Adhesive Removal

Understanding how to remove or break down an adhesive bond is important, whether to clean up a spill, to disassemble a unit for repair, or simply to know what will cause the bond to fail to avoid bond failure.

There are three basic methods of de-bonding:

o Dissolving

o Thermal

o Physical Stress

Often these methods are combined to remove the adhesive. For example to remove cyanoacrylate from a nonporous work surface one might soak the area in acetone and then scrape the adhesive off.

To remove silicone caulk, a bit of heat with a hot air gun softens the material so it is easily peeled up.

Even the strongest adhesive bonds can be removed by heating beyond the adhesives thermal capability. A blow torch can be used to heat permanent, high strength, threadlockers enough to chemically change them (to burn the adhesive off).

Refer to the technical product data sheet for information on thermal resistance, solubility and clean up. Familiarize yourself with any precautions regarding clean up. For most products simply wiping the uncured product up with paper towels is recommended, however, with cyanoacrylates (instant adhesives), wiping up large spills with paper towels can cause smoke and strong irritating vapors. Spilled cyanoacrylate should be flooded with water which will cause the liquid to cure. The cured material can then be scraped from the surface or dissolved with acetone.

If solvents and thermal removal are undesirable, consider means of physical bond deformation through adhesive or cohesive failure. Adhesive failure causes the adhesive bond to the substrate to fail. Some adhesives are very strong in tensile but have poor peel resistance. Forcing the bond into peel mode may provide you the desired failure. Very soft adhesives are often desired for their shock absorbing properties but these may be torn down the middle. Thus leaving the adhesive on both surfaces but separating the two components all the same.