VHB, UHB, and AFT: Seamless Solutions for Permanent Bonding
Manufacturers face many challenges when it comes to the assembly and bonding of parts, particularly when the materials involved are dissimilar. Innovations in adhesive technology by companies such as 3M have resulted in high-performance bonding products that are powerful and convenient alternatives to traditional fastening methods. Permanent bonding tapes, marketed as Very High Bonding (VHB), Ultra-High Bonding (UHB), or Acrylic Foam Tape (AFT), provide solutions for permanent interior and exterior bonding for a range of applications. Ideal for attaching mismatched materials, these high-performance tapes create a polished, seamless look that increases aesthetic value by eliminating unsightly, and often unreliable, mechanical fasteners.
First introduced by 3M in the 1980s as an adhesive for curtain wall attachments, the reach of 3M’s VHB technology has since expanded to other industries, including building construction, manufacturing, electronics, automotive, and aeronautics. Made from acrylic foam, VHB tapes are designed to replace rivets, spot welds, and other types of fasteners. These amazingly strong bonding products evenly distribute stress across the entire bonded joint area, resulting in a tight, nearly indestructible bond and are an excellent option for substrates that are prone to weakening over time. Consisting of a multi-purpose acrylic adhesive on both sides of a conformable foam core, VHB tapes are particularly useful for indoor and outdoor steel, aluminum, glass, and plastic applications, including those that require the adhesion of mismatched substrates.
UHB tapes, which arrived on the scene following the success of 3M’s VHB products, are double-coated adhesive tapes made from durable acrylic foam. UHB tapes are used for mounting, joining surfaces, hanging signage, and more. They can often take the place of rivets, bolts, screws, and spot welds, and like VHB tapes, form an immediate bond that strengthens over a period of 72 hours.
Acrylic Foam Tapes are permanent bonding solutions designed for replacing mechanical fasteners and liquid adhesives in industrial applications requiring a strong and durable bond. Capable of providing a lasting bonding solution for a variety of substrates, they have outstanding weather-resistant properties and are made to withstand dynamic forces and thermal movement.
VHB, UHB, and AFT products are all extremely effective in forming incredibly strong bonds that can stand up to extreme heat, cold, and other environmental conditions, although VHB tapes, critical bonding components of one of the tallest hotels in the world—the luxurious Burj Al Arab Jumeirah in Dubai—are considered the most powerful.
A few items to keep in mind when choosing an adhesive product: Once you select a bonding solution for a project, remember that permanent bonds are not meant to be undone. Attempts to separate items from a smooth substrate, such as glass or aluminum, can cause damage to the surface, so carefully consider your long-term goals before selecting an adhesive. In the event separation of bonded parts becomes necessary, 3M’s website outlines various techniques for detaching parts and removing adhesive residue. In addition, although adhesive tapes are designed to hold bonds for a very long time, the products become less effective over time if they remain unused. So buy only what you need, one project at a time.