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10 Ways to reduce adhesive mess

Even experienced adhesive-handlers end up in a pickle sometimes when using adhesives so here are some top tips to get the best-finished appearance for your bonded assembly – as well as reduce processing time.

In the same way as when you paint something, consider using masking tape to mask off areas you want to be protected from the adhesive. Once the adhesive has cured, pull the tape off for a nice clean finish.

  1. For products with a nozzle you can trim, try starting with a smaller cut resulting in a smaller diameter bead. You can always trim a bit more off if required; cutting too big at the beginning is not something you can fix unless you have spare nozzles or can swap the nozzle off another bottle of the same adhesive.
  2. Practice applying a bead of adhesive first on something you don’t mind disposing of, or make up some test assemblies working out how much adhesive is best and how much excess there is when you squeeze the joint together.
  3. Pay attention to the adhesive viscosity; this can change depending on the temperature at which you apply it – an adhesive which might be non-drip at 10 deg C might be quite runny at 25 deg C. If you are having trouble dispensing (especially from a dual cartridge with a mixing nozzle) warming up the cartridge will make the product easier to dispense but bear in mind it will also cure more quickly.
  4. Make sure to protect tables and workbenches. Place something which can be disposed of and replaced easily underneath the area where you are working. If you are curing adhesives in an oven, ensure you have a drip tray lined with foil which can be disposed of. You can even purchase sticky-backed Teflon material which is ideal to protect trays you place parts on to be cured, so the parts won’t end up stuck to the tray by accident. If you are using a UV adhesive, it is a good idea to have some disposable black paper or something similar under the lamp so that the light isn’t reflecting back up at you.  Note that if your UV lamp generates heat, you should be certain to use a non-flammable black surface.
  5. When using cartridges with a dispensing gun, as soon as you have dispensed a bead of adhesive release the back pressure on the gun (pull the plunger back a bit). Removing the cartridge from the gun and tapping the base of it on a workbench also helps stop the dribbling. Make sure to have an old tray at hand to rest the cartridge on and collect any drips and dribbles.  Adhesives with good “cut-off” and less stringing are preferable to stringy products when considering mess and wastage.
  6. Always make sure to have a good supply of disposable gloves. As soon as your glove gets gluey, remove it and put a fresh one on. Otherwise, everything you handle afterward will be sticky and you wouldn’t want to keep getting most adhesives on your skin. Note that some types of gloves are permeable to solvents, so be sure to use nitrile gloves when cleaning up spills with solvents.
  7. Many anaerobic adhesives are designed to be flushed through pipework systems without causing blockages, so if you have messy excess inside pipework it isn’t something to worry about too much when you flush through with water; the anaerobic is benign and will rinse away.
  8. Cyanoacrylate adhesives can be particularly messy and can leave unsightly white powdery traces which are especially noticeable on dark-coloured Permabond offers Cyanoacrylate remover which can help remove this, but prevention is the best cure so opt for a “low-bloom” adhesive and activator and cut the risk of this happening.

If it is already too late and you have a mess on your hands, well, let’s hope you’re not getting sticky fingers on your computer whilst you’re reading this!!!  Isopropanol alcohol on a clean paper towel or rag is very handy to remove uncured adhesive mess and is unlikely to attack plastic components.  Removing a more aggressive mess or cured adhesive is trickier. Acetone or methylene chloride can be used to try to dissolve stubborn adhesive but these will damage vulnerable plastic substrates. Make sure you have plenty of paper towels cloth, or rag to hand before even opening a bottle or cartridge of adhesive. Note that when large quantities of cyanoacrylate adhesives are accidentally spilled the area should be flooded with water, which will cause the liquid cyanoacrylate to cure. The cured material can then be scraped from the surface.  The liquid adhesive should not be wiped up with rags or tissue. The fabric will cause polymerization, and large quantities of adhesive will generate heat on cure, causing smoke and strong irritating vapors.

For further help and advice, please contact Permabond; to read more about cleaning up adhesives click here.