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Pressure-Sensitive Adhesives
T. M. Goulding
Consultant, Johannesburg, South Africa

I. INTRODUCTION Pressure-sensitive or permanent-tack adhesives are, as their name implies, adhesives that remain sticky even when dried or cured. This means that they are capable of bonding to surfaces simply by the application of light pressure. This makes them arguably the most convenient products available today from the end users viewpoint and undoubtedly, accounts for the success they enjoy. Although gures are hard to come by, a survey by Business Trend Analysts quoted in the June 1990 issue of Adhesives Age shows that pressure-sensitive adhesives grew from 38% of total adhesive sales in the United States in 1980 to 44.6% in 1988, at an annual rate of 12%, to reach a sales value of $4.9 billion in 1989. Tack is a word used to describe various phenomena, including wet tack, which is the ability of an adhesive to form a bond while still wet; green tack, which is the ability of certain polymers, specically rubbers, to bond to themselves for several hours after drying, even though the surfaces do not feel sticky; and pressure-sensitive tack, which is the phenomenon of importance to this section. This relates to the ability of a dried lm to bond tenaciously to most surfaces under light pressure. As pressure is increased, the bond improves. The classic theory of tack is that it arises from the presence of a two-phase system in which an elastic continuous phase provides the strength while a disperse phase acts as a viscous liquid that wets and adheres to the surface. Although this appears to be the dominant mechanism in the older rubberresin systems, however, many modern systems do not rely on this apparently incompatible two-phase system. Acrylics, for example, can produce aggressive tack from a single component. Thus tack is also believed to stem from the viscoelasticity of many polymers, allowing them to conform to the substrate to be adhered and wet it even in the dry state. It follows that a fundamental requirement for tack is a glass transition temperature substantially below the application temperature to permit the necessary degree of ow. Pressure-sensitive adhesives fall into three broad product categories: water based, solvent based, and hot melt. Application areas tend to overlap, and all three types can be used in most of the application areas. Despite this overlap, tapes tend to be produced from solvent-based adhesives, while water-based adhesives are preferred for label stock. Hot melts are used in both applications. Pressure-sensitive tapes for a variety of uses, such as masking, packaging, and insulation, are the largest application area, followed
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by self-adhesive labels. Although these applications appear outwardly similar, in fact there are fundamental dierences. With tapes the adhesive lls the major role, ensuring adequate adhesion and requiring special properties, which may include high dielectric strength, heat resistance, or low toxicity. In labeling applications the major demands are on the backing, which needs the right lay-at or curl properties and ease of cutting and printing, with relatively few demands on the adhesive. For certain applications, the adhesive may have to retain exibility and tack at temperatures down to 20 C, or be easily removable. With tapes the adhesive is usually applied directly to the backing, while label adhesives are usually applied to the release paper and subsequently transferred to the backing. Other pressure-sensitive applications include self-adhesive oor tiles, adhesives for decor papers and ypapers, gloss lamination, disposable diapers and other personal hygiene products, and temporary assemblies.



Traditional pressure-sensitive adhesives were solutions of rubber and resin in solvent, and these dominated the market until well after World War II. From that time, as an increasing array of elastomers became available, as the price of solvents soared, and as environmental opposition to the use of solvents increased, water-based and hot-melt types made substantial inroads into the solvent-based market. This trend is likely to continue, although solvent-borne adhesives will probably always retain niches in areas where drying speed or ability to key into specic surfaces will outweigh environmental, handling, or price considerations.


Solvent-Based Adhesives

The three major components are an elastomer, which provides the elastic phase, the tackier, and the carrier. The earliest pressure-sensitive adhesives used natural rubber tackied with wood rosins, or later, zinc oxide. With the advent of synthetic rubbers and other polymers, formulators have a very much larger range of elastomers at their disposal, including butyl rubber, styrenebutadiene rubber (SBR), polyisoprene, and the more recent thermoplastic rubbers, which are block copolymers of styrene with butadiene or isoprene, as well as acrylic polymers. Silicone elastomers are available for specialty applications, especially for use at elevated temperatures. Vinyl ethers and polyisobutylene can be used as both elastomer and tackier, depending on the grade. Many of these types are not compatible, and where intermediate properties are required, they are generally achieved by blending homologs from the same or related families. Tackifying resins fall mainly into two classes: wood rosin derivatives and hydrocarbon resins. Gum rosin is no longer widely used, as heat or aging lead to loss of tack through oxidation. Stable derivatives are produced by hydrogenation or esterication, and these are used extensively as tackiers. Modern hydrocarbon resins are usually aliphatic, aromatic, or terpenes, although blends of these or certain specialty types may be suitable. There is no universal guide to selection, and a good deal of trial and error may be necessary to arrive at the ideal elastomertackier combination and proportions. In addition, these may dier from one application to another, depending on whether the end use has tack, peel, or shear as the dominant criterion.
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Hot-Melt Adhesives

