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Adhesives

There are numerous ways to put a sign together – some more simple than others. Genevieve Lewis explores the latest options and ranges available in the adhesives market

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Adhesives can be used in place of mechanical fixings

Let’s stick together

Adhesives can be a great alternative for sign-makers when it comes to manufacturing signage and working on products. And although it sounds like an area that cannot evolve as much as, say printing technology, there are actually some really interesting adhesive products that you might not necessarily know about.

Simon Dearing, managing director of Eurobond Adhesives

One such product is a UV light curing adhesive. Eurobond Adhesives offers this product and Simon Dearing, managing director of the firm, explains how the process works: “For over three decades, Eurobond Adhesives have been at the forefront of adhesive technology leading the way in many fields. One area in particular, is UV light curing adhesives.

Just some of Eurobond’s Penloc range of adhesive products

“This specialist range of adhesives will remain completely liquid when applied to a substrate until it is exposed to a high intensity and controlled UV light source. The resultant bond lines are optically clear, very strong, bubble free and the adhesives do not cause crazing or shatter lines on materials such as acrylic or polycarbonate.”

Eurobond’s ranges include the Penloc series which are structural adhesives, and the UV-curing products that Dearing mentions come in the form of the Vitralit range. These can be used on different types of plastics and glass. 


UV adhesives offer designers and fabricators a whole new revenue stream by producing very high-quality signs

But what are the benefits of using this type of adhesive? Dearing continues: “UV adhesives are an ideal replacement for solvent weld adhesives such as Tensol or DCM. They are designed to bond acrylic, glass, metals, polycarbonate and other materials. As long as one substrate is clear and allows UV light to penetrate through to the bond line, then the adhesive will cure in just a few seconds. UV adhesives offer designers and fabricators a whole new revenue stream by producing very high-quality signs, display cases, trophies, awards and decorative artwork etc.”

Adhesives are perfect for when a more seamless finish is needed, for example within built-up letters
 

Adhesives are particularly important to research before choosing which one you are going to use to craft your final product. Depending on which substrate you have chosen to work with, there will be a different type of adhesive used to bring all of the pieces together. There are also a number of other elements that need to be taken into consideration when building a sign, including the temperatures and environment it will face. The adhesive has to contain a specific chemical make-up to withstand certain temperatures as substrates change and warp depending on the conditions.

Adhesives can be used on a wide range of products including plastic, metal, glass and wood

The glue needs to move with the sign in order to keep up with the expansion of the sign. Various substrates, such as plastic, wood or metal have different thermal coefficient expansion rates and will require a different adhesive to withstand its environment. Dearing comments: “There are lots of ‘me too’ adhesive suppliers that do not fully understand the adhesive chemistries that they sell. So, it is vitally important for sign-making businesses to have confidence in their supplier’s technical product knowledge, in depth customer support, industry experience and understanding of adhesive formulations, their benefits and performance limitations.” 


O Factoid: An adhesive is a substance that sticks to the surface of an object such that two surfaces become bonded. O


Dearing also makes a note of how important surface preparation is, as well as understanding the performance limitations of particular adhesives, which will aid structural integrity and longevity. He continues: “Our technical sales team work with our customers to evaluate their product design before we then recommend and demonstrate the most suitable adhesive product. We train our customers in the performance benefits and the limitations of the adhesive, the safe use and storage of the product and how to improve production processes by utilising the adhesive in the most efficient and effective way. It is so important for sign-makers to involve their adhesives suppliers in their manufacturing process and to use their skills and knowledge to help produce the best possible products.”

Indasol is another company that offers adhesive solutions, ranging from long-term bonds to removable low-tack for shorter periods of time. These can also work with a range of substrates for different environments – something that is obviously very important as Eurobond’s Dearing explained previously.

There is Tensol 12, which is a clear acrylic adhesive that is suitable for internal plastic bonding and its dichloromethane-free alternative Indasol 2100. Then there is Tensol 70 which is the structural version of
the 12 and is for external use. Indasol 3600 is the dichloromethane-free version of the 70.

Indasol also offers a range of adhesive solutions

There are others like cyanoacrylate, a fast bond to a number of surfaces including PVC, wood, metal and plastics, as well as threadlockers for the sealing and locking of fasteners. There are so many options for sign-makers when it comes to the latest adhesive products. Indasol also offers a number of structural adhesives including Indasol 800 which is a totally clear adhesive perfect for built-up letters as it does not create a shadow, through to Indasol 2020 for near-seamless finishes.

So, with just a brief look into some of the adhesives available from both Indasol and Eurobond, what sort of applications can benefit from using an adhesive? The latter’s Dearing explains: “Typically, customers want to see aesthetically pleasing designs with clean lines. Liquid adhesives and adhesive tapes will often replace mechanical fixings such as welding, soldering, riveting or screws and clips etc.

“Adhesives and adhesive tapes are used in simple applications such as: bonding sign rail/channel to the back of Dibond sign faces, bonding locators onto flat cut letters, bonding backgrounds to fret cut sign trays, or bonding stiffener bars and brackets to sign trays or light boxes, magnetic tapes to flexible PVC signs. They are often used in more complex applications such as making an acrylic decorative artwork centrepiece like a three-dimensional company or product logo, fabricating three-dimensional acrylic letters, fabricating acrylic display cases or point-of-sale pieces and so much more.”

Adhesives, from structural adhesives through to UV-curing, water-based and adhesive tapes can be used to create a number of finished pieces, including more artful designs

As previously covered, there are also adhesive tapes available and other products such as water-based and spirit-based adhesives, which can bond immediately or take a couple of hours to fully seal the product. Depending on the task at hand, the type of adhesive used could be crucial to the final piece. Dearing says: “Eurobond’s range of UV adhesives are simple to use, they cure on demand and if you are not satisfied with the initial tack bond, perhaps the alignment needs changing, then the fabricator can simply snap apart pieces, clean off the adhesive and start again. By contrast the use of solvent adhesives such as Tensol and DCM can lead to costly waste acrylic or damaged substrates if the adhesive has been poorly applied or incorrectly positioned."

There are also spray adhesives available, but this is just another term for a liquid adhesive that is dispensed from an aerosol can as opposed to a more traditional tube. As mentioned, adhesive tapes are also an option for the sign-maker with manufacturer 3M involving a wide spectrum of sizes in the tape department. The list could go on, but rest assured there are many new and innovative products available on the market for whatever project that may be thrown your way.


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