I’m in the Specialty Pressure-Sensitive Tape business and people call me all the time for advice and guidance on how to solve their application challenges with tape. I speak with people from a wide variety of industries, so problems and applications vary greatly. In this article I’ll talk about how technical and sales professionals can get the critical information needed to provide solutions and become a valuable asset to the customer.

Like I said, I deal with people with all sorts of different applications and adhesion or assembly problems. Customers often don’t know what they need – they just know they have a problem that needs to be fixed. This is where your expertise is valuable. Remember: Listening, asking questions and taking notes are key to solving a problem. It’s kind of like detective work!

So, here are some techniques and questions I use to help qualify products, potential business and ultimately provide solutions.

  1. When I talk to a customer, one of the first things I do is ask them to tell me about their business. This kind of breaks the ice and helps me better understand some tape properties or processes that could be important.
  2. Next is the application. Here’s where we start asking questions. Make sure to listen carefully and take notes as you go along.
  3. Ask the customer to explain the application: What’s purpose of the tape?
  4. How will the tape be used and applied to the substrate?
  5. Ask about the tape product and type they’re currently using. This will be helpful to know when developing a custom solution.
  6. Have they been using the competitive tape for a long time and has it performed well?
  7. What is it that they like and what don’t they like about the current tape? If they could get more features from a product, what would they be?

Now start asking about performance requirements. Some of these you’ll already know from the earlier questions. Some important questions are:

  • What is the surface that the tape will need to bond to? Answers may be polyethylene, vinyl, sheet metal, or others.
  • Is the surface slippery, smooth, rough, etc.?
  • Is the product used indoors or will it be exposed to environmental conditions like rain, snow, heat, cold, etc.?
  • Will the tape be subject to continuous heat or cold, like in a engine compartment or freezer?
  • Does the tape need to be resistant to chemicals, oils, water or other contaminants? Plasticizer is a common chemical that will affect adhesive performance. I generally ask about plasticizer.
  • Does the tape need to hold in a vertical or angled position. If so, what weight is required?
  • Is permanent adhesion required or does the part need to have properties that allow clean removal of the tape?
  • Is the tape going to bond to one surface or does it need to bond two materials/surfaces together?

The next topic is processing. This is a critical topic that many tape professionals fail to investigate thoroughly.

  • Always ask if there are processes that the tape would be subject to. Some of these could be lamination, roll slitting, die cutting and others.
    • There are different types laminating, so ask about the:
      • Lamination type (roll nip or flat platen)
      • Lamination temperature
      • Lamination pressure
      • Lamination speed
      • Wide web or narrow
    • Slitting Rolls – Ask customers:
      • Which type of slitting they use.
      • What they are slitting. (This could be tape only or some combination of tape and other materials.)
      • If they are having problems slitting, and what kind of problems.
    • Die Cutting – Ask customers:
      • What method of die cutting they use
      • What they are die cutting. (This could be tape only or some combination of tape and other materials.)
      • If they have experienced any problems when die cutting, and what those problems are.

These are some typical questions that’ll be helpful in solving your customer’s adhesive bonding problems and will help you become a valued supplier.