House of smarts


A smartphone clatters to the ground for the fiftieth time. A tablet display bakes under a sunlamp, an adhesive hook holds its own in icy water and an electric car battery is put on a restricted feeding schedule. These are all everyday occurrences at the largest of tesa’s three Customer Solution Centers (CSCs).

Expanded in 2022, the “House of Smarts” is a future lab for all kinds of adhesive solutions and therefore sometimes also a place where new developments are put through stress and endurance tests. Sustainability is built in. “The annex itself is the best-insulated building in this Chinese metropolis,” Uwe Michel, Head of the tesa Customer Solution Center, notes with a smile. All kinds of equipment for developing new products can be found throughout the five floors of this state-of-the-art, environmentally friendly building. Behind the insulated facade and its triple-glazed windows, an activated charcoal filter system also ensures that no vapor is released into the atmosphere.

Specific stress tests for every scenario

The predecessor facility set up here near China’s east coast in 2008 was quickly bursting at the seams. It has now gained an additional 5,400 m² of space in the large annex. The goal remains the same: the laboratory units aim to help companies find the best possible adhesive tape and application solution from tesa for their requirements. This also allows them to operate more sustainably themselves. To enable this, the products get put through their paces. Extreme heat, icy cold, floods of water, heavy loads and movements ranging from uncomfortable to turbulent are just some of the criteria that products are tested on here. 

tesa Site Suzhou

Ultimately, the tesa adhesive technology has to meet the relevant product specifications, namely strength and durability requirements. These are usually a few years in the case of a smartphone, a full 15 years for a car and even 30 years when bonding facade parts.

After numerous trials, tesa is able to deliver clever adhesive tape elements for any scenario – tailored to the smart products of its major industrial customers. The know-how at Suzhou is available to the entire Asian market, from India to China to Australia – a region known as a source and stronghold of popular consumer electronics such as smartphones, tablets and wearables. “But also a longstanding key market for electromobility,” says Uwe Michel, “as you cannot have electric cars without display screens.”

together with our customers

Smart cooperation for products in development

All of the up to 2,000 customers per year that can meet with the tesa specialists or, for example, take part in training in the CSC share similar goals. Given the breathtaking pace of development in smartphone design and similar products, tesa has to continuously come up with new solutions for bonding screens, batteries and casing parts. These developments are generally cooperative projects between the tesa Customer Solution Centers and the product development laboratories in China and Norderstedt. 

The repairability of popular devices is a high-priority topic in China at the moment. Smartphones break quickly because they easily slip out of our hands and pockets. The screens and back panels are made of glass that shatters and has to be replaced. All of these elements, as well as the batteries, are often held in place today by wafer-thin tesa adhesive tape, which can also be detached to some extent to repair individual components. This is not only cheaper than purchasing a new device, but also more sustainable because it extends the service life. Some governments are also recognizing this. In Europe, for example, the law will require smart communication technology to be repairable to a certain extent from 2025 onward. “This means we have to find ways to ensure that individual parts can be replaced,” says Michel.

The Customer Solution Center is the right place for challenges like this, with the specialists there working tirelessly to find solutions – for example, if  a mobile phone manufacturer decides that a repair time of 45 minutes is 39 minutes too long. According to Uwe Michel, an impressive 80 discarded smartphones successfully served as guinea pigs in Suzhou. They were dropped, taken apart and then put back together perfectly. The bondings were repeatedly reformulated and repositioned until a new, doable six-minute repair standard was achieved. “Our customer is happy. Saving this time means real money for the manufacturer and ultimately also the repair shops.”

State-of-the-art equipment – from a climatic chamber to an innovation workshop

The almost 50 specialists in Suzhou love to tackle these kinds of tricky tasks. In 2022, they ran around 1,900 projects to work on optimizing products. For example, automakers can see in person how adhesive tape is automatically applied to vehicle bodies for the painting process. A sizable walk-in climatic chamber enables testing with large objects that are brought in, while an innovation workshop can be used by project teams for brainstorming and testing. These are just a few of the opportunities that the center offers. One entire floor is home to offices and labs equipped to the highest technical standard. 

This is a good place to work – also in the field of electromobility. Every kilo counts when it comes to battery range, so tesa is helping to cut crucial weight from the electrical system, for example. “We are able to give a fixed form to cable bundles there, which had not been possible until now for space reasons. For this, we have developed a new cable wrapping tape that is cured by UV irradiation. This gives cable bundles in the electrical system a structure, while also reducing weight and creating space. Compared to conventional cable ducts and depending on the specific application, this can save up to hundreds of grams in weight. At the same time, it frees up room that can be used as precious installation space, which is often in short supply. Smart solutions can also be developed for new trends that are bringing increasing levels of functionality and intelligence to vehicles,” explains Uwe Michel.


Where previously we would have sent adhesive rolls as samples in a parcel, we can now use email for this in some situations.
Uwe Michel

Head of tesa Customer Solution Center

Uwe Michel
working in the CSC

For example, incremental progress is being made day after day with the aid of drop towers, tumblers, autoclaves/pressure tanks and lots of enthusiasm. The Customer Solution Center doesn’t just put in-house adhesive solutions on the test track or run computer-simulated stress models to meet requirements profiles, though. As a very innovative form of customer service, the team is especially proud of the invention of its virtual adhesive tape. “Where previously we would have sent adhesive rolls as samples in a parcel, we can now use email for this in some situations,” says Uwe Michel, explaining the innovation.

The tape is now described digitally. While this does take a good two weeks, “customers know in advance all the special features that we can offer them and can swiftly adapt their product to take advantage of these. When they have drawings available at such an early stage, they can change something with just a few clicks on the computer, making the smartphone shell a little wider, for example, to suit. This eliminates complex reworking later on. Providing a digital twin means that our customers get a sample at an early stage, which really helps to accelerate development.”

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