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SPONSORED BY 3M: How to Streamline Manufacturing … with Tape?

By 3M

Looking to reduce costs, save time and enhance your design options?

Take inspiration from real examples of manufacturer’s who have achieved all these and more.

Time is money … especially on the production floor. In the “2017 National Manufacturing Outlook and Insights Strategies to Overcome the Headwinds” survey of manufacturing executives, nearly half said that cutting operational costs was a top priority. One key method for achieving that goal is to speed up the assembly process, thereby reducing the need for hard-to-find specialty workers and the costs associated with overtime to meet tight deadlines.

The question is how? And 3M has an answer: Replace mechanical fasteners with tape.

Not just any tape, of course. 3M™ VHB™, a double-sided, industrial-grade acrylic tape with a closed cell acrylic foam core. It has been used as an alternative to rivets, welds, screws, and other mechanical fasteners for nearly 40 years. Easy-to-apply, and offering superior strength and long-term durability, this tape has transformed the assembly process for numerous manufacturers eager to cut time and cost out of production.

WS Steel, in Manitoba, Canada, has replaced spot welding with 3M VHB Tape in the manufacture of agricultural and power industry products—such as medical cabinets used to store hazardous waste for the pharmaceutical industry. And the firm’s manufacturing costs have declined by 20%.

“Before, it took roughly two hours to spot weld and assemble everything, and another four or five hours to sand and prepare it,” said Ellery Burton, engineering manager, WS Steel. “Now, we no longer have to use the sanding process and we can assemble a cabinet in under an hour.”

Because the tapes bond on contact, assemble easily and can be cut to precise shapes and sizes for custom applications, production efficiency is greatly enhanced. Compared to riveting and welding, tape is easy to adopt and requires no finishing. So, a long-lasting bond is as quick and simple as applying the tape; allowing for assembly with less technically trained workers.

Those efficiency benefits are also in evidence at Minnesota-based Voyager Industries, which manufactures a number of aluminum-based products, including mobile houses used for ice fishing. Scott Schaefer, a Voyager manager, explained that their assembly process is quicker using 3M VHB Tape because it bonds instantly.

“Our entire fish house is assembled using no screws at all,” Schaefer added. “It goes on quick and easy. And it looks so clean.”

Aesthetic advantages, too

Another significant benefit in the tape vs. mechanical fasteners face-off is flexibility in the types of new, innovative materials that can be used for certain types of manufacturing. For example, Seattle-based Barrett Windows found that traditional methods for bonding its semi-rigid enclosure windows used for restaurants, residential decks, and party tents left a lot to be desired during the manufacturing process.

“We didn’t want mechanical fasteners for reasons of aesthetics, sealing, and labor,” said Mike Sofie, the company’s co-founder. “Plus, liquid adhesive would require drying time and could run onto the window area and damage the appearance and clarity.”

The best choice, he discovered, for bonding the polycarbonate and vinyl used in the products was 3M VHB Tape because it is invisible once the window is assembled, yet maintained an unbreakable bond.

Similarly, H&H Trailers appreciates the sleek look of the tape because it enables them to provide steel-enclosed car haulers used to transport race cars in the manner customers prefer— with smooth, rivet-free siding.

“If you ever want to wrap a trailer, you can put your decals on it 1000% easier without rivets in the way,” said James Klaas, owner of Snappy’s Trailers, an H&H Trailers distributor. “It’s a smooth surface so people can see who you are, right away.”

Since 1980, 3M VHB Tape has offered a durable bond in a way that mechanical fasteners can’t, combining conformability with a strong, permanent bond. The result is a family of extraordinarily strong tapes that adhere to a broad range of substrates.

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

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

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