Cutting the Red Tape to Innovate

Adhesives Research, Inc.
Written by Pauline Müller

For medium to large manufacturers looking for a nimble development partner that can push the boundaries of adhesive technology with customized new ideas, Adhesives Research, Inc. is the natural go-to. This vertically integrated industry leader specializes in creating many types of polymer resins and release liners. It is also home to extensive synthesis and formulation expertise where much more than just great ideas are born.

For the past fifty-eight years, the Adhesives Research, Inc.’s research and development division has been developing made-to-order adhesive tapes and coatings for a range of market sectors, answering especially to the healthcare and electronics industries’ need for purpose-specific, next-generation bonding technology. It is particularly well-known for everyday standbys like hard disk drives, glucose test strips, and nicotine patches. It even has a hand in holding solar panels, residential windows, and much more, together and in much smaller quantities than regular manufacturers are prepared to take on.

“We are able to provide a solution which matches all the requirements for the application and support them with strong technical service and lower minimum order quantities compared to larger competitors,” says Director of Marketing and Growth Deepak Hariharan.

From its headquarters in Glen Rock, Pennsylvania, Adhesives Research, Inc. supplies a global client network with products made in its manufacturing plant in the U.S., as well as from a sister operation in Ireland. Clients also have access to offices in the UK, Singapore, and Shanghai.

The reason for the size of the company’s global following is most evident in its track record of commitment to assisting customers quickly. To achieve this, its assessment of whether or not it is a good fit for a potential customer is swift. “We are small, flexible and have a group of talented, qualified associates who engage early on to assist the customer with finding a solution. Our initial decision-making process is very simple and very fast,” says Deepak.

The company fully understands the time-sensitive nature of projects and prides itself on being a business to business (B2B) partner that offers well-equipped development teams that can work against deadlines. In addition, the company upholds customers’ most stringent product regulations and is registered with the International Organization for Standardization under codes ISO 9001 and ISO 13485, which both govern quality management systems, with the latter specifically focusing on the quality management of medical devices.

It all began when Mr. Erwin Huber, the founder of the company’s sister company Topflight Corporation, could not find the correct stock for labeling wiring harnesses for fighter planes, and set off to create a solution. As big players refused to supply the market with small quantities of specialized formulations, Adhesives Research, Inc. developed a reputation for custom solutions and manufactured numerous additional label components like adhesives and liners.

It has established a culture of not saying ‘no’ to new requests but, instead, remaining open-minded and adventurous. “[We] encourage our teams to embrace the concept of a minimum viable product run to test the waters [and] never [to] allow bureaucracy to creep into the company,” says Deepak.

Part of this drive for excellence includes ongoing investment in its staff and technology. This allows the company to keep up with equipment trends and customer needs, giving it a significant role in evolving markets.

Deepak originally worked for the company as a scientist in its research and development division, after joining Adhesives Research, Inc. twenty years ago. Since then, he has worked his way through various roles and departments. While the market has changed considerably since the early days, his passion for assisting customers has not, and he has made it his mission to help find outside resources that can be applied to achieve the company’s goals.

He also enjoys helping employees push familiar boundaries and improving capabilities to render top-quality, new concepts at speed and “challenge the organization to provide a speedy solution and encourage risk-taking when evaluating opportunities,” he says.

To add to its visionary approach to business, the company cultivates a strong family atmosphere. “It has a great culture of sharing the profits with its associates and also has a generous stock grant scheme. We have a strong family-oriented culture and take great pains to make this a safe and welcoming workplace for everyone,” adds Deepak.

And it is not only employees who benefit from the company’s success. It has a long-standing relationship with United Way, a nonprofit, philanthropist organization based in Alexandra, Virginia, which supports local and international literacy projects, helps keep students on course by helping them to graduate, and provides water for schools in low-income areas.

With weeks or months of research and development come those intense moments when the perfect outcome is achieved, and there has been an abundance of these at Adhesives Research, Inc. Over the past six decades, the company has helped scores of clients. It has also come to the rescue during product launches, salvaging situations that could potentially have ended catastrophically for these brands.

One of Adhesives Research, Inc.’s proudest moments was helping a medical diagnostics outfit solve reactivity issues caused by unfavorable chemical combinations in its adhesives. “We overcame the problem and secured the business worth over $80 million over multiple years,” says Deepak.

Another great success came about when a solar panel company was faced with a nightmare situation. Its twenty-five-year quality guarantee was about to be blown to smithereens when, three years into its service contracts, the conductive adhesive it had used on its panels at the time of manufacturing, turned out to be degrading. Thanks to the help of Adhesives Research, Inc., that company has since made over $50 million in business over the past ten years.

As enormous change steers the adhesives industry, the company is set to supply for a vast selection of new applications. The factors affecting this include the shrinking size of electronics; improved technology that allows for more wearable, medical monitoring devices; the on-demand manufacturing of materials with the help of three-dimensional printing, and more.

Deepak tells us that all these requirements are spurring change in the tape industry. “As we are operating in the new age of mass customization, flexible manufacturing in smaller quantities will gain more and more importance,” he says.

With this in mind, there are two major goals ahead. Firstly, Adhesives Research, Inc. will be expanding United States manufacturing capabilities by adding new technology. The company will also be growing its presence in Asia through third-party manufacturers. These two strategies will contribute to its ultimate aim of providing its customers with a complete, global adhesive tape solutions service.

Adhesives Research, Inc. also plans to simplify its clients’ supply chain needs by furnishing completed, converted parts for a select range of applications. For this adhesives expert, great service comes down to anticipating clients’ needs, and it has every intention of sticking to that.



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