Welcome to the second edition of our Flock University series. This issue covers the topic of adhesives used in flocking.
We hope to educate you on the process and the wonderful attributes of flocking. Please let us know your feedback and future topics you would like to see in this series. You can reach us through our website, Facebook, Linkedin, or Twitter at the links below.
Flocking Know-How; Adhesives Bring it All Together
Flock is everywhere. This much you know. But what you may not know is the only reason flock can be utilized in so many industries, on so many surfaces, with so many different end products, is because of a mastery of the art and science of adhesives. If it was not for a careful study of the chemicals and processes used to join two very different materials together permanently, we’d have a colossal mess on our hands.Let’s take a closer look at what makes our Primo 500 fabric stay strong for 500,000 double-rubs, why our holiday ribbon stays fuzzy and soft and what keeps us from swimming in an ocean of finely cut fibers on a daily basis; the magic of adhesives.
What does the Adhesive do?
In order to be useful, flock has to stay put. In order to provide the world-class, ultra-useful product we make at Spectro Coating, flock has to stay put on a number of very different surfaces. This can vary widely, based on whether it will be used for;
An interior designer creating a unique, functional, personal look for a hotel
A craft materials company turning out custom ribbon or fabric
A high-tech firm looking for an amazing new filter, or…
A furniture design company that wants to offer its customer the ultimate look and feel, without sacrificing durability or anti-stain/microbe qualities
The adhesive anchors the flock fibers to any kind of substrate, which could be an object, fabric, film, or any other type of rolled good. Using the correct adhesive is vital. Both the substrate and the final use must be taken into account. Desired characteristics that could influence the adhesive used include such things as whether or not the product will need to be rigid or flexible, flame retardant, or washable.
Also, the process by which the flock is adhered to the substrate could influence the materials used. But don’t worry! The engineers in the Spectro Coating R&D lab have spent decades perfecting the science of bringing flock and substrate together. Whatever it is you need, we can do it.
What Kind of Adhesives do we use?
Adhesives can be solvent or water-based. There is some flexibility in the fine-tuning of the adhesive, but basically it’s like anything else in the world of flock; the manufacturing process used and characteristics of the end product desired will influence the makeup. As you know, Spectro Coating is an American company that puts the environment top on its list. We do our best to keep harsh chemicals in check. If you want to get technical, we only use water-based adhesives – mainly acrylic latex systems, but occasionally urethane and epoxy systems as well.
Getting it to Stick; How is the Adhesive Applied?
It probably won’t shock you if I explain that the substrate and end product characteristics influence the adhesive application process. But that does not mean it’s a simple dump & pump…We apply the adhesive is several ways; knife over roll, reverse coat, screen printing, or gravure (using etched plates or cylinders).
One common method of use is rotary screen printing. This allows us to “print” the adhesive in any pattern and then apply the flock. The flock then sticks to wherever the adhesive is and any remaining unglued fiber is vacuumed off the substrate. Translation? Custom designs; everything from simple words, phrases and graphics to incredibly intricate, beautiful patterns. You may have already seen some in high-quality furniture pieces or famous hotel window and wall coverings.