Adhesive Applications

An Overview of Low VOC Tape and Its Applications

Are you someone who enjoys that new car smell?  Ever wonder why your windshield fogs up so quickly with ‘greasy, misty stuff’?  Welcome to a world filled with VOCs!  That smell, and that ‘fog’ are largely caused by VOCs from the materials used in the vehicle.  VOCs are all around us, some synthetic, some natural, some benign, some undesirable (no one loves a foggy windshield!) or even potentially harmful.  In this article we discuss what VOCs are, where they come from, why we may want to limit them, and how specialty tape manufacturers like Adhesive Applications are helping to solve some of these issues.

What are VOCs and Why are We Interested in Them
VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) are defined by the EPA as:

‘…organic chemical compounds whose composition makes it possible for them to evaporate under normal indoor atmospheric conditions of temperature and pressure..’

In simple terms they are (carbon based) chemicals that can ‘volatilize’ (evaporate) out of the material they are in and enter the atmosphere under normal use. VOCs are not exclusively a man-made phenomenon, they also occur in nature (methane from animal waste, formaldehyde from the earth, etc.) but studies show that they have become more and more common in our world as the use of plastics, rubbers, adhesives and other engineered materials has increased.

Clearly VOCs can have significant environmental impact, and also present practical issues in certain applications.  We have already mentioned the ‘fogging’ in cars caused by VOCs from plastics and other materials in the interior, and this is just one of many real world examples – e.g. unpleasant odor from new paint, failure of electronics due to outgassing, etc, etc.  Responsible manufacturers like Adhesive Applications look to reduce or eliminate VOCs from their processes and final products. This helps not only the environment, but also specific applications where the VOCs are undesirable, such as Automotive, Electronic, and Medical to name only a few.

Low VOC Products
‘Low VOC products’ can have at least two meanings in terms of commercial tape manufacturing; 

1) Reduced VOCs / emissions produced during the manufacturing process; 

2) Reduced VOC in the final product – often referred to as low VOC, low outgassing, low odor, or low or anti- fogging.

This is especially true in adhesive tape manufacturing where solvents and polymers that can produce VOCs are commonly used. At Adhesive Applications we are focusing on both processes and products that meet these two criteria. In this article we are focused more on the final product (low VOC / low outgassing / anti-fogging tapes).  To learn more on our investment in low VOC / green coating see our previous blog:


Benefits of Low VOC Tape

As previously discussed low VOC tapes means that there are little to no volatile components in the tape as it is used in the end application, this can have many benefits in various markets and applications, such as:

  • Low odor

  • No / low fogging for automotive and other enclosed space uses

  • Non-corroding and non-interfering for electronic and other sensitive applications

  • Better biocompatibility for medical and pharma

  • Non-eluting for microfluidics

  • etc.

Applications Of Low VOC Tape

It is clear that the uses for low VOC tapes are broad, varied and spanning many markets.  Some major examples of where low VOC are beneficial include:

  • Bonding and noise and vibration (NVH) tapes in vehicles

  • Masking and bonding tapes for electronic components and devices

  • Low eluting, low cytotoxicity, biocompatible adhesives for wound care and medical device

  • Lidding material for titer plates

  • Bonding and sealing layers in microfluidic assemblies

  • etc.



In conclusion, low-VOC adhesives offer many benefits when compared to traditional adhesive tapes including lower environmental impact, low fogging, low outgassing, low odor, improved biocompatibility, and many, many more. As a result of these benefits, low-VOC adhesives have become increasingly popular among engineers, researchers, product developers, scientists and purchasers across numerous industries ranging from transportation, electronics, medical, pharma and beyond. Ultimately these adhesives make life easier for everyone involved while still achieving desired performance results with reduced environmental impact!