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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Tape

To order bulk rolls for manufacturing purposes call 1-800-328-1684.

General
Design
Processing Tape to Part
Splicing
Processing Part to Vehicle
Performance
3M Pressure Sensitive Adhesives
3M Heat Bond Adhesives

General

Q.
What is acrylic foam tape?
A.
3M™ Acrylic Foam Tape is a high performance attachment system for all types of interior and exterior applications including body side moldings, stainless steel rocker panel trim, claddings, ground effects, wind and bug deflectors, interior dash trim kits and most other automotive accessories and trim parts. This double-coated foam tape combines high performance acrylic adhesives with viscoelastic acrylic foam cores to create products with unsurpassed initial adhesion, adhesion build and the ability to dissipate the stresses associated with most automotive applications. 3M acrylic foam tape is used globally for both OEM and aftermarket trim attachment and conforms to all QS9000 requirements.
 
Q.
Why do I need the thickness of a foam tape?
A.
3M acrylic foam tapes are designed with an acrylic foam core that has unique stress relaxation properties. These properties allow them to elongate and relax when stressed. This means the stress is distributed throughout the foam core and not concentrated in the adhesive bond line, which can cause failures. As a result of stress relaxation, 3M acrylic foam tapes bond effectively to a wide variety of automotive substrates.

The thickness of the foam core also allows the tape to compensate for mismatch between two surfaces. This is most important with rigid materials. The acrylic foam core also adds properties such as plasticizer resistance and enhanced conformability along with its superior adhesion and stress relaxation.
 
Q.
Why doesn’t the tape feel sticky?
A.
3M’s high performance acrylic adhesives tend to be firm and dry to the touch. They are designed to bond materials other than skin. The adhesives used are designed to give optimum performance and adhesion to automotive substrates and components. The natural oils and moisture of skin can vary from person to person and affect the "thumb appeal" of the 3M Acrylic Foam Tape. To one person the tape can feel very sticky and to another it can feel much less sticky to the touch. The difference in "thumb appeal" is in the variation of the 2 individual’s skin surfaces not the adhesive.
 
Q.
What is the difference between the tape used to attach body side moldings and weatherstrips?
A.
The tapes used to attach body side moldings have a pressure sensitive adhesive on both sides of the product. Because of the surface characteristics of the rubber weatherstrip, tapes used for weatherstrip attachment often use a heat bond adhesive to achieve the maximum bond strength to the rubber.
 
 
 
Design
Q.
How much tape do I need for bonding a component?
A.
The exact amount of tape to use will often be affected by the design of the part and the stress or forces acting upon it. Materials with a higher degree of thermal expansion and contraction will generally need more tape area, as will heavier or more highly stressed parts or applications. Also, higher modulus (more rigid) materials such as ABS will most often need more tape than low modulus materials such as a thin, flexible PVC due to higher application stresses in the more rigid parts.
 
 
 
Processing Tape to Part
Q.
Why and when do you use an adhesion promoter?
A.
An adhesion promoter or primer is most commonly a resin system in a solvent carrier that is used to alter the surface characteristics of a substrate. This alteration will enhance or in some instances create a surface for bonding with a particular pressure sensitive adhesive. Adhesion promoters are most often used on low surface energy materials, such as TPO, polypropylene, PPO, polycarbonate, many other plastics and plastic alloys.
 
Q.
What is a low surface energy plastic/material?
A.
A low surface energy plastic has a hard-to-stick-to surface. Adhesion is the force of attraction between two substrates. The strength of this attraction is determined in part by the surface energy. The higher the surface energy, the greater the attraction; the lower the surface energy, the weaker the attractive forces. A high surface energy plastic allows the adhesive to wet-out or flow to obtain a stronger bond. A low surface energy plastic needs an adhesive specially designed to bond to it or an adhesion promoter to alter the surface energy.
 
Q.
What precautions should be taken when using a primer or adhesion promoter?
A.
As a general comment, proper ventilation should be used to handle all solvent solutions, and inhalation and direct contact with skin and eyes should be avoided. Handling procedures will vary depending on the chemical formulation of the primer. Consult the primer’s data page and the material safety data sheet (MSDS) for proper procedures and precautions.
 
Q.
How much time can elapse between applying the primer and the tape?
A.
Generally the tape should be applied when the primer is completely dry. If properly applied, the primer drying time is generally 30 - 45 seconds. However, the exact time required will vary depending on the primer formulation. Drying time also varies by application thickness, temperature and humidity, and the presence of more or less solvent in the mixture. Consult the primer’s specification pages for expected drying times.

Ideally, tape should be applied to a primed surface within one hour of priming.
 
Q.
Does stretching the tape during application affect the performance?
A.
When used on substrates that shrink after the tape is applied, such as extruded PVC moldings, it is necessary to stretch the tape and liner at a controlled rate with a stretch laminator. When the part shrinks, the tape will shrink at the same rate. The tape should not be stretched more than 3-4%. Controlled stretch in this range will not have an adverse effect on tape performance. However, excessive stretch can reduce the effective tape thickness and affect adhesion and stress handling performance.
 
