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Materials & Assembly

Adhesives Put New Twist on Fastening

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Rob Spiegel
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Economic advantage
Rob Spiegel   1/6/2012 2:32:14 PM
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Nice article, Ann. I didn't realize the wide range of uses for adhesives. You mention the economic advantages of adhesives in the manufacturing process. I would imagine there is also an economic advantage is the cost of materials. Most mechanical fasteners are probably far more expensive than adhesives.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Economic advantage
Ann R. Thryft   1/6/2012 3:22:11 PM
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Interestingly, although cost is always an issue, most  vendors mentioned the differences in function and problems to be solved between fasteners and adhesives. And when it came to cost, what most (adhesives) vendors mentioned regarding the cost differentials had to do with lower cost processes for applying adhesives, not a difference in the cost of materials or the items as such.


Alexander Wolfe
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Re: Economic advantage
Alexander Wolfe   1/6/2012 5:23:26 PM
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Great overview of adhesives, Ann. I was recently fortunate enough to take a tour of one of the Fabrico facilities, and it's really interesting to see the sophisticated layering process, utilizing adhesives, by which the end products are manufactured and QC's (via machine vision) as they go down the line.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Economic advantage
Ann R. Thryft   1/9/2012 12:19:35 PM
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Dave and Alex, thanks for the feedback. A whirlwind tour it was. Each of these subjects deserves its own feature, and in fact, each will get its own spot at least once again this year. I concentrated on structural solutions since those seem like the toughest area for adhesives to beat fasteners, but they came closer than I'd initially expected. The fact that adhesives spread out the load over a larger area seems to be one of their biggest advantages. Pretty awesome numbers, eh? There's a lot more going on with adhesives, and they've come a lot further, than I would have guessed.


Rob Spiegel
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Re: Economic advantage
Rob Spiegel   1/9/2012 10:09:22 AM
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Interesting, Ann. It could be that the material costs are small compared to overall costs. If the adhesives are particularly effective, there could be additional savings in quality through the life of the product. That could matter in terms of overall costs.


Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Economic advantage
Ann R. Thryft   1/10/2012 12:09:47 PM
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Rob, the cost differential seems to revolve mostly around application process differences that save manufacturing costs and time, which also translate into cost. But your point is well taken--if the adhesives help the product last longer since it's not poking holes in sheetmetal--which will  make the metal fail sooner as well as creating a point of ingress for damaging liquids--then that's another cost savings.


Rob Spiegel
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Re: Economic advantage
Rob Spiegel   1/10/2012 1:05:52 PM
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Given all this, I would imagine we will see more and more adhesives on our products. Are there particular industries that are adopting this? Are there certain industries in which the adoption of adhesives is a particularly strong solution?

Tom Drechsler
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Re: Economic advantage
Tom Drechsler   1/10/2012 11:36:54 AM
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Ann: We were able to reduce the cost of a small shaft assembly by eliminating machining operations for traditional fasteners by switching to an anaerobic shaft-locker. The resulting bond is stronger than the small 17-7Ph shaft it is used on. Surface prep is critical, dispensing must be done carefully but when done in a controlled environment with fixturing the assembly times can be managed. Life & overstress testing has validated the process and we continue to monitor it as this is new ground for us.

The resulting parts are stronger (no flats for stress raisers), have less vendor issues (deburring on fine ID bores from cross threading or stepped shaft diameters). and take less space (even small fasteners have length requirements that conflict with highly packed components).

Dave Palmer
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Adhesives vs. mechanical fasteners
Dave Palmer   1/6/2012 3:45:17 PM
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Ann, thanks for the whirlwind tour through the world of fastening.  You covered a lot in this article!

My first reaction when you mentioned a shear strength of 1000 psi for a structural adhesive was that it seemed very small compared to the shear strength of a Grade 8 bolt (around 100,000 psi).  Then it occurred to me that, with an adhesive, the load can be spread out over a much larger area.

As a rough approximation, for a structural adhesive with a shear strength of 1000 psi, 7.5 square inches of adhesive should be able to withstand the same load as a 3/8-16 Grade 8 bolt.  Neat!

Charles Murray
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Electronics
Charles Murray   1/6/2012 5:43:08 PM
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I would think that adhesives offer an advantage in smaller electronics partially because mechanical fasteners can only get so small before they become a manufacturing problem. I would imagine that some of today's razor thin phones would be a good example of this.   

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Electronics
Ann R. Thryft   1/9/2012 12:20:23 PM
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Chuck, that's an intriguing point about adhesives replacing fasteners in ever-shrinking smaller electronics. That's what I would have thought, but it turns out there's a "micro" class of fasteners that are ridiculously small--I don't recall the exact dimensions--and that will be the subject of an upcoming feature this year.


jim.antaki@e-design-md
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Re: Electronics
jim.antaki@e-design-md   1/9/2012 3:52:57 PM
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I've experienced the opposite problem. In fact experiencing it now. When attempting to fasten small components with adhesives, there is less margin of error. Less surface area, more opportunity for contaminant, or surface irregularity to confound adhesive.  I guess there are some caveats - such as surface preparation, use of cleanroom, etc.  Sometimes you simply want there to be a "mechanical" connection.

Dave Palmer
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Re: Electronics
Dave Palmer   1/10/2012 2:30:11 PM
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Jim makes a good point.  Adhesives can resist as much load as mechanical fasteners -- provided that you have enough surface area to spread them over.  But since, in round numbers, the shear strength of steel is 100 times greater than the shear strength of typical structural adhesives, this means you need to have 100 times more surface area.  It might not be hard to find this much surface area on a large component, but on a small component, it could be a challenge.

Where adhesives really shine is in fatigue -- and since, in my experience, most fastener failures are fatigue failures, this can be a big advantage.  Also, as Tom Drechsler points out, if adhesives are properly used, they can vastly simplify a manufacturing process.


Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Electronics
Ann R. Thryft   1/10/2012 3:43:42 PM
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Jim, Tom, and Dave: Thanks, guys, for the detailed feedback and your collective experience. The advantages of one over the other obviously depend on the specific circumstances. The big advantage I kept hearing about adhesives was simplification and therefore reduction of manufacturing times, thus savings. I will keep all this in mind when I work on the micro-fastener feature. Your feedback will help me ask better questions!


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