The Uses of Adhesives

Adhesives are compounds which adhere two different items together. Initially, adhesives were derived from the gums and resins of different plants, but now there are synthetic sources of adhesives which are extremely strong and are gradually making a firm foothold in the construction chemical industry. There is a wide range of their usage, from micro to macro level in our everyday lives. From the packaging of small sachets of shampoo to fixing a full length mirror to its frame, adhesive is used all around us. From mechanical to chemical, and even in cottage industries, you can not rule out the constant contribution of adhesives. They are popular due to their ease of use, versatility and flexibility.

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.

There are manifold advantages of using adhesives over other adhering processes. Adhesives work faster than other bonding methods. Though surface preparation takes time as well as material cost, yet it is more effective than the traditional process. Unlike thermal or mechanical fastening methods, adhesives offer flexibility of material selection. They are not restricted to joining metals only. It joins larger as well as smaller areas with equal perfection which is an impossible task for other traditional methods. If a related industry can utilise the maximum potential of this flexibility profits would be soaring.

Using adhesives instead of traditional binding ensures a reduced cost of production. It neither needs equipments for drilling, welding, soldering or other fastening agents, nor manual force to operate them. Welding is a rigid method which brings physical changes in the materials adhered. If you need to undo the process after using adhesive, there are agents available to serve your purpose. Using them, the fastening or adherence can be undone without distorting the item retaining their original look. Due to this flexibility, undoing becomes easier. It saves production time and it does not take very long. This not only saves time, but also reduces production costs in the long run. Items needed to fasten are not disfigured or discoloured. So now you can skip the secondary procedure of rectification of these distortions.

In traditional bonding, often you need to drill the item to insert fasteners like nuts or bolts. This weakens the internal structure. Adhesives do not need any foreign props for assembling. At macro level, it saves material cost while at micro level it saves the hassle of a prolonged procedure.

There is a variety of adhesives available at different price ranges. These can be used for different kinds of material surfaces. Unlike welding, they can be used on hardwoods, softwoods, papers and so on. This versatility of adhesives makes it more popular in different industries. They offer effective tensile strength to the surface and substrate bonding. They even join porous materials. Moreover the joints are invisible which ensures a finished product with the least possible blemish.

These adhesives are equally helpful and effective in joining two different kinds of materials with different melting points. In other words, they can join two dissimilar materials too. For industrial use, this is a very important characteristic which makes manufacturers preferring adhesives over traditional fastening procedures.

One of the greatest advantages of adhesive use is that it distributes the stress load uniformly. It does not let the stress be concentrated in one place. Locally accumulated stress further increases the possibility of rupture. Apart from that, since mating surfaces are always in contact, it protects the items against many environmental odds. The continuous bonding makes this possible.

Another remarkable feature of adhesives is it does not affect the weight of the item noticeably. Usually brazing and soldering, along with physical changes, bring change in weight as well. But with adhesive this change is almost negligible. This versatility of adhesives is known to everyone and the same is reflected in its varied usage all around.