Image of a metal frame with 3M™ VHB™ Tape awaiting removal of the protective liner so the second substrate can be applied

Applying 3M™ VHB™ Tape

Learn more about how applying 3M™ VHB™ Tape right, consistently and fast can help you get strong, reliable bonds.

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How Do I Get the Best Bonds With 3M™ VHB™ Tape?

Once you’ve decided 3M™ VHB™ Tape is the strong, reliable, durable solution your application needs, how do you optimize your process? Are there ways to make the application more consistent? Should the tape be pressed down when applied? Can you reduce manual labor in the application? This page can help answer some of these questions.

3M does not receive payment from non-3M companies listed. These are just tools that we’ve found to be useful and we want to share them with you! Not seeing what you’re looking for? Work with your 3M representative for facilitation and recommendations. Let us share our expertise to create a winning solution for you.


  • Cleaning

  • Priming

  • Abrading

  • Manual Application

  • Automated Application

  • Applying Pressure


Step 1: Surface Preparation

Cleaning the substrate surface helps any adhesive or tape achieve a better bond

Getting the surface right up front can save time and trouble later. Cleaning helps form a better bond, and some contaminants require more attention than others. Priming and abrading can also improve the ability of the adhesive to stick to the substrate in certain situations.

  • Video still showing cleaning supplies: disposable towels, cloth wipes and bottles of acetone and isopropyl alcohol

    Surface Cleaning (1:39)

    A 3M Application Engineer briefly describes the role of clean surfaces in adhesive and tape bonding, discusses appropriate cleaning tools and demonstrates basic substrate cleaning.

  • Use a disposable towel or cloth (light colors preferred to show contaminant removal) with a solvent.

    Solvent


    • Dust, dirt, fingerprints: isopropyl alcohol solution (70% IPA/30% water)
    • Oily substances: acetone

    Cleaning


    1. Quick pre-clean of tough spots if necessary
    2. Wet cloth to remove most contaminants
    3. Final wipe with dry cloth
    • Isopropyl Alcohol (IPA) 70% – Purchase from an industrial distributor or pharmacy; if stronger than 70%, dilute with water
    • Kimberly-Clark Professional™ WypAll® X60 Cloths
    • Kimberly-Clark Professional™ KIMTECH® WETTASK® System 06001
      Visit Kimberly-Clark Professional™ for more information and buying options.

Priming can help improve bond performance on plastics, paints and other Low Surface Energy substrates

    • Video still showing a person wetting a cloth with an isopropyl

      Priming the Surface (1:31)

      A 3M application Engineer explains how a primer or adhesion promoter creates a new surface for 3M™ VHB™ Tape to bond to and demonstrates different methods of primer application.

    Steps:

    A primer creates a new surface for the adhesive to bond to and can improve initial and ultimate adhesion to many materials such as plastics, paints and other Low Surface Energy substrates.


    1. Clean before priming (see above)
    2. Apply primer

      • Primer on a disposable towel, followed by a dry towel
      • Dauber bottle followed by a dry towel
      • Foam brush
    3. Let dry before taping

    Primer Suitability by Surface

    Suggested Products:

    Adhesion Promoter
     

    Glass Treatment
     

    Film-Forming Primer
     

    Primer Applicator
     

    • Designetics® HDPE Bottle (8 oz)
    • Designetics® Felt Dauber Tip 32CH (1" with edge guide) - Rectangular Tip with or without Guide
      Visit Designetics® for more information and buying options.

Abrasion can remove heavy levels of dirt or oxidation as well as smooth the surface

    • Video still showing a metal substrate before abrasion

      Abrading Your Substrate (0:52)

      A 3M Application Engineer explains situations where surface abrasion before applying 3M™ VHB™ Tape can help form a better bond, and discusses different hand and power tools to use.

    Steps:

    Abrasion can help remove heavy dirt or oxides, create additional surface area or smooth a textured surface for improved contact.

