Cyanoacrylate adhesives bond very quickly and to a range of substrates. They form a very strong bond and dry clear. The surfaces to be mated must fit together well to achieve good bonding. You can buy super glue in a variety of viscosities which enable some leeway in gap filling performance. However, super glues can be finicky with respect to surface contact and coverage- too much or too little can affect the bond. In general, super glues are not good for foamed plastic, unless specified on the bottle.
Cyanoacrylates can set in seconds to minutes, depending on formulation. It dries clear and is waterproof.
Cyanoacrylates are good for projects involving: wood, metal, ceramic, leather, glass, and some plastic
Loctite Super Glue breaks a World Record!
Impressive video footage demonstrating Loctite® Cyanoacrylate Adhesive breaking the Guinness World Record after lifting a car weighing more than five tons with just nine drops of adhesive.
One of the most common applications for super glues is to bond, fix, or repair different types of plastic. Depending on the exact grade of plastic and glue, this can either be very easy or quite tricky. Identify what kind of plastic you have, select the glue, prepare the surface preparation and tips for applying the glue to achieve maximum bond strength.
Preparing the Surface
Firstly, if you’re working with really smooth surfaces (like one of our sheets of plastic shim) it will be worth your while roughening it a little. A light sanding will do the trick. This significantly increases the available surface area for the adhesive to bond to and will significantly improve adhesion.
Regardless, make sure that both surfaces being bonded are completely clean and dry. Super Glues will stick to anything, including dirt or dust and every bit of dust they stick to reduces the amount of surface they bond with.
Prevent Stains by Masking
If the area you’re bonding is particularly complex, it will make life a lot easier if you mask the surfaces surrounding the bonding area before applying the glue. Mistakes do happen and a bit of masking tape can stop them from being too problematic.
While on the subject of masking, it’s also a good idea to cover up surrounding areas with an old rag or cloth. Just in case you drop the bottle this will prevent surfaces being ruined.
Clean And Remove Super Glue Stains
For those who have used the ... well, super adhesive, you know it works wonders on everything from home fix-ups to your latest craft project. But when the substance gets on surfaces it's not supposed to, you'll find the sticky situation can be more than frustrating (read: fingers stuck together). Instead, break any unintentional bonds without ruining your furniture (or ripping off your skin) with this easy way to remove super glue from any surface.
Not to worry, for even though Super Glue is incredibly strong, it has one weakness: acetone. Acetone is often found in household nail polish remover, and a small amount on the end of a Q-tip or cotton swab applied directly to the glue should dissolve the bond without damaging the skin
Chances are, if you follow the super glue mantra that “less is more” (you should), you won’t use the whole pen at once. That’s fine. To get the longest possible shelf life out of your cyanoacrylate, clean up any excess adhesive around the opening, squeeze any excess air out of the tube and ensure the lid is placed back on tightly. Remember, super glues work by reacting with moisture in the air so ensuring that the lid is air-tight is critical. Once you’ve done this, we suggest storing the tube in a cool, dry and dark place out of direct sunlight. Personally, I keep open containers in the fridge because I’m from Queensland where there’s no such thing as a cool place year-round. This will extend the usable life further if you can do it.
What can super-glues struggle with?
Larger Surface Areas
Usually, super glues are used for bonding smaller surface areas or objects such as attaching a strip to a door frame, joining an O ring cord or fixing a broken part on an ornament. Because of the speed they cure and the fact they’re not really designed for bridging larger gaps, you usually wouldn’t use them for bonding something like a metre square sheet of rubber onto the tray of a utility vehicle.
Good temperature resistance is a pretty general term I suppose, so I may be a little harsh when I say that super glues can struggle with high temperatures. They’re not going to fail on a hot summer's day, but you will find that many super glues are rated “only” up to about 80°C. Like all things though, there are exceptions
Blooming is a consequence of the cure method that causes the glue to take on a white-ish colour. Some types of super glues are more prone to this than others. If your application really demands a super glue that’s particularly clear after cure, then I suggest looking into those manufactured using an alkoxy ester, they also emit less odour during cure.
Low Surface Energy Materials
Low Surface Energy materials are notoriously difficult to bond. Generally, Super Glues (and pretty much every other type of glue, adhesive tape or sealant) bond by “wetting” the surfaces they stick to. Low surface energy materials resist this wetting and therefore resist bonding. This makes them very hard to bond to with any adhesive (not just super glues).
Examples of low surface energy include PTFE (commonly known as Teflon), polyethylene and polypropylene. If you’re working with a low surface energy material, you really need to carefully select an adhesive that will work with it. It is possible to still bond to these materials but you may need to consider using a primer on them first.
As a consequence of the speed at which they cure and the fact they’ll bond to most things (including skin), you need to be pretty accurate when applying super glues. To assist with this, the vast majority of Super Glues come in specially designed pens rather than bottles
Generally, super glues cure to form a fairly rigid bond that resists movement in the joint. Once again, this is a general statement and there are definitely exceptions to the rule. While no super glues approach the elasticity and elongation capacity of something like silicone or an MS polymer, certain grades of super-glue have increased residual elasticity which makes it a good option when you need to allow for a little movement in the bonded parts after curing. This often happens in areas with highly variable temperatures or high humidity.