The fundamentals of pressure-sensitive hot-melt adhesives are similar to those of solventbased systems. Most elastomers and tackiers are suitable, although ethylenevinyl acetate copolymers are also used and the conventional rubber types are not. Pressure-sensitive hot melts are dominated by thermoplastic rubbers, which are ideal for use in these applications. Their unique properties arise from their essentially two-phase structure, in which thermoplastic regions of styrene end blocks lock the elastomeric midsections of butadiene or isoprene at room temperature but allow the elastomer to move freely at elevated temperatures or in solvent. This gives the polymer properties that are akin to those of vulcanized rubbers at room temperature, while allowinig it to behave as a thermoplastic when heated or dissolved. This structure is illustrated in Fig. 1. Early pressure-sensitive hot-melt adhesives used ethylenevinyl acetate copolymers as elastomers, but they are seldom used now. Atactic polypropylene is sometimes used on its own or in admixtures. More recently, vinyl ethers and acrylic resins have become available and will probably play an increasingly important role as the technology is developed, especially on polar surfaces. The major dierences between solvent-based and hot-melt pressure-sensitive adhesives is that with hot melts the viscosity can no longer be controlled with solvents, and must, instead, be controlled either by temperature or by formulating. A further limitation is that waxes cannot, in general, be used for reducing viscosity as is the case with conventional hot melts, as waxes tend to reduce tack drastically. Hence the major inuence on viscosity in the formulation must come from the choice and quantity of tackier resin.

Figure 1

Structure of thermoplastic rubber.

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Table 1

Tg Values of Monomers in Common Use Tg ( C) 54 40 85 22 Hard monomers Methyl methacrylate Vinyl acetate Styrene Acrylonitrile Tg ( C) 105 29 100 100

Soft monomers Butyl acrylate Isobutyl acrylate 2-Ethyl hexyl acrylate Ethyl acrylate

Low-melting-point resins or even liquid resins may be used to keep application temperatures as low as practicable. Because pressure-sensitive hot melts will be applied typically at temperatures between 120 and 160 C, heat resistance is a critical factor. Double bonds accelerate oxidative degradation, leading to a loss of tack, while cleavage will usually result in increased tack, but a drop in viscosity. Use of antioxidants is essential, and trials should always be undertaken to ensure that enough of the right antioxidant has been incorporated to protect the hot melt adequately at the application temperature even if a machine stoppage leads to the molten adhesive being kept in a heated bath for much longer than usual. C. Water-Based Adhesives Various dispersions are available which even in unmodied form exhibit aggressive tack and good adhesion, especially to polar substrates. Produced by conventional emulsion polymerization techniques, the tack, peel, and shear properties of these dispersions can be varied within wide limits by the choice of monomers. A dispersion will usually consist of at least two monomers, one of high glass transition temperature (Tg) and the other with a low Tg value, and the ratio of the two will determine the nal properties of the lm. Table 1 lists the Tg values of monomers in common use. Cross-linkable monomers may be included to make the formulated adhesive curable by catalysis, heat, or radiation, thereby improving the performance of the lm, especially at higher temperatures. Since the dispersion has both toughness and tack built in, no further compounding is necessary, making pressure-sensitive acrylic dispersions the easiest products to work with. In most applications, however, the formulator will prefer to modify the properties to order, and use of tackifying resins added either in solution or as a dispersion is common. Vinyl ethers can again be used either as sole binders or as tackiers to modify the properties of the base dispersion. Water-based systems have good aging characteristics, resisting the eects of heat, ultraviolet (UV) light, and oxidation. Thus use of antioxidants is not normally necessary. Table 2 lists the major advantages and disadvantages of the various types of pressuresensitive adhesives.



