Water-Based Adhesive Troubleshooting
Water-based adhesives can be used on a range of substrates including plastics, paper, cardboard, metallic films, and natural and synthetic textiles. They are cost-effective to produce and easy to use. In most cases, it is easier to maintain a uniform consistency with a wet bond adhesive. Water-based adhesives are safer for the environment than solvent-based adhesives.
Reducing or eliminating downtime is essential for all businesses. There can be many different reasons for line production downtime when using water-based adhesives. In response, Henkel has developed troubleshooting advice for the most common problems.
Slinging, Throwing or Splashing – a common challenge with water-based adhesives when the centrifugal force throws adhesive on equipment and surrounding areas. There are several causes for slinging:
- Adhesive accumulation on the edge of rollers
- Adhesive drying too fast
- Adhesive level in the pot is higher than recommended
There are several simple solutions to reduce water-based adhesive slinging. The most common one is to check the adhesive viscosity and adjust the thickness. There are also equipment adjustments including cleaning or changing out the rollers; applying grease to the outside edges of the roller to contain the adhesive; and adjusting the roller speeds. Checking the amount of adhesive applied is another area which can impact slinging.
Uneven Coat Weights – occurs when there are variations on the application of the water-based adhesives. Some of the common causes are associated with uneven pressure between the applicators and the substrates. It can also occur when there is dried adhesive withing the system which impacts dispensing the adhesive.
Adjusting the applicator positions – either between rollers/applicators, the blanket or substrates. The applicator should just barely contact the substrate, also known as “kissing” the substrate. Another area to assess is the pressure and check for low areas between the applicator and substrate. Cleaning the rollers should be a common activity completed by operators to avoid remnant adhesive on the rollers/applicators which can impact the coat weight.
Voids and Skips in the Pattern – impact the adhesive application and are commonly caused by issues with the adhesive viscosity. Common culprits are:
- Using mixed adhesive after end of pot life
- Allowing a skin to form on the adhesive during downtime
- Using improperly mixed adhesive or breaking the gel structure prior to application
To avoid these issues with water-based adhesives, it is important to assure thorough mixing occurs prior to starting the line and covering the adhesive during downtime. Checking the rollers to assure there is not any residue is also an option and should be completed by operators on a regular basis.
Tailing or Satelliting – describes when the peak of the dispensed water-based adhesive falls away from the center of the bead or pattern and creates a “tail” on the substrate. This is generally caused by too much adhesive being applied.
The most common solution is to reduce the amount of water-based adhesive being dispensed or existing on the rollers. Operators should check the pump rate to assure it is not over pumping adhesive. Some general guidance on pumping, adhesive beads should be a pencil width, and pump strokes should be less than 30 strokes/minute. Also checking the water-based adhesive viscosity and adjust the thickness may be another method to correct. There are also equipment adjustments including cleaning or changing out the rollers.
Adhesive Temperature Fluctuations – it is important to keep water-based adhesives at the proper storage and processing temperatures to avoid issues. Whether too cold or too hot, temperature can significantly impact the performance. Water-based adhesive that is too cold exhibits poor flowability, increased viscosity, decreased set speed and less adhesive transfer. Water-based adhesive that is too hot has poor shelf stability and poor recirculation stability – both leading to increased waste.
There are many solutions manufacturers can employ to avoid issues related to temperature. First, water-based adhesives should be stored in a temperature-controlled environment 7-days prior to use and avoid storing on a cold floor. Second, tote, drum, or pail warmers are available to purchase from industrial supply stores and can mitigate issues related to temperature. When using water-based adhesives, it is recommended to warm the adhesive to at least 21°C (70°F) and use the adhesive before the “Best If Used By” date. Finally, placing an air hose into the top of the tote to create a pressure difference can also mitigate issues related to temperature.
For regions with common freeze seasons, it is important to be proactive in placing orders and checking water-based adhesive upon delivery. Henkel provides common tips during “Freeze Season” and works with customers to:
- Avoid water-based adhesives in transit over the weekend when there is a greater risk of temperature impacts
- Plan additional lead time to avoid impacts from carrier embargos due to inclement weather
- Inspect all materials upon delivery to identify frozen materials immediately
For more information on troubleshooting water-based adhesives, contact Henkel’s technical customer service team to answer questions and assist with information on products and applications.