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Adhesives & Tapes

Other than nuts and bolts, adhesives and tapes are the perfect way to pull a sign together and make it stick. Genevieve Lewis goes in search of the latest products on the market

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Finding the best solution for sign-making

Hold it together

It is no secret that a sign must have longevity – unless it is temporary of course – so the product that the sign-maker turns to must be up to the job.

However, it is not just the traditional nuts, bolts and screws that can be used to secure and build a sign. There is also a whole world of adhesive solutions and tapes that are just as strong and reliable.

O Factoid: The earliest human use of adhesive-like substances was approximately 200,000 years ago O


It is also important that signage is securely fastened – instances where signs have collapsed have previously resulted in injuring members of the public, a worst-case scenario. Though, you probably already knew this, right?

Well, to put a more positive spin on things, there are a plethora of products that can help not only to put together a sign securely, but to also provide the best possible finish. Sometimes, to provide a seamless look, adhesives and tapes could be the top solution.

Stick to it

There are numerous companies that are active in this area, including Eurobond and INDASOL, as well as Automatic Letter Bender (ALB).

Despite its name, Automatic Letter Bender can offer both adhesive and tape products to its customers, while also using the range itself.

 “We offer everything that is needed to proceed with the whole bonding process,” explains Karolina Mieszko, UK sales manager. She continues: “Starting with isopropanol degreaser for cleaning and degreasing the surface before [applying the] adhesive. For connection between two plastic components, we offer contact adhesives for various materials such as rubber, plastic, metal and MDF board. It can [also] be used for pre-adhesive for plastic-aluminium connections.”

Mieszko continues: “Using it with activator can accelerate bonding and immediately harden the contact glue. The strongest adhesive solution in our offering is methacrylic, bicomponent adhesives with mixing proportions of ten to one.

“It sticks materials such as metal, plastics (except polypropylene and polyethylene), composites, epoxies and laminates. It’s so strong that galvanized metals do not need surface preparation at all. It can resist up to 250° C if the period of time is short, so glued elements can be painted by powder coating and other coatings can withstand high temperatures.”

A UHB bond prior to powder coating


She adds: “Transparent two-component adhesive is recommended for letters up to 60cm in height while white two-component adhesive is recommended for letters bigger than 60cm.”

Mieszko says that these products are perfect for outdoor and indoor 3D signage, which are made of a combination of metals and plastics, with or without LED backlighting.

Another company ever-present in this area of the industry is Eurobond, which offers the Penloc range. This product will bond most metals, composites such as Dibond, plastics, wood, glass, ceramics and GRP. “It’s ideal for bonding sign channels to faces, bonding locators or Bighead fasteners, making sign trays, monoliths, built-up letters or general metal and plastic fabrication,” explains Simon Dearing, managing director of Eurobond. Penloc comes in a number of grades for different applications.

The Penloc range from Eurobond
  

Eurobond also offers UV curing adhesives, which are ideal for bonding acrylic, polycarbonate, metal and glass combinations where an invisible, transparent bond line is needed. These products can be used to fabricate clear or coloured acrylic letters, fabricating display cases, leaflet holder and point-of-sale products. Dearing explains: “Eurobond’s UV range of adhesives offer ‘cure on demand’ capabilities and gives control back to the fabricator. If you make a mistake you can simply pull the workpiece apart in the early curing stage, peel off the adhesive and start again. No waste acrylic or spoilt workpieces that you may get using a solvent weld adhesive such as Tensol.

Eurobond’s UV range of adhesives offer ‘cure on demand’ capabilities and gives control back to the fabricator


Eurobond’s UV adhesives will give optically clear bond lines with no crazing, stress cracks or air bubbles and offer sign-making/fabricating businesses an additional revenue stream and great versatility in their product offerings.”