Q.
Can I apply a strip of 3M acrylic foam tape around a 90 degree corner?
A.
Yes, in the tape unwind direction, application at a constant rate around outside or inside 90° corners is usually not a problem. However, turning the tape around a 90° corner in the width direction, where the outside edge is stretched and the inside edge compressed, can result in problems with liner buckling or pop-off. Gradual sweeps are possible, but for sharp 90° turns a die-cut part is recommended.
 
Q.
Can 3M acrylic foam tapes be cut to shape?
A.
Yes. The process involves adding a second liner and cutting the tape with either a steel rule flat bed cutter or a rotary cutting process. The weed should be removed promptly from acrylic foam and transfer tape products to avoid re-bonding of the cut area.
 
Q.
Can the tape be applied over the gate bumps on the back of my part?
A.
Generally this is not a good practice. Although 3M acrylic foam tapes will compensate for minor surface irregularities, gate nibs tend to disrupt the match of the mating surfaces to cause a bridging of the bond area. This results in reduced surface bonding area and lower adhesion for these applications. Therefore, gate bumps should be trimmed flush with the surface.
 
Q.
Can the tape be applied to my part before it is painted and baked?
A.
The limiting factor will be the tape liner’s ability to withstand elevated temperatures. Most 3M acrylic foam tape liners can withstand baking at 220° F for a maximum of 20 minutes. Care should be exercised to ensure the liner is not removed or lifted during the painting process. Direct soaking of the tape area with paint should be avoided. Please contact your 3M sales representative for information on new high temperature liners.
 
 
 
Splicing
Q.
Your product comes to us with splices in the rolls. Can I get splicefree rolls? Can I sell our part if it contains a section of tape that has one of your factory splices?
A.
Due to our manufacturing process, we cannot provide you with cost-effective, splice-free rolls of tape. Any splice made in our factory is a functional splice. That is, you should be able to apply the tape to your part and ultimately remove the liner from the part without the splice affecting tape performance.
 
 
 
Processing Part to Vehicle
Q.
How can I get the liner off the tape more easily?
A.
The use of a tab is the most common method for easy liner removal. The options are:
  1. Liner as a tab — use of kiss cut die cutting to leave the liner extended over taped area.
  2. Adding a secondary tape tab that is heat bonded to the liner in a secondary process (3M™ Automotive Heat Seal Tabber Tape 4230 or 5400).
  3. Same as #2 except using a pressure sensitive tabbing tape (3M™ Automotive Clear Splicing Tape 4240).
  4. The most cost-effective method for easy liner removal is to use a fine wire brush, such as a file cleaner, to flick the liner off. This is done without the use of any tabs.
 
Q.
How far in advance can I remove the liner?
A.
Exposing the functional adhesive to the open air has little effect in itself. However, air-born contaminants will be attracted to the exposed adhesive and may reduce the performance. Therefore, the exposure time should be minimized. As a rule, the less chance for contamination or the less time the adhesive is exposed, the better the bond will be. It’s recommended the liner only be removed immediately before use.
 
Q.
How much pressure is necessary for adhesion of a pressure-sensitive attached component to ensure a good bond? How much time is the pressure required?
A.
The goal of pressurization is to achieve 100% wet-out of the adhesive. This can be affected by size, shape, flexibility and tape placement of the components to be bonded. As a rule, a minimum of 15 lbs/0.5" width should be used. More flexible components may need less pressure. The time factor is determined more by the flexibility of the component than by needs of the adhesive. Time is not as important as application of firm, even pressure over the entire component. The application of firm, even pressure is key to 100% wet-out of the adhesive.
 
Q.
What do you mean by "wet-out"?
A.
Wet-out is simply the physical contact between the adhesive surface and the substrate. One hundred percent wet-out can only be achieved from a properly designed part that is properly pressurized to the substrate. Technically, two types of wet-out exist: visual or macroscopic wet-out, and microscopic wet-out. Only the visual wet-out can be directly controlled by the applicator. The microscopic wet-out is time and temperature related and is a function of the adhesive chemistry, as well as the physical and chemical properties of the substrate. Bond strength continues to build with time partly because this microscopic wet-out or viscoelastic flow continues with time.
 
Q.
You recommend heat for application. Is your tape a heat-cure system? How much heat is needed?
A.
Acrylic foam tape is not a "heat-cure system," but rather a "pressure-sensitive" system. Therefore, heat is not required to ensure the tape performs as intended. As stated earlier, adequate pressure is required. However, heating can be beneficial in terms of making the trim component more flexible, which improves wet-out. Heat will also aid in the viscoelastic flow or microscopic wet-out of the adhesive to build adhesion more quickly. It is recommended that part temperature be 60-110° F at time of application.
 
Q.
The part is not adhering to the vehicle. What might be wrong?
A.
Areas to investigate for poor adhesion or performance include:
  • Check for surface contamination. The substrates must be clean and free of any contaminant. This is the most common cause of poor adhesion.
  • Check for surface match. Are the two surfaces to be bonded a good match?
  • Check for proper application pressure and wet-out.
  • Check the back of the component for flatness.
  • Check the installation process for proper procedures.
 