    Light abrasion by hand


    • Hand pad
    • L-abrader tool

    Powered abrasion with coated abrasive


    • Right-angle grinder
    • Dual-action sander

    Clean the substrate after abrading to make sure all sanding debris is removed from the bond area.

    Suggested Products:

    Light Abrasion of Bond Areas
     

    Abrasion of Steel Posts
     


Step 2: Tape Application

The specific application and production volume can help determine which application method is best for your situation

Application Methods and Options

Manual Tape Application

  • Video still showing a metal bar with 3M™ VHB™ Tape applied and the liner removed, a hand applicator, scissors and a tape roll

    3M™ VHB™ Tape Application (1:22)

    A 3M Application Engineer demonstrates different manual tape application methods: by hand, using a hand tape applicator and using a push-through laminator.

  • By Hand

    1. Start the tape at the edge of the surface and lay it down, applying constant pressure as you go. Apply a roll down force of at least 15 lbs with a dense J-roller (Gundlach V300-SB pressure roller or similar laminate roller) over the entire area to ensure good contact between the tape and the first substrate surface
    2. Remove the protective liner to apply the other substrate

    Hand Tape Applicator – as above, but using the applicator instead of a bare hand to apply even pressure

    Push-Through Laminator (Watch video)

    1. Manually push uniform pieces through the laminator
    2. Laminator holds the roll and applies pressure as tape is applied
    3. Use a hand cutting tool to cut the tape between pieces

Automated Tape Application

  • Image of a robot in a glass cage used to demonstrate automated application of adhesives

    Automated application has two levels. For a simple linear application, a machine can be set up to tape pieces as they pass by on a conveyor, for instance to put down 8-inch tape strips with 5-inch gaps between them. A more complicated application would involve a robot arm programmed to apply tape in multiple locations, such as adding die-cut pieces and tape strips to every piece.

    Watch an animated video that describes how a robot arm can apply primer and 3M™ Attachment Tapes, both as die-cut pieces and strips from a tape roll.


Step 3: Applying Final Pressure

Applying pressure to the applied tape facilitates optimal wet-out onto the substrate

  • Video still of a person using a J-roller to ensure even pressure is applied to the tape

    Applying Final Pressure (0:29)

    A 3M Application Engineer explains the need to apply pressure across the width of the tape and demonstrates how to do so.

    The amount of pressure required to achieve what is typically known as wet-out or acceptable contact. Typically, this is achieved by the application of greater than 15 psi at the tape bond line.


If Necessary: Tape Removal

Repairs or mis-application may necessitate removal of 3M™ VHB™ Tape from your substrates

  • Video still of a worker using an oscillating tool to separate a metal plate bonded to a metal bar

    3M™ VHB™ Tape Removal (1:13)

    A 3M Application Engineer discusses the occasional need to remove 3M™ VHB™ Tape and demonstrates how to do so.

  • Mis-application or damage to components may require the removal of 3M™ VHB™ Tape from bonded surfaces.


    1. Apply isopropyl alcohol to the edge of the bond to help lubricate the cutting tool and prevent the separated tape from bonding together again
    2. Use an oscillating tool to cut the tape, cutting one-eighth inch to one-quarter inch deep at each pass
    3. When components are separated, use the oscillating tool to remove tape residue
    4. Use 3M™ Adhesive remover to remove any remaining residue

      a. Spray on
      b. Let soak in
      c. Scrub with a hand pad to help loosen and remove residue
      d. Wipe clean with a disposable towel or cloth
  • Adhesive Removal
     

    Oscillating Multi-Tool
     

    • FEIN SuperCut FSC 500 QSL

    Multi-Tool Blade
     

    • FEIN Flexible Scraper Blade
      Visit FEIN for more information and buying options.
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Need help finding the right product for your project? Contact us if you need product, technical or application advice or want to collaborate with a 3M technical specialist, or give us a call at 136-136.

Need help finding the right product for your project? Contact us if you need product, technical or application advice or want to collaborate with a 3M technical specialist, or give us a call at 136-136.


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    *3M and VHB are trademarks of 3M. All rights reserved. All other trademarks are property of their respective owners.
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