When assembling anything from membrane switches to gaskets and overlays, it’s important to consider the materials used for bonding and fastening. Materials need to adhere to one another, and the part that we manufacture has to adhere to the final product it’s being manufactured for.
There are a variety of different fasteners to consider, from mechanical fasteners like screws to various adhesives. 3M is one of the most important manufacturers of adhesive tapes in the world. Today, we’re going to discuss one of their products – VHB tapes – and the advantages of laser cutting VHB.
Let’s begin by analyzing the product we’re cutting – VHB tapes.
What are VHB tapes?
VHB tapes are a family of exceptionally strong, durable, and versatile double-sided acrylic adhesive tapes developed by 3M. VHB tapes are known for the extremely strong bond they create between two surfaces; in fact, VHB stands for “Very High Bond”.
These tapes are used in everything from cell phones to skyscrapers. There are a wide variety of different VHB tapes available – the one you choose will depend on the substrates you’re bonding together, as well as their flexibility and other qualities.
Why choose VHB tapes?
3M created a great video explaining the benefits of VHB tape. It’s worth a watch (their marketing department did a great job), but we’ll pull out some of the highlights for you:
- It weighs less than mechanical fasteners.
- It bonds and seals simultaneously.
- It bonds substrates that are typically difficult to bond together.
- It doesn’t corrode.
- It’s durable and can resist high temperatures and harsh environments.
- It eliminates stress points by dissipating stress along its surface.
- Surfaces don’t need to be primed – it’s a simple peel-and-stick process.
- They’re made of non-hazardous materials.
All in all, there’s a lot to like about VHB tapes. Of course, these tapes come in uniform rolls – they need to be cut in order to be used in various parts. That brings us to our next point: Die-cutting vs. laser cutting.
Laser cutting vs. die-cutting
At General Label, we have a wide variety of cutting options available for our clients, including clamshell die-cutters, rotating die-cutters, rotary laser cutters, tangent knife systems and more. We’re unbiased – both laser cutting and die-cutting have their own distinct advantages and disadvantages.
Laser cutting is typically used when intricate custom shapes are required. They’re also extremely precise – they can cut complex patterns to hair-length precision, something that’s almost impossible to get with traditional die-cutting.
Die-cutting, conversely, is perfect for simple shapes that you want to manufacture at high volume. When cutting these shapes, die-cutters are quite a bit faster, as the desired shape is prefabricated. It’s as simple as cutting into the material.
Laser cutters and die-cutters are both best suited to different materials. It’s this factor that makes laser cutters particularly well suited to cutting VHB tapes.
Why use laser cutting for VHB tapes?
More often than not, laser cutting is the way to go with VHB.
The reason is simple: VHB is a double-sided, extremely high bond adhesive tape renowned for being able to bond almost any two surfaces. Many die cut VHB parts are provided kiss-cut to a liner and delivered in sheet form.
There’s a problem with this method. Over time the VHB can weld itself back together causing issues and bad parts. Laser cutting eliminates this potential failure mode by vaporizing the material and creating a .005” track through the material perimeter. Additionally, the cut profiles of dies are limited to through cuts and kiss cuts. Our advanced design and production team has developed an array of new cut profiles to aid in manufacturing and assembly of your end part to help save costs and time.
Laser cutters have no contact with the adhesive – accuracy and speed aren’t impacted over time. This makes them particularly well suited for the task.
Laser cutting allows us to be nimble. If you have a design change, it’s as easy as updating a CAD file – there’s no need to rebuild a tool. With no tooling lead times, and the low cost of generating laser programs, our engineering department can help quickly turn a number of prototype variations to help get your project to production.
Couple that with the other advantages of laser cutting, including their precision and ability to create unusual custom shapes, and it’s easy to understand why we recommend laser cutting VHB for prototyping and production to scale.
Call General Label for custom VHB cutting
Our VHB cutting services can be used in parts for any industry: Aerospace, medical, consumer electronics, and much more.Visit our website at https://www.general-label.com to learn more about our services, and contact us so we can work with you on developing parts for your next project.