As mentioned earlier, the critical characteristic is the correct tackier and components ratio. Although no rules exist for tackier selection, there are certain shortcuts, based on chemical compatibility and melt point. Certain classes of tackiers work well with specic types of elastomers. For example, aliphatic hydrocarbons generally work better with
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Table 2

Advantages and Disadvantages of Pressure-Sensitive Adhesives Water based Advantages Hot melt

Solvent based

Quick drying Good adhesion to nonpolar substrates Good key on certain plastics Versatile

Easy cleaning Good adhesion to polar substrates Good heat and aging resistance Environmentally acceptable High solids Ready to use Disadvantages Slow drying Requires heat to dry Poor on nonpolar surfaces

Very fast setting No solvent waste Environmentally acceptable 100% active

Flammability Toxicity Relatively low solids Less easy to clean

High equipment cost Requires heat Thermal degradation Dicult to clean Can melt substrate Dicult to package

natural rubbers, and, aromatic types are preferred for SBR. With block copolymers, aliphatic resins of low melt point improve tack and low-temperature exibility, while high-melting aromatic resins in small quantities stien the product, giving improved heat and shock resistance. Rosin derivatives and terpene resins oer good performance with most elastomers, generally at higher cost. In general, resins with solubility parameters close to those of the elastomer selected are most likely to oer good performance. Tackiers with melt points substantially above the Tg value of the elastomer can be expected to improve the strength of the adhesive at elevated temperatures but reduce the tack, while low-melting resins will impact greater tack and low-temperature exibility at the expense of creep resistance and shear strength. The tackier is responsible primarily for the balance of tack, peel, and shear properties in the nished adhesive. Usually, some of these properties must be traded o to optimize one property. For any given system, increasing tack is generally related to decreasing peel and shear strengths, and similarly, any modication intended to improve shear strength is likely to be at the expense of tack. High peel and shear strengths both require high cohesive strength within the lm, but peel strength is dependent on adhesion to a much greater extent than is shear. Thus most formulations are compromises which will favor the property that is most critical in the application intended. Figure 2 illustrates typical dependence of tack, peel, and shear performance in a given system as the resin/elastomer ratio is increased. The maxima occur at dierent tackier percentages. Silicon elastomers for pressure-sensitive adhesives are invariably used in conjunction with silicon gums as tackiers. Table 3 displays the uses of various elastomers, and Table 4 contains information on tackiers and plasticizers. Solvents are selected primarily on the basis of solubility parameters and evaporation rate. Where mixed solvent systems are used to achieve the desired balance at the best cost, the selection should be such that the slowest solvent remains an eective solvent for the system on its own. In addition, consideration should be given to the eect of the solvent on the substrate: too strong a solvent could degrade the substrate, but the right choice can assist in keying the adhesive to the surface.
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Figure 2

Dependence of tack, peel, and shear on resin/elastomer ratio.

Table 3 Elastomer

Elastomers in Common Use Used in Solvent-based and water-based glues Solvent-based glues Solvent-based and water-based glues Solvent-based and hot-melt glues Solvent-based and hot-melt glues Solvent-based and hot-melt glues Solvent-based and water-based glues Solvent-based and water-based glues Hot-melt glues Hot-melt glues Solvent-based glues

Rubbers Natural rubber Butyl rubber Styrenebutadiene rubber Block copolymers Styrenebutadienestyrene Styreneisoprenestyrene Other polymers Polybutene Poly(vinyl ether) Acrylic Ethylenevinyl acetate Atactic polypropylene Silicon