Q.
Can I reposition a pressure-sensitive component once it is applied?
A.
If a part is positioned with slight spot pressure, it can usually be repositioned. If full pressurization takes place, it will be more difficult to remove and may result in enough contamination of the adhesive or damage to the part to require part replacement. If the part has been applied and a good deal of time has elapsed, it will be very difficult to remove and usually will require part replacement.
 
Q.
Should I press the components together or roll them down?
A.
Depending on the flexibility of the components, it is generally better to pressurize parts with a rolling pressure. A pressure fixture or hand pressure may be used. To avoid air entrapment behind the adhesive, pressure application should simulate a rolling action. Firm, even pressure is necessary regardless of the application method.
 
Q.
How can I get the part off after it has been applied?
A.
In general, this is difficult to do unless it is removed immediately after application. The part can be gently heated to soften the adhesive and peeled, or the foam tape can be split at one end and the part carefully peeled off. Tape and adhesive residue can most easily be removed with a 3M™ Stripe-Off Wheel without the use of solvents. 3M™ Prep Solvent-70 and 3M™ General Purpose Adhesive Cleaner can also be used to soften the adhesive residue, which can then be scraped off with a plastic squeegee.
 
 
 
Performance
Q.
What percent of the final bond strength can I expect immediately after application? After 24 hours? After 72 hours?
A.
Immediately after an application is made, about 60% of the bond strength is achieved. As the adhesive continues to wet-out the surface, you can expect the bond to be at about 75% - 80% after 24 hours. After 72 hours, 95%+ of the bond strength is achieved. The bond will continue to build with time.
 
Q.
If the molding edge starts to fail, will the failure continue?
A.
The stress relaxation of the acrylic foam core will dissipate the stress on the part. Unlike other tapes, this will help to resist the propagation of a partial failure.
 
Q.
With two strips of tape on a body side molding, won’t water get behind the molding and freeze, forcing the part off the vehicle?
A.
The gradual forces that may be encountered in the worse case of water entrapment are compensated for with the stress relaxation properties of the acrylic core. In most cases, water has room to expand without any effect on the tape bonding system.
 
Q.
How does the tape performance change at high temperature vs. low temperature?
A.
As the temperature goes up, the adhesive and core of the tape soften. If pulled or stressed at elevated temperatures, you would see lower adhesion values and higher conformability. At lower temperatures, the tape system becomes more rigid. This would give higher adhesion values and lower conformability. All performance values return as the temperature returns to normal.
 
Q.
What is the highest temperature your tape can take and still perform?
A.
All of the 3M acrylic foam tapes will take the paint repair bake of 250° F for 30 minutes and maintain the bond. The temperature-limiting factor for 3M acrylic foam tapes is the polyethylene liner. The acrylic foam tape itself will withstand short-term (hours) temperatures to 300° F without loss of adhesion.
 
Q.
Is the tape solvent resistant?
A.
Yes, 3M acrylic foam tapes are resistant to most common automotive solvents like gasoline, diesel fuel, washer solvent, etc. Solvent resistance is a function of type of solvent, time of exposure and temperature.
 
 
 
3M Pressure Sensitive Adhesives
 
Acrylic
Adhesive
 
Substrates
 
Comments
JL-2
Rigid and Flexible Clear Coat Paints
High performance PSA suitable for many exterior trim and weatherstrip applications on today's difficult paint systems
 
VR-2
Flexible Clear Coat Paints
High performance PSA suitable for many exterior trim and weatherstrip applications
 
AR-7
Rigid Clear Coat Paints
High performance PSA suitable for many exterior trim and weatherstrip applications
 
AR-5
Rigid Clear Coat Paints
High performance PSA suitable for exterior trim and weatherstrip applications; somewhat lower initial adhesion than AR-7
 
DS-6
Rigid Clear Coat Paints
Low performance PSA suitable only for narrow molding (>25mm) applications with good sheet metal match
 
TX-1
Most Automotive Low Surface Energy Plastics (LSE)
High performance PSA suitable for use without adhesion promoter on most TPO and PP materials and many automotive LSE plastics
 
DS-4
Rigid Clear Coat Paints And All Automotive Grade Plastics
Medium performance PSA suitable for clear coat paints; good PSA for most automotive plastics when used with the appropriate adhesion promoter
 
Note: The above is intended to serve only as an initial guideline. Since applications vary with materials, stress, procedures, environmental exposures, etc., it is important to determine through testing the most suitable 3M adhesive for the specific application. This summary cannot take into account every variable for each application. Please consult a 3M representative for further information.
 
 
 
3M Heat Bond Adhesives
 
Acrylic
Adhesive
 
Substrates
 
Comments
E2
EPDM, Santoprene™
Heat bond adhesive suitable for bonding to rubber without the use of adhesion promoters
 
N1
Neoprene, PVC
Heat bond adhesive suitable for bonding to rubber without the use of adhesion promoters
 
Note: The above is intended to serve only as an initial guideline. Since applications vary with materials, stress, procedures, environmental exposures, etc., it is important to determine through testing the most suitable 3M adhesive for the specific application. This summary cannot take into account every variable for each application. Please consult a 3M representative for further information.