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A Comprehensive Guide to Industrial Adhesives

Adhesives are just one of many substances which, when applied between two surfaces, will bond or seal them securely. More commonly referred to as glue, adhesives fall into two categories: natural and artificial. Generally, most modern adhesives are artificial, but various natural glues have been around for hundreds of years.

Synthetic adhesives offer a wide range of advantages over natural adhesives, including consistency, bond strength, and adaptability. Today, industrial adhesives are made from a variety of carefully-engineered chemical substances. As such, they are usually organized based on the adhesion methods they utilize.

Apart from their adhesive characteristics, adhesives are also defined as reactive or non-reactive in nature. This simply refers to whether an adhesive undergoes a chemical reaction to harden. Some of the most common types of adhesives include epoxy, silicone, and acrylic, and the best choice between all will depend on the application in question.

Advantages of Adhesives

Using an adhesive is advantageous when compared to alternative joining techniques like sewing, thermal bonding, and mechanical fastening. Their primary benefits are as follows:

  • They are able to distribute stress evenly across joints.
  • They can bond a wide variety of surfaces together.
  • They are inexpensive and easy to install.
  • They provide a sleek and smooth bond.
  • They offer greater design freedom.

How Adhesives Work

While the science behind glue is still not fully understood despite being around for over 200,000 years, it is clear that it provides an effective means of binding things together. This bond involves the interplay of two natural forces: cohesion and adhesion. Cohesion is the tendency of a substance to stick together, whereas adhesion is the tendency of a substance to stick to another substance. That being said, it is not enough for glue to stick to a surface; it must also be self-adhesive so it does not shear off under pressure or weight.

There are two forms of bonding, those of which are mechanical and chemical bonding. Mechanical bonding is the most common form of adhesion due to its simplicity. In this type of bonding, the bond formed between the adhesive and surface(s) happens when the adhesive gets into the tiny pores on the material to hold the two together. Chemical bonding, on the other hand, occurs when adhesives bond with surfaces at a molecular level. This process can be compared to the process that takes place when atoms bond together to produce molecular structures like H2O.

Modern adhesives fall into three broad categories, those of which include solvent-based, water-based, and polymer-based adhesives.

  • Solvent-based adhesives contain polymers in a solution that, once applied, evaporates, allowing the glue to harden in place to create a bond.
  • Water-based adhesives, also called dispersion adhesives, are supplied in solution form or as dry powders for mixing with water. When the water evaporates or is absorbed by the surface to which it has been applied, the remaining water-soluble polymers form an adhesive bond.
  • Polymer-based adhesives, also referred to as emulsion adhesives, are milky-white in color and are made from powerful bonding polymers like polyvinyl acetate (PVA). They are sensitive to heat, and they are ideal for use when gluing wooden workpieces/materials.

Different Types of Adhesives

There are a myriad of adhesives on the market, ranging from household brands to highly-specialized products for industrial use. In this section, we will be outlining some of the most popular.

  • Hot Glue Adhesive comes in the form of a solid plastic in tubes called glue sticks. These sticks are inserted into a hot melt glue gun and the melted glue spews out of a nozzle on the gun. When heated, the glue becomes liquid and cools into a solid on the surface it is applied to.
  • Cyanoacrylate Adhesive is a highly potent adhesive that is sold by its more familiar brand names Loctite Super Glue or Gorilla Glue. Often called superglue, cyanoacrylate (CA) forms a strong, permanent bond in as little as 30 seconds. It has hygroscopic properties, meaning that it is not water-resistant.
  • Polyvinyl Acetate Adhesive (PVA), also called white glue, school glue, craft glue, or wood glue, is a widely-used thermoplastic (heat-sensitive) adhesive. PVA is primarily used for wooden applications, and it comes in liquid form, as well as in the form of applicator pens and sticks.
  • Pressure-Sensitive Adhesive (PSA) is solvent-free and necessitates no water or other substance to work optimally. Instead, PSAs use pressure to activate, and they can be found on the back of sticky notes, masking tape, duct tape, and various other supplies.

Other Common Types:

  1. Epoxy Adhesive
  2. Acrylic Adhesive
  3. Contact Adhesive
  4. Silicone Adhesive
  5. Polyurethane Adhesive
  6. Anaerobic Adhesive
  7. Hybrid Adhesive
  8. Phenolic Adhesive
  9. Polyimide Adhesive


Stacked Industrials is a leading distributor of pneumatic fittings, industrial-grade adhesives, aircraft components, and more. With countless ready-to-purchase items on our database, customers can easily meet rigid time constraints and strict budget requirements. Get started with a competitive quote on any featured products, and see how Stacked Industrials can serve as your strategic sourcing solution!


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