Factors to Consider for Adhesive and Tape Bonding

To form an adhesive bond, the adhesive must make intimate contact with the surface of each substrate. Therefore the adhesive must be selected with an understanding of the surface energy and cleanliness of the substrates. In addition, the adhesive must have sufficient cohesive strength to meet the needs of the application. As you select the substrates for your design, you can work with 3M to select the best adhesive for your application.

  • An animation illustrating the surface energy wet out process. A droplet of water makes contact with a surface and spreads out over the surface.

    Surface Energy, Wet Out and Adhesion

    Surface energy is a physical property of the surface of a material that determines whether an adhesive will make intimate contact. On a material with high surface energy, a liquid will spread out or wet the surface; on a material with low surface energy, the liquid will resist flowing and bead up. An adhesive must wet out the substrate to provide a bond.

    To choose the proper adhesive it’s important to understand the surface energies of all the substrates and how well the adhesive will wet out each one. Surface cleanliness is also a factor in how well an adhesive wets out the substrate: some adhesives require a high degree of substrate cleanliness, while for others it is less critical.

structural adhesive for joining plastics, metals and rubber surfaces

Bonding Dissimilar Materials

Achieve strong bonds on metals, plastics, woods and other materials seamlessly with the right adhesive.


How to choose an adhesive for your application needs

Whether it's gluing plastic to rubber parts or joining metal with wood, 3M adhesives and tapes help address these common design challenges when bonding dissimilar materials:
1. Surface distortion, especially for thinner materials
2. Tedious process steps such as polishing and finishing surfaces
3. Joint fatigue concentrated at one point

Using the right adhesive for your project can help you speed up your assembly process and create a high-quality, seamless finish for your designs. Follow these steps to correctly select one.

Step 1: Identify the application type
Narrow down the choice of adhesives and tapes based on the joint geometry.

Step 2: Identify the substrates to be used
Take into account the surface energies and textures of different substrates.

Step 3: Identify process steps for manufacture
The stage in the manufacturing process would affect the rate of strength of the adhesive and its application method.

Step 4: Identify the end-use of the product
Select an adhesive or tape that is suited for the environment it will be used in.

Understanding surface energies and substrate types

Depending on the type of substrate and its surface energy, different adhesives may be best used to bond dissimilar materials together. Simplify your selection process by learning more about the adhesive properties of these common materials:

  • With its high surface energy, metallic surfaces bond easily with other materials. However, gap filling and isolation of substrates are a concern. Adhesives and tapes increase the area of contact for a stronger bond, while improving process speed by eliminating the need for surface preparation.

  • Including substrates such as glass, ceramic and wood, natural materials have medium surface energies that make bonding easy. 3M adhesives and tapes accommodate various surface properties for a lasting bond.

  • Generally strong and stiff, engineered plastics like polycarbonate, ABS and urethane foam perform well at higher temperatures. While not too difficult to bond, they require an industrial adhesive or tape that is resistant to temperature and solvents for optimal performance.

  • Plastics with low surface energy (LSE) like polypropylene and polyethylene have an inherent resistance to wetting that makes effective adhesion more critical. Discover 3M adhesives developed specifically to bond these materials.

Create a strong bond on any surface - minus screws and rivets
  • A worker applying a low odor adhesive to a metal rod

    Attain strong, seamless bonds for any surface and application with the right 3M adhesive solution. Discover how these adhesives can optimise your process and improve the aesthetics of your end-product.

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