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Drawbacks of Traditional Hot Melt Adhesive Operations


Hot melt adhesives have played a key role in the packaging process for decades, but traditional technology using heated tanks is less efficient when compared to new systems available today. Traditional melters are more likely to require char-induced maintenance than systems that do not incorporate tanks. Unplanned downtime and lost production due to this maintenance can cost businesses thousands of dollars each year.

New technology has eliminated many of the drawbacks of the previous generation of hot melt adhesive equipment. This increases the working uptime of packaging lines and improves the efficiency of hot melt adhesive applications. Advances in material usage monitoring and system performance result in better management of adhesive costs.

Package and container sealing is a key component of today’s complex manufacturing processes. Manufacturers require a system that quickly delivers consistently applied adhesive that can fit into streamlined packaging lines. Many companies turn to hot melt adhesive delivery systems for their packaging needs.

Traditional hot melt systems feature heated tanks. However, their limitations impact the efficiency and cost effectiveness of packaging lines. These limitations include long startup times, adhesive charring and contamination, nozzle plugging, and potential danger or discomfort to operators.

Heated tanks are slow to warm up to the point where they are ready for use. They can take more than 35 minutes to heat adhesive to operating temperature, which leads to packaging facilities spending more time waiting for the system to heat up and less time in operation. In addition, tank systems maintain large volumes of molten adhesive for hours or days at a time, and the level of molten glue tends to vary widely. These long heat soaks and varying molten glue levels lead to charring, or overheated and burned adhesive. The adhesive on the side walls, exposed to the atmosphere, chars very quickly. The charred material causes plugging in nozzles and requires routine cleaning, leading to downtime on the packaging line. This excessive charring can also lead to premature failure of fluid seals in pumps and guns.

Nozzle plugging represents one of the most problematic elements of traditional tank operation. Plugs cause unplanned downtime and are thus quite costly. As a plugged nozzle typically must be repaired when hot, maintenance to remove nozzle plugs can be a dangerous task.

In addition to unplanned maintenance due to nozzle plugs and other issues, heated tank systems require routine cleaning and maintenance to avoid excessive char buildup. These cleanouts can be labor and time intensive, further impacting production line uptime. Large tank sizes result in a significant amount of wasted material whenever flushing is necessary. Filling, cleaning and performing maintenance on traditional hot melt tanks puts operators in close proximity to hot adhesive and hot system components, and, again, may be dangerous. Even when operators are not injured by heated tank systems, the smell of hot and charring adhesive is frequently unpleasant.

Finally, the traditional tank systems do little to protect against contamination of hot melt adhesive. Environmental exposure, combined with the continual need for manual filling, allows dust and debris from the facility to enter the tank. Foreign material reduces adhesive effectiveness and increases the chance of nozzle plugging.

Recent advances in hot melt equipment technology, however, have dramatically improved upon the overall efficiency of traditional adhesive systems. The elimination of heated tanks, increased attention to material consumption statistics, and a focus on reliability has limited or removed many of the drawbacks of the previous generation of hot melt adhesive dispensing systems.