I have to admit, I have a fidgety habit of peeling away the labels off beer bottles. I know I’m not the only one though, because I’ve seen other people doing the same thing for years. There is something satisfying about getting that label off in one full sheet with no pieces left over on the bottle. Plus, that way you have the perfect material for a makeshift mini “basketball” that you
can launch into the garbage can while imagining you’re LeBron James hitting the winning shot. I’ve come to learn that it’s really not that odd because I see other people doing it as well. When the label is off, I pretend I’m Lebron James. I crumble it up, roll it into a ball and fantasize about hitting the game winning shot while “shooting” it in the garbage can. Sometimes I score the game winning shot and other times I’m completely rejected after I miss the shot.

But did you ever wonder why the label comes off the bottle so easily? Last week I was wondering to myself, how does that label come off so easily from the bottle?

In about 2 seconds I realized it’s something I’m familiar with from over. With more than 20 years of specialized recruiting in the pressure sensitive adhesive industry, I know that it’s because this seemingly simple material most of us don’t think much about is actually a staple on many of the products we all use in our everyday lives.

Pressure sensitive adhesives (PSAs) are that almost invisible sticky product on the back of labels, tapes, films, gaskets and so many devices we use all day. They are extremely adaptable and functional, but given that they are virtually unseen, it adds to their mystique and is probably why it’s so easy to take them for granted.

What makes a pressure sensitive adhesive so unique?

There are two main reasons why they have unique properties: their viscosity and elasticity. The viscosity is their ability to be sticky yet sometimes thick. Their elasticity, or stretchiness, is the ability for the adhesive material to resume its normal shape after being stretched or compressed.

Another unique feature of PSAs is their ability to bond to substrates while remaining tacky and Not without becoming solid yet remaining tacky. Chemical bonds are formed with the substrates when some pressure is applied to them which causes them to stick to the substrates. Typically, if the temperature is increased, the bonds loosen. That is why when the label gets warm, it is easier to move around.

PSA’s are typically formulated either synthetic or natural rubbers, and polyacrylates yet sometimes can be made from silicones or other polymeric materials. They are manufactured in chemical batches and liquid or spray coated onto large rolls of substrates including paper, plastic films, nonwovens, scrim, and other flexible materials. Once they are coated, they will typically need a silicone release backing substrate to ensure the PSA’s doesn’t get dirty, bonded to another substrate, or changes it’s chemical bond before it’s intended use.

Lastly, the Pressure Sensitive Adhesive PSA roll material will usually be cut down from large rolls into smaller rolls and eventually cut down in smaller pieces through mechanical processes such as die cutting machines, slitting machines, or other converting equipment.

As far as the applications and the industries that PSAs are used in, they are very diverse, including:

  • Electronics
  • Medical Device
  • Automotive
  • Packaging
  • Labeling
  • Graphics
  • HVAC
  • Aerospace
  • Electric Vehicles (EV)
  • Consumer

They also have a wide range of functions and uses, running. The range of applications runs the gamut from large and small graphics, decals, consumer and bar code labels on everyday products in the store, tapes that are used in paint masking, duct tapes, wound care bandages, medical device components or tiny bonding materials in our electronic devices, smart phones, earbuds, or wearable fit bit electronic Devices.

All of this really just touches the surface of the unique and interesting industry of pressure sensitive adhesives. So, the next time you peel that beer bottle label off in preparation to channel Lebron, you can Now, just like I peeled off the label from the beer bottle, you can go out into the world and ponder all of the products you use daily that have PSA technology in them.

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