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Martin Dolezal
Read time
8 minutes

Lightweighting trend continues - how this trend drives adjustments of adhesives for warning and track and trace labels

As society attempts to grapple with climate change, various industries are striving to reduce their carbon emissions in whatever way they can. In a world of “marginal gains”, no stone is being left unturned in the search for improvements, and this includes the creation of lighter materials used in the production of cars, aeroplanes, and other products. Indeed, over the last few decades, these marginal gains have added up to a significant transformation in how we make things, especially as we have moved from metals to plastic.

Labeling plays a crucial role in this process but it can be difficult as some of the lightweight materials make applying an adhesive label difficult. For instance, car manufacturers have moved not only from metal to plastic substrates that are more difficult to label. What’s more, manufacturers are increasingly looking to utilize materials like carbon fiber to make vehicles lighter, and therefore more fuel-efficient, but these present additional challenges in terms of labeling. 

Traditional adhesives often perform poorly on low surface energy (LSE) substrates, either in terms of their adhesive performance or chemical resistance. Therefore these LSE substrates require adhesives and label materials that are specifically designed for them. One such technology is Avery Denison’s rubber-hybridized acrylic (RHA), which combines the strength of rubber adhesive with the durability of acrylic, making it ideal for LSE labeling applications.

RHA offers a range of performance benefits, including versatility across a number of different surfaces and environmental conditions, as well as potential cost savings and global availability.

Challenges to overcome

There are a number of challenges to overcome if adhesives are to successfully adapt to the changing requirements of lightweighting trends. For example, in an attempt to reduce the weight of an item, manufacturers often inadvertently also reduce the surface energy of the material. In addition to producing lighter materials, this can also help in other ways, such as ensuring that materials don't get dirty as easily and are generally easier to clean, which can be highly sought after in areas such as the interior of a car. So, there are clear benefits to achieving lightweight materials, but the trend also presents certain difficulties to overcome.

A reduction in the surface energy of a substrate can, for instance, also result in certain adhesives not functioning well. This is because they're unable to wet out on the substrate and form the chemical bonds needed to perform well. When conventional adhesives are adapted to increase the adhesion on such surfaces, it can subsequently result in low resistance to extreme temperatures or harmful chemicals. This can make the adhesive less durable than it needs to be in order to perform effectively.

"Thankfully, there are notable technological innovations that are allowing these challenges to be tackled head-on. Foremost among these is the RHA adhesive technology we’ve developed."

An innovative approach

RHA adhesive technology combines the strength of rubber adhesive with the durability of acrylic. This results in a label that can adhere to challenging substrates, such as low surface energy (LSE) plastics, and withstand harsh environmental conditions.

RHA technology provides various advantages over existing approaches, including:

  • Versatility: RHA can be used for a wide range of applications, from gas caps to dashboards to engine compartments to EV batteries. This versatility can help to simplify procurement, streamline qualification, and potentially reduce cost.

  • Performance: RHA labels offer strong adhesion, chemical and temperature resistance, and high tack. This makes them ideal for use in challenging applications where traditional adhesives may fail.

  • Global availability: RHA is a globally available solution, which is important in the global automotive industry.

In the future, we can expect to see RHA solutions become even more versatile and their performance benefits continue to advance. As a company, this is something we’re continuously working toward, with new applications of RHA technology being deployed regularly to meet the evolving needs of our industrial clients.

Keeping track

As lightweighting advances as a trend, we must be able to identify and track the materials that go into these components, not least as these components may require special handling. This is where track and trace labels come in.

Track and trace labels are used to allow us to track the progress of lightweight components as they move through the supply chain, and indeed throughout their entire lifecycle. By doing this, we’re able to ensure that the components are handled correctly.

Track and trace labels require special capabilities, such as an adhesive that can overcome the low surface energy challenge common in lightweight components. They also need to be able to function in the often harsh conditions found in sectors like automotive.

Given the intense need to tackle the climate crisis, the lightweighting trend is undoubtedly here to stay. As a result, companies must be able to align their adhesive choices with this trend and select a solution that performs well across the low surface energy substrates that are increasingly commonplace. We believe RHA to be one such solution.

Further reading

About the author

Martin Dolezal

Martin Dolezal is a seasoned marketing manager with a focus on automotive and energy storage within the Materials Group EMENA. He overesses the self-adhesive product portfolio catering to the evolving industries of automotive, energy storage, EVB, durables, and aerospace. 

Martin joined Avery Dennison in 2009 as a technical sales specialist based in the Czech Republic, evolving into a leader of a technical sales organization in Eastern Europe, Mena, Russia. Since joining EU headquarters 2017 he has served in various manager roles, leading the charge in shaping the strategy and positioning for Avery Dennison’s paper and variable information (VI), special papers, and digital portfolios. 

Prior to joining Avery Dennison, Martin worked for one of the largest converters in the Czech Republic developing automated labeling machinery for multinational B2B partners, which provides him with a customer-centric perspective that he brings to his role.