DELO is a leading manufacturer of industrial adhesives for the automotive, consumer electronic, and semiconductor markets. Headquartered in Windach, Germany (near Munich), the family-owned business has a U.S. presence with facilities in Sudbury, Massachusetts, and San Jose, California, as well as offices in Seattle, Los Angeles, Detroit, San Antonio, Texas, and Charlotte, North Carolina. In addition to adhesives, the company also manufactures adhesive dispensing and curing equipment. DELO is working to enlarge its U.S. customer base, and new additions to its space in Sudbury show the services the company has to offer to U.S. manufacturers.
I recently had an opportunity to visit DELO’s Massachusetts facility where I had the honor of being the first visitor to tour a newly opened engineering and testing workshop. Welcoming me to their facility were Torsten Uske, president DELO Industrial Adhesives LLC, Michael Farber of the marketing department at DELO, Devyesh Rana, the applications engineer who runs the new applications workshop at the Sudbury facility, and Matthias Stollberg, head of Corporate Communications at DELO Industrial Adhesives, who joined via video conference from Germany.
DELO has experienced significant growth in the past 25 years, growing to be an important presence in industrial adhesive manufacturing and the dispensing and curing of adhesives. Started in the early 1960s, the company began by providing adhesives such as polyester fillers and epoxy resins. It eventually expanded to include more advanced adhesive applications, specializing in state-of-the art adhesives for the electronics and automotive industries.
As early as the late 1990s, the company began to grow internationally. It now enjoys a global reach, including a strong presence in Europe and Asia, and is currently growing its presence in North America. For the 2022/23 fiscal year, DELO reported almost $222 million in sales, showing growth of 12% compared to the previous year. In 2023, the company proudly announced the addition of its 1,000th employee.
With 400 standard products in its portfolio, DELO introduces 40 to 50 new products each year. Among the adhesives released by the company this year are:
- A new adhesive for automotive lighting applications that is resistant to yellowing and, with its high aspect ratio, is particularly suitable for bonding microlens arrays, such as those found in headlights and projection systems;
- A flexible electronics adhesive that permanently seals sensor housings airtight, protecting components such as image sensors;
- An adhesive optimized to meet the high optical requirements of modern driver assistance systems; and
- The first dual-curing high-temperature-resistant structural adhesive for EV motors.
One consumer area where DELO dominates the market is encapsulants used to house the electronic elements in banking cards. The company estimates that 75 to 80% of all banking cards are encapsulated with products provided by DELO.
Finding the Perfect Product
The company develops around 8,000 new adhesive formulations per year. Approximately 15% of the company’s entire revenue is being put back into research and development. With this commitment to research and development, DELO helps to find the best solution for each customer’s needs.
DELO partners with a clients’ engineers to find the correct adhesive for an application. “We don’t just go to a manufacturing facility and try to find out what companies are using and try to replace materials. We want to sit together with engineers to find applications at the very beginning of design development. This is the reason why we set up the application and engineering workshop downstairs, to do pre-testing for our customers. We do not go into an application just to replace. We want to develop products with our customers,” explained Uske.
DELO offers initial customer trials, where it receives sample parts and does a pre-investigation to find adhesive solutions that best fit the specific application need. While customers will do the final qualification themselves, results that are produced in facilities like the newly expanded facility in Sudbury are crucial for identifying the correct adhesive for their application.
Workshop in Sudbury
While an adhesive from DELO will be manufactured in a place other than the United States, the company works closely with U.S. customers to design the correct product for their application. DELO’s San Jose facility includes office spaces, a common area, and a conference room. The Sudbury facility includes an upstairs office area with a conference room, common area, and storage warehouse with refrigerators for temperature-sensitive materials. The downstairs workshop area in Sudbury includes a communal workspace with eight desks, a conference room, and the workshop.
The updated lab capabilities of the engineering and testing workshop at Sudbury feature the following:
- Mechanical characterization, which comprises compression and compression shear, tensile and tensile shear, and shore hardness;
- Physical characterization/manipulation, which includes microscopy, surface energy, plasma surface treatment, and particle size measurement (Grindometer);
- Chemical Characterization, including IR;
- Dispensing capabilities, which comprises manual, pneumatic, volumetric, jet, and custom X, Y, Z – geometry dispensing;
- Curing capabilities, including heat curing, UV spot and area curing lamps, and Activation on the Flow, a new process technology combining adhesive dispensing and pre-activation in a single step.
Another way DELO provides support to customers, is through its testing offerings. For instance, the company offers tumble testing for electronic components and has an advanced packaging machine for testing purposes. Advanced packaging machines are being used in high-volume manufacturing facilities in China. With DELO housing such machinery at its headquarters, the company can provide testing data to customers, facilitating the best possible outcomes for their products. According to Uske, the company can reproduce more than 200 test methods, offering over 3,000 customer tests per year.
Expanding its presence while offering customers advanced adhesive, dispensing, and curing systems, along with the necessary testing to ensure quality and reliability, continues to be a winning strategy for this family-owned business set on a trajectory for growth.
Learn more about DELO at www.delo-adhesives.com.