These FAQs aim to help you understand the differences between the tapes we sell and make it easier for you to find the double sided tape you need. To help you get to the information you want quicker, we've split this post into the following sections:
Including: what is double sided tape, its main uses and advantages, and the main types of industrial double sided tape
DOUBLE SIDED TAPES: THE BASICS
What is double sided tape?
Double sided tape is coated with pressure sensitive adhesive on both sides. When sandwiched between two surfaces, double sided tape forms an invisible bond between them.
There are two main kinds of industrial double sided tape: those with thick bonding systems and those with thin bonding systems.
Thick bonding double sided tapes are usually better for bonding unusual and textured surfaces. As the name suggests, thin bonding double sided tapes are much thinner, great if you require minimal gaps between parts.
What is double sided tape used for?
Double sided tape is designed to stick two surfaces together without being visible. The main uses for double sided tapes are:
- Sticking two parallel surfaces together
- Sticking two surfaces together at an angle (or joint)
- In place of rivets, screws, bolts and welds
What are the advantages of double sided tape?
- Double sided tape is thin and light
- It enables you to bond dissimilar materials without having to worry about incompatibility
- Provides vibration and noise reduction, and dampening
- It reduces assembly time
- Eliminates the need for surface refinishing
- Reduces the need for visible fasteners for a better looking finished product
- Provides uniform thickness and gap filling
What are the main types of double sided tape available?
Adhesive Transfer Tapes
Adhesive transfer tapes give thinner bond lines, UV resistance and they stick well to uneven surfaces. These tapes have high peel strength and good resistance to slippage and solvents. The internal strength of adhesive transfer tape holds the adhesive together making them great for applications that need flexibility.
Fingerlift tapes have several benefits. For example, when the tape is applied the protective liner can remain in place until final assembly needs to occur. This is ideal for point of sale where display posters have to be dispatched to shops flat for assembly later. Fingerlift tapes are most often used in continuous stationery, point of sale, print finishing and polythene bag manufacture and conversion.
Double Sided Foam Tapes
Double sided foam tapes are great for uneven surfaces and can handle a lot of thermal stresses and movement stresses. They are also good at resisting UV (the acrylic adhesive version), sound, vibration and shock.
Glue dots are spots of pure glue that are good for unusual challenges and non-critical processes where products have to stick to awkward surfaces. They are perfect for attaching small gifts to magazines, membership cards to stationary and so on. Often used in industry, schools, hospitals and retail.
Multi & Special Purpose Tapes
There are four varieties of multi and special purpose tapes, all of which offer high performance against many materials.
PVC - suitable for use with textured materials
Polyester – ideal for higher temperatures and die-cutting
Tissue – where economy and ease of handling is important
Cloth – offers flexibility, softness and easy tear
Plate Mounting Tape
Plate mounting tape looks very different from other kinds of double sided tape. It is often much larger and more colourful, and it can be used for decorative purposes. Plate mounting foam tape is similar to foam tape, but it can have high and low tack adhesive on either side. This niche product is often used in the flexographic printing industry, and in the placement and removal of plates (stereos).
Very High Bond tape is an extremely effective double sided tape that’s often used as an alternative to welds, rivets, bolts and screws. It’s easy to apply, but so strong it has even been used on the Burj Al Arab, one of the tallest hotels in the world.
How do you store double sided tape?
The recommended storage conditions for double sided tapes are:
- 50% relative humidity
- Rolls should be stored flat in their original packaging away from direct sources of light/UV.
How Does Double Sided Tape Work: The Science
What is double sided tape made of?
There are two main kinds of industrial double sided tapes, thick bonding double sided tapes and thin bonding double sided tapes.
Thick bonding double sided tape is made from a foam backing (or carrier) that is coated in adhesive on both sides. Thick bonding double sided tape is normally greater than 0.25mm in thickness.
Thin bonding double sided tape can either be made from:
- A film-like backing (or carrier) made of Polyester, PVC or Polypropylene, with adhesive on both sides
- A tissue tape with adhesive on both sides
- Pure adhesive without a backing material, sandwiched between two silicone layers of ‘release liner’ to stop it sticking to itself (known as adhesive transfers)
Double sided tape often has an additional layer of silicone paper or a similar non-stick layer of tape (known as a release liner) that stops the tape from sticking to itself.
Both thick and thin bonding tapes are coated with either Acrylic or Rubber pressure sensitive adhesive depending on their use.
What is a pressure sensitive adhesive?
No solvent, water or heat is needed to activate the adhesive. Instead, pressure sensitive adhesive forms a bond when pressure is applied. The strength of the bond is influenced by the amount of pressure used to apply the adhesive to the surface.
