Experts view the wearables market as the next big thing in the tech sector. According to analyses performed by international accounting and auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the worldwide market for wearables was valued at 6.3 billion euros in 2015 and is expected to grow by 21 percent a year between now and 2018. German industry association Bitkom expects the European market to see 24 percent annual growth, climbing to as much as 8.8 billion euros in 2018, and the PwC forecast is even more optimistic, predicting an average annual growth of 25.2 percent between now and 2018. Similar growth is assumed for Germany. If current trends hold, smartwatches and fitness trackers should remain the most popular items.
Close cooperation with global players
“We also focused on these two categories when tesa joined with global players from the electronics industry to tackle the development of innovative adhesive tapes, about three years ago,” says Dr. Robert Gereke, CEO of tesa. “This early and close cooperation has meant that we are now able to offer OEMs and suppliers special tapes that meet the specific requirements that apply to adhesive bonding of components in wearables,” he explains. The product range currently includes four double-sided tapes ranging in thickness from 50 to 250 micrometers. Various specification processes for the products, which are manufactured in the cleanroom unit at the tesa plant in Hamburg, were held on-site at the locations of potential customers in early 2017.
Resistance to sweat and sunscreen
Since wearables are constantly in motion, the tapes have to offer high adhesive strength and shock resistance. On top of that, these devices are exposed to various biological and chemical substances, since they are in such close contact with the body. That includes not only sweat, but also perfume, sunscreen, soap, and other substances, as both fluids and gases. Although the tape does not have direct skin contact, particles of these substances, some of which are corrosive, can penetrate inside the wearable through tiny gaps and, in the worst case, dissolve the adhesive bond. For that reason, the four new tesa® 612xx High Performance Tapes have “antibodies” to help them fight exposure to chemicals and other substances.
When it comes to areas of application, the company’s main focus in the smartwatch segment is on mounting the front cover (the lens) and housing (back cover mounting). Another important factor, especially in fitness trackers, is securely affixing the sensitive sensors that are used to track various bodily functions. But smart glasses and clothing with built-in electronics also offer a wealth of possibilities for adhesives in the future market for individualized tracking and “lifelogging” functions.