm. However, if the tape is applied properly, the low temperature bonding is generally satisfactory. To obtain the best performance with all 3M™ VHB™ Tapes, ensure that the surfaces are dry and free of condensed moisture.

After application, the bond strength increases, as the adhesive flows onto the surface. At room temperature, the adhesion becomes stronger - 50% (approx.) after 20 minutes, 90% after 24 hours and 100% after 72 hours.

  • This flow is faster at higher temperatures and slower at lower temperatures.
  • The best adhesion strength can be achieved more quickly (and in some cases bond strength can be increased) by exposing the bond to elevated temperatures (e.g. 150ºF (66ºC) for 1 hour). This provides better adhesive wet out onto the substrates.
  • Abrasion of the surfaces or the use of primers/adhesion promoters also increases bond strength and attains a strong adhesion more quickly.
Adhesion Promoters
Adhesion promoters or primers are used to:

  • Increase adhesion to otherwise difficult to bond surfaces
  • Develop a faster, stronger bond
  • Seal non-unified surfaces such as wood or concrete
  • Increase bond durability and stability to substrates such as glass and copper
  • Provide a barrier from migrating materials such as those found in rubber or plasticized vinyl
For adhesion promoters or primers for each condition refer the 3M™ VHB™ Tapes Technical Bulletin "Surface Preparation for 3M™ VHB™ Tape Applications ". (PDF, 22.4 KB)

Note here that it is important for the user to determine the suitability of the 3M™ VHB™ Tapes, primer and application process. Also, check with the local Air Quality Regulations for compliancy.

3M™ VHB™ Tapes are manufactured to create permanent adhesion. However, there are a variety of removal techniques that can be considered for detaching and cleaning the adhesive residue from the substrate surfaces.

  • 3M™ VHB™ Tapes are soft and resilient, hence the foam can be cut with a variety of tools - from a textured piano wire to a 3M™ SMART Tool.
  • 3M™ VHB™ Tapes are sticky, and so use a lubricant, such as soap to ensure a easier removal process.
  • With small bonds the strength of the tape can be overpowered by prying or twisting. Removing at slower rates or higher temperatures is generally easier.
  • The residue can be removed by abrasion such as with 3M™ Stripe Off Wheel. It can be softened with a variety of solvents, or baked off at high temperatures.
For more details, refer the 3M™ VHB™ Tapes Technical Bulletin "Disassembly of 3M™ VHB™ Tapes Bonded Materials and Removal of Residue Adhesive Technical Bulletin" (PDF, 22.4 KB). For applications that require regular removal, consider using the 3M Dual Lock Reclosable Fasteners with 3M™ VHB™ Tapes.
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