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Productivity News

Volume 10-No. 2     We help you produce more for less!
Dear Frederick,

How to Select the Right Glue Gun and Glue Stick Combo

Here's how to improve your hot-melt operations, guaranteed!

      Surbonder PRO100 Specialty Industrial Glue Gun                                    Whether your specialty is corrugated and carton sealing, furniture and woodworking, home decor and crafts, product assembly, carpet installations, point of purchase displays, electrical potting, foam applications and general manufacturing operations, the right combination of glue gun and adhesive formulation is critical to your output and product reputation.  Whether consumer or industrial products, whether porous or hard materials, precisely controlled glue guns and the correct adhesive formulations for your jobs are integral to product quality.

       This issue of Productivity News afocuses on the basics of selecting the right glue gun and hot melt adhesive for your work.

Adhesive Basics

       Your adhesive selection begins with the  substrate being joined, but first let's consider a few adhesive basics.

      Hot-melt adhesive (HMA), thermoplastic adhesive or hot glue is first melted in an electric hot glue gun. The gun uses a continuous-duty heating element that melts the plastic glue, which is then pushed through the gun by a trigger mechanism controlled by the user. The glue squeezes through the nozzle and the hot tacky glue hardens within seconds.

       Glue gun adhesive usually comes as a solid cylindrical stick available in various diameters and lengths that have a characteristically long shelf life. 

       Surplus glue sticks are basically inert and can be disