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SPONSORED BY 3M: No Mechanical Fasteners, Bolts, or Rivets—Just Tape: 3M VHB Tape-Assembled Scooter Showcases Applications for Bolt-, Rivet-Free Designs

By 3M
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Michael Leighton stretches 3M VHB Tape, which bonds and seals at the same time.

Would you roll down the driveway on a scooter without bolts, rivets, or mechanical fasteners of any kind? 3M scientists Michael Leighton and Brent Bystrom would. And they did.

Using a hodgepodge of “normal” scooter materials—like a sleek wood deck on a polycarbonate base, with aluminum handlebars and polyurethane wheels—refined by their creative and groundbreaking designs, they invented and assembled an unorthodox push scooter held together with only tape. But not just any kind of tape, of course—3M VHB Tape.

This particular 3M VHB Tape product consists of a durable acrylic adhesive with viscoelastic properties, providing an extraordinarily strong double-sided foam core that adheres to a broad range of substrates. Strong, conformable and durable, it is a proven alternative to screws, rivets, welds, and other fasteners commonly used in skyscrapers, mobile phones, electronic signs, refrigerators, architectural windows, vehicles and more… And now, scooters!

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Brent Bystrom

“Just because we’ve always done something one way doesn’t mean it’s the best way,” explained Leighton, a senior design manager at 3M. “That’s why we wanted to make a scooter with tape. This is what we do here, we reimagine the every day.”

According to Bystrom, a technical service specialist in industrial adhesives and tapes for 3M, this has never been done before and that’s the point. “You can do a lot with tape and adhesives,” said Bystrom.

Searching for new challenges is old hat for them, as the two engineers have been involved in a number of real-world applications for acrylic foam tapes that are designed to improve design aesthetics, streamline assembly processes and eliminate leaks—all while remaining strong.

Tape is Tough

While mechanical fasteners are widely used in manufacturing, they can loosen due to vibration and thermal expansion, resulting in corrosion, costly maintenance, and a rough appearance. Tapes designed for industrial uses can overcome those burdens; when applied, 3M VHB Tape forms a simultaneous bond and seal by flowing into the microscopic texture of each substrate. That means a high-performance, long-lasting connection that holds under the most taxing conditions, such as strong winds and extreme temperatures—flexing with expansion and constriction.

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Michael Leighton

In fact, the curving, stainless steel, sail-shaped walls outside the Frank Geary-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles are affixed to horizontal and vertical aluminum panel clips using 3M VHB Architectural Panel Tapes.

While Leighton’s and Bystrom’s project wasn’t quite as majestic, they too broke new ground with their fastened-only-by-tape scooter. In fabricating the materials, they affixed one side of the double-sided acrylic foam tape onto the applicable scooter parts. Then, during the assembly process, they sequentially lined up the necessary parts, removed the release liner on the various sizes/shapes of 3M VHB Tape, and pressed the parts into place. For instance, when it was time to connect the wooden and aluminum portions of the handlebar, they removed the release liner from the top side of the tape that was already on the aluminum, align the wood with the dowel pins, and pressed firmly into place, and voila!

While Leighton and Bystrom enjoy the added perk of lunch-break rides on their tape-connected scooter, their day-to-day work brings to life the amazing possibilities for these revolutionary products.

“The scooter demonstrates a lot of what we already knew about 3M VHB Tape capabilities in a clever way,” said Bystrom. “If we can reimagine something as simple as a scooter, we can reimagine just about anything.”

For more information on how to dream, design and deliver with 3M Adhesives and Tapes, visit 3M’s website.

*The 3M VHB Scooter Kit is designed to creatively showcase the many ways 3M VHB Tape can be used to rethink traditional design functions and the various benefits it offers. It is not available for purchase.

This article was prepared by 3M, which is solely responsible for its content.

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