By Shari Loushin
As times change and products become more sophisticated, manufacturing techniques must be refined to accommodate new needs in structural applications.
Mechanical fasteners and welding are traditional joining methods that many manufacturers are comfortable with, but these methods
are not always the most practical solution for
modern assembly. Mechanical fasteners, in
particular, can drive up costs; limit options for
materials; and cause fatigue, metal distortion,
Strong adhesives or tapes can outperform
mechanical fasteners in these structural applications, while also providing for a clean, durable design. That’s why more manufacturers are
looking at industrial adhesives as a viable alternative to traditional joining methods.
Problems With Mechanical Fasteners
Traditional joining methods can present dif-
ficulties in the assembly process. Metal distor-
tion and tearing under heavy loads, or fatigue,
Even welding can damage metals by caus-
ing heat distortion or burn-through, especially
with lighter-weight substrates. Also, energy and
labor often are needed to return the welded
parts to a condition suitable for painting.
Sustainability in production is a hot-button issue that is only going to escalate. A lot of pressure is on manufacturers to decrease fuel use,
energy consumption, and contaminant emissions. The best way to do that is to reduce the
weight of materials being produced and use the
lighter-weight materials in lieu of traditional
Unfortunately, traditional joining methods
usually aren’t as e;ective as adhesives when
joining lighter-weight materials, so reducing
weight for sustainability’s sake becomes a di;cult task. Lighter composite or plastic materials
cannot always be welded easily, and thin sheet
metal parts are prone to distortion and tearing
» When metal is joined with adhesives, stress is
uniformly spread across the entire area where the
adhesive is applied, not just at the points where
mechanical fasteners would have been placed. This
reduces the potential for distortion, splitting, and
crazing of the material.
at the concentrated points where through-part
fasteners like rivets and bolts are placed.
While mechanical fasteners often can provide structural strength, the level of their holding power can be overkill for many common applications. In this way, mechanical fasteners are
used out of convenience rather than necessity,
when there are more simple and e;ective joining options available.
Selecting industrial adhesives for structural applications opens the door to opportunities that
would not be possible when relying on mechanical fasteners or welding options. Adhesives are
suitable for thin, lightweight materials. Where
mechanical fasteners may rip through and damage a thin substrate, an adhesive bond provides
even load distribution across the surface area of
the joint. This reduces the potential for fatigue
damage, lengthens the life of the bond and product, and drastically reduces replacement or repair costs.
Thin and light materials can be cheaper to
manufacture than heavy metals, so using adhesives with these types of materials in assembly
potentially can drive down costs as well.
Adhesives allow manufacturers to diversify
the materials used in their assemblies in other
ways, besides simply using di;erent kinds of
metal. Using adhesives opens up options for
more composite and plastic use, which can help
manufacturers decrease material costs and improve the aesthetics of the end product.
Where mechanical fasteners can limit design
options for structural applications, adhesives
A viable alternative to mechanical fasteners
Open up the design possibilities
with a consideration of adhesives