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Craftech's Plastic Fastener Bulletin

Stick to it! A Guide to the Best Glue for Plastic

Posted by Katie Gerard on Tue, Jul 30,2013 @ 02:47 PM

Customers often ask us here at Craftech what the best glue for plastic is.  As anyone who has tried it knows, gluing plastics can be tricky.  Many plastics including Teflon, nylon, polypropylene, TPU, and PVC are notoriously hard to glue together.  Why is that, you ask?  The plastics that are the most difficult to glue are characterized by low surface energies, low porosity, and non-polar or non-functional surfaces.  They feature no functional site or surface roughness onto which an adhesive can secure itself.  In other words, they are extremely smooth and slippery, so there’s nothing for the glue to grab onto.

For this special post, we compiled a bunch of popular adhesives and materials and tested their compatibility and bonding power. We tried sticking each hard-to-glue material to itself and then to stainless steel, grade 304, to determine what the best glue was for each plastic.  After allowing the adhesives to set over a 24 hour period, we tried to bust the various components apart and took note of the result.

Among the plastic materials tested, noted for their difficulty bonding with glues were Teflon, Nylon, Polypropylene, TPU, and PVC.  Best glue for plasticIn our search for the best glue for plastic, we tried everything from things you’d have around the house, such as Loctite superglue, a hot glue gun, and Amazing Goop, to more specialty items such as JB Plasticweld and plastic cement for model making.

After sticking everything together (including our fingers), here’s what we came up with:

The Best Glue for Plastic: JB Weld PlasticWeld- This glue bonded nearly every material perfectly, with the exception of Teflon to itself (not surprising given the material’s use for its non-stick properties).
It spread to create a gap-free bond, filling in all the available space for strong adhesion that just wouldn’t quit, even after we tried desperately to separate the parts. The only downside of PlasticWeld is that it’s a two-part epoxy which must be mixed in equal amounts to form the adhesive, which can get messy. It also sets quite quickly, which can be either a pro or con depending on your project.

The Worst Glue for Plastic: Testors Plastic Cement- For an adhesive made specifically for connecting plastic pieces for constructing models, it did a poor job of keeping our pieces together. Even after making sure we followed their instructions to the letter, nothing stuck together despite our best efforts.

The Rest: All Purpose AMAZING GOOP- This definitely worked quite well. Despite it taking over an hour to set on TPU, it was able to bond it well to the stainless steel. However, it was easily broken apart when sticking two TPU or Nylon pieces together. For all the other trials, though, it worked well. On the downside, it is true to its name in that it’s goopy, making it less than ideal for many small, delicate applications.

Loctite Super Glue (Ultra Gel Control) – This also worked well with most of our applications, with the exceptions of Teflon to itself and Polypropylene to stainless steel. This was definitely the easiest to use, with a small dropper tip making for easy applications. There are some things to think about, however when using any sort of superglue. First, Super Glue will discolor and cloud clear pieces.  best glue for plasticThe fumes even created some white discoloration on our black TPU. 

NB: Never use Super Glue on acrylic!  The superglue has a chemical reaction with acrylic, essentially burning itself into the acrylic.  This chemical burn creates extensive white clouding that will spread even beyond the limits of where you applied the glue.  Also, the only thing that can remove Super Glue is acetone.  Acrylic has extremely poor resistance to acetone.  Wiping an acetone-soaked tissue gently over a piece of acrylic will make the plastic look like it’s been scratched with a Brillo pad within seconds.

All-purpose hot melt glue sticks- The glue sticks were somewhat hit or miss. After the 24 hour period, we were able to break apart Teflon, polypropylene, TPU, and PVC apart with varying degrees of difficulty.  The adhesive did a good job with nylon.  The glue sticks bonded most materials well to the stainless steel, with the exception of TPU. This part of the project also got quite messy and stringy. There’s also always the risk of burning yourself when dealing with this molten “glue”, which is in fact made of various plastics, usually Ethylene Vinyl Acetate. So be careful!

Glue Properties According to Their Makers

 

All-purpose Hotmelt Glue
Sticks

Testors Plastic Cement 

AMAZING GOOP All Purpose

JB Weld PlasticWeld

Loctite Super Glue (Ultra Gel Control)

Active Ingredient

Ethylene Vinyl Acetate

Ethyl Acetate

Silicone

Epichlorohydrin and Bisphenol A

Ethyl Cyanoacrylate

Bond Time

Instant bond

20 seconds

24 to 72 hours

1 hour

 

24 hours

Tensile strength

Not Available

Not Available

3800 PSI

3200 PSI

 

3063 PSI

Temperature guidelines

0° to 356°F

Not Available

-40°F to 150°F

-67° to 500°F

50° to 180°F

As always, you’ll need to run your own tests to determine the best glue for plastic for your application.  This post will give you a starting point to finding the right adhesive for you!

Update!!!  We are currently testing glues in order to develop a new glue guide for y'all.  Are there any plastics or glues in particular you would like to see included?  Let me know in the comments section below!

Check our complimentary Guide to Glues for Plastic to learn even more about what adhesives work best for difficult to glue plastics.

 

 

Topics: best glue for plastic, gluing plastic

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