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3M™ Adhesive and Tape classifications – you really can’t say "glue" any more

 Green Environment

At one time, adhesive and glue were used synonymously. In industry today, however, designers and engineers are using terms like two-part low-odor acrylic, high bond tape, PUR systems, cyanoacrylate, and more. Glue is now considered to be something sticky which is no longer a characteristic of many adhesives.

3M adhesives can be classified in several ways.

Classify by form
3M adhesives are available as liquids, pastes, tapes, films, and shaped solids. Each has characteristics to be considered for application effectiveness and efficiency.

Liquids and pastes readily fill voids to enhance mechanical adhesion. Many liquids can be sprayed to cover large areas.

Films and pressure sensitive tapes offer advantages unique to their form:

  • Uniform thickness throughout the joint.
  • Confinement of the adhesive to the immediate bonding area.
  • Clean bonding without dripping or overflow.
  • Minimum adhesive waste.
  • Die-cut into complex shapes to facilitate bonding of complex parts or parts with narrow bonding surfaces.

Hot melts are supplied as solid sticks, cartridges, pellets, or similar shapes. Handling and storage is easy and neat.

Classify by strength
Another classification for industrial applications is by relative strength and solidification process. Generally, those adhesives that bond through a chemical reaction are stronger than those that bond through a physical change.

Structural adhesives bond by chemical reaction.
3M™ Structural Strength Adhesives bond the load-bearing parts of a product. As a rule of thumb, structural strength adhesives reach a minimum of 1,000 psi overlap shear strength. 3M formulations include the following:

  • Epoxy adhesives are available in one and two-part liquids and pastes. Of all 3M adhesives, these provide the highest strength and elevated temperature resistance.

  • Acrylic adhesives are two-part liquids and pastes to bond the widest variety of substrates including hard-to-bond plastics and oily metals. The distinction is high strength bonding without the surface preparation needed for epoxies and urethanes.

  • Urethane adhesives are generally lower cost two-part liquids and pastes that cure quickly to an elastic bond in applications requiring flexibility between dissimilar materials. Impact resistance is a distinctive characteristic.

  • Cyanoacrylate adhesives are high strength liquid formulations known as instant adhesives. On rigid plastic, glass, metal, rubber, and other low porosity substrates, they harden in seconds through reaction with surface moisture.

  • Anaerobic adhesives are liquids that cure to a tough plastic in the absence of oxygen and in the presence of metal. Typical applications include threadlocking, retaining, gasketing, and sealing.

Non-structural adhesives bond with a physical change.
Non-structural adhesives vary in strength from repositionable to strength equal to or greater than the strength of the substrate being bonded. These adhesives are typically less than 1000 psi and bond materials in cushions, gaskets, insulation, veneers, and general assembly. 3M formulations include the following:

  • Hot melt adhesives melt and flow under heat to wet the substrates and make bonds quickly upon cooling. Products are available with a variety of characteristics such as short set times, sprayable formulas, and permanent PSA properties. Applications range from sealing to bonding automotive interior trim.

  • Rubber adhesives are solvent-based or water-based and solidify through evaporation of the carrier. Products are designed for adhesion to various substrates, application methods, and environmental resistance of the bonded product.

  • Contact bond adhesives are usually rolled, brushed, or sprayed on the two surfaces to be mated and permitted to become dry to the touch with a variety of open times. When the surfaces are pressed together, near ultimate bond strength is achieved.

Pressure sensitive adhesives
Pressure sensitive adhesives (PSAs) found in 3M tapes grip immediately to mating surfaces. With dwell time, the adhesive conforms to surface irregularities.

3M hybrid classifications

  • Curing hot melts (Polyurethane Reactive [PUR] adhesives) are moisture-curing urethanes that apply like a hot melt adhesive but cool to bond strength usually associated with two-part structural adhesives.

  • Reclosable fasteners combine adhesive and mechanical fastening principles. Pressure sensitive adhesive permanently bonds two reclosable mating strips to the substrates that need to be opened and closed multiple times.

Work with 3M to identify design solutions

As you can see, 3M offers a wide range of innovative adhesives. Through the 3M IATD TSR Program and the 3M IATD Design Solutions Program, 3M also helps customers by conducting design reviews and identifying the best design solutions.

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

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