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  • Writer's pictureAbdullah Khan

What Makes Tape Stick?

While the adhesive used on pressure-sensitive tapes might seem alike – they are all tacky, adhere well, and resist stresses – they are actually quite different. There are pros and cons for each tape type, be it rubber/resin, synthetic rubber, acrylic, and silicone-based adhesives.

Rubber/Resin is the oldest type of adhesive based on natural rubber, but it needs a resin to make it into an adhesive.

For many jobs, rubber/resin adhesives offer many advantages:

  • It is often a less expensive adhesive.

  • Has an initial high tack, as opposed to acrylic which needs time to cure.

  • Sticks well to many different surfaces, including some hard-to-stick-to materials.

  • Rubber-based adhesives provide highly flexible bonds and are usually based on butadiene-styrene, butyl, polyisobutylene or nitrile compounds.

  • It can be formulated to adhere at colder temperatures, but there is a limit, and rubber/resin adhesives have limitations at higher temperatures in its basic form.

  • Epoxy resins exhibit high strength and low shrinkage during curing and are known for their toughness and resistance to chemical and environmental damages.

When it comes to disadvantages, rubber/resin’s main weakness is that both the rubber and the resin are prone to oxidation from the air. Therefore, exposure to ultraviolet light from the sun and other light sources can break down in heat.

Synthetic Rubber can be used in place of natural rubber. Offering much higher adhesion and shear resistance than natural rubber-based adhesives; as a result, it is very good for sealing packages and cartons.

Acrylic Adhesives Most of the weaknesses of rubber/resin adhesives are overcome by a single component of pressure-sensitive adhesive based on “acrylic” chemistry. Acrylic is colorless and is stable to oxidation and exposure to ultraviolet light. The stability to oxidation can give an acrylic adhesive tape many years of protection against ultraviolet light. However, it is more expensive – about twice as much as rubber/resins; it’s not quite so good as natural rubber on harder-to-adhere surfaces, and it needs significant time to cure.

Silicone-based Adhesives give many years of service life. Like acrylics, silicone can be used against the skin, so it has many medical applications as well as uses in the electrical industry where temperature is a challenge (e.g., jet engines). Silicone adhesives and sealants have a high degree of flexibility and are resistant to very high temperatures. However, silicones are the most expensive adhesives of all, typically twice as much as acrylics.

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