All Adhesives are not Created Equal

January 11th, 2011 by DWM Magazine

Ask some manufactures what type of glue they use, and they’ll nonchalantly answer, ’Oh, the white stuff’ or ‘yellow wood glue.’ These responses can make many of us in the adhesives business wince. The reality is that there is more to ‘glue’ than you might think.

Many of us in the adhesives industry are dedicated to producing a range of high-quality wood adhesives that can meet the exact requirements of particular applications. We see adhesive research and development as a science devoted to developing the right performance characteristics for a given job. We have developed dozens of different types of adhesives, offering varied performance characteristics. And the type of adhesive you use in your plant can make a significant difference in the efficiency of your production line, your production costs and the quality of your products.

Most adhesives sold for use in the manufacture of wood windows and doors are based on formulations of polyvinyl acetate (PVA). PVAs – a source of the well-recognized yellow carpenter’s glue and good old white “school glue” – provide a very versatile base for creating adhesives for many uses, particularly in the bonding of wood to wood. PVA chemistry has been around for more than 60 years and continues to evolve. For example, original formulations offered no water resistance; now, some PVAs are used in structural applications.

Adhesives manufacturers take the basic PVA glue to the R&D laboratory, to develop proprietary formulations with varied performance characteristics for specific applications. Here, chemists become chefs – mixing certain ingredients to concoct sophisticated recipes for adhesives that perform in certain ways. They add in specific handling properties, water resistance, operating range and other performance attributes. Then they serve up an assortment of adhesives, each with its own combination of capabilities.

And that brings us full circle, back to where we started: When purchasing adhesives to assemble your wood doors and windows , you probably want to think past just ordering “the white stuff.” You might want to sit down with an adhesives expert, who understands your industry. Detail your specific bonding needs, and find the brand and formulations that provide desirable performance characteristics for your needs.

Some considerations in selecting the right adhesive for your production line include application (edge-and-face gluing, finger jointing) and application equipment (extrusion, spreader), type of equipment (cold press, radio frequency), ability to meet industry standards for water resistance (ASTM D-5751 and ASTM D-5572 Wet Use), level of heat and solvent resistance, operating range of product and minimum-use temperature. It is just not accurate to state that “one adhesive fits all.”

Cost, of course, also is a factor. But be thorough in comparing the costs of adhesives. Even if higher-performing adhesives cost more, they give you a valuable assurance of improved productivity at the plant and help you deliver quality to your customers.

Finally, consider the company behind the adhesives you use. Reputation matters. Does the company have solid experience in serving your industry? Does it offer prompt technical support, both to help you select the best adhesive for your needs – and to help you maximize that adhesive’s performance in your plant?

You could just buy some of “the white stuff”; or you could buy the right stuff, from a company you really want to stick with.

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