The use of plasticizers is relatively uncommon in solvent-based pressure-sensitive adhesives, especially for use on tapes. Where plasticizers are included, their compatibility with the substrate should be considered, to ensure that plasticizer migration will not lead to transfer of the adhesive. Where plasticizing of block copolymers is intended, plasticizers should be selected that are compatible with the diene midblocks rather than with the polystyrene domains. Additives used should include stabilizers or antioxidants, especially in products containing ethylenic unsaturation. Thickeners or thixotropes may be used to modify rheology. Fillers may be used in certain applications, in which case pigment-dispersing aids may be included to reduce settlement. Silane coupling agents may be used to improve adhesion to specic substrates. UV absorbers may be added to improve exterior durability, and pigments or dyes may be added to highlight the adhesive lm. Elastomers used in water-based systems include various rubber latices, especially natural rubber and SBR, and occasionally, polychloroprene. The bulk of the market in water-based adhesives is now held by acrylic dispersions. Although these are designed for use without modication, it is normal to formulate, especially by addition of tackiers. Commonly used tackifying resins include soft resins, or hard resins in solution, which may
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Table 4

Tackifying Resins and Plasticizers Melting point ( C) 5 100 100 94 80 100 103 85 100 25 100 70 84 105 65 96 Liquid 75 85 80 Liquid Supplier Hercules Hercules Nippon Zeon Hercules Nippon Zeon Hercules Hercules Neville Neville Hercules Arizona Hoechst Hercules Hercules Arizona Veitsiluoto Hoechst Hercules Arizona Veitsiluoto Shell

Type and name Aliphatic hydrocarbons Adtac LV Piccopale 100 Quintone A 100 Mixed hydrocarbons Hercotac 1148 Quintone N 180 Aromatic hydrocarbons Picco 6100 Piccodiene 2215 Necires RF 85 Nevchem NL 100 Terpenes Piccolyte S25 Zonarez B 115 Alresen PT 191 Rosin esters Staybelite Ester 10 Floral 105 Zonester 65 Oulupale XB 100 Alresat KE 300 Resin dispersions Dresinol 205 Aquatac 6085 Oulutac 80 D Plasticizers Shellex 451

often be emulsied directly into the dispersion, and aqueous resin dispersions, which may be prepared separately and added or may be purchased from resin suppliers. When using dispersions of tackifying resins, stability tests must be performed to ensure that there are no undesirable reactions between the emulsier systems used in the resin dispersion and the elastomer dispersion. Resin dispersions often produce lower shear than resin solutions, thus necessitating reduced levels which result in lower tack. Additives used in water-based systems will include defoamers and preservatives as well as UV absorbers if necessary. Antioxidants are normally included only if service conditions require them. Catalysts may be added to cross-linkable grades to improve performance at elevated temperature, or self-cross-linking grades may be selected. Small quantities of solvents may be included to improve adhesion or penetration. Fillers are not generally used, although in applications on vinyl or carpet oor tiles llers may be included at levels up to 30% to reduce the glue-line shrinkage and the price. Rheology modiers, including polyacrylates or inorganic thixotropes such as fumed silica, may be added. Table 5 shows are characteristics of some common dispersions.
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Table 5 Name

Polymer Dispersionsa Solid content (%) 60 69 55 60 50 59 58 Viscosity (cP) 1400 1200 1700 5000 100 2000 1500 Tg ( C) 55 40 N/Sb 65 55 70 N/Sb Application area General Permanent labels Tackier Flooring adhesives Permanent labels Deep-freeze labels Removable labels Supplier BASF BASF BASF Hoechst Harco Harco Bevaloid

Acronol 81D Arconal V205 Lutanol I 65D Mowiton DM758 Revacryl A390 Revacryl 622 Vantac 300
a b

Note that these are indicative values, not specications. N/S, not stated in data sheets.



The major application area for all pressure-sensitive adhesives is in tapes. Self-stick labels provide a second large area, while a range of miscellaneous applications make up the balance of pressure-sensitive adhesive use. A. Tapes

