Surface preparation

rolls of multicolored labeling tape

Whether using a manual or automated application process, the same principles apply:

For best results, surfaces must be clean, dry and grease-, oil- and lint-free.  Substances such as dust, grease and wax must be removed before bonding. Typical cleaners include isopropyl alcohol (IPA), esters (such as ethyl acetate or acetone), and naphtha-based products.

Loose or flaking surfaces, such as those exhibiting rust, should be scoured with abrasive pads prior to fine cleaning. Surface roughness may also improve adhesion. Once the surface(s) has been abraded, they must be cleaned with an IPA-based cleaner, available both in liquid form and individual wipes.

Surfaces should also be cleaned where no abrasion has taken place, especially where heavy grease or oils are present. Clean surface(s) with a lint-free cloth and wipe in a single direction to ensure contaminants are completely removed and not smeared. In consultation with a tape manufacturer, use the recommended cleaning agents to ensure compatibility of the solvent with its substrate.

Pretreatment to optimise adhesive strength

Compatible substrates with a low surface energy (LSE) or porous qualities may need to be primed before tape application. These include Teflon, silicones and dielectric materials (such as polyethylene and polypropylene), which can be difficult to bond. Primer may also improve the durability of bonds to glass.

Compatibility tests

Depending on the substrate material(s), tests may be carried out to ensure that additives, such as plasticisers, do not interact with the adhesive used on high surface energy (HSE) or easy-to-stick-to surfaces. This would also be done in the case of non-ferrous metals (lead, cadmium, copper, brass and nickel) to ensure that a chemical reaction does not occur that could alter the surface polarity after contact with the adhesive.


Contact an Afera member company for more information