Highly engineered products, such as radar, guidance, and communication systems for commercial and defense aerospace applications use highly engineered materials when building products. As a supplier of sophisticated adhesives used in these high-end applications, it is not enough to merely sell products to the downstream manufacturer that is going to use it. Providing technical guidance on the proper handling and use of your products is critical to its success in the field. Standardization of training, including a consistent approach with clear technical documentation on proper handling techniques, will provide much needed guidance in the adhesives industry.
Profitability increases when waste decreases. An ideal operational state for manufacturers is when every shipped lot is accepted by their customers and processed without incident. For this to occur, manufacturers need to have a clear understanding of the precise performance needs for each customer and application. Sophisticated manufacturing environments require intricate planning for each step of the production process. Vendors who supply highly engineered materials, such as adhesives, to sophisticated manufacturers understand that providing a high-quality product is not enough — clear user guidelines are critical to maximize performance and minimize failures.
Henkel, a world leader and innovator in adhesive formulation, is leading the adhesive industry with an initiative to provide more sophisticated guidance regarding surface preparation to maximize the performance of adhesives. Within their Loctite product line, three products now have water contact angles (WCAs) included on their technical data sheets. These products, LOCTITE® ABLESTIK® 8175, LOCTITE® ABLESTIK® CF3350, and LOCTITE® ABLESTIK® 5025E, are used in a variety of applications including solder replacement in microelectronic interconnect applications, electrical, thermal and mechanical assembly applications, and bonding “hot” devices onto heatsinks. Henkel is a business committed to high quality standards and has implemented rigorous process control to consistently manufacture adhesives that are 100% compliant to internal specifications and that meet the predefined needs of their customers. Henkel also understands that even though their products leave the factory floor in a state that is 100% compliant with customer specifications, the steps that are followed in a customer’s production process have an extraordinarily large impact on whether the adhesive performs as intended during production and in the field.
With the inclusion of water contact angle recommendations for surfaces to the Henkel Technical Data Sheets (TDSs), the TDSs are now quite comprehensive. Key elements included on the TDSs are:
Henkel’s products are engineered for success.
To achieve effective adhesive bonding, surfaces need to be free from contamination. Water contact angles can consistently provide an objective measurement of whether a surface is properly prepared for adhesive bonding. In an effort to help their customers obtain effective bonding results for each and every product, Henkel partnered with BTG Labs to update their TDSs to include contact angle specifications. The following information is now included in the Surface Preparation section of the TDSs for LOCTITE® ABLESTIK® 8175, LOCTITE® ABLESTIK® CF3350, and LOCTITE® ABLESTIK® 5025E:
1. Proper preparation of substrates is critical to optimize epoxy adhesive flow and adhesion. The substrate water contact angle (WCA) is a good indicator of the capillary forces that drive resin flow and adhesion. Henkel recommends industry standards of <50° for substrate WCA. This allows the epoxy resin to better wet the substrate. Users may want to establish the precise relationship between WCA and product performance for their specific application.
2. Substrate surface chemistry is impacted by the entire substrate supply chain including supplier manufacturing methods, packaging, handling, plasma treatment, storage conditions, exposure to environment, and subsequent cleaning steps.
“As a result of including WCAs on the Henkel Technical Data Sheets, we have seen a strong uptick in customer satisfaction and a marked decrease in technical support tickets for these products,” said Doug Katze, Market Segment Manager, Defense & Space, Henkel Corporation. “This initiative has been so successful that we plan to include WCAs on more of our Technical Data Sheets.”
Other industries including medical, electronics, and consumer products have already integrated WCA as the measurement standard and have included surface preparation specifications into their TDSs to promote consistent, effective adhesive bonding throughout their manufacturing processes. Specific industry examples include automotive bonding and sealing applications, structural bonding of aircraft, uniformity of coatings on medical tubing, and coatings for consumer electronic devices.
Helping customers achieve success is a universal business strategy that can strengthen corporate reputations, maintain current customers, and help drive profits. When working with both your own internal organization as well as your customer’s organization, it is helpful to take a holistic view of the entire supply chain. This process extends beyond raw material acquisition. Operational aspects to consider are raw material handling including shipment packaging, methods of transport, warehousing conditions, pre-production processing and product manufacturing. Once the product is finished being manufactured, the same holistic view of what happens to your product as it leaves the production line and heads towards your customer’s production line should be considered.
All manufacturing industries involved in adhesion can benefit from including a water contact angle specification on TDSs. These benefits include:
Depending on your industry, designing a new product can take from months to years. Going forward, you have the opportunity to include successful adhesion best practices in the TDSs for your new products. Take the time, before going to market, to critically assess the adhesive bonding processing conditions that are prevalent in your industry. Invest the time necessary to develop objective WCA standards to include on your TDSs. Taking these steps will help ensure that your product launch will be successful — and both your internal team and your customers will have a clear understanding of how to use your new product in a way that will help ensure manufacturing success.
Most organizations have policies in place regarding appropriate “triggers” for updating existing specifications. This updating process may also be impacted by external sources – including certifying bodies, like ISO, or regulated industries with formalized requirements for making any changes within their supply chains.
Common reasons that corporations might choose to update existing specifications include changes in raw material availability, changes in supply sources, or feedback from the field that your organization is trying to proactively mitigate through enhanced internal education and customer training. Other triggers include customers’ increased focus on quality. They expect their incoming raw materials to have consistent reliability and to be manufactured to comply with published specifications. For surface applications, this requires understanding and controlling surfaces. Helping customers understand how to effectively prepare surfaces to use adhesive products will improve both customer retention and profitability.
Forward thinking adhesive manufacturers understand that, in order to foster mutually beneficial relationships with customers, they need to provide both quality adhesive as well as appropriate performance and handling guidelines. These manufacturers create synergistic relationships with customers by proactively creating specific, clear product specifications that empower customers to implement process control techniques that will drive towards 100% product performance. Incorporating water contact angles on TDSs drives reliability, confidence, customer retention and sales radiation for both internal and customers’ teams.
To learn more about the benefits of incorporating water contact angles into technical specifications to drive product success in the field, download our free eBook exploring common manufacturing Critical Control Points that need to be protected through contact angle measurements: Predictable Adhesion in Manufacturing Through Process Verification.