Finding the Right Adhesive Solution to Bond Dissimilar Materials

Posted by Casey Cephas | 7/31/21 10:30 AM

Opposites attract – it’s an idea that has long been debated. And while it may hold true in certain social situations, we can agree that it’s not usually the case when it comes to product design. In fact, when you need to attach different materials, you may find yourself hitting an unexpected roadblock. 

Every material – from metal and plastic to foam and rubber – has unique properties that influence how it may bond with another surface. So, a method that worked in the past for one combination of materials may not be suitable for another. Plus, you also have to consider the size of the material being attached, environmental conditions where the product will be used, and the product’s expected lifespan, among other factors. 

However, while it may be challenging to attach certain materials, it’s not impossible. Allow us to explain.

Reasons why materials are difficult to attach

There is a wide range of reasons why it may be challenging to attach two different types of materials – and understanding the specific reason in your application is crucial to finding the solution.

Here are just a few reasons that come to mind:

  • Design choice not to use rivets, screws, or other mechanical fasteners 
  • Thermal joining may damage materials
  • Materials with low surface energy
  • Materials with porous surfaces
  • The presence of dirt, oils, or other surface contaminates
  • Powder coating or other finishes 

Adhesives and tapes for bonding dissimilar materials

When you’re stuck trying to figure out how to attach two different materials in your product, odds are there’s an adhesive that fits your combination and needs. If you’re new to adhesives, you may be surprised at the advancements that have been made in the past decade or so. Today’s market offers a wide range of adhesives and tapes that provide reliable securement and simple assembly, including (but certainly not limited to):

  • Laminating adhesives – Laminating adhesives bond on contact and require only a moderately clean surface (dust-free). Available in sheets of various thicknesses and textures, laminating adhesives are great for graphic overlaps, gaskets, LCD windows, and many other applications,
  • Pressure-sensitive adhesives – Offering high strength, a uniform bond, and precise application, you can find a pressure-sensitive adhesive ideal for your combination of materials.
  • Structural adhesives – Featuring high-end strength and simple surface preparation, structural adhesives can often replace mechanical fasteners.
  • Foam tapes – Available in single- or double-sided adhesives, these tapes offer impressive strength, fast assembly, and benefits of closed-cell acrylic foam (shock absorption, vibration dampening, etc.)

Custom converting for bonding solutions

The beautiful part about adhesives and tapes is that these materials can be custom-made to your specification – not only providing bonding but also improving the appearance of your product and providing lightweighting opportunities. 

At Tapecon, we start by assessing the types of materials that need to be attached as well as their unique properties, environmental factors, and end-use application. From there, we can recommend appropriate materials for the job, and even test samples to determine the best solution. Finally, we convert the raw material to the final component using a variety of techniques such as cutting, slitting, and laminating.

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 materials expertise

Topics: Adhesives

Written by Casey Cephas

Casey is the Marketing Coordinator at Tapecon Inc.

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