Experience from application: laser cutting instead of sticky tools

Process adhesive films by 3M and tesa more efficiently with automated cutting solutions from eurolaser

Clean tools and maximum accuracy: The use of laser machines to cut adhesive tapes and adhesive films offers clear advantages over conventional methods. Companies that specialize in customized processing of adhesive tapes are increasingly relying on automated cutting solutions from eurolaser in Lüneburg.

Nails, rivets, or screws may firmly and securely connect different materials, but in many areas of application, the comparatively high weight of classic fastening materials is a considerable disadvantage. In the aerospace industry as well as vehicle construction or medical technology, manufacturers, therefore, rely on highly developed adhesive connections that are at least equal to conventional techniques today. Progressive adhesive products are given an additional boost by the need to use fossil fuels sparingly: the weight savings achieved have a direct positive effect on aircraft or vehicle construction due to lower fuel consumption.

Adhesives make traditional processing difficult

In practice, however, the potential of customer-specifically processed adhesive tapes is far from being exhausted. “In many companies, knife-assisted solutions or punching are still used for cutting”, explains Thomas Armbruster, Marketing Manager at eurolaser GmbH from Lüneburg. However, as soon as adhesives bonded to the base material come into play, the problems begin. Thomas Armbruster cites the manufacture of die-cut parts from a plastic film treated on both sides with acrylate adhesive as an example: “A knife or a punch inevitably comes into direct contact with the adhesives during the cutting process, as a result of which the tool is visibly contaminated by adhering small parts.” Necessary cleaning or replacement of the tool then always leads to delays in order processing, and with a rise in contamination, the rejects increase due to reduced cutting quality. “Anyone who has ever cut through a double-sided adhesive tape with simple household scissors can easily understand the difficulties,” says Armbruster, putting it more easily.

“Lasers achieve unimaginable increases in productivity”

For home use, there are now special non-stick scissors for cutting adhesive tapes and adhesive films – and laser systems from eurolaser for the commercial sector. One of the users is Gustav Scharnau GmbH from Werneuchen in Brandenburg. As a supplier to a wide variety of industries, the medium-sized company produces self-adhesive molded parts according to individual specifications. The basis is formed by adhesive tapes from well-known manufacturers such as 3M or tesa, which Scharnau uses to manufacture sophisticated special parts. For example: A molded part with numerous small breakouts that is used in the climate control of vehicles. On the underside, the construction ensures that the printed circuit board underneath is glued over the entire surface; on the opposite side, the adhesive layer secures the device’s glass cover plate.

What can only be mastered with great effort with conventional cutting tools, Scharnau achieved by laser cutting with a eurolaser system without any further problems. “Lasering requires extremely short set-up times, generates no tool costs, adheres to the tightest tolerances, and thus achieves unimaginable increases in productivity,” says Matthias Schach, managing director of the Brandenburg molded parts manufacturer. “We have known eurolaser since 1998. And we actually first gave eurolaser the idea of developing lasers for cutting our adhesive tapes. It paid off, I would say.”

Profitability for small quantities

Scharnau managing director Schach is happy about the consistently positive experiences with laser system s from Lüneburg. Die-cut parts made from adhesive tapes are used, for example, to attach elements in vehicle construction or are used in trade fair construction. Scharnau uses laser technology to cut individually made-up adhesive pads for the assembly of all conceivable parts in automotive interiors. High-quality laser-cut products are economical for small batches, for example when building prototypes,” says Schach.

At extremely high cutting speeds of up to 1,000 millimeters per second, laser cutting allows “the finest contours without burrs on the edges or thermal stress”, and setup times are accelerated and tooling costs saved without any wear and tear or material distortion. “Besides, we can quickly cut very large, complex, and difficult adhesive tapes. We are talking about dimensions beyond 700 millimeters. We quickly reach the limits of what is feasible with our rotary die-cutters. We currently have several eurolaser systems in operation. The latest machine, which we affectionately call “the baby”, was not put into operation until 2020. And are very satisfied with eurolaser.”

Modular structure, individual configurations

Whether the products made from adhesive tapes are only a few square centimeters small and barely a millimeter thin, or eight millimeter thick composite materials have to be processed: the high flexibility of the eurolaser systems allows a wide variety of constellations. For the processing of adhesive tapes, the M-1600 model, the “baby” at Scharnau, is a compact and at the same time powerful system, which with a CO2 laser power of 60 to 650 watts and a processing area of 1,330 x 1,630 mm is specially configured for adhesive film is suitable. The M-1200 laser cutting system from eurolaser offers a smaller work area (1,330 x 1,230 mm) with the same laser power, and the M-series from eurolaser is finally supplemented by the M-800 with the smallest 1,330 x 1,830 mm processing area and also 60 to 450 watts of laser power. The modular structure of all eurolaser systems also allows individual configurations and offers a wide range of expansion options if required.

