Think back to your childhood. When you had to combine materials during an arts-and-craft project, or maybe even put pieces of a broken toy back together, what did you use? My guess is that tape was your go-to fixer.
Now, fast forward, and now you’re an engineer or part of a product design team. Would you be surprised to learn that tape is still a viable bonding solution? Of course, we’re not talking about the same tape from elementary school.
For modern products and complex solutions, we need more sophisticated options. Here at Tapecon, we frequently recommend and help customers utilize 3M’s vast portfolio of double-sided tapes for industrial and manufacturing applications.
What exactly is double-sided tape?
Double-sided tape is used to bond two surfaces or parts together, often in place of mechanical fasteners, liquid adhesives, and even spot welding. While highly effective, double-sided tape is typically a simple product with three components: adhesive, a carrier, and a release liner.
As the name implies, both sides of the tape are coated with a pressure-sensitive adhesive (PSA). This type of adhesive is advantageous on many fronts. PSAs are easy to apply (just peel, stick, and apply pressure) without curing. They offer a consistent bondline thickness and even distribution loading. Finally, they are low-odor and do not require ventilation during assembly.
Double-sided tape can have the same adhesive on both sides or different adhesives when joining dissimilar substrates. Additionally, adhesives can range from low-tack and repositionable to long-term, highly resistant bonds.
The tape carrier (the material that holds the adhesive) can be a thin film or thick foam. Finally, the liner is the temporary backing that protects the adhesive. When the tape is ready to be applied, the liner is peeled back, removed from the tape, and discarded.
3M’s line of double-sided tapes can be broken into three main categories:
- 3M™ VHB™ Tapes – Short for Very High Bond, these tapes are ideal for strong, permanent bonding.
- 3M™ Thin Bonding Tapes – Discreet, printable tapes with industrial-strength attachment.
- 3M™ Foam Tape – Acrylic and general-purpose tapes with a foam carrier for vibration dampening, sealing, or other purposes.
Benefits of double-sided tapes
Compared to other fastening or bonding options, double-side tape delivers a long list of advantages. While each type of tape offers distinct characteristics, the following are some high-level benefits you can look forward to.
- Faster assembly time – Easy application (manually or with automation) with no additional curing time. Tape is also quicker to apply than mechanical fasteners.
- Design flexibility – Product designers love tape’s invisible bond lines, gap filling, and conformability.
- Immediate handling strength – Parts can move on to the next stage quicker since double-sided bonds without a cure time.
- Low surface energy (LSE) and dissimilar materials bonding – Tape removes most of the guesswork from bonding hard-to-stick-to surfaces and is versatile for lightweight designs.
- Clean aesthetics and reduced product bulk – When properly applied, double-side tape delivers a nearly imperceivable bond line without holes or visible fasteners.
- Moisture intrusion prevention – Double adhesion creates a level of sealing that prevents moisture from affecting the bond.
Typical applications for double-sided tape
It would be nearly impossible to list all the places where double-sided tape is used. We find this bonding option is ideal for the following applications.
- Graphic overlays
- Decorative trim
- Electronics, appliances, and other sound-dampening applications
- Gaskets and lens attachments for electronic assemblies
Considerations for double-sided tape
When selecting double-sided tape, the three primary considerations are the materials you’re bonding, your manufacturing processes, and the performance requirements of the adhesive.
Here are a few specific questions that can help you narrow down to the optimal 3M double-side tape.
- What are the substrates of the parts being joined? This is especially important if they’re dissimilar materials.
- Do you need high-speed bonding or the ability for repositioning or disassembly?
- Are there any aesthetic requirements or concerns?
- Do you need vibration dampening?
- Will the product be exposed to harsh environmental conditions?
- What types of stress will the adhesive experience (tensile, shear, cleavage, peel)? How flexible does the bondline need to be?
Choosing the right converting partner
Double-sided tape can be used in its raw roll or sheet form. However, it’s more common (and effective) to have the tape cut to a custom size or shape, so it fits precisely into your design. At Tapecon, we are proud to be a 3M Preferred Converter. Not only can we help you choose from over 300 3M double-sided tape products, but we also offer material testing, a complete range of converting capabilities, and assembly services.
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.