In the world of automotive manufacturing, reliability and durability are paramount. To ensure the longevity and safety of vehicles, automakers rely on extensive testing protocols specific to a product’s function and life-cycle in a vehicle. Based on these specific criteria, the Automakers and Federal bodies create detailed specifications that call out the requirements of materials used in a particular application – thus creating a bespoke ‘Automotive Specification’.
A highly utilized, and therefore heavily specified, material group within automotive manufacture is Pressure Sensitive Adhesives (PSAs), and tapes made from these PSAs . These versatile adhesive products play a crucial role in assembly, insulation, and reducing noise, vibration and harshness (NVH). In this blog, we will delve into applications of PSAs in the automotive industry and the use of specifications to ensure their suitability for use.
What Are PSAs and PSA Tapes?
Pressure-sensitive adhesives (PSAs) are a type of adhesive that form an instant bond with a substrate when light pressure is applied – think high tech versions of the office tape, or double sided foam pads you use to stick and bond around the house! Unlike other adhesives that require heat, water, or chemical activation, PSAs remain tacky at room temperature and adhere to surfaces upon contact. They are typically in a semi-solid or viscous state and do not require any curing process to achieve their bonding capabilities.
The composition of PSAs, and design of PSA tapes, can vary depending on the specific application and performance required. They are often made from synthetic rubbers, acrylics, or silicone-based materials. Different formulations can provide varying levels of adhesion strength, temperature resistance, flame retardancy, electrical insulation (or dissipation), and many other properties.
Pressure-sensitive adhesives (PSAs) play a vital role in the automotive industry, offering various advantages in a wide variety of applications.
Applications of PSAs in the Automotive Industry:
The uses of PSAs and PSA tapes in automotive and other transport industries are many and varied. The performance and manufacturing advantages of adhesive tapes make them a go to choice for designers and engineers.
- Interior trim bonding: PSAs are widely used to attach interior components such as panels, trims, and fabrics to various surfaces within the vehicle. They provide a clean and efficient alternative to traditional mechanical fasteners or liquid adhesives.
- Emblem and nameplate attachment: Automotive emblems and nameplates are often secured to the vehicle’s body or interior using pressure-sensitive adhesives. These adhesives ensure a clean, precise, and non-invasive bonding process.
- Noise and vibration dampening: PSAs with specific properties are utilized in automotive applications to reduce noise and vibration. They are applied to various parts, including door panels, dashboards, and insulation materials.
- Gasketing and sealing: Pressure-sensitive adhesives can be used to create reliable gaskets and seals for automotive components. They help prevent leaks and provide a secure bond for components like lights, lenses, and body seals.
- Wiring harness attachment: PSAs are employed to wrap and secure wiring harnesses, ensuring they are protected, insulated, and held neatly and securely within the vehicle’s interior or engine compartment.
- Surface protection films: Pressure-sensitive adhesives are used in protective films applied to various automotive surfaces, such as body panels, headlights, and mirrors, during transportation and assembly to prevent scratches and damage.
Most major car producers (Original Equipment Manufacturers – OEMs) have their own set of standards that cover specific material uses and can be called out across multiple products or platforms. This catalog of specifications gives engineers and designers a framework for choosing suitable products to use in each vehicle and provides material suppliers with the standards they must meet in order to be ‘specified’ in a build.
The specifications are designed to cover all aspects of performance, aging and environmental for a specific use and cover aspects such as peel adhesion, bond strength, temperature cycling, fluid resistance, weathering, flame retardancy, etc.
Adhesive Applications provides products that meet the requirements of many Auto standards and is listed on multiple OEM specifications as an approved supplier/product. For example:
Fiat-Chrysler: MS-CC-240 & PF-10773
General Motors: GMW14124
As well as OEM specifications and standards engineers will refer to broader industry standards, and many Automotive specifications will include these as part of their testing protocols. E.g. UL, FMVSS, ASTM, etc.
Adhesive Applications provides products that meet the requirements of many national standards. The UL746C umbrella UL certification is an example of one of the standards a variety of our products have been tested to and meet.
Pressure-sensitive adhesives and tapes play a vital role in the automotive industry, offering versatility, reliability, and performance in various applications. Each OEM has its own set of specifications that call out specific needs and reflect the manufacturer’s commitment to performance, safety, innovation, and efficiency. By collaborating with adhesive tape suppliers and adhering to stringent standards, these automotive leaders ensure the use of high-quality PSAs and tapes that enhance vehicle durability, passenger comfort, and overall driving experience in their respective vehicle lineups. As automotive technology continues to evolve, PSAs will remain integral to the future of automotive manufacturing.