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The Uses of Adhesives


Adhesives were first extracted from plants but now can be manufactured synthetically. The first known adhesive to man dates back to around the 200 000 BC. From the 5th to the 15th century, egg white was used in Europe as glue for decorative purposes. Ever since their discovery, adhesives have been continuously developed to meet the needs of people. Hot Melt Adhesive can be classified according to the way they are able to stick and join two things together. Its two main groups are reactive and non-reactive which have a number of sub-categories under them.

Non-reactive Adhesives

Drying Adhesives

Solvent based and emulsion adhesives harden by drying. A solvent based adhesive is one that had mixtures combined to a solvent. They harden as the solvent evaporates and the strength of the bond they form between the two materials being joined depends on the properties of those two materials. Some examples of such can be white glue and contact cements.

Contact Adhesives

These are another category of non-reactive adhesives that form bonds which have very high shear resistance. These adhesives are used in joining the soles of shoes as the bonds between the sole and the shoe need to be strong and shear resistant. They also need to be applied to both surfaces in order to create a strong bond.

Reactive Adhesives

One-part adhesives

This type form bonds through a chemical reaction with an external source that can be heat or moisture. Light curing adhesives (LCM) are amongst the popular adhesives between manufacturers since they can cure very quickly and form very strong bond. With qualities like being able to withstand high temperature, these adhesives have become an ideal choice for industries such as electronics, medical and telecommunications.

Adhesives have a long list of uses. They are so inextricably linked to our lives that we become oblivious of their presence. But if we look around, we will find some kind of adhesive used in every sphere of our daily lives, be it furniture, gadgets or toys. Their varied use in food packaging to building construction has forced the manufacturers to research and make different kinds to suit different needs. Some are toxic and strong, they serve industrial purpose. Some are mild and free of any kinds of toxics. They are used in making toys for children, infant products or edibles packaging. Some are water resistant and non toxic. For example, adhesives are used in the packaging of ice creams. Liquid can reduce the adherence quality. So you need a strong yet non toxic adhesive which does not come apart when it comes into contact with water or any other kind of liquid.

Traditionally, there were various methods used for fastening, gluing and bonding. They were soldering, welding, brazing and other thermal and mechanical procedures which needed equipment, but now, adhesives are more widely used. They neither need tools and devices nor electricity or batteries to run them. The common uses of adhesives can be divided into two broad categories.

Industrial and Commercial Use

Under this heading comes adhesive usage in all kinds of industries, small or heavy. In small industries like those of food products, toys or stationary items, adhesives play an integral role in processing to packaging. Even the cling wrap around your phone card or the lipstick connected to its base has adhesives playing their roles. In heavy industries, adhesives play a central role, right from assembling spare parts of any machine, car paint or branding them with labels. In the construction industry too, for uniform distribution of stress, woods are bonded with strong adhesives. Apart from that, for painting and furnishing or home décor, adhesives are very essential.

Household Use

Right from sticking envelopes to rejoining broken toys, we use adhesives very frequently. In form of glue sticks, cellotapes or gums, we use adhesives everyday to mend shoes, to glue postage stamps, repair something or attaching tags to gifts.