Tapes may be classied according to application areas, such as electrical, packaging, or medical, or in terms of the type of tape, usually dened by the backing, which may be paper, ber, lm, foil, or foam. Figures drawn from various tables produced by the Fredonia Group Inc. and published in Adhesives Age in June 1991 and the Frost and Sullivan Report, The USA Market for Pressure Sensitive Adhesives, in Adhesives Age in August 1991 showed that of a total U.S. pressure-sensitive adhesives market in 1989 of $4.9 billion, $2.6 billion was for sales of pressure-sensitive tapes. Table 6 illustrates the relative importance of the various backings and application areas. An apparently simple tape may comprise a number of elements, including a release coating, the backing, a primer, and the adhesive layer. The release coating ensures that the adhesive layer does not transfer partially or completely to the back of the tape from the coated side. With certain types of backing a release layer may not be necessary, and in some instances a separate release lm may be necessary. The release coating should allow the tape to unwind easily but not spontaneously. The need for priming also depends on the nature of the backing and may take the form of an applied coating or layer, a chemical treatment such as corona treatment, or a physical treatment such as exposure to heat. Priming may sometimes be necessary to inhibit movement of plasticizer from backing to adhesive layer, or vice versa, but the usual purpose of priming is to obtain adequate adhesion to the substrate. The earlier backings used were cloth, mainly for rst-aid dressing. Cloth backings allow the skin to breathe and oer good exibility and tensile strength while permitting easy tear. Generally, no priming or release coating is needed. Fabrics used include cotton, nylon, and polyester. Paper backing is the cheapest type of backing available. Saturated paper backings have better physical properties than unsaturated paper, particularly for tensile and tear strengths, water resistance and permeability, and generally do not require release backings, while unsaturated papers usually require some aid to release. Saturated papers are predominant for general-purpose creped masking tapes.
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Table 6 Backing

Pressure-Sensitive Tape Market Share (%) 60.3 23.1 11.9 1.0 3.7 Application area Packaging Hospital and rst aid Oce and graphic art Construction Automotive Other Share (%) 38 20 17 7.5 6.5 11

Plastic and lm Paper Cloth Rubber Other

Plastic lms comprise more than 60% of all tape backings. Originally based on cellophane, a wide range of plastics is now available for various applications. Polyester, unplasticized poly(vinyl chloride) (PVC), and biaxially oriented polypropylene (BOPP) are used for packaging tapes, while PVC is still preferred for electrically insulating tapes. Cellulose acetate is used for invisible tapes, and poly(tetrauoroethylene) (PTFE), particularly in conjunction with silicon-based pressure-sensitive adhesives, is used where resistance to elevated temperatures, chemical inertness, or low friction are the main requirements. Plastic lms are impermeable, thin, uniform, and smooth and are generally inert with good dielectric properties. Reinforced with glass bers or rayon embedded in the tape to distribute the load over greater areas, they are suitable for heavy-duty packaging applications. Other backings used include foams, typically PVC or polyurethane, rubber, and metal foils. Foams are used for sealing and gasketing or thermal or acoustic insulation. They work particularly well on uneven surfaces. Adhesive may be applied to both surfaces, allowing their use as assembly adhesives. A double-sided, release-coated interlayer is necessary for double-sided tapes. With foams, care must be taken to select an adhesive that does not cause the foam to collapse, either through solvent action or as a result of excessive heat. Rubber backings are used where exibility is a primary requirement, although they also oer excellent electrical insulation. Aluminum foils are used mainly in the construction industry, to act as a moisture seal, to reect heat or for insulation, or to oer a controlled leakage path for static electricity. Lead foils are occasionally used to screen harmful radiation. Pressure-sensitive adhesives may also be coated directly onto release paper in order to produce transfer tapes, in which, as the name implies, the adhesive lm will transfer from the release coating onto a substrate with which it is brought into contact. This permits exact placement of accurately controlled quantities of adhesive. Great care must be exercised in the choice of release paper to ensure successful application. Packaging tapes represent the largest end use. Packaging, which includes closing of cartons, sealing containers, bundling, and protection of surfaces is based primarily on paper or plastic lm backings, but other types may be used as well. Film-backed paper is replacing saturated paper for packaging applications, especially for masking and protection, while reinforced tapes are used for strapping large containers or bundling articles. Hospital tapes and rst-aid dressings still constitute an important area for pressuresensitive tapes. Because of their ability to breathe, cloth tapes are still widely used, but other backings are now making their appearance for special applications, including invisible dressings and rigid or elastic support tapes. Choice of ingredients for adhesives is controlled by the need to produce a system that will not irritate the skin or inhibit healing.
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In addition, it must not lose adhesion as a result of perspiration, but must permit easy and clean removal. Traditional adhesives were based on natural rubber and zinc oxide, but water-based acrylic systems now dominate. Oce and graphic art applications require a diversity of tapes and backings. Blockout tapes are often multilayer constructions incorporating colored lms. Printed lms are used for graphics displays, while clear protective sheets may be used to protect printed graphics against smudging or erasure. Dye-cut lettering is available. A variety of clear-lm backings is used for temporary xing tapes. Electrical tapes or insulating tapes require adhesives that will not corrode wiring, joints, or components. They should resist deterioration resulting from age and exposure to heat. Occasionally, chemical resistance may also be required. PVC is still the most widely used backing, but other lms, especially polyester, are increasing in use. Rubber- or elastomer-based adhesives are suitable for service up to 130 C, acrylics to 155 C, while silicones, preferably on PTFE, can be used up to 180 C. Other applications include thermal and acoustic insulation and tinted lms for glass in the construction industry, wood-grained or other decorative vinyls for the automotive and furniture industries, double-sided tapes for mounting or splicing, and foams for gaskets and seals in the appliance industry.



