Adhesive and Tape Chemistries

  • Diagram showing the foundational pillars of adhesion science - surface science, joint geometry, and adhesive chemistry.


    • One of the foundational pillars of adhesion science is the chemistry of the adhesive itself. In addition to the geometry of the joint and the surface of the substrate, the chemical makeup of the adhesive will play a large role in the ultimate performance of a bonded assembly.
    • Adhesives are available in many different formats with different chemistries. Most often, the chemistry of the adhesive itself will not dictate whether a tape or liquid adhesive is the appropriate choice for an application. That decision is often based on joint design, surface characteristics or manufacturing processes. Since the determining factor is often in another area, it makes sense to consider the chemistry of adhesive from two categories: liquid adhesives and tapes.
  • Below is a list of common adhesive chemistries. The chemistries listed here are the most frequently used chemistries for highly-engineered, spec-in bonding applications. Adhesive and tape chemistry is evolving every day through research and development.

    Each of the chemistries has advantages and disadvantages. An overview of the chemistries is not meant to be used for specification purposes, nor is it meant to provide hard and fast rules for the chemistries because, as with anything, there are many exceptions. The goal is to provide a high level overview of each chemistry to allow comparison between them. There are many other factors to consider when choosing the proper tape or adhesive for an assembly.

    There are five main chemistry families of today’s industrial adhesives and tapes:

    • Epoxy
    • Urethane
    • Acrylic
    • Silicone
    • Rubber

    The combination of every chemistry with every available format means that there are thousands of options to bond any assembly. However, just as the design of the joint and surface alone cannot determine an adhesive choice, neither can the adhesive chemistry. Just as there are thousands of variations to adhesives, there are thousands of variations to assembled goods. The more you understand about the science of adhesion and your application specifics, a better selection can be made.

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