The specialty tapes market is the fastest-growing segment within the pressure sensitive adhesives industry.

In an industrial landscape marked by continual advancements towards higher performance standards and sustainability, BASF has distinguished itself with a product range featuring an extensive assortment of polymer dispersions and UV-curable acrylic hotmelts designed for the specialty tapes market. These adhesives offer robust performance and adaptability, making them suitable for a wide array of demanding applications across the automotive, building and construction, and medical industries.
 
The specialty tape sector represents a rapidly expanding segment within the broader tape industry, particularly in North America. This segment is currently experiencing the fastest growth rate by volume. Recent analyses attribute this growth to several factors: the escalation of chronic health conditions, ongoing technological enhancements, and the increasing needs of the construction and automobile sectors.
 
According to a report by Global Market Insights, the market for specialty tapes is projected to exceed $96.9 billion by 2032. This surge is largely driven by a worldwide adoption of sustainable practices and a rising demand for environmentally friendly products.
 
The specialty tapes sector includes niche markets with specific technical demands. For instance, automotive specialty tapes must withstand extreme temperatures and chemical resistance in accordance with rigorous automotive specifications. In the building and construction sector, tapes are required to exhibit flame retardancy and endure diverse environmental conditions for the lifespan of a building, while medical tapes necessitate cytotoxicity certifications and skin compatibility.
 
BASF has been at the forefront of supporting the adhesives industry, as the industry transitions from traditional solvent-based technologies to more sustainable alternatives. This shift aligns with a global trend towards sustainability, aiming to reduce reliance on materials with high volatile organic compounds (VOCs), enhance worker safety conditions, reduce energy consumption, and source from renewable resources. The company’s portfolio includes water-based and 100 percent solid acrylic adhesives, which are suitable for specialty tape applications that have traditionally only been achievable with solvent acrylics.
 
BASF's product lineup is designed to meet the diverse needs of various customers. The Acronal® portfolio, for example, includes both well-established high solid dispersions and newly developed products that feature fast-drying capabilities, which facilitate energy savings or increase production line speeds. BASF’s commitment to ongoing research and development ensures the continuous enhancement of their dispersions and resins. This R&D focus, coupled with the company’s comprehensive knowledge in formulations, applications, and process optimization, positions BASF as a knowledgeable and capable partner in specialty tapes.
 
One standout in BASF's innovative lineup is the Acronal 36XX series, which has set a new benchmark in water-based adhesives. This product line overcomes the traditional coat weight limitations of water-based adhesives and enables a customer to achieve extremely high coat weights otherwise not achievable with conventional water-based systems. Such coat weights are essential for bonding to rough building materials, such as OSB or plywood, or for achieving exceptionally high peel strength.

"Through the Acronal 36XX series, we have developed adhesives that provide substantial versatility and strength in applications where traditional water-based systems struggled to perform effectively," explained Dave Schulenberg, Expert Technical Account Manager at BASF.
 
The products in the Acronal series are designed to meet specific customer needs. Acronal 3633 NA, for example, is highly aggressive and tacky, providing good shear and adherence to a variety of surfaces. Acronal 3636 X, offers extremely high cohesion and internal strength, sacrificing some surface tack for better performance in high-heat applications.
 
BASF’s acResin® technology represents another high-performance option, particularly advantageous for applications requiring direct food or skin contact, cold temperature adhesion, and low-fogging properties This technology blends the benefits of acrylic copolymers with those of hot melt processing, creating adhesives that are free from water and solvents, offering significant advantages in terms of processing complexity and energy savings. This UV-curable acrylic technology is renowned for its durability, positioning it as an ideal alternative to conventional mechanical fasteners like screws and rivets.
 
“acResin has over 20 years of proven history and performance specifically in some of these specialty tape applications,” said Antonia Chan, Sales & Marketing Manager Dispersions & Resins North America. “Customers seeking reliable solutions for their applications can trust these established products.”
 
BASF not only supplies a range of products but also provides tailored solutions to support unique requirements and applications for customers. BASF offers customers includes extensive technical support, regulatory support, and collaborations with machine builders and tollers, to ensure customers receive comprehensive support throughout their projects.
 
"Our role extends beyond mere supply; we collaborate with our customers to co-develop solutions tailored to their specific needs," affirms Sujith Chacko, Technical Team Leader. "This collaborative approach guarantees success from the laboratory to the final application."
 
In addition to its broad-based polymer portfolio, BASF also offers coater-ready formulated adhesives that are custom-developed for each customer, “We offer fully formulated water-based adhesives specific to each application and coating method at each customer.,” said Steven Gaik, Technical Account Manager.
 
Schulenberg highlighted the team's advanced knowledge and skills in developing and incorporating specialized formulations to improve overall performance and cater to the specific requirements of our customers. “The years of experience that we offer is invaluable to customers also. This allows us to get products quickly into the marketplace,” Schulenberg said.
 
Gaik agreed, adding that one thing that differentiates BASF in the space is the technical and regulatory support offered to customers. “Our customer interactions are not just a transactional exchange of off-the-shelf products with no interaction afterward,” Gaik said. “We provide extensive technical, manufacturing, problem-solving, and regulatory support to customers during and after their purchase. BASF aims to be a true partner to our customers, not just a supplier.”
 
BASF collaborates with machine builders and tollers to guarantee a smooth customer experience. If a customer lacks in-house equipment to run the adhesives and wishes to conduct testing, the BASF team can help facilitate connections with tollers and machine builders. BASF also offers a state-of-the-art pilot coating facility to customers to support exploratory trials with BASF adhesives.
 
As the industry demands higher performance and more environmentally friendly adhesive solutions, BASF is well-positioned to lead with its innovative products and expert solutions. The company's sustained research and development efforts will maintain its position at the forefront of adhesive technology, driving the market toward a more sustainable future.
 
Contact BASF for questions relating to specialty tapes, Acronal 36XX series or acResin.

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