Peel-and-stick labels provide a quick and easy way to apply labels to almost any surface. Die cut and supplied on release papers, they can be printed in computers for addresses, while preprinted labels for an enormous range of applications, particularly dicult substrates such as polyolens or cold, moist containers make labeling a pleasure compared with traditional wet-applied systems such as dextrines or caseins. Pressure-sensitive label stock provides reliable bonding, is easy to use and virtually instantaneous, and oers a choice of properties, including permanence or easy removal, high-temperature resistance, or low-temperature exibility. Large or small labels can be easily stored and handled, and applied by hand, hand-held applicators, or semiautomatic or fully automatic industrial labelers. Labels are generally regarded as falling into three classes: permanent label stock, removable labels, and labels for use at low temperatures. In addition, specialty applications include delayed-action labels, high-temperature applications, and decals. Permanent label stock is the mainstay of the label market. Label stock is invariably paper, and the labels, which are usually preprinted, are supplied on a release paper backing, leading to their popular name, peel-and-stick labels. Adhesives for permanent stock have high shear strength, and attempts to remove them will usually damage the label. Applications range from price stickers and address labels to inventory labels, shipping labels, warning signs, and labels for bottles, buckets, or drums. By contrast, peelable or removable labels use adhesives with relatively low tack and shear strengths. On removal, no residue must remain on the surface from which the label was removed. Some removable labels use a water-soluble adhesive, permitting easy cleaning of the surface. These labels are used for temporary labeling or where they will frequently be replaced. Freezer labels use adhesives that have very good low-temperature exibility to allow labels to be applied and remain adhered at temperatures down to 20 C or lower. They are characterized by very low glass temperatures, typically in the range 60 to 80 C.
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Label adhesives are seldom solvent based. The majority are prepared using water-based adhesives, although hot melts are taking an increasing segment of this market. Important adhesive characteristics include the ability to be dye cut cleanly, low tendency to make the paper curl, coupled with ability to conform to the surface to which they are applied, very quick grab and good resistance to yellowing, and loss of tack with age. Acrylic dispersions, either with or without additional tackiers, are the most widely used adhesives. Production of label stock makes severe demands on the release paper. Since transfer coating is a common application method, the adhesive must wet the release paper adequately and yet transfer cleanly to the label when label and backing are united. The release paper must remove quickly and easily in use, but must remain rmly adhered during storage. Use of silicone releases is virtually universal, invariably requiring the use of wetting agents in the formulation to ensure that the adhesive wets the surface. There must be no transfer of the release coating to the adhesive surface, however, as this will destroy the tack of the adhesive. C. Other Applications The largest market outside tapes and labels is for adhesives for oor tiles. Peel-and-stick oor tiles are available from hardware stores for use by homeowners. These tiles usually have a hot-melt pressure-sensitive adhesive applied to the back so that laying to clean, prepared oors only needs the removal of a backing paper and pressing the tile into place. The adhesive layer in this application is substantially thicker than for tapes or labels, to ensure good contact over the entire area. Alternatively, vinyl ooring or carpets, either as tiles or in roll form, may be laid into water-based acrylic adhesives, although here the move is away from such adhesives in favor of more permanent adhesives typically based on vinyl acetateethylene copolymer dispersions. Acrylic dispersions are often used, however, usually in unmodied form, for application of vinyl tiles or sheeting over an existing impervious oor covering, where it is necessary to allow complete ash-o of the carrier prior to laying the new oor covering. Personal hygiene products such as disposable diapers make use of self-adhesive strips, covered with a release tape that is removed at the point of use. Again unmodied acrylic dispersions as well as hot melts dominate this application. The same considerations apply here as in rst-aid dressings, and in particular the adhesive must not cause skin irritation. Gloss lamination, the application of thin lms of polyester or polyolen over printed paper to enhance gloss and protect the print, is an additional application area. Traditionally, this has been the preserve of solvent-based adhesives, which oer rapid drying, thus allowing high machine speeds, but water-based systems are increasing in popularity as the ability to formulate at very high solids reduces the drying time to acceptable limits.

