Rubber bonding – but the type of rubber is unknown…

Rebecca Wilmot
Bonding Rubber, Material Specific Adhesives
January 6, 2017

bonding rubber

Often people ask me what I do for a living.  When I tell them I work for an engineering adhesives company, they generally stare at me with a vacant look. Then say, “what’s that?, to which I respond “you know, glue, sticks stuff together…” “oh yes, glue…”. Then they quickly change the conversation. The general lack of knowledge, excitement, and interest in glue is evident. But when someone needs advice on rubber bonding adhesive selection. And throw into the mix that they are not a rubber / materials expert either, then they want to talk glue.

Types of Rubber

To be honest, I am not a rubber expert and would struggle to identify one type of rubber from another as well, but here are some basic types:



Very common and can often be found in applications such as:

  • hoses
  • o-rings
  • gaskets
  • conveyor belts
  • cable jacketing
  • print rollers.

Is very flexible and is used for things like:

  • linings
  • inner tubes
  • seals
  • stoppers
  • valve seating

Used for things like

  • molds
  • modeling

Often used for:

  • mountings
  • carpet backing
  • gaskets
  • seals

Has excellent high-temperature resistance so is a popular choice for:

  • o-rings
  • gaskets
  • cookware
  • ovenware
  • medical devices
  • prosthetics
  • automotive hoses
  • seals

There are a whole heap of other rubbers, such as SBR, latex, chloroprene, etc… too many to mention.

Rubber Bonding

Prepare the Surface

Before attempting rubber bonding, it is advisable to carry out a solvent degrease. Surfaces may have mold release, slip additives, or other processing lubricants on them. So a quick wipe with isopropanol is a good idea.  Acetone may be too aggressive as certain types of rubber are vulnerable to attack.  Even once you’ve wiped clean the surface, rubbers can contain plasticizers that can work back to the surface again over time. Subsequently causing debonding at a later date (although not all adhesives are affected by this so don’t panic!).

Bonding with Cyanoacrylate

Cyanoacrylate instant adhesive is generally your best bet for rubber bonding; epoxies are not usually recommended – rubber is easily peeled off. Cyanoacrylate adhesive cures in seconds, so you can find out pretty quickly whether it is going to work or not!  With cyanoacrylate, less is more, so only use a very tiny drop and make sure components are squeezed together tightly. If the joint falls apart after ample curing time, it indicates you may have a more difficult to bond rubber (such as EPDM or natural rubber) or could be dealing with silicone rubber.

For EPDM and natural rubber bonding, an easy fix is to use a specialist cyanoacrylate for difficult rubbers such as Permabond 105. This negates the need to use a primer.  For silicone, it would be necessary to use a primer such as Permabond POP in combination with 105 or, if something more flexible is desired, use POP and Permabond 2050 cyanoacrylate. 2050 is very useful, especially for bonding soft o-rings and gaskets, as it maintains its flexibility in the joint so it is hard to detect the joint (normally, the adhesive can feel a little bit “crispy” in the joint, but the 2050 keeps the seal uniform).

Other Options…

It can be very restrictive to consider cyanoacrylate adhesives as your only option for rubber bonding; this isn’t necessarily the case. The pros are obviously the good adhesion (typically to the point that if you try to pull the bond apart the rubber will tear) and the fast cure speed make cyanoacrylates ideal for rapid assembly processes on production lines, but there are also drawbacks.  Cyanoacrylates do not allow time for re-aligning joints due to curing in seconds. Also, they offer limited gap fill (maximum 0.5mm) and can’t be spread over large areas (they will bond the spreader or roller). Their pungent smell can be off-putting. Contact adhesives can be used instead, especially offering a practical solution for large areas (but again could be a bit whiffy!), but they can be difficult to re-align too.  Solvent based rubber bonders can also be considered and offer a low-cost method of joining.

Silicone-based adhesives can be used to bond silicone rubber, but some users find them messy and slow to cure so not practical for small item assembly on a rapid production line.

Permabond TA46XX Series are two part structural acrylics for bonding difficult plastics such as polypropylene, polyethylene, and PTFE that have also been shown to have good adhesion to rubbers except for silicone rubber. Structural acrylic adhesives offer a slower cure than cyanoacrylates (so accurate alignment and spreading is possible).  The odor is less pungent than many adhesives, and they are not solvent based.  The TA46XX Series adhesives have excellent environmental durability, so they can be used in applications that are submerged in water.

For further help and advice, please contact Permabond.

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