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Why Adhesive Products Work and Stock PSAs Fail

Pressure sensitive adhesives (PSAs) serve a variety of purposes in manufacturing; acting as seals on containers, affixing instructions, brand names and signs—all with a seemingly simple application process that doesn’t involve additional fasteners. Behind that simple façade however, lies a complex blend of physics and chemistry when custom adhesive products are developed for a specific application or manufacturing scenario.  

Stock pressure sensitive adhesives can serve basic purposes and applications. However, failed products or adhesives can prove costly to fix or replace.  Poorly developed PSAs can in some cases, lead to a complete product recall.  Here are seven of the more common reasons why stock pressure sensitive adhesive labels fail.  

1. Wrong Initial Selection 

One of the most prevalent reasons for a failed PSA is choosing the wrong adhesive product. A customer might be tempted to choose a stock pressure sensitive adhesive on the recommendation of a salesperson with a catalog of hundreds of premade options. But often those suppliers simply cannot supply the depth of technical expertise the client might require. Think of a trip to a big box hardware store where store associates must try to sell and advise customers about thousands of SKUs. Their advice might simply consist of reading instructions on the back of the can.   

2. Scope of Product Application 

Complaints of non-conformance or adhesive failure can happen to customers both large and small when the scope of use for their product expands or is more diverse than realized. One example might be a product made for the scrapbooking market. A product designed for this market isn’t restricted to use on paper, but might see use on wood, metal, glass or plastics.  The proper market research can be invaluable to discover the varied end uses for the intended product in order to determine the best custom adhesive for the pressure sensitive product.  

3. Proliferation Failure 

This often occurs when a client purchases a product and it works so well on the primary application, they start to use it everywhere. This is a proliferation failure or misapplication. An adhesive solution that is successful on one surface will not necessarily work on another or within a new environment.  

4. The Custom 30 

Stock pressure sensitive adhesives will solve 70% of the problems or situations a customer might encounter. Stock pressure sensitive adhesives are designed for a broad spectrum of performance properties but not formulated for any one particular substrate or environment. The remaining 30% of applications are specialized situations that require custom adhesive products engineered for that specific use.  

5. The Wrong Balance 

Adhesives can be like a seesaw; when increasing one property, the property on the opposite end of the spectrum will decrease. The stickier an adhesive, the more it is prone to oozing. When making the adhesive harder so it won’t ooze out the sides, it might not be sticky enough.  

Custom adhesive products can deliver the right balance that also fits the price point. Ameri-Cal understands the importance of creating a high-performance adhesive for a fair price. Custom is rarely the cheapest, but can be the most valuable to a customer. Our team provides the right pressure sensitive adhesive solution to last the lifespan of the product or its intended use.  

6. Surface Preparation 

Preparing the intended product surface by dusting or cleaning is critical to a successful PSA. Any layer of dirt, grime or other loose surface coating or contaminant will stick to the adhesive, either lessening its sticking power or causing it to fail entirely.  This is particularly important in an industrial setting where any number or type of particulates might be airborne and settle on the surface area of the object that requires a pressure sensitive adhesive.  

7. Application technique 

Temperature, surface shape and roughness can affect the quality of the bond of an adhesive. For example, in a cold environment, certain pressure sensitive adhesives will get stiff if too cold and lose tackiness. Adding energy to the system in some form, either through added pressure or heat will increase the surface area contact of the adhesive.  

A tool we sometimes recommend is a burnish brush. Working the area in small circles can double the surface area contact of the adhesive.  

Knowing how and why the stock pressure sensitive adhesive failed and how to prevent future failure can help save your business time and money. We can walk you through your application scenario to pinpoint the right custom adhesive products to fix your problems and fit your environment. Let’s talk about your next project: 330-725-7735.  

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