In this episode, we speak with Nick LaBelle, Advanced Specialist Application Engineer from 3M. As part of 3M, Nick has worked extensively with adhesive tapes and prefers to call them “Problem Solving Adhesives.”
Nick’s role at 3M is to help bridge the gap between wanting a product to perform a specific way and how tape can help make that happen instead of more traditional manufacturing processes. He views the role of tape as solving design challenges for manufacturers in ways more traditional processes cannot. We sat down with Nick to discuss how Tapecon and 3M can help with any design challenge.
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Nick is a Manufacturing Engineer which has helped him find his path at 3M.
As part of 3M for 21 years, Nick spent 7 years designing and modifying equipment to apply tapes and labels and now has 14 years under his belt working with double-sided tapes. He specifically works with customers on their applications and selecting the right products for their applications.
Nick also helps educate people about tape and dispels misconceptions about using it in products.
Nick works mainly with industrial tapes which are more durable in challenging applications. You can find these kinds of tapes in everything from cell phones to aircraft.
There are two categories of thin bonding tape which are double-sided pressure-sensitive adhesive films that range in thickness from 0.5 mil (0.01 mm) to 12 mils (0.3 mm): adhesive transfer tapes, which are free films of adhesive and delivered on a release liner, and double coated tapes, which contain carrier material between adhesive layers to create dimensional stability
These tapes are one of the most common forms of adhesive and are hidden in the things people use every day. For example, cell phones contain at least 40 different die cuts of adhesive tape. Tape is used in your HVAC system, appliances, and car electronics. You can also find tape working in aircraft, spacecraft, and satellites.
Tape can help solve a variety of design issues better than mechanical fasteners, which involve screws, rivets, and welding. To use these fasteners, you need materials thick enough to enable their use, and clean-up is required.
However, tape spreads loading out over the surface and has viscous and elastic properties. This helps with bonding dissimilar materials like plastic to foam or plastic to metal.
Tape can handle this by allowing for movement between the parts. Fasteners can start buckling and create a gap between two different materials. Tape allows movement and gets clean-looking bond lines. Tape also makes products last longer, look nicer, and weigh less.
Tape is more than just a roll of adhesive; Tape gives you endless options for your product.
If you’re looking for resources about how tape can be used in your design, you can use the following:
Tapecon, a 3M preferred converter
Digital tools such as the 3M website, YouTube channel, and chatbot to help you get connected to the appropriate resource
3M Converter markets specialist
Application engineers to help customers and their applications with anything from testing or environmental aging
Industrial customer specialists who help customers with all aspects of 3M tapes, abrasives, safety, etc.
3M Design Solutions Specialists that call on OEMs with global operations
Nick was also excited to share information on the recently launched product SP7202, a screen printable adhesive. While not the first screen printable adhesive, the challenge has always been to get it to perform like regular adhesive tape, and this one does the job.
Nick anticipates you’ll be able to find this type of tape in membrane switches, graphic overlays, and flex circuit attachments.