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Advice and Tips To Help You Select The Right Glue For The Job!

Many times Simply Glues have been asked the same question at the many exhibitions we have attended;

"What is the best glue to stick ?????"

The following information is intended as a guide only, and is not to be taken as literal, incontrovertible fact! Whilst we have tried to give exact, technical advice, some information is based on personal, or anecdotal experience of others.

We will approach this "sticky" subject based on materials, rather than glues, because everyone asks, "What will glue this to that?"

TIMBER & ALLIED MATERIALS

This category includes wood, wood products, yardstick, paper gypsum plasters, felt & fabrics, styrofoam, etc.

Wood would be one of the most abused and least understood materials in many hobby and trade situations as regards gluing.

The most common adhesive use, would have to be PVA, or Poly Vinyl Acetate.

What is not understood is that PVA comes in various grades, and that not all these grades are suitable for raw timber, plywood, or composite timber products where bond-strength is of importance. An industrial grade should be used when high strength is required, e.g. furniture, cabinetry, etc. Lower grades for more general or hobby uses, such as marquetry, fabrics and paper applications. PVA adhesive strength is determined by the 'solids content the higher the solids, the stronger the PVA. This is true and common to most, if not all, acrylic adhesives, and the price is not a reflection of the quality or grade. Invariably, the imported PVA's that are available in some hardware and/ or cheap variety stores, are of such low solids content as to be almost non-effective if expected to perform for very long. Australian produced is better, if only because it is fresher.

PVA glue is a very versatile, environmentally friendly adhesive, that can be cleaned-up or diluted with water. Most porous materials can be bonded with it if a medium-to-high strength bond is needed. With timber applications, it does not sand well, and tends to leave a slight amount of staining if not cleaned up immediately with a damp cloth. A high grade (50% solids contents) is ideally suited to diluting (ratio of 3:1) for certain applications, because it retains strength without leaving a sheen.

Aliphatic, or yellow wood glue, is a little known alternative to PVA. It is from a similar polymer family, but unlike PVA , it can be sanded, and once set, it will resist dissolving when immersed in water. Aliphatic cleans up with water whilst still wet.

Contact cements are also very useful for certain applications with wood. Apply to both surfaces and let become "tacky". Press the parts together for permanent bond. Be careful to get the align the parts correctly the first time. There is no ability with these types of glue to re-align the parts after they have been joined. Several brands are available. Australian made contacts are always invariably of equal or superior quality, and lower priced.

The other glue that is often overlooked, are the acetone based adhesives often found in many hobby and craft stores under different brand-names. They work extremely well with re-manufactured wood and paper products such as plywood and MDF sheets. In certain cases it can even be superior to PVC and contact cements, because they have some of the good features of both of these glues, and almost none of the bad. The better quality acetone adhesives are excellent for high-strength bonds, particularly for MDF and Craftwood.

The so-called 'Super Glues' are normally not recommended for wood, even though there are some brands on the market that claim to be designed for wood. At best, they give a temporary fix. There are no local manufacturers of quality CA (cyanoacrylate) adhesives.

SIMPLY GLUES Adhesives Recommended For This Category

P.V.A. (50% Solids); Yella Tera Aliphatic Resin; Craft & Fabric Glue; Balsa-Weld; Rapi-Bond Contact PVA; Super Tacky ; Rubber Latex.

PLASTICS

These can be broken down into several categories:

1. Engineering

The very reason engineering plastics exist is because they were designed to not be able to be 'stuck' with anything. They are often called "slippery plastic" because they 'feel' like they are coated with an oily substance. The most common plastic of this type is the one made of Acetyl resin, and is usually found in situations where the need is for a strong plastic, or to serve as a bearing surface. However, you can, attach small ports with CA (Super Glue), if you surround the part completely. The bond at best will only be mechanical, very weak, and only short term.

2. Styrene

The most common of plastics in the hobby end craft fields. It is cheap, easy to shape, cut and mould, and strong enough for most craft and hobby applications. The best feature is the ease with which it can be glued. There are many "Plastic Cements' on the market; but all are really solvents.

They don't actually glue; they weld the plastic together by dissolving the surface and fusing it. The most commonly used solvent is M.E.K. (Methyl ethyl ketone). However there am several other solvents that are just as effective or better. Any of these solvents work well with styrene, particularly if they have been thickened with a gelling agent, which slows down the evaporation rate of the solvent. For styrence-to-styrene joints, the solvents are best, aIthough CA's can be used, with results varying from poor to medium.

When gluing styrene to other materials, several can be used effectively. These include CA's, contact cements and acetone adhesives.

3. Acrylic Plastic

This is also known as Perspex. There is only one family of solvents that will work successfully on acrylic plastic. These can be sourced from any plastic supply company, or contact us at SIMPLY GLUES for our readily available Premier Plastic Cement. Premier Plastic Cement can also be used for styrene.

4. ABS/PVC

These plastics are not that common in the hobby field, and as a result, are not fully understood. Although being somewhat similar chemically, they are disparate in their make up. ABS is the result of the space race, and is a very hard plastic commonly found in such places as cars and fridges.

PVC has been around a lot longer. It can be found in many common places also, like the liners of plastic swimming pools. There is really only one common solvent that will work effectively, and that is SIMPLY GLUES Tetra ABS/PVC Cement. It also has the benefit of working well with styrene. It will weld styrene to ABS or PVC exceptionally well, which most other brands will not do.

SIMPLY GLUES Adhesives Recommended For This Category

M.E.K. ; Premier Plastic Cement; Tetra ABS/PVC Cement; Tetra-Bond Gap filling Adhesive; Rapi-Bond Contact P V A (where a porous or semi-porous material is being fixed to plastic)

METALS & ALLOYS

This is where the epoxy resin, two-part adhesives are at their best in the hobby field. The main advantage is that the slow setting time gives the chance to position or reposition parts. Epoxies also work well with most other materials when joining them to metals. CA is also suited to metals, particularly when the parts to be joined are close fitting, with no or few gap irregularities. The general purpose glues such as acetone or contact cements can be used on low stress joints, where strength is not critical.

SIMPLY GLUES Adhesives Recommended For This Category

S.G.P. Epoxy Paste

POLYSTYROFOAM

This material is basically an expanded plastic bead product. Any adhesive with a hydrocarbon or acidic base will attack the foam and reduce it to a sodden, soggy, horrible mess! However, PVA and other plastic (Acrylic) glues will work fine with this product.

SIMPLY GLUES Adhesives Recommended For This Category

P.V.A 50% Solids, Rubber Latex Adhesive; Rapi-Bond ; Yella-Tera Aliphatic Resin.

POLY-URETHANES & RESINS

These are also in the same category as car-fillers, and other types of rigid or semi-rigid resins and urethanes used in many low-volume, short-run kits are that are produced locally.

Epoxy resins are the best, with Super-glues coming a poor second, for these types of materials.

SIMPLY GLUES Adhesives Recommended For This Category

S.G.P. Epoxy Paste

SAFETY

This can not be stressed enough! Even though a glue may be promoted as safe & non-toxic, never let your guard down. Treat ALL glues as potentially dangerous. Use them with adequate ventilation, and ALWAYS read the safety directions, AND FOLLOW THEM. Where necessary, always wear safety gloves and/or clothing, or breathing equipment. When using solvents, remember that some of them have accumulative effects that may not necessarily show symptoms for some time.

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