Strength is often associated with size. The bigger, the stronger, right? That may go for bodybuilders and heavy-duty vehicles, but it’s not a universal truth. To paraphrase a common idiom, strong things can come in small packages.
Case in point – 3M™ VHB™ Tapes are strong enough to fasten construction materials and passenger buses, even though it’s nearly invisible once installed. If you’re not familiar with this impressive tape (or want new ideas on how to use it), this article is for you.
What is 3M VHB Tape?
VHB stands for Very High Bond – and the tape absolutely lives up to its name. Designed for high-strength and long-lasting bonding applications, 3M VHB is a family of double-sided tapes that can often replace rivets, screws, spots, or other mechanical fasteners, and be used to join a wide variety of materials. Not only is the tape quick and easy to apply, but it bonds and seals at the same time.
Made from closed-cell acrylic foam, VHB is flexible, viscoelastic (meaning the adhesive flows into microscopic irregularities on the surface to create an extra-strong bond), and can be easily converted to custom sizes. Not only is 3M VHB tape truly innovative – it’s also proven. The technology was introduced in 1980 and has been validated through continuous testing and countless real-life applications.
Benefits of VHB Tape
Featuring unique characteristics, 3M VHB opens the door to new design possibilities or offers a simple way to enhance an existing product. Here are just a few key benefits of this ultra-strong boding solution.
- Durability and weather resistance – 3M VHB tapes can withstand extreme temperatures, moisture, solvents, UV light, and more; they also improve the durability of the final product by preventing bi-metal corrosion.
- Lightweight – A thin, efficient material for lighter products, fewer components, and lower transportation costs.
- Vibration dampening and resistance – The foam design creates a smoother, quieter experience and less wear-and-tear.
- Design flexibility – Tape can be cut to precise sizes and shapes to fit seamlessly into the design.
- Faster, easier assembly – Increases throughput and simplifies assembly.
- Improved design appearance – Offers the ability to assemble products without holes or visible mechanical fasteners.
- Reliable bond – Distributes dynamic or static stress over the entire surface.
Industries, applications, and uses
After 40+ years on the market, 3M VHB has become a proven solution for many industries. As a testament to its versatility, the tape delivers unique advantages to each type of application.
- Transportation– Provides excellent resistance against extreme temperatures, vibration, moisture, and UV light.
- Metal fabrication – Tape is easier for assembly than riveting and welding while still providing a long-lasting bond.
- Construction – Ideal for bonding exterior panels due to a permanent adhesive and even stress load distribution.
- Electronics – Proven design flexibility for various electronic applications, including sealed devices.
- Signages – Weather resistant and enables a smooth surface with a nearly invisible bond.
- Appliances – Innovative materials to improve performance, enhance appearance, and streamline production.
To demonstrate how VHB Tape enables better, smarter, and more creative products, the 3M team used the product to design and build a custom scooter.
Considerations for selecting VHB Tape
To achieve the highest level of performance and durability, it’s important to choose the most appropriate 3M VHB tape for your application. Here are a few questions we ask clients early in the design process.
- What materials are you bonding together? Adhesive selection can be influenced by whether you’re joining similar or dissimilar materials, as well as the material’s surface energy.
- What thickness of tape do you need? Thicker tape can provide a stronger bond for irregular or rigid materials, while thinner tapes are more suitable for pliable materials. Other considerations include the thickness of the material and the need to account for thermal expansion/contraction.
- What temperature will the tape be applied in? The recommended application temperature is between 68°–104°F; however, there are 3M VHB products that can be applied in temperatures as low as 32°F.
- What surface preparation is required before applying tape? Depending on the type and condition of the surface, preparation may be needed, including cleaning, abrasion, sealing, priming, etc.
- Do you need a general or specialty tape? 3M VHB tapes range from general-purpose (indoor and outdoor) to specialty applications (high dynamic stress, plastics, paints, powder coatings, and more).
Expert converter for 3M VHB Tape
With five VHB Tape Families and dozens of products, one of the biggest challenges (and most common pitfalls) is selecting the appropriate tape for your application. At Tapecon, we provide material recommendations based on the required size, assembly type, substrates, application temperature, and industry specifications. Plus, as a 3M Preferred Converter, we can custom convert the raw tape into nearly any size or shape you need for your application. We’re always ready to show product teams what’s possible with VHB Tape.
Let’s make something great
With over 100 years of manufacturing experience, Tapecon works with product teams to solve challenges, create products, and enhance lives. Learn more about our custom materials converting capabilities.