The INDASOL Group also offers tapes and adhesives to the sign-making market. Some of its products include structural adhesives for locator bonding – which also includes the new 930-LX low read through for use on ACM, BCP, Dibond etc. Further products consist of crystal-clear adhesives for glass and plastic bonding, plastic welding adhesives, sign-mounting and fixing adhesives and contact adhesives for large area lamination and fixing. “As a long-standing supplier of technical bonding solutions to the sign industry, The INDASOL Group offers a complete range of sign-maker’s tapes and adhesives covering all sign-making applications and materials used,” says Martin Saddler, managing director of INDASOL.

He continues: “Typical examples of our products in use are bonding channels to the back of road signs in place of rivets and welds. The bond strengths of UHB is quite amazing and provides a fast and effective method of achieving a structural fix without using something like a rivet that damages the front face of the sign.

“The same product family can also be used for many other sign-making tasks, such as bonding acrylic into a fret cut lightbox, fixing signs to the interior or exterior of building walls, windows or facades and anywhere else a quick and clean structural bond is needed. There are also UHB products in our range that can pass through powder coating, so again offering fast and flawless bonds in place of mechanical fixings.”

Trusty tape

As Dearing says, sometimes a different approach is necessary. He explains: “Sometimes, a liquid adhesive will not be suitable for a particular project and a better alternative adhesive would be to bond two materials together using one of Eurobond’s structural acrylic tapes. Simply put, these are very high strength pressure sensitive adhesive tapes presented on a 33m roll.”

Some of the advantages of using a tape include an instant adhesion resulting in faster production speeds, an even bond line thickness and width, improved cost control of the amount of adhesive used, and it is easy to use.

“Our range of high strength tapes are suitable for bonding many different metals, plastics, composite materials, wood, glass, carbon fibre and many other materials in any combination,” says Dearing, adding: “Typical applications include bonding flat cut letters to sign trays, shop fronts or glass frontages; it can be used to bond stiffener bars or sign channel to the back of sign faces, bond acrylic or polycarbonate back plates to fret cut signs and much more.”

An example of where using a tape or an adhesive can help


ALB’s Mieszko explains that there are a “wide range of tapes for three-dimensional signs” available “from very basic stainless-steel flat tape of brushed and mirror stainless-steel, to aluminium flat tape”.

Mieszko continues: “Commonly known as FLT, tape allows [sign-makers] to bend letters that look unique and elegant – at a relatively low purchase price. The FLT tape is very easy to bend, you can turn them both on machines from Automatic Letter Bender, as well as manually.”

There is also advance double folded aluminium tape with a band that has a double fold and results in elegant letters, as it is so easy to assemble. DFT band is not expensive and is easy to mount. “For the best resistance to external conditions and providing a very attractive appearance, we recommend using flat strip of brushed and mirror stainless steel,” explains Mieszko. “Then we have aluminium triangular profile called TGP (Trigonal Profile). This profile is very resistant to mechanical damage. It has the thickness of 0.9mm, so it’s the thickest tape we offer.”

Concluding, Mieszko explains that purchasing can tapes in 50m rolls can reduce material losses and bring down costs, and that it is important for customers to know which tapes and protection foils are needed – of which ALB are happy to help you find out.

INDASOL’s range of tapes include UHB tapes for channel fixing and other structural bonding; banner hemming and banner stiffening tapes; double-sided laminating and mounting tapes; double-sided foam tapes for mounting and fixing and crystal-clear tapes for glass and plastic bonding.

The range of adhesives and tapes from The INDASOL Group


Sadler says that a popular use of its INDASOL tapes is in the manufacture of banners. “We have both banner hemming and stiffening/edging tapes,” he explains. “The beauty of the stiffening/edging products is that if you do not wish to fold the banner back to create the hem, simply apply the single-sided stiffening/edging tape and voila, you have a hemmed banner ready for eyeleting.”

He continues: “After having spent hours designing a great looking sign or display, it seems such a shame to put a screw or rivet through the face. That’s where tapes and adhesives come in. Whether building the sign up, mounting to a wall or laminating together, tapes and adhesives provide a fast and effective solution to most applications.”

Sadler’s comments are a suitable way to end this feature, as tapes and adhesives can provide a strong and stunning finish, without potentially ruining hours or days of hard work.


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