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Industrial Adhesives & Tapes


Selecting the right Tape and Adhesive products for the job

 Substrates and Adhesion – Know Your Surface

To help you make sure you find the optimum 3M tape of other adhesive-backed product for your particular application, you will want to consider several factors:

The information on these pages integrates those factors to help you narrow your selection to fewer products for a more in-depth evaluation.

3M Backing Materials

In many applications, 3M backings add a second surface that affects how the underlying surface relates to the environment. To optimize that relationship, 3M backings offer a wide choice of performance and handling characteristics.

Backings Characteristics
Crepe Conformable, easy tear.
Flatback Strong, smooth, good for straight line masking.
Kraft Strong, some versions are repulpable.
Tissue Thin, porous to allow adhesive penetration of sheet.
Polyester Strong even when thin, chemical resistant, high temperature resistance.
Polypropylene Resistant to most solvents, conformable, tear resistant.
Polyethylene Conformable, easy to stretch, chemical/acid/moisture resistant, economical.
Polyethylene / Polypropylene Co-polymer Conformable, chemical/acid/moisture resistant.
UHMW - Polyethylene High abrasion resistance, low coefficient of friction, anti-stick surface easy to clean.
Polyvinyl Chloride (Vinyl) Conformable, abrasion resistant, resistant to most chemicals.
Polyimide High temperature resistance, excellent dimensional stability, good insulation properties.
Polyamide (Nylon) High temperature resistance, high strength and toughness, good chemical resistance but can absorb moisture.
Polytetrafluorethylene (PTFE) Low coefficient of friction, excellent high temperature and chemical resistance, anti-stick/release properties.
Polyvinyl Alcohol (PVA) Water-soluble, organic solvent resistant, high temperature resistance.
Polyurethane Abrasion/scratch resistant, impact/puncture resistant, UV and corrosion resistant.
Polyvinyl Fluoride Excellent weather resistance, excellent long-term UV resistance, thin yet stiff feel.
Cotton Strong, easy tear by hand, soft and drapable.
Glass Cloth Strong, high temperature resistance, flame-resistant.
Polyethylene Coated Strong yet hand-tearable, abrasion resistant, water-resistant, conformable.
Fiber Air permeable, strong enough to hold expanding foams.
Aluminum Heat and light reflective, moisture and chemical resistant, flame-resistant, outdoor weather resistant, conformable.
Lead Electrically conductive, acid resistant, high conformability, x-ray opacity.
Neoprene Abrasion resistant, die-cuttable.
Combination (Laminates)
Paper / Polyethylene Weather and chemical resistant, hand tearable, stretch resistant.
Metalized / Polyester Reflective, decorative.
Glass Cloth / PTFE High temperature resistance, high strength.
Glass Cloth / Aluminum Very high temperature resistance, high strength.
Non-Woven / Aluminum High heat and cold resistance.


Adhesive Types - 3M™ Pressure Sensitive Adhesives

Most of our industrial tape products feature 3M pressure sensitive adhesives that bond the backing material to another surface on contact. Each adhesive has different characteristics that affect production and end-use performance.

Rubber Standard Acrylic Modified Acrylic Silicone
High initial bond Moderate initial bond Bonds to wider variety than standard acrylic Fair initial bond
Softer Firmer Softer Very firm
Widest variety of surfaces including low surface energy materials* High surface energy* Many surfaces Fewer surfaces
Up to 350°F Up to 450°F Up to 300°F Up to 600°F, excellent low temperature performance
Fair chemical resistance Excellent chemical resistance Good chemical resistance Excellent chemical resistance
Fair UV resistance Excellent UV resistance Moderate UV resistance Excellent UV resistance
Poor aging Excellent aging Durable Excellent aging
Removable Permanent various Removable
Good solvent resistance Excellent solvent resistance Good solvent resistance Excellent solvent resistance


Application Time and Temperature

Applying firm pressure to the bond increases adhesive flow and contact for more secure bonding. Time and temperature will typically further increase contact and adhesion values.

As a rule of thumb, the higher the surface energy, the greater the strength of adhesion.

Adhesive Surface Contact

*Surface energy ranges from high to low. To illustrate the concept of surface energy, think of water on the unwaxed hood of a car.

  • The unwaxed hood has high surface energy, and water on the hood flows into puddles.
  • In comparison, a waxed hood has low surface energy, and the water beads up rather than flows out.
  • Similar to water, adhesive on a high-surface-energy (HSE) surface flows and "wets out" the surface; this "wetting out" is required to form a strong bond.

As a rule of thumb, the higher the surface energy, the greater the strength of adhesion. Specially formulated adhesives are available for low-surface-energy (LSE) surfaces. Regardless of surface energy, the substrate must be unified, dry, and clean to maximize adhesive contact. Learn more about surface energy and the Fundamentals of Adhesion.

1. Initial Contact
(Minimal Contact)

2. After Rubdown
(More Contact)

3. After Dwell Time
(Excellent Contact)


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.