Finally, systems from eurolaser are particularly well suited for processing adhesive tapes and adhesive films for another reason. In close cooperation with the producers, eurolaser continuously checks whether and which adhesive tapes can be best processed by laser cutting. The very suitable materials include, for example, the 3M VHB high-performance tapes of ACX-plus adhesive tapes from tesa. eurolaser has certified both of them for their cuttability and rated them as “excellent for laser cutting”. Whether the base material is provided as rolls or sheets makes no difference in further processing: eurolaser systems can handle all common formats without any problems.


What is tesa® ACXplus?

tesa® ACXplus is a high-performance acrylic core adhesive tape for permanent bonding indoors and outdoors as well as for fastening applications. The high adhesive strength of the adhesive tape offers a new dimension of visually appealing, safe, and fast constructive bonds.

The high adhesive performance of tesa® ACXplus is based on its viscoelasticity: The elastic and viscous properties associated with it ensure internal strength and the compensation of mechanical loads. The constructive connection is a central task in every industry that can pose challenges for engineers and designers. High-tech materials are used for many applications, and their special structures and properties must be preserved. Dissimilar materials often have to be joined – for example, aluminum with steel, steel with glass, decorative glass panels with fiber composites, etc. Conventional mechanical fasteners such as rivets, seams, liquid glue, or ultrasonic welding are often not suitable or can even damage these materials. This is exactly where the high-performance adhesive tapes come into play: tesa® ACXplus – an acrylic foam adhesive tape with special properties for constructive connections.

The tesa® ACXplus bonding solutions are often superior to conventional fastening methods, as they can be used to optimize the production processes and the quality and aesthetics of the products.

Adhesion: For high-performance, permanent bonds – even on materials with different surface properties
tesa® ACXplus has an extremely high adhesive strength even on materials with different surface properties, as the acrylate system used has excellent wetting properties. Also, it is chemically adapted to the respective specific joining partner. Besides, the thickness of the tape can be adjusted to compensate for rough and uneven surfaces. The result is a permanent connection and complete sealing of the bonded substrates. This leads to high-strength adhesive bonds that will last for decades.


3M VHB adhesive tapes – strong when it counts

40 years of continuous development and innovation! 3M VHB solutions have been contributing to the success of important companies around the world since 1980. Today, the double-sized adhesive tapes are used in a wide variety of markets: for example in rail and commercial vehicles, automobiles, electronics, commercial signage, windows and doors, household appliances as well as the construction, aviation, and furniture industries and in smartphones. Their application has numerous advantages. For example, did you know that these tapes make your smartphone waterproof?

Design and aesthetics
3M VHB tapes also open up new possibilities for design and aesthetics. They connect a wide variety of materials such as glass, metal, or plastics simply and reliably over the long term. Very different material properties such as high and low energy surfaces as well as different coefficients of thermal expansion are no problem. Their use means that rivets, screws, or other conventional joining methods can be dispensed with. VHB adhesive tapes enable virtually invisible smooth surfaces for products with high aesthetic standards.

Durable and visco-elastic
Regardless of whether rain, sun, wind, heat, cold or heavy loads – 3M VHB adhesive tapes have proven themselves in many cases even under more extreme conditions – and have been for decades. They consist of very durable, closed-cell acrylate adhesive through and through. Thanks to their great visco-elasticity, they can absorb energy, vibrate to dampen and reduce tension. In addition, they can be stretched up to 300% of their thickness without tearing or peeling off and can compensate for the surface unevenness of 50% of your adhesive tape thickness.

Optimized processes
The application of the 3M VHB adhesive tapes is simple and straightforward. Thanks to their short-term temperature resistance of up to 230° C, components can also be joined before powder coating or liquid painting. Since the adhesive tapes can also be individually lasered, they offer a high degree of accuracy in use.

Benefits of 3M VHB tapes:

  • Multi-material combinations
  • Sealing functions and vibration damping
  • Even stress distribution
  • Minimized risk of corrosion
  • Simple application
  • Lower weight
  • Accelerated process
  • Individually laserable

Please call for your individual consulting!

 
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