Using the right adhesive for the right situation …

Laurie Gibbons
Adhesive Selection, Adhesive Selection and Use
April 10, 2009

Why are there so many kinds of adhesive?

Bonding two components might be possible with nothing but a dab of epoxy, but a less expensive, more effective, or faster curing solution might occur with a cyanoacrylate (instant adhesive) or one of the many other adhesive chemistries available in the marketplace.

Choosing the right adhesive the first time will save time and money.  So which is the best adhesive?

After reading the following summary descriptions of some adhesive chemistries, your knowledge will have increased, and selecting a product will be easier. Of course, before using any chemical product, always read the Safety Data Sheet and Technical Data Sheet for safe handling.


Anaerobic adhesives cure when in contact with metal but without any contact with air. Examples of applications are threadlockers used to lock bolts into nuts, retaining compounds, form in place gasket materials, and pipe sealants.


Cyanoacrylate adhesives cure by reacting with trace amounts of moisture on the surfaces that will be bonded. A cyanoacrylate adhesive is the best choice for rubber and most plastics and is commonly referred to as instant adhesive or super glue.

Toughened Acrylics

Toughened Acrylics are structural adhesives for high strength applications, such as aluminium panels on a truck body, or portable housing structures. They come in one and two-part systems and work well on a wide variety of surfaces. These adhesives are quite versatile, working with minimal surface preparation, and are flexible when cured.


Epoxy adhesives work on a wide variety of materials and form strong, durable bonds. They are available in one and two-part systems and can be purchased with a mixing tip that eliminates manual stirring of components.


Polyurethane formulations cover an extremely wide range of stiffness, hardness, and densities. These materials include: flexible foam used in upholstery and bedding, low-density rigid foam used for thermal insulation, soft solid elastomers used for gel pads and print rollers, and hard solid plastics used as electronic instrument bezels and structural parts.


Silicone adhesive products aren’t incredibly strong but are quite flexible and resistant to high temperatures. Two-part silicone products tend to work more effectively than the one part products. These are a popular choice for shower and bathtub repairs.


Phenolics require heat and pressure for the curing process but have been proven to be excellent in bonding metals, or bonding metals to wood. Select these with the assistance of a chemical engineering professional.


Polyimides are based on synthetic organic chains. These are available in liquid and film form but tend to be more expensive and tricky to handle efficiently. One example of their use is in the electronics industry for flexible cables a wide variety of components. They are available in solid forms, with different melting points.

Contact us for assistance in choosing the best adhesive for your application.

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