Volume 33, Number 8, August 1998


Selecting Tapes and Adhesives That BLOCK & Tackle

by Kenneth F. Hegyes

Pressure-sensitive tapes and adhesives are used in a wide range of applications throughout the glass industry. These hidden materials have a serious impact on the quality of the products and services you provide your customers. If they do not function properly, the cost to your reputation and bottom line can be great.

My intent here is to explain the differences among tapes ranging from those used in bath enclosures to mirror mounting or window manufacturing. Confronted with the need to select a pressure-sensitive tape or adhesive, most people immediately are put off by the variety of products available. Why can’t one or two tapes work for all applications? Aside from color, tape thickness or the width, what is so different?

We in the industry quickly turn to the safest answer, "specific adhesion," which is a polite way to say that adhesives perform like football players—some are great receivers, others make good linemen, and some, like quarterbacks, just look good. Adhesives that work well in one application may perform poorly in another. To score touchdowns, the team must include the tape or adhesive product that will meet the physical requirements economically.


Selecting the Right Player

How do you select the correct tape or adhesive? First, determine what you want the tape to do. Will you be mounting one material to another, glazing a window or sealing an opening? Will the product be indoors or outdoors? Must the adhesive system support weight? How much? Are there codes to be met or trade specifications in effect?

All this information is important to your tape or adhesive supplier. He is the coach who will help you pick the correct lineup and play to get that first down or score a TD. With the details you provide, your supplier will use his experience to suggest one or two products that have worked well in similar applications and are known to be compatible with the materials you will be assembling.

You should test samples of these suggested materials since your name is ultimately on the finished product. Testing may take place in your shop, on a job site or in an independent laboratory known for testing products against industry standards. This testing will help you determine if the system you will use on a job installs easily and achieves desired results.


Consider the Job: Mounting, Glazing or Sealing?

Tapes and adhesives are used to mount, glaze or seal. Mounting requires that a tape or adhesive support weight. Follow your supplier’s instructions for surface preparation, application methods and amount to be certain the mounted object will stay where you intend for as long as the system is designed to function. Short-cutting manufacturers’ instructions can result in a penalty with loss of down. Having to rework a job because it was not done properly the first time is expensive and unacceptable for any business. You may find a combination of adhesive and tape is necessary to meet short- and long-term strength objectives.

Glazing may involve several components in a system that seals, holds glass in place and meets industry-established performance requirements. Select products you know have a proven record in field applications, have been tested successfully against industry specifications and are consistent from production lot to production lot. Since doors and windows are designed to meet engineering specifications, any tapes or adhesives used in fabrication must meet target requirements for adhesion, compression resistance, water absorption and air or water penetration resistance.

A seal may be as simple as filling an air space with light-density foam or it may demand adhesion performance to keep water from leaving a tempered glass shower enclosure. In either case, the products must again match the end use. No football team succeeds without set plays. It is difficult to get eleven players doing exactly the right thing on each play, but plays do work if most of the players carry out their assignments. It is the same for tapes and adhesives. The correct product used properly will accomplish the task.

Winning the Big Game

So now you have the team assembled and ready. Each material has its assignment and has practiced for the big game. Put that playbook to work for you and let all your assistant coaches support your effort. Those suppliers worked long and hard with their specialty units to furnish you with skilled players ready to perform.

Kenneth F. Hegyes is president of Capital Tape Company and Glazers Choice Inc. of Cleveland, OH. He has been in the pressure-sensitive tape industry since 1976. Prior to starting Capital Tape, he managed strategic business units for Avery Dennison.


Copyright 1998 Key Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.