V. COATING METHODS Most of the popular coating methods are suitable for pressure-sensitive adhesives. Solventbased adhesives are usually applied by roller coaters or occasionally by spray applicators. Water-based adhesives also use roller coaters predominantly, with nozzle feed machines the exception. Hot melts may be extruded, applied from slot orice coaters, or calendared.
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Figure 3

Reverse roll coater.

Although virtually any type of roll coater may be used, reverse roll coating is the most common. This may incorporate a doctor roll, doctor blade, or Mayer bar to meter the spread rate. With tapes, adhesive is usually applied directly to the tape, which then passes through a drying station incorporating countercurrent air, usually warm. The dried tape is then rolled and slit. With label stock, adhesive is normally applied to the release paper, dried, and then transferred to the label when the label stock is united with the release paper in a nip roll. Adhesives for reverse roll application will typically have viscosities in the range of 1000 to 10,000 cP. While coating speeds in excess of 200 m/min are possible, machine speeds are normally limited by the speed at which the lm can be dried. A simple reverse roll coater is shown in Fig. 3. For low application weights of hot-melt adhesives, slot-orice coaters are preferred. Variation of slot width and temperature allow a wide range of viscosities and coating weights to be handled. Calendaring is used for high-viscosity adhesives and high coating weights. Extrusion is used for very high viscosity systems and permits both mixing and coating to be performed in a single operation. VI. TESTING

Because of the unique properties of pressure-sensitive adhesives, special tests not applicable to other types have been developed. While standard physical tests such as nonvolatile content, viscosity, and specic gravity are performed to ensure consistency of application, these tests do not predict adhesive performance. For pressure-sensitive adhesives, three critical performance characteristics are usually measured: tack, peel, and shear strength. A. Tack

The classic test for tack of a pressure-sensitive adhesive lm is the rolling ball tack test. Here a ball is rolled down an inclined plane onto a lm of the adhesive. The length the ball travels across the lm before stopping is a measure of the tack of the lm. This test gives a good indication of tack with elastomer adhesives but is unreliable with water-based systems. A more universal test is the probe test, in which the end of a cylinder of standard diameter is brought lightly into contact with the lm for a very short time and the force required to separate it from the surface is measured. Similar in principle is the loop tack test, in which a loop of coated lm is lowered onto a steel plate, making contact under its own weight, and the force required to withdraw the plate is then measured. All of these tests are markedly aected by the cleanliness of the ball, probe, or plate. Figure 4 illustrates the loop tack test.
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Figure 4

Loop tack test.

Figure 5

Geometry of 90- and 180-degree peel tests.



Peel strength is usually tested by laminating a coated lm either to itself or to a specied substrate. The lm is then peeled o the substrate at a steady speed at 90 or 180 degrees to the bond axis, and the force required for removal is measured. The result is always quoted as the force per unit width of lm at a given rate of peel. Figure 5 shows the geometry of a 90- or 180-degree peel test. C. Shear Strength This test is a measure of the ability of a pressure-sensitive adhesive to withstand creep. A standard area of coated lm is bonded to a steel plate and a weight suspended from it. The assembly is placed in an oven. In some shear tests the time for the assembly to delaminate at a xed temperature is recorded, while in other tests the temperature at which failure occurs when the oven temperature is increased at a certain rate is the shear value quoted.



