On the road to success: tesa makes autos mobile – since 90 years

Mobility never stands still; good ideas and innovative top performance speed up progress. The global automotive industry is in the midst of the greatest transformation in history – and tesa is right in the middle of it. Today, a car may contain more than 130 adhesive applications. In 2021, adhesive pads are applied by robots to an electric car, while 90 years ago, the suspension strut of a pre-war vehicle was covered with a simple wrap.


Corrosion protection for the car body

The swift development pace on the street is often accompanied by tesa. Recently, even international experts were amazed at the cooperation between Porsche and tesa. Will elegant sports cars like the fully electric Taycan be glued together from now on? Yes, absolutely – and with the help of a robot! There are up to 200 holes in every car body, which are initially necessary for the painting process and assembly work, and which have then to be closed again to protect the vehicle against corrosion. 

Normally, this task is still performed by hand using plastic plugs – an extremely time-consuming, straining and personnel-intensive process. The alternative: tesa adhesive patches that a robot applies quickly and reliably. That's industry 4.0! After all, there's no pit stop on the road to the future ... 

On the fast track through the turn of an era 

For many years, the Automotive division has been the largest pillar of tesa's industrial business: It accounts for approx. three quarters of Group sales (2020: 1,326 million Euro). The multifunctional adhesive tapes can do so much more than just bond, harness or seal parts.

The latest innovations include, for example, the special product tesa® FireGuard, which was developed for the so-called battery footprint in e-mobiles and can endure flames of up to 500 degrees Celsius for six minutes.

This way, in the event of a battery fire, people in the passenger compartment are protected.  As an industrial partner with development centers in Germany, China, and the USA, tesa sees itself well prepared for the transition of the automobile into the electric and digital age. Last but not least, the Automotive sector benefits from another large business area within the tesa Group: Electronics. Because today’s automobile moves at turbo speed to turn into some kind of tablet on four wheels ...

Wraps for vehicles

Already in the past, innovation and inventiveness have been tesa’s power – for horsepower. Some stones were removed from the way.  In the early 1930s, the roads were still bumpy. The steel struts groaned beneath the bodywork, catching every pothole, every bump. They soon creaked and crunched because the dirt and rust on the road got to them. 

"Beiersdorf's Federschutzgamaschen" (spring protection gaiters ) got the four-wheelers back on track: For 35 Reichsmarks, the adhesive bindings made of rubber were wrapped around the leaf suspensions like a leg compression and then coated with a quick-drying varnish.

The gaiters were watertight and airtight, the essential lubricating film on the metal was retained, and rusting became a thing of the past. The term 'anti-aging' was not yet known at the time, but the advertising was aimed precisely at that point: "Your car springs will be brand new even after years!" promised the ad. For five years there was a little less rattling on Germany's streets thanks to these gaiters. Then the product was done. But 85 years later, tesa is once again wrapping enthusiastically. Wrapping technology in various forms, known as wire harnessing, now protects cable harnesses in modern cars, for example. In this product segment, tesa counts among the top three worldwide providers in terms of sales.

As early as the 1930s, adhesive tapes from Beiersdorf helped to extend the service life of car springs.
As early as the 1930s, adhesive tapes from Beiersdorf helped to extend the service life of car springs.
Frau benutzt Cito an ihrem Fahrrad

From flop to bestseller

The world's first technical adhesive tape comes from the Beiersdorf creative workshop – and was intended for defective two-wheelers. In the 1890s, the company actually wanted to market a new plaster, but it stuck too strongly to the skin and irritated it. The pharmacist Troplowitz quickly modified it and used it to create the first technical adhesive tape, the "Cito Sportheftpflaster" (sports adhesive plaster) with its new purpose to repair bicycles. An innovative sensation, because back then pneumatic tires often got punctured on the streets. This attitude continues to work at tesa today. In our series "125 Years of Innovations", we use selected examples to show you our innovation spirit and will present you with quite a few surprises!