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The future for solvent-based PSAs

Posted 02/14/2019 by Melanie Lack, Business Manager, Tapes & Labels

The growing use of industrial tape as a clean, fast and accurate bonding solution is driving significant growth in pressure sensitive adhesives (PSA)[1]. Worldwide, demand for PSA is growing at 5.45% a year, and 65%[2] of this demand is for tape solutions, bonding everything from our smartphones to the materials used in today's lighter-weight cars.

Growing demand for water-based PSA

Increasingly, water-based PSA technology is taking a bigger share of this market, accounting for 37% of global demand compared to 31% for solvent-based adhesive.[3] Given the health and environmental concerns around the use of solvents, this is perhaps not surprising.

The prospects for solvent-based PSA

So, do solvent-based PSAs still have a future in the tapes market? My answer is a resounding, “yes,” particularly for high-performance applications, such as road signs or exterior automotive tapes.  When you are looking at applications that don't need to resist temperature fluctuations or chemicals, water-based PSA can be a good choice. But in many scenarios, solvent-based PSAs are the only solution that will give you the high-performance characteristics you need.

The best choice for high-performance applications

Road signs, for example, are typically made out of reflective films, which are coated with a PSA and then bonded onto aluminium plates. They need to be able to withstand all weather conditions and also be resistant to UV from sunlight. Solvent-based adhesives are the only solution with the performance that meets these requirements. Water-based adhesives certainly have a valuable role to play, but they cannot currently compete with the high-performance characteristics of solvent-based PSAs.

High performance makes the difference

We offer a range of solvent-based, pressure sensitive adhesives to meet the need for high-performance applications. They are widely used in the PVC backing on tapes and for PVC graphics on buses and shop windows, for example. For applications such as these, a high-performance, solvent-based adhesive with high molecular weight and good resistance to the chemical plasticisers is required, combined with the high shear performance to ensure the PSA product maintains performance overtime. We also offer adhesives with high shear and chemical resistance, which further enhance performance of industrial tapes.

Addressing concerns about solvent-based PSAs

As you would expect from a leading adhesive expert, we are working hard to address concerns about solvent-based adhesives. For example, our range already includes adhesives with high solid content, as well as Toluene-free adhesives. But, we are not going to stop there. Innovators at our global R&D facilities are continually exploring new possibilities, investigating technology that will address concerns about solvent-based adhesives even more strongly. At the same time, our experts are developing new water-based adhesives for multiple applications. It all adds up to solutions that meet tape manufacturers’ needs today and will help them stand out tomorrow in this competitive and fast-growing market.

Connect with our extensive adhesive expertise

When you choose H.B. Fuller as your adhesive partner, you know you will find solutions, coupled with technical expertise, that meet your needs across all types of tapes. You also know you will benefit from the security of our global supply assurance. For expert advice on your industrial tape applications, visit us at ICE Europe 2019, hall 5, stand 1650.

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