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How to Make 3M Adhesive Stick Better


Having been established over a century ago, 3M’s experience shows in the quality and strength of their adhesives. Despite the incredible strength and durability of their adhesives, there are situations where you can take a couple extra steps to get a superior bond. For example, working with rusty bumpers, cold temperatures, and unsealed wood surfaces can lead to inadequate bonding. Luckily, there are a few easy ways you can bypass problems caused by these situations. The following overviews the ways to make 3M adhesive stick better:

Proper Surface Preparation

Like anytime you plan to use a 3M adhesive, no matter if it is a sealant, tacky glue, automotive adhesive, or adhesive tape, you will need to prepare the surface. If you are wondering if you should use 3M adhesion promoter or alcohol during preparation, just about any surface can use a good wipe down with a solution of equal parts water and isopropyl alcohol. Of course, make sure it is safe for the surface before use.

Some surfaces need more prep than this quick wipe down though. For example, this solution will not do a good enough job if the surface has heavy oils on it. Instead, you will have to use a degreaser first and then use the solution of water and rubbing alcohol. Surfaces that have a lot of caked on dirt or are rusted can also pose a problem. If you need to use a 3M adhesive on a rusty, or heavily dirty surface, you should abrade it first. This will allow the adhesive to contact the surface smoothly without little air bubbles between the dirt or rust particles.

Other porous surfaces, such as wood, particle board, and concrete can reduce the efficiency of 3M adhesive for the same reason. If you were to abrade or sand down these porous materials, it does not make it nonporous. Instead, you will have to seal these surfaces before applying a 3M adhesive to ensure you get a proper bond.

Make Sure to Apply Enough Pressure

There are many applications where 3M adhesives may be used. For example, SLiPLO Universal Bumper Scrape Guard uses 3M adhesive tape to securely affix the guard to your bumper. In an application like this, one of the easiest ways to have the tape not stick is simply not applying enough pressure when installing the scrape guard.

The bond strength achieved with 3M adhesive is based on how much surface to adhesive contact is made during application. One of the most effective ways to ensure there is enough surface to adhesive contact is through applying strong and steady pressure. 15 pounds per square inch is the ideal amount of pressure, though lesser amounts are fine as well.

Apply Heat

If you are trying to use a 3M adhesive and it just is not working out how you hoped despite applying enough pressure and properly preparing the surface, the temperature of the 3M adhesive may be the problem. Consider where your 3M adhesive has been stored and if the temperature in that area is within the recommended storage temperature. You can find this information on the packaging and online. If not, try getting the 3M adhesive warmed up to an ideal temperature and try again.

Not only is it important to warm up the adhesive to the appropriate temperature, but higher temperatures are also good for 3M adhesives in general. For example, you are able to not only speed up how long it takes for the adhesive to bond completely, but also increase the maximum bond strength using heat. If you need your 3M adhesive to be even stickier than what it is already, keep your project at 150 degrees Fahrenheit or 66 degrees Celsius for an hour to cure as strong as possible.

Adhesion Promoters

Adhesion promoters can do a wonderful job at increasing the strength of a bond between a surface and an adhesive. When using 3M adhesives, the best adhesion promoter to pick is one of 3M’s adhesion promoters like 3M Adhesive Promoter Sponge Three Pack since it is made specifically for use in combination with 3M adhesives.

3M adhesive promoters are perfect for when a project involves using 3M adhesive on a low surface energy material. Low surface energy materials include several types of plastics, often being found on both the interior and exterior of vehicles, such as on the side moldings, bumper, and dashboard. There are two types of 3M adhesive promoters, 3M Adhesion Promoter 4298 VS 3M Adhesion Promoter 06396 and choosing between the two is easy.

Both 3M Adhesion Promoter 06396 and 3M Adhesion Promoter 4298 are amazing at what they do and will work with any 3M adhesive. The difference is that Adhesion Promoter 06396 is meant for individual projects and personal use, whereas 3M Adhesion Promoter 4298 is generally used for professional applications where a lot of the product will be used. While 3M Adhesion Promoter 4298 is bought by the gallon, 3M Adhesion Promoter 06396 comes as a wipe in a single use packet. Simply wipe the surface down, wait under a minute for it to dry, then apply the adhesive!

Wrapping Up

If you need to give your 3M adhesive a little “umph”, there are several things you can do to ensure the ultimate bond is achieved. First, make sure you are preparing the surface for the use of an adhesive. This may include using a rubbing alcohol and water mixture, sanding the surface, or applying sealant, depending on what the surface material is. Generally, you will only have to thoroughly clean the surface unless it is porous, rusted, or dirty.

If you have already prepped the surface, the next thing you want to be sure of is that the adhesive is at the right temperature to be the most effective and that you are applying enough pressure when trying to get the materials to bond. You can also use heat to help cure the adhesive. Lastly, use a 3M adhesive promoter to get the most out of your 3M adhesive, especially when applying the adhesive to a low surface energy material like plastic. 

For more information on the features, benefits, and pricing of 3M Adhesive Promoter Sponge click here, alternatively, use our interactive map to find an authorized installer near you. If you enjoyed this article, check out our blog.