Adhesion, coating, and bonding problems have a tendency to be persistent and resilient, causing frustration and can lead to costly rework, recalls, scrap, production delays, and reputation loss, at worst. These problems often require more than manufacturers are currently equipped to handle on their own.
These problems don’t exist or remain due to a lack of trying to eradicate them. Manufacturers often voraciously throw many possible remedies against the wall to see what sticks. Common troubleshooting methods include surface quality test methods like dyne solutions and water break tests. Sometimes manufacturers implement additional surface preparation steps like abrasion, plasma treatment, industrial washing operations, and even just manual wiping, and they seek help from the equipment and adhesive suppliers. Yet, sometimes, the adhesion problem remains undeterred.
Adhesion process control is an area that does not have a wealth of solutions or legacy remediation techniques that are truly reliable. Also, the fundamental science behind adhesion-based problems is not always fully understood, making it more difficult to get to the root cause.
Thankfully there is hope, but there are several things to keep in mind when reaching out for assistance:
- Determine who has the expertise you’re looking for.
- Know if the solution being presented is practical or merely a log of data that doesn't have real-world meaning or application.
- You need help from someone who has the right perspective on the problem.
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Who Should You Ask for Adhesion Failure Root Cause Analysis?
When attempting to build or improve an adhesion process, manufacturers are faced with a highly fractured market of specialists. Due to the emerging importance of advanced materials, coatings, and complex adhesion operations, there has been a massive opportunity for companies to drill very deep into a particular aspect of the adhesion process.
There are experts in plasma physics, specialists who develop state-of-the-art treatment equipment, and companies that devise highly precise and narrowly focused testing equipment for laboratories. There are chemists who make and have exhaustive knowledge of adhesives and mechanical engineers who design and build materials for every imaginable application.
Each of these experts can be highly effective at optimizing a very narrow aspect of an adhesion process. If it is assessed that the problem lies within the scope of these specialists, then there are extremely knowledgeable and capable assets at the disposal of manufacturers.
What Kind of Help Are You Getting?
There are many services available to manufacturers who need to get to the root cause of adhesion process issues. The services and tests may vary widely and include things like strength tests, ionic contamination tests, chemical characterizations of surfaces, toughness analysis, and different means to understand the limits and vulnerabilities of materials.
When reaching out for help, you need to work with someone who understands your process and will run relevant tests that provide meaningful and actionable data. Many laboratory tests are indirect tests that may not tell you information that gets to the heart of your surface quality—and certainly do not help with what to do about it if the results aren’t favorable.
Moreover, when the tests are run and the results are collected, be wary of anyone who presents you with raw data and sends you on your way.
Work with Surface Scientists who offer data in a comprehensible manner with not merely an interpretation (which is certainly useful) but also a recommendation of action steps based on what the data reveals. This will put a stop to unnecessary steps being added based on hunches as opposed to rigorous scientific analysis.
Does the Provider Take a Holistic Approach to Problem-Solving?
One of the main problems with seeking help is the specialization talked about earlier in this article. As previously stated, that kind of expertise is perfect if the problem resides squarely within the purview of the expert being called upon.
What’s lacking is the requisite interdisciplinary knowledge to solve adhesion problems that can be much more complex than they may seem. Often adhesion issues arise out of inadequate surface quality checks and controls throughout the entirety of the adhesion process. System-level problems like this require system-level expertise.
Only process experts that have experience with your particular application can truly be helpful in diagnosing root causes and eliminating the problem at the origin. These types of experts can also help implement monitoring methods that can alert you to trends in the wrong direction before they become actual problems.
Good Help is Hard to Find
What companies who are experiencing chronic failures, incessant cleanliness issues, and/or adhesion problems of any sort need is help from someone who will not just apply a bandage to a gaping wound. Companies that are hemorrhaging money, time, and resources trying to figure out how to rescue themselves require a partner to take a step back and assess the problem at a system level.
Tackling problems on a system-wide scale takes a breadth of knowledge about manufacturing processes, Materials Science, and solutions that are ongoing measures, not one-and-done salves that only treat symptoms.
To learn more about how experts discover the source of adhesion problems and the steps necessary to eliminate them, download our eBook on the subject: “Checklist: Adhesion Failure Root-Cause Analysis for Manufacturers.”