Many tapes are pressure sensitive, it has no implications for the quality of the product – it just refers to how the adhesive is used.
What are the benefits of acrylic adhesives vs rubber adhesives?
All double sided tapes are coated with either acrylic or rubber pressure sensitive adhesive.
The benefits of acrylic adhesives are:
- Ability to exhibit greater bond strength over time, making them good for more demanding, permanent bonding
- More stable under UV light
- They can handle extreme temperature
- More resistant to chemicals
The benefits of rubber adhesives are:
- The initial bond is stronger than acrylic adhesive (better for immediate grab)
- Less expensive than acrylic, therefore better for less demanding applications
How does double sided tape work?
Double sided tape is coated with pressure sensitive adhesive on both sides. It is a permanently tacky substance as it maintains a constant balance between adhesion and cohesion. Pressure sensitive adhesives need pressure to ensure bonding, this is because it enables the tape to come in close contact with each substrate (surface), so that the physical forces between the adhesive and the surfaces can build up.
ADHESION is the process of sticking to an external surface or object i.e. pressure helps the adhesion of a tape to a surface.
COHESION is when particles of the same substance stick together. It describes the inner strength of an adhesive. High cohesion goes hand-in-hand with high temperature resistance and high holding power.
TACK is the wetting capability of an adhesive to the underlying surface (substrate) at first contact. Tack is effective under minimum pressure for a short period of time. It is also known as quick stick.
SUBSTRATE an underling substance or layer.
Choosing A Double Sided Tape
What are the main factors to consider when choosing a double sided tape?
What materials do you want to stick together?
Are the surfaces coated or treated?
Are the surfaces rough or smooth?
Is gap filling required? What is the gap size?
Will the joint be subject to any load when the product is finished?
Will the tape be used indoors or outdoors?
What are the conditions the tape will be exposed to? (Temperature, moisture, UV, chemicals, solvents)
How will the double sided tape be applied?
Is it a temporary or permanent application?
What surfaces are good for double sided tape?
There are some substrates (surfaces) that are generally easier for double sided tape to bond to than others. This is due to the following three main factors:
As a rule of thumb, materials with higher surface tension/energy are easier for use with double sided tapes as they enable a stronger bond to form between the surface and the adhesive. Low energy surfaces do not allow the adhesive to flow or wet-out properly, wetting out is essential for forming a strong bond.
To understand how surface energy affects double sided tapes, think of water on an un-waxed car bonnet. The un-waxed car bonnet has high surface energy and water can flow across it easily. On the other hand, a waxed car bonnet has low surface energy making water bead up. In the same way, adhesive can easily flow (or “wet out”) on a surface with high energy.
For the best possible adhesion, the surface on which the tape is being applied should have a higher surface energy or polarity than the tape’s adhesive.
Materials With A High Surface Energy Include:
PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride)
These are all easier for double tape to bond to!
Specially formulated adhesives are available to use on surfaces with lower energy including:
Powder coated metals
Special coated or treated papers
Primers and sealants can also be used on surfaces with low energy before applying tape to aid adhesion.
Another important factor to consider is the smoothness of the surface. Both substrates must be unified before applying double sided tape. Special adhesive pastes and primers can be applied to rougher surfaces before applying double sided tape to improve adhesion.
It is also important to remember that coatings or fillers might influence adhesion. Painted aluminum or plasticised PVC might display completely different bonding characteristics compared to pure unaltered materials.
Extra Caution Is Required When Using:
Most adhesives do not work well with substrates that are likely to have a release agent/ or leaches plasticizer, examples of these problematic materials include:
Injection moulded plastics
What surfaces are not recommended for use with double sided tapes?
What double sided tape is best for use indoors?
All double sided tapes work well indoors.
What double sided tape is best for use outdoors?
Virtually all 3M VHB products well work well outdoors, if you’re unsure which tape is best for you get in touch with a member of the Finecal team.
What thickness of tape do I need?
The tape you choose should be double the amount of surface unevenness. For example, if the surface variation between the two substrates is 0.5mm then the tape you use should be at least 1mm in thickness.
What coverage is required when bonding a double sided tape?
The amount of tape you will need depends on the application:
- For outdoor and critical interior applications use 60 square cm of tape per kg of suspended product.
- For non-critical interior applications use 25 square cm of tape per kg of suspended product.
- For a typical standard foam tape used for non-critical interior applications use 100 square cm per 1 kg of weight.
Applying Double Sided Tapes
How do I prepare a surface for tape application?
