New Fast-Curing, Low-Temp Adhesive

By Mary Catherine O'Connor

A maker of industrial adhesives is marketing a quick-curing electrically conductive adhesive as an enabler for faster RFID tag production.

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Emerson & Cuming, an adhesive manufacturer headquartered in Billerica, Mass., has released the XCE 3112, a new electrically conductive adhesive that cures in seconds at low temperatures. It could help to speed the assembly of RFID tags.

Vito Buffa

Adhesive materials traditionally used to bond together a tag’s chip and antenna can cure in a variety of timespans, from less than three seconds to several hours, depending on the ambient temperature during the curing process. But because temperatures more than 150 degrees Celcius damage most substrate materials, adhesives must be cured at temperatures lower than 150 degrees. The XCE 3112 adhesive, says Emerson & Cuming, cures in three seconds at temperatures as low as 110 degrees Celsius.

The XCE 3112 adhesive could be physically applied using a number of different processes, but according to Emerson & Cuming’s marketing manager Vito Buffa, jet-dispensing is the best way to apply the adhesive. (Emerson & Cuming has tested the adhesive using a jet dispenser manufactured by Asymtek, a Carlsbad, Calif.-based manufacturer, and has found that it works well without clogging.)

Buffa says that applying the new adhesive with any dispersive method could also lead to cost and time savings in cleaning and maintenance of the application equipment used to dispense the adhesive. That’s because the XCE 3112 has what is referred to as a long “work life,” meaning that it maintains a consistency that keeps the adhesive flowing throughout the day without congealing and clogging the dispenser. Conductive adhesives with a shorter work life require that application equipment be periodically shut down—as frequently as once an hour—and cleaned, often with expensive solvents that require special disposal methods, according Buffa.

The ability to cure quickly at low temperatures combined with a long work life makes the XCE 3112 adhesive unique and attractive to tag manufacturers, says Buffa. The adhesive, which is made with a proprietary formula, was in development during the past year and half. Buffa says its adhesion and RF conductibility have been put through accelerated life testing, which simulated the severe temperature ranges and as well as the jarring and vibrations tags experience during use and transport as part of an RFID tag. He says the tests show the adhesive should maintain its hold and conductivity for five to 10 years.

Buffa says that this adhesive can be used wherever a conductive adhesive is needed in a tag assembly, such as attaching a chip to a battery in a passive or semipassive tag.

The adhesive is available from Emerson & Cuming now. Pricing information was not released. The company says it is in discussions with tag manufacturers about purchasing the product, but no current or potential users were named.

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