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Automated Manufacturing with Adhesives and Tapes

Companies are moving to automation to meet changing customer demands— and are improving their own businesses at the same time. Even low levels of automation can have a significant effect on improving your process, quality and cost.

Ask a 3M expert

Innovations in automation can help you produce more for less

Regardless of your needs, 3M has the resources and support to help you take the first step toward automation.

  • Image of a dispenser tip applying adhesive around the edge of a molded plastic form
    Increase/Improve
    • Rate/speed of production
    • Number of units produced
    • Consistency from unit to unit
    • Precision, accuracy at a specific stage
    • Quality or design of finished unit
    • Traceability or future optimization
  • Closeup of a complex taping head attached to a robot arm and poised over a workpiece
    Reduce
    • Reliance on human labor / number of labor hours per unit
    • Waste, re-work, and scrap
    • Work-in-process inventory

Where do you sit on the readiness scale?

When we talk about automation it helps to understand what the different levels of automation are, where you’re at now and how you can best meet your production needs. Please understand that these are not rigid categories where you’re in one at a time – different parts of your production might be at each level, or a process might straddle two levels. The general categories are just to help understand the continuum of automation options so everyone in the discussion understands the possibilities.

As you can see below, there are several factors that can play into the decision about what range of automation best meets your needs right now and what to consider as a future option. Your decision for any process will be based on your part volume, labor, how precise the application must be, available budget and whether you do short or long production runs.

  • Image of a worker using a hand applicator to apply adhesive to a piece of plastic
    Level 1: Basic Tools

    Assembly Volume: Low volume, job shop

    Value of Parts: Least expensive

    Labor cost: Lowest, inexpensive easy-to-hire employees

    Quality Requirements: Quality can be achieved manually

    Experience with Automation: None

    Budget: <$1k

  • Image of a machine for applying 3M™ VHB Tape to a piece of square tubing as it’s pushed through the guides
    Level 2: Process Assist

    Assembly Volume: Low-medium volume, job shop

    Value of Parts: Less inexpensive

    Labor cost: Low-medium less inexpensive easy to-hire employee

    Quality Requirements: Quality can be achieved semi-manually

    Experience with Automation: None

    Budget: $1k - $50k

  • Image of a complex machine for applying tape to parts as they pass underneath on a conveyor
    Level 3: Fixed Automation

    Assembly Volume: Medium-high volume, identical parts

    Value of Parts: More expensive

    Labor cost: Medium-high, more expensive, difficult to hire employees

    Quality Requirements: High precision, accuracy required

    Experience with Automation: Use automation or robotics today

    Budget: $50k - $100k

  • Image of a robot used to mix and apply liquid structural adhesives
    Level 4: Flexible Automation

    Assembly Volume: High volume, identical parts

    Value of Parts: Most expensive

    Labor cost: High, most expensive, difficult to hire employees

    Quality Requirements: Extreme precision, accuracy required

    Experience with Automation: Use automation or robotics today

    Budget: >$100k


  • A robot arm applies adhesive to a metal plate in a rectangular pattern

    3M Bonding Process Center can help you take the next step in your automation journey

    It’s nice to get help choosing an adhesive, but where do you turn for a deep dive into automation? 3M has a state-of-the-art Bonding Process Center with three locations around the globe where our expert scientists and application engineers can work with you in person or remotely to address production challenges from manual dispensing to complex multi-axis robotics.


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Need help finding the right product for your project? Contact us if you need product, technical or application advice or want to collaborate with a 3M technical specialist, or give us a call at 1-800-831-0658.

Need help finding the right product for your project? Contact us if you need product, technical or application advice or want to collaborate with a 3M technical specialist, or give us a call at 1-800-831-0658.