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Industrial Adhesives & Tapes


Overcoming Surface Protection Challenges

Surface protection for products can be divided into two major categories: short-term and longer term. Short-term surface protection is kept in place during manufacturing and processing but should be removable easily and cleanly upon installation or use. Longer term surface protection remains on the product during usage.

Short-term surface protection

surface protection truck

Product designers and manufacturers use short-term surface protection to protect products temporarily from accidental damage that can occur during manufacturing or processing. Such protection can preserve product appearance and prevent cost increases if damaged products were repaired, replaced or scrapped. At the same time, the surface protection products have to be removed easily and cleanly.

Protecting part of a product during manufacturing

During many manufacturing operations, such as metal working, painting and powder coating, or bonding and joining, a portion of a product may need to be treated while the remainder of the product does not. In these partial surface protection applications, 3M short-term surface protection products, such as masking tapes or protective films, can be used to cover the portion of a product that must remain untouched.

Protecting an entire product during processing

Products also need protection from accidental damage that can occur during processing operations such as shipping raw materials from a supplier to a manufacturer, general assembly processing, movement within a manufacturing plant or between factories, shipping finished products to a distributor or installation at customer's or consumer's location. In these situations, 3M short-term surface protection products can be used to cover and protect the entire surface of a product. Upon installation or use, the protective products can be removed easily and cleanly by installers or customers.

Selection parameters for short-term surface protection

When identifying solutions for short-term surface protection, some or all of the following five parameters should be considered:

  1. Time: How long will temporary surface protection be adhered to the product? Typical times can range from one hour to years.
  2. Temperature: What will the exposure temperature be? For example, in an oven, temperatures of 150°F, 250°F or 350°F can be common. Also, will the product be exposed to cold temperatures during shipping or storage?
  3. Temperature exposure: What will the duration of temperature exposure be? Typical exposures can be 10, 30 or 60 minutes.
  4. Substrate: Is the substrate that will be protected metal, wood, plastic, glass or other material?
  5. Conditions: What conditions will the product be exposed to, for instance, salt in coastal environments or on roads in winter, cleaning solvents, high humidity, or ultraviolet exposure from sunlight, fluorescent light or other sources?
surface protection train

Surface protection applications that save money!

Now there's a cost-effective way to instantly peel away graffiti, scratches, acid etching, weathering, wear and tear, and other defacement from glass and smooth surfaces.

surface protection window

3M™ Scotchgard™ Multi-Layer Protective Film is a four-layer, optically transparent film available in multiple constructions to fit your surface application. Zero graffiti tolerance is achievable with four-layers of protection, leaving you with an improved image. Stiffer for easier application, it leaves no adhesive residue and time consuming cleanup.

3M transit market customers have literally peeled millions of dollars off their operating budgets using 3M™ Scotchgard™ Multi-Layer Protective Film 1004.

To learn how you can significantly reduce labor and replacement costs of surface defacement, view the videos below and contact your local 3M Sales Representative or Authorized 3M™ Scotchgard™ Multi-Layer Protective Film Installer.


 • Windows
 • Restroom mirrors
 • Bathroom stall doors
 • Vending machines
 • Elevators and escalators
 • Glass shelters and toll booths
 • Glass windbreaks inside subway doors
 • Entryway walls

Longer term surface protection

Surface protection may be needed for a longer term during a product's usage to maintain its aesthetic appeal, ensure customer satisfaction or protect and enhance a brand. Designed to last weeks or years, 3M longer term surface protection products can guard against scratches, scuff marks, debris, heat and flame.

Selection parameters for longer term surface protection

When determining solutions for longer term surface protection, these three factors should be considered:

  1. Product life: How long is the product designed to last? For example, a cell phone might be expected to last 3 years, a car 7 years and a refrigerator 10 years.
  2. Substrate: Is the product substrate metal, wood, plastic, glass or other material?
  3. Exposure: During usage, will the product be exposed to cleaning solvents or debris, or subject to abrasion or impact? Will its environment include extreme temperatures, high humidity or ultraviolet light or chemicals? Is the product designed to stay in place or supposed to easily slide on a surface? Does it need to be protected from malicious damage?

3M Polyurethane Protective Tapes, for example, are abrasion, erosion, scratch, puncture, and impact resistant and conformable to most surfaces. They provides excellent surface protection using a technology that contains no VOCs and is fast and easy to apply. Applications include helicopter rotor protection, fluid/corrosion barrier on aircraft flooring, and aircraft leading edge structure protection.

3M offers a wide variety of surface protection solutions for short-term application during manufacturing or processing, as well as for longer term use.

Try the 3M TSR Program

Using the 3M Technical Service Request (TSR) Program, a 3M representative will work with you on initial testing of an adhesive design solution. One or two best options will be identified then a sample of your substrate is brought to the 3M Laboratories and tested for stress or other factors the product will encounter. The 3M test results will help you select the best design solution for your manufacturing process and customer needs.

Work with 3M at your manufacturing plant through the 3M IATD Design Solutions Program: Using the 3M IATD Design Solutions Program, we identify a design solution then work side-by-side with you, at your manufacturing plant, to ensure your personnel are trained in the new manufacturing process. Follow-up visits and ongoing support are key parts of the program.

We are eager to work with you. Please contact us by email to discuss your project or call: 800-362-3550.