Volume 14, Issue 5 - September/October 2012

Stuck on Safety
What to Look for in an Adhesive

by AGRR Staff

Adhesives are literally what hold a windshield installation together. While these have come a long way over the years, it’s crucial that shops and technicians know what to look for in a quality adhesive.

“Customers should look for several things when purchasing urethanes, which include: quality, consistency in the product, safe drive away times (SDAT), credibility of the supplier and manufacturer, and price,” says Eddie Friend, product line manager of auto glass replacement for Pilkington North America in Toledo, Ohio.

With potential risks of acquiring faulty adhesives out there, how exactly does one spot the indicators of a subpar urethane? Experts from the auto glass industry weighed in on what should be considered, which includes an adhesive’s origin, a manufacturer’s reputation and accompanying documentation and products—as well as what questions to ask to avoid buying unreliable products.

Location, Location, Location
When it comes to buying the tools needed to run a business, experts say ensuring peace of mind and instilling confidence in products begins with knowing from where the items derive and where they are authorized to be used.

Madison Heights, Mich.-based Sika Corp. global resources manager Carl Tompkins says he has seen brands of import product that indicate on the label, “Not for use in the U.S.”

The sub-par brands have shown up in more cities in the last year, Tompkins says. “We’re seeing the cartridges in stores, typically in smaller businesses with single owners who are buying directly from the importers. We are hearing about the problem weekly now; before, it’d come up once in a while,” he says.

There are hundreds of overseas manufacturers online, Tompkins adds. “How would a glass shop deal with their product problems when their manufacturer is 4,000 miles away?” he asks. “And the importers have no technical background to support their product. So the glass shops are in trouble.”

David Osland, vice president of marketing and product development at Shat R Proof (SRP) in Savage, Minn., also says that subpar adhesives pouring in from other counties have recently become an issue.

“I have seen a few [subpar adhesives from foreign countries] in southern California; they pop up and then disappear,” Osland says. “They are more of a sealer, semi-structural, construction-graded adhesive. If you go to the Automotive Aftermarket Products Expo in Las Vegas, you will see those products in the international section in the basement from Malaysia, China, India and other countries. They tout one-hour SDATs, and they do not have material safety data sheets (MSDS). They also crop up from Mexico.”

Reputation Matters
According to experts, the reputation of an adhesive manufacturer also can provide reassurance that the product is of sufficient quality. In addition to questioning which company is producing the item, buyers should ask follow-up questions such as: is the manufacturer known for high-quality items of this specific product, and how long has the company been in the industry?

Retailers also should be asking who manufactures the adhesive, according to Joe Renzi, business manager, Americas, for Germany-based Dinol. By considering the manufacturer’s reputation and its success in the auto glass bonding industry specifically, it gives the purchaser an idea of the quality of its products overall.

“You can have a manufacturer make polyurethane but it doesn’t mean [it has] a reputation for bonding windshields in vehicles,” Renzi says.

Dale Malcolm, technical manager at Dow Automotive Systems, Aftermarket, headquartered in Auburn Hills, Mich., says Dow Automotive has direct contact with a wide pool of OEMs, which also helps ensure dependability.

“This close connection with the OEMs ensures that the adhesives used to replace a broken windshield will meet all the original equipment manufacturers’ specifications for safety and durability,” he says. “These aftermarket adhesive systems are supported by a team of people to provide technical support and training. Training is critical because the best quality adhesive applied incorrectly may not perform as expected.”

Follow the Paper Trail
For most products, it is customary to include a user’s guide or manual. Experts say this is also crucial for adhesives, and it comes in the form of a technical data sheet, an MSDS.

“If the product does not afford you the opportunity to see an MSDS, then I would recommend finding an alternative product,” says Friend.

Another item to look for, according to Renzi, is how much information overall is supplied with the adhesive.

“There’s no way that in a one- to two-page technical data sheet you can provide all of the information that the technician needs,” Renzi says. “We still supply a manual in hard copy and electronic format. How do I go into all the specifics? What do you do with rust? What do you do with bare metal? When it comes to strengths and things, the techs aren’t going to know what the strengths are.”

Additionally, it is not uncommon to encounter offshore products with no information at all, according to Renzi.

“People aren’t taking the time to read it, understand it or care about it,” he says. “Many times they’re just looking for the cheapest material out there. You can’t change everyone.”

Warranties and Compatibility
According to Renzi, another crucial item to look for in the area of adhesives is warranties—and whether a company is willing to stand behind its product. This can especially be an issue in the area of privately labeled adhesives, he says.

“If there is a problem, who is going to back the company?” Renzi says. “Does the private labeler have the insurance to back it? Or are they going to point back to the manufacturer? I’m glad we’re not in the middle of that because it’s coming from our factory. We have it because it’s our product.”

“They fail to realize when it comes to the adhesive they better have documented what their plans are,” he says. “You now own that product, even though you didn’t make it. You’re holding liability to make sure those products are covered.”

According to Renzi, any adhesive system should offer a full range of primers and pretreatments. He says he has seen products that claim to be compatible with a “universal primer.”

“Do not do it,” he says. “You never use a different primer, activator or pretreatment from a different company than made the adhesives. The adhesives and primers are made to work together … A true quality adhesive is part of a total system of cleaning products, glass and body primers and strong, durable adhesive supported by superior technical support and training.”

Use Your Training
While understanding what to look for when buying adhesives is extremely important, experts such as Malcolm say the training provided by adhesive manufacturers also is crucial.

“We may make a urethane, but unless we train you, you have no way of knowing how to use it correctly,” Malcolm says.

Osland agrees. “Adhesive manufacturers need to train technicians on how to use the products properly,” Osland says.

However, what technicians do with that training also is key. “It is up to the glass shop and the installer to use the training,” Osland adds.

Renzi echoes this sentiment. “To fix it, all we can do is control what we can control,” he says. “We get to as many people as we can. We educate everyone using our products and even those who don’t use our products.”

Final Word
According to Renzi, while some companies are abiding by safety guidelines, there are still going to be sub-par and faulty adhesives on the market.

“All we can do is keep trying,” Renzi says. “We all want to see a change, but I think the reality is you’re not going to see a ban on the product coming in.”

According to Friend, “For the most part I think in the adhesive industry you have a handful of really strong brands and products. A lot of safety issues actually can reside with how the product is used, stored and handled, which is why it is so important that installers take time to carefully read each product’s instructions and become familiar with how to properly use the product.”

This article was compiled from various interviews by AGRR staff.

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No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.