Adhesives Magazine

Focus On Building the Industry<br>ASC&#8217;s BTI Program Fosters Industry Growth<br>Positive Outlook Envisioned for Structural Adhesives

February 5, 2003
ASC continually looks for ways to grow the industry. Karen Kramer writes about what what they see ahead.

The Adhesive and Sealant Council, Inc. (ASC), Bethesda, Md., continually looks for ways to grow the industry. One opportunity was determined to be replacing nuts, bolts, rivets and other mechanical fasteners and welds in product-assembly applications by promoting the advantages of chemical bonding to end users.

Working together under the umbrella of the ASC trade association, member companies have formed a coalition that legally and ethically fosters industry growth in this area in a collective program called “Building the Industry” (BTI). Ronald W. Smith, director of marketing, Sika Corp., says, “The ASC’s BTI program truly has the potential to make a significant contribution to the entire industry.”

The Seed for the Program

According to Richard A. Barry, president, ASC, “ChemQuest is an integral part of the BTI program, a partner and key player. ChemQuest’s role began last year as the catalyst for the idea, as well as in developing the process.”

Dan Murad, president, The ChemQuest Group, facilitated a meeting of approximately 18 leading ASC member companies to build a consensus that a collaborative approach was necessary to advance the use of engineered adhesives vs. alternative fastening methods. ChemQuest’s message was clear: the adhesives and sealants industry should view itself as part of a broader global fastening industry rather than a mutually exclusive industry based on chemical bonding. “This meeting was the seed for the BTI program,” says Barry.

Because ASC serves as the industry’s collective voice, its members agreed that BTI should be managed as an ASC-sponsored program. In June 2002, the ASC presented the board with a proposal, which subsequently was refined and approved.

Benefits of the Program

The program focuses on two goals: to create greater appreciation for the capabilities of structural adhesives and sealants and to develop tools that participating members can use to educate companies involved in product and structural assemblies. Liz Potts, vice president and general manager of Specialty Polymers & Adhesives at Ashland Specialty Chemical Co., says that she expects her company will receive solid market information as well as insight into the current needs/requirements of fastener buyers and designers.

Daniel W. Mottram, executive vice president, TAH Industries, Inc., says, “We expect to add to our applications-knowledge base, enabling us to develop new products that help achieve the goal of replacing traditional fasteners with adhesives. We hope that our customers will enjoy greater success as a result of their participation in this program and that we will share in the spoils of that success.”

Various aspects of the program include:

  • Research
  • Focus groups
  • Understanding perceptions
  • Determining educational needs
  • Value analysis of adhesives vs. mechanical fasteners
  • Communication to design engineers, architects, academicians

Participants in the BTI Program will learn the mindset and how to increase the knowledge and education of design engineers and others associated with product-assembly operations. While the demand for mechanical and other fasteners is large in product assembly, adhesive and sealant products have only a 10% share of the market today. BTI will help engineers understand how to replace mechanical fasteners with structural adhesives and sealants.

“Structural adhesives,” says Barry, “are the focus of BTI. Product assembly uses so many mechanical fasteners that there is heavy growth potential here. Adhesives manufacturers not currently supplying structural adhesives may want to consider expanding into this area for future growth opportunities.”

Mottram says, “We believe a concerted and cooperative industry effort will lead to an increase in the market for structural adhesives and sealants. The BTI program provides an opportunity for those of us that serve this market to pool our resources and accomplish things we might not attempt individually.”

The two-year program is estimated to cost approximately $650,000 and is open only to ASC companies. The program will be supported by contributions from participating companies. Potts says, “I encourage any companies that have not yet committed to participate to do so. Growing the industry and increasing the overall market’s knowledge of adhesive technology is critical to the continuing health of the industry.”

The Agenda for BTI

ASC has announced the launch of BTI and startup in January 2003. There will be an advisory board and several action committees. Member companies have agreed to dedicate resources, such as committee members, since the program is member-driven.

Along with ASC, Murad is committed to co-chairing the effort and facilitating the process for the initial market development (Phase I), slated for a two-year duration. ChemQuest has also volunteered to assist in a second-phase, commercial-development effort if necessary.

Smith says, “Sika Corp. is pleased to be joining the ASC industry coalition by supporting the program and has pledged to contribute funds, time and talent. We have offered our active participation on the advisory board and are looking forward to participating in Phase I of the program beginning in Q1 of 2003 with developing market research and promotional efforts.”

Mottram says, “From a technical perspective, TAH Industries expects to contribute the mixing and dispensing solutions that will make it possible for adhesives to penetrate new markets and applications. Whereas many of the program participants have traditionally focused on a particular type of application or market segment, we have experience in every market segment that currently uses two-component adhesives and sealants. I hope to contribute valuable knowledge about the requirements and preferences of adhesives users across a broad range of structural-adhesive market segments.”

Expectations

In summarizing his expectations of the program, Smith says, “We all know the potential of and the future in replacing other types of fasteners. While each of us in the industry conducts our own product-development and market-penetration activities, we have long been concerned with the costs associated with reaching and educating key influencers and decision makers on the benefits of adhesives and sealants. We expect the BTI program to help identify market opportunities and enable us to reach the design, engineering, manufacturing and purchasing talent in the marketplace that is challenged with looking for lighter-weight structural-bonding fastening methods with faster throughput, and the better sound-dampening and sealing characteristics that adhesives and sealants can offer.”