Several guide formulations for various applications follow. It must be remembered that they should merely be used as a starting point to develop a satisfactory product. Not all materials will be available in all countries, and the nature and quality may vary from country to country. To simplify formulations, trade names have been used, and these may also dier. In most cases substitutes are available. Parenthetical numbers that follow the components listed in the formulations below correspond to these suppliers: 1. 2. Shell Chemicals Hercules Inc.

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3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. A. 1.

Anchor Chemicals Nippon Zeon Hoechst Firestone Arizona Harlow Chemicals EKA Nobel U.S. Cyanamid Dow Chemicals BASF

Solvent-Based Adhesives General Purpose Adhesives for Tapes

High shear Cariex TR 1101 (1) Cariex TR 1107 (1) Piccolyte A 115 (2) Abitol (2) Foral 85 (2) Piccolyte S 40 (2) Ancazate BU (3) SBP 62/82 (1) Toluene 100 80 10 1 250 50 High tack 100 80 10 1 300


Paper-Splicing Adhesive
Natural rubber: pale crepe Quintone D100 (4) Antioxidant Hexane Toluene 7.5 7.5 0.2 70.0 14.8


Self-Stick Carpet Tiles

Synthacryl VSC 2291 (5) Alresen PT 214 (5) Methyl ethyl ketone Toluene Aerosil 200 Calcium carbonate, 10 mm 20.0 5.0 10.0 30.0 0.05.0 35.030.0

B. 1.

Hot-Melt Adhesives Label and Tape Adhesives

Soft, high tack Cariex TR 1102 (1) Cariex TR 1107 (1) Floral 85 (2) Shellex 451 HP (1) 100 150 75 High strength 100

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Soft, high tack Piccolyte S 85 (2) Abitol (2) Ancazate BU (3) 5

High strength 100 50 5

2. Self-Adhesive Carpet Tiles

Cariex TR 1102 (1) Cariex TR 1107 (1) Piccolyte A 115 (2) Abitol (2) Calcium carbonate Antioxidant 75 25 100 50 100 5

3. Disposable Industry Adhesive

Stereon 840 A (6) Zonatac 105 Lite (7) Shellex 371 (1) Antioxidant 25 58 16 1

C. Water-Based Adhesives 1. Adhesive for Permanent Label Stock

Revacryl 630 (8) Snowtack 301 CF (9) Aerosol OT (10) Dowfax 2A1 (11) Ammonia solution Foamstopper 101 (8) Water 60.0 35.0 0.3 0.1 0.3 0.1 4.2

2. Deep-Freeze Label Stock

Revacryl 622 (8) Hercolyn D (2) Aerosol OT (10) Dowfax 2A1 (11) Water 94.5 4.5 0.5 0.1 0.4

3. Removable Labels
Revarcryl DP 3560 (8) Aerosol OT (10) Dowfax 2A1 (11) Water 99.0 0.5 0.1 0.4

Copyright 2003 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC


PVC Floor Tile Adhesive

Mowiton DM 758 (5) Alresat KE 300 (5) Calcium carbonate, 10 mm Water Collacryl D (12) 10% caustic soda solution 40.0 8.0 32.0 15.0 1.53.0 2.03.0

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS The author gratefully acknowledges the assistance of many companies, particularly the following, which supplied technical information and guide formulations: BASF, Carst & Walker, Chempro, Hoechst AG, Shell Chemicals, Taueber & Corssen, and Harlow Chemical Co.

Cariex Polymers for Adhesives, Coatings and Sealants, Shell Chemicals, technical bulletin TR5.1. Cariex: Starting Formulations and Test Methods for Pressure Sensitive Adhesives, Shell Chemicals, technical bulletin TR5.2. de Walt, C. Factors in Tackication, Hercules, Inc., bulletin R-218B. Fredonia Group Study quoted in Adhesives Age (June 1991). Frost and Sullivan, quoted in Adhesives Age (Aug. 1991). Hock, C. J. Polymer Sci. C 3: 139 (1963). Satas, D. ed., Handbook of Pressure-Sensitive Adhesive Technology, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 1982. U.S. Department of Commerce, Business Trend Analysts Inc., quoted in Adhesives Age (June 1990). Wotherspoon, T. Technical Developments in Pressure Sensitive Adhesives, Harlow Chemical Company, May, 1992.

Copyright 2003 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC