3M Industrial Adhesives and Tapes Division is evolving its Bonding Process Centers in St. Paul, Minnesota, USA; Neuss, Germany; and Shanghai, China. Against the backdrop of a growing trend toward automation in manufacturing, the 3M Bonding Process Centers provide a starting point from which to design and plan automated bonding solutions.
The 3M Bonding Process Centers are designed to help identify customized process solutions to complex bonding challenges and now enable customers to also virtually access the centers for consultations and live demos. Formerly known as the Global Adhesives Solutions Lab, the 3M Bonding Process Centers connect customers with local 3M experts, facilitating a partnership that solves problems and optimizes processes.
To mark this evolution, 3M engineers and experts are offering virtual consultations with customers and prospects from 3M Bonding Process Centers in all three locations. These sessions highlight how the company’s growing capabilities can be applied to increase positive business outcomes for manufacturing and assembly businesses.
“We are delighted to share more about our state-of-the-art Bonding Process Center offerings in three locations around the globe. These facilities are focused on helping our customers solve their most important problems,” said Taylor Harper, Global Business Development Director at 3M.
Automation assets at the 3M Bonding Process Centers include:
PVA (St. Paul, Minnesota): PVA is a flexible robotic conformal dispensing system. By choosing the right machine and giving it a detailed program, 3M can apply adhesive in dots, shapes, curves, arcs, and more. The lines or dots can be varying widths or diameters in different spots on each part, and the precise programming means each dot or line is applied at the right size and in the right location every time.
6-Axis Robot (St. Paul, Minnesota): A complex shaped part with multiple dimensions can have a bead of adhesive applied with precision. By programming this 6-axis robot and the dispensing equipment to manipulate the part and apply the adhesive, a customer can get consistent bead application, which may allow quicker cycle times, improved quality and less variability.
E-box (Neuss, Germany): In this application, a plasma treatment is used to assist in increasing surface energy and improving wet-out to achieve a better bond. Then the machine can be programmed to apply adhesive with the correct bead all the way around the edge.
Panel to Frame (Neuss, Germany): This panel to frame application is first laser cleaned to remove rust, dust and other contaminations. Then a robot arm precisely applies 3M VHB Tape to each side of the panel delivering consistent pressure to the tape.
“At 3M, we continue to build our global automation and data science expertise, as part of our commitment to support our customers during every stage of their automation journey. Our technologies, knowledge, and highly customized solutions enable manufacturers to realize business benefits that range from higher levels of productivity to significant reductions in cost. We look forward to supporting our customers as they explore integrating more and more automation into their manufacturing processes to help them achieve their overall goals,” added Harper.
The primary benefits of automation include improvements in productivity, quality, safety, and reductions in unit cost and reliance on labor. These benefits are becoming increasingly apparent, with recent figures showing the global industrial control and factory automation market size is expected to grow from $133.1 billion in 2021 to $197.8 billion by 2026.
“Whether customers are interested in testing the latest innovations in dispensing and automation or are simply looking for a better tape or adhesive to bond their parts together, our scientists and engineers will work with them to identify, tailor and design custom solutions to their production challenges,” said Harper.
The Bonding Process Center allows customers to find the optimal combination to meet their production needs and business outcomes, either by engaging in an interactive, remote visit, or an in-person experience. 3M experts are on hand to experiment with different types of tapes and adhesives, and dispensing options that range from powered manual dispensers to fully programmable machinery, to find the right solution for each customer.
Additionally the centers are accustomed to all assembly types, ranging from large surfaces to small joints and encapsulating, and offer metered one- and two-part dispensing, automated tape dispensing, hot melt technologies, and more.
“Most problems have more than one solution, and our BPC experts help customers choose the best ones for their circumstances, through one-on-one consultations on process development and improvement, opportunities to test a variety of equipment, and follow-up support beyond customers’ visits to the center. We look forward to welcoming customers to all of our Bonding Process Center locations,” added Harper.
As a $32 billion (U.S.) organization, 3M invests 6 percent of its revenue in research and development, and the Bonding Process Center is an example of how investment into future-forward solutions can contribute to manufacturers’ business growth and development.