Journal of Fluid Mechanics

The peeling of a flexible strip attached by a viscous adhesive

A. D.  McEwan a1 and G. I.  Taylor a1
a1 Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge

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The peeling of a flexible strip from a rigid surface to which it is attached by a thin layer of adhesive is discussed, treating the adhesive as a Newtonian viscous fluid. This makes it possible to examine the flow and stress distributions ahead of the point where separation occurs. The conditions at this point are taken to be the same as those observed in other cases where a stream of viscous fluid separates into two. In particular, the effect of surface tension at the separating meniscus on the speed of peeling is predicted.

Experiments are described in which a sheet of ‘Melanex’ 4μm thick was laid on a sheet of fluid covering a piece of plate glass. The apparatus was designed to ensure that this was peeled off at a constant angle, and the speed of the separation meniscus, as well as the load on the sheet, was measured. The experimental results are analysed in the light of the theory and shown to be consistent with it.

An interesting feature is the prediction that at low peeling speeds there is a great reduction in the thickness of the adhesive layer immediately ahead of the line of separation. Although the initial thickness of the layer dictates the scale of the shape adopted by the strip ahead of this line, it exerts no effect upon the relation between the external variables.

It is noted that, when the adhesive layer remains intact ahead of separation, the physical appearance of commercially available tapes in slow peeling can resemble that of simple viscous adhesives.

(Published Online March 28 2006)
(Received November 26 1965)