Afera President’s key takeaways from the PSTC’s 2019 Tape Summit

The Pressure Sensitive Tape Council of North America (PSTC) recently held its annual Tape Summit, deemed “an historic success” by industry organisers. Held at the Marriott Baltimore Waterfront in Maryland in May, the event provided segmented and flexible learning options, including Adhesives & Advanced Technology of PSA Tapes and Fundamentals of PSA Tape courses, an exhibitor showcase and the TECH 42 (PSTC’s technical committee) meeting, during which the keynote address was delivered by motivational speaker Fredi Lajvardi. The Summit welcomed 122 individual companies and 502 attendees from 10 countries, including Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands and Spain in addition to the U.S.

For the first time, the PSTC also offered a themed industrial seminar, the Building & Construction Industry: Markets and Application Track, to B&C industry professionals including CEOs, vice presidents, directors, PSTC President Michel Merkxmanagers, engineers, sales and marketing professionals and support teams. The idea was to help professionals across all internal verticals, including adhesives and sealants specialists, to understand better the variety of PSA tape solutions available, to address how PSA tapes are used from a B&C applications standpoint, to speak to the challenges of using PSA tape and how to overcome them, and to demonstrate recent innovations making tape use desirable, along with solutions found through the use of PSA tape.

“Drawing in over 70-registrants in its premiere, the new Markets & Applications Track of the Summit featured a great line-up of industry experts,” said Michel Merkx, GTF vice chairman, PSTC president and general manager at American Biltrite, Inc. - ABI Tape. “They shared their extensive knowledge and views on the use and opportunities of PSA tapes in the North American B&C market.”

“Additional value was offered by Evert Smit, president of Afera, the European Adhesive Tape Association and head of R&D at Lohmann GmbH & Co. KG, who presented his technical expertise and compared and contracted application uses in the European B&C market,” Mr. Merkx added. “We expect to expand our themed industrial track system for the Summit in the future, making those working in various industry verticals aware of the virtually endless beneficial and practical applications of PSA tapes.”

PSTC Tape Summit 

Evert Smit’s take on the event

What was the Tape Summit like?
The PSTC’s Spring Meeting in Baltimore was excellent. As you know, their area of focus was building & construction. The PSTC has set the goal to focus each of its future Summits on a specific area of the tape industry. This compelling strategy provides a thorough look at areas that will contribute to the growth of our industry. The benefits to us as tape makers and our customers are obvious, so I think Afera should move in the direction of organising our events this way as well.

What did you like about the programme?
In each of the sessions, the presentations were delivered by various experts in their fields. The beauty was that many of them were tape users, not tape producers! This is what I would like to see in Afera in the future as Afera President Evert Smitwell: providing “the voice of the market”.

What were your key takeaways from the presentations?
Without getting into describing the content of the individual lectures, which were made available to the attendees:

    • About a third of all projects in B&C specify tapes, and this should grow as most users would like to switch away from liquid adhesives and pastes for the reasons of efficiency, cost and tightening regulatory requirements.
    • The more experienced “the specifiers” in this industry, the more conservative they are.
    • Top uses for tapes include applications in home energy efficiency, moisture and air management. Recyclability and extreme temperature resistance are important.
    • “Influencers” are increasingly important: Endorsements of other users and tape trade organisations create familiarity and often tip the balance in favour of tapes.
    • The reason for using tapes (Why tape?) should be made more visible: They are easy to use, lightweight, cost effective, durable (i.e. in applications like automotive) and make things look better.
    • “Educate your customers!” said one user, so they understand the value that tapes can provide to their products. We are doing this in Europe, and I see associations like Afera and the PSTC playing a key role here.
    • Where tape is a true part of the design (e.g. in HVAC), it has to last the lifetime of the product. Sometimes targets are too rough. Poor design is often a problem, so working with designers is critical in advancing the use of tapes.
    • Labour, especially labour shortage, is a particular challenge in the US. This calls for improvements in efficiency.
    • Other trends include marking paint lines, masking, humidity barriers and house wrapping. House wrapping or a building envelop involves a breathable membrane acting as a water-resistant barrier. Again, this product would have to last the lifetime of the building. In the U.S., this is significantly shorter than that in Europe. Interestingly, it was mentioned that true innovations in this area come out of Europe.
    • Important but currently unrecognised is “how to reliably test the longevity” of bonding solutions. The ASTM and DIN test methods and standards, as well as UL listings, are of little help here, so experience with products and materials counts. In this regard, tapes, as a newer bonding technology, are at a disadvantage—all the more reason to create relevant real-world TMs and significant amounts of data. It was mentioned that tapes have only played a significant role in B&C for the last 10-15 years in the U.S. In Europe, they have been in use for decades.
    • Critical to the B&C industry are U.S. building codes, which specify minimum standards of compliance. These closely resemble the European codes I presented. In both cases, the codes do not specify materials but the required properties of safety, fire and smoke reduction, VOC levels, etc. OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) requirements are also critical. They are extensive, and it helps to know them, but in the U.S. they are not mandatory, while in Europe they are.

Don’t miss Mr. Smit’s upcoming lecture “Europe & North American tech update and the building & construction industry from a European perspective” at Afera’s Lisbon Conference. For programme and registration details, visit

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