Surfaces should be unified, clean and dry. Free of oils, grease or any other contaminants. Use a lintless cloth to clean the surface using a suitable solvent such as a mixture of isopropyl alcohol and water.
To increase the surface tension of substrates with low surface energy (such as rubber materials including EPDM and neoprene) consider using the recommended primer or adhesion promoter before applying your tape.
Surfaces which need to be primed or sealed beforehand include:
- Most porous or fibered materials (such as concrete and wood), these have an open surface and require sealing to ensure a unified surface
- Copper, brass and bronze – these materials are prone to oxidation so need to be lacquered or varnished beforehand
- Flexible PVC (vinyl) this can interact with tape and affect adhesion if it is not coated beforehand.
- If you wish to bond glass, stone or ceramic in an environment with high humidity, you will need to prime these siliceous materials first
How do I apply double sided tape?
Now that your surfaces are properly prepared, you need to complete the following steps:
- Apply tape avoiding any contact with the adhesive surface
- Apply pressure to the tape using a roller (how long you need to apply pressure for varies depending on the tape, make sure you refer to the instructions)
- Remove the release liner
- Place second surface in the right position and apply pressure on the bond area using a roller (again refer to instructions for information on how long pressure needs to be applied for)
What is the ideal temperature for applying double sided tape?
Tape should be applied at moderate temperatures between 15C and 35C, lower temperatures might lead to insufficient “wetting” (coverage) of the adhesive on the substrate. Extremely high temperatures might cause the tape to stretch when being applied, which could create additional stress in the final application.
However, there are some tapes designed for low application temperature bonding down to 0C. Always check the instructions first.
How long does it take for double sided tape to bond?
Most adhesives form their optimum bond within 72 hours of application. At room temperature approximately 50% of the ultimate strength will be achieved after 20 minutes.
In some cases, bond strength can be made quicker by exposing the bond to higher temperatures for an hour (70C).
How should joints be designed to facilitate the use of double sided tapes?
If you are using tape to bond two surfaces at joint, it should be designed with maximum surface area and be close fitting to ensure the best possible bond.
What takes off double sided tape?
Chemicals, abrasives and polysulphide cleaners will all help remove double sided tape should you need.
CHOOSING DOUBLE SIDED TAPES: ADVANCED
Double Sided Tape And Extreme Conditions
What double sided tape is best for use in high temperatures?
3M 4611 – this high performance acrylic foam tape far out performs standard foam based tapes, perfect for use in higher temperatures.
What double sided tape is best for use in low temperatures?
Many tapes work well at low temperatures, be sure the tape you have chosen is suitable for the materials you wish to bond together and the kind of application you require.
Which double sided tape is most water resistant?
All 3M VHB tapes have good water resistance, if you are unsure about which tape to choose, give us a call.
Finding The Right Tape For a Specific Surface
Some double sided tapes have been developed to be particularly effective for certain surfaces. The following are the type of double sided tape which is best for….
GLASS & GLAZING
3M RP45 this VHB is designed to bond high and medium surface energy materials and helps to provide cushioning, dampening and impact resistance.
3M 5925 is another good alternative.
Technibond HTA/HTAF products are both great for more difficult substrates with low surface energy such as wood.
3M 9088 and the RP range all effectively bond plastics.
Advance Carpet Tape AT324 is really excellent for carpet holding with no rucking. When needed, it is easily removable too.
3M ATG969 is suitable for textiles, leathers and plastic too.
3M RP45 is great for use when bonding polycarbonate.
PAPER & BOARD
The 3M 9080 range is very popular for bonding paper and board.
Finding The Right Tape For Your Industry
Double sided tapes are widely used within a number of different industries. The following tapes have been specifically developed to match the requirements of the following industry sectors…
Technibond HTA/HTAF is especially developed for challenging surfaces with low surface energy such as wood.
3M VHB’s are popular in the electronics industry for their high performance and reliability.
A wide range of double sided tapes are used in the aerospace industry for many different purposes. Give us a call if you’d like to discuss the right tape for you.
The 3M RP range is most often used commercially as it’s very suitable for use with paper, board and plastic.
The 3M VHB range is widely used within the automotive industry due to its high performance.
The 3M RP range is popular for use with signage.
Like electronics and the automotive industry, engineers use the 3M VHB range most frequently.
The high performing 3M VHB range is widely used in metal fabrications.
If you have any more questions about double sided tapes or any of the other products we stock, do not hesitate to give us a call on 0117 971 1111 so we can talk through your specific needs in person. We’re always happy to help.