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Finite Element Analysis (FEA) | Method (FEM) and Modelling

3M’s technical support team is ready to support you with answers to your questions around modelling and simulation. Book a 30-min Meeting with our FEA Expert to clarify your questions.


Finite Element Analysis (FEA) for 3M™ Tapes and Adhesives

    • What is Finite Element Analysis (FEA/FEM)?

      FEA offers several benefits for engineers, including the ability to accurately predict the behaviour of complex systems, such as stress, strain, and deformation, under varying loading conditions. This enables engineers to identify potential issues and implement design changes before creating a physical prototype. Additionally, FEA can be a cost-effective solution, helping to reduce the number of physical prototypes required and the time to market. The tool is highly flexible, capable of analyzing a broad range of systems, including complex assemblies, and can handle nonlinear material behaviour. Engineers can use FEA to optimize system design by identifying optimal material selection, geometry, and loading conditions to achieve desired performance. Finally, FEA provides detailed visualizations of system behaviour, enabling engineers to gain insights and identify areas for improvement.




    • Watch the free Webinar to learn more

      Are you interested in mechanical characterisation techniques for adhesive modelling? Then this training on FEA is ideal for you.


      Webinar on Demand

  • Liquid adhesive dispensing


  • Define materials of interest

    An engineer will create a rendering of an assembly with the finite element software and define each material of interest. In order to predict performance with simulations, the model defines the parts’ geometries, their relation to one another and their material properties. Material properties are defined using a material model which describes the behaviour such as the stress-strain response of the material. Material models are one of the main inputs of an FEA and directly influence the accuracy of the user’s final FEA results.

    Pressure sensitive adhesives (PSAs)

    PSAs are soft, flexible, non-reactive adhesives that form a bond when pressure is applied. Their material behaviour is viscoelastic, which means, that besides a typical strain and temperature dependency, also their strength is proportional to the rate of deformation. Due to viscous effects like stress relaxation, conventional mechanical properties such as Young’s modulus and Poisson’s ratio, even when obtained at relevant strain rates and temperatures, do not represent the physics of viscoelasticity, and therefore, the behaviour of PSAs well.

    Structural adhesives

    Structural adhesives are reactive systems capable of bearing high loads (>7 MPa overlap shear strength). Structural adhesive properties range from flexible to very stiff. Some ductile adhesives can undergo large plastic deformations before failure. The mechanical response of structural adhesives must be characterized in both the elastic and plastic regimes and should include strain rate and temperature sensitivities.

  • Finite element material model for pressure sensitive adhesives (PSAs)

    3M is uniquely positioned to characterize adhesive materials

    • Adhesives exhibit different types of mechanical behaviours when exposed to different loading conditions than standard engineering materials like metals. Capturing those effects with a material model requires advanced testing and calibration methods. 3M is uniquely positioned to characterize adhesive materials and provide advanced material models in a format compatible with a variety of finite element modelling software.


      Pressure Sensitive Adhesives and Structural Adhesives have different material properties which make them suitable for use in different applications. It is important to understand how those properties will translate to the application. FEA modelling is a tool that helps determine the right adhesive system for the application requirements.


  • Defining an appropriate material model

    Material Data Card

    • The behaviour of materials can be included into the FEA by using so-called Material Data Cards (MDCs). The calibration of certain models that are used to characterize the behaviour of adhesives requires up to five different types of experiments (not counting the repetitions) per strain rate and temperature and additional experiments done for validation. Since the generation of MDCs requires a lot of know-how, software infrastructure and extensive experimental testing, 3M has developed MDCs which are available for common 3M adhesives and tapes for numerous commercially available FEA software applications. The MDCs can be requested using the button below. While the material models available in commercial FEA software generally cannot cover all physical effects like viscoelasticity, damage and the associated softening, damping behaviour, plasticity, etc. for small as well as finite strains, we offer various MDCs that are suited for different applications. To this end, we would like to know some basic information about your application in order to provide you with the best-suited MDC for your application.

      3M MDCs have been successfully applied in a variety of applications such as strength assessment under quasi-static as well as crash and impact loads, wet-out analysis, analysis of mismatch due to thermal expansion and Noise Vibration Harshness (NVH) analysis. If you would like to discuss your application with one of 3Ms FEA experts, we are always happy to help.


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    3M’s FEA Experts are ready to support you with answers to your questions around modelling and simulation.

    • Book a 30-min Meeting with our FEA Expert.
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Finite Element Analysis Whitepaper

Click below to download our Finite Element Analysis Whitepaper. The whitepaper is split into 6 key areas: Introduction, Tie-Breaks, Continuum modelling, Cohesive zone modelling, Model validation and Conclusion.

3M and Ansys Train Engineers (PDF, 180 KB)

Cohesive Zone Models for 3M™ Structural Adhesives (PDF, 967 KB)

Adhesive Bonds for Railway Vehicles (PDF, 180 KB)

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IMPORTANT NOTICE: The technical information, guidance, and other statements contained in this document or otherwise provided by 3M is based upon records, tests, or experience that 3M believes to be reliable, but the accuracy, completeness, and representative nature of such information is not guaranteed. Such information is intended for people with knowledge and technical skills sufficient to assess and apply their own informed judgment to the information. In particular, customer is solely responsible for its own product design, including but not limited to, when using Material Data Card (MDC), finite element analysis or simulations provided by 3M. No license under any 3M or third-party intellectual property rights is granted or implied with this information. Further, customer will be solely responsible for its use of the MDC, including any damage to his computer(s) or device(s) or loss of data that results from the download or use of any digital data, i.e. MDC.

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