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Adhesive Tape a Brief Guide for Use

Adhesive tape, also known as pressure-sensitive tape, PSA tape, self-stick tape, or sticky tape, is one of the most ubiquitous forms of adhesion in industrial applications and home projects alike. Consisting of a high-pressure sensitive coating that is bonded onto a backing material like plastic film, paper, cloth, or metal foil, adhesive tape is used mainly to create a quick-adhering join onto one or more surfaces. To suit different usages, there are options that have layers of adhesive, primers, easy-release materials, filaments, printing, and more. In this article, we will be discussing many key characteristics about pressure-sensitive tape so you can be well-equipped to use it for your next project.

Advantages of Pressure-Sensitive Tape

Pressure-sensitive tape was first invented by a young research assistant named Richard Drew who saw the frustrations of auto-shop painters when using glue and paper to apply 2-tone paint jobs to cars. Though the application of the first coat would work well, when it came time to peel the paper, it would often destroy the original paint job. Two years later, masking tape was introduced with the distinct advantage of easy, clean application that could be removed without damaging the underlying surface. Though not all pressure-sensitive tapes are designed to be so easily removed, all carry a similar set of advantages as what first made masking tape revolutionary in its time. The first of these advantages is that there is no preparation necessary and no special tools needed to apply the adhesive, besides a simple cutting tool in some cases. Furthermore, the bond is instantaneous, and nearly mess-free with minimal waste, especially when die-cut to fit the exact space necessary. Adhesive tape is also uniform in thickness and creates a finished bond that is stress-free, when compared to fasteners that cause tension at the place where they join with a surface. All this, plus their generally low cost, make pressure-sensitive tape a popular option in many industrial operations.

Different Types of Adhesives

There are several different types of adhesives available that each come with a set of advantages and limitations. The oldest of these types is rubber/resin adhesive, which is based on natural rubber that is combined with resin to make it sticky. The advantages for rubber/resin type adhesive are that it is low-cost, has initial high tack, sticks well to many surfaces, is highly flexible, has generally high strength and low shrinkage, and is resistant to chemical and environmental damage. One disadvantage, however, is that rubber/resin adhesive is prone to oxidation from the air so it can be broken down over time by UV light and sun exposure. Synthetic rubber can be used in place of natural rubber for much higher adhesion and shear resistance but carries the same limitation. To resolve this issue, acrylic is often added to an adhesive because it is stable to oxidation and exposure to UV rays; at the same time, it is about twice as expensive as the traditional rubber/resin variety. Two times as expensive as the acrylic kind, silicone-based adhesives offer resistance to extremely high temperatures along with many years of service life. Aside from electrical operations and other high temperature applications, silicone-based adhesives are also frequently used in the medical field because they are safe for use on skin and have very high flexibility.

How to Understand an Adhesive Tape Spec Sheet

For both engineers and general contractors, it is important that both the tape sample and specification sheet should be closely reviewed when considering their uses. But it is not always clear what detail the specification sheet provides and how it can be best used for maxim benefit. Here are some things to look for:

Construction properties: At the top of the specification sheet, there will be an accurate description of the tape’s construction as well as a summary of its properties. Using this information alone, you can determine whether or not this is the kind of tape needed.

Versatility: In general, adhesive tape is very versatile with plenty of possible uses that go beyond those that were intended when it was first designed. However, since pressure-sensitive tape consists of one or more soft amorphous broad molecular weight polymers and will often contain several other chemicals, it cannot be manufactured with the same precision as an accurately machined metal part. Therefore, it is important to note the tape's limitations and judge its versatility accordingly.

Adhesive Type: Natural rubber-based adhesives are the general-purpose option for many cases, but if you have special requirements for your tape, such as long-term aging, resistance to ultraviolet light, or non-corrosive properties, you will need to look for the higher performance acrylic variety. The adhesion level will also be quoted here and it is determined in a test environment so even though your own use of the product will not duplicate this, it can be a helpful guide.

Tensile strength and elongation information: The relationship between the tensile strength quoted and its elongation are not linear. However, you can get a rough estimate of the elongation expected when the typical slight application tensile force of less than a pound or two is applied to the tape.

Temperature limits: Where the tape is intended for a higher temperature operation the upper temperature limit will be quoted.

Resistance to shear: The resistance to shear, the effect of adhesive belles beyond the tape, is also listed when it is key to good performance.


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