The Most Common Mistake in Solving Manufacturing Surface Adhesion Problems

Hunter Brankamp

Answer: If the manufacturers below had looked to the material surface itself to solve their surface adhesion problems, tens of thousands of dollars and hundreds of production hours could have been saved. But, how we do know that?

Because these are real customers who found a solution in the most unexpected (to them) of places. Consider these four statements:


  • “We’ve tailored our plasma treatment process based upon what our vendor told us, but we’re still having surface adhesion problems.”
  • “We were told that a better, more uniform corona treater for our line would solve the problem, but for some reason our final product still has not improved.”
  • “We’re abrading our material surface before we paint, so that can’t be the problem.”
  • “The place where we get our solvent said that this solvent works best for our process.”


So, what’s the common thread?

For one, all of these manufacturer’s were having adhesion problems in their process. Whether printing, painting, coating, cleaning, sealing or bonding, it’s common knowledge that preparing the surface beforehand is crucial.

But is that enough?

A less obvious common thread is the fact that the material surface itself was completely left out of the equation to find the final answer.

Let’s apply that to what could have been in each of the four examples:


  • This manufacturer was under the belief that tuning the plasma treater was the answer to achieving the best surface prep. Through understanding the material surface itself, they were able to develop a contact angle specification that proves the surface is optimally treated for the next step.
  • There was no specific, measurable quantity of corona treatment in place because this manufacturer lacked a means to determine and monitor the optimal treatment level.
  • Abrasion, is not always a black-and-white solution. This manufacturer unfortunately lacked the knowledge about how sandpaper containing stearate can actually contaminate a surface. Furthermore, they hadn’t been instructed that the amount of abrasion matters to ensure adhesion.
  • Taking the word of a vendor is not enough to guarantee proper adhesion and a successful operation. While this is not the fault of the customer, it’s a common occurrence. This example resulted in needing to find a stronger solvent that could properly remove contaminants and best prepare the surface.

In short, to fix your process, look to your material surface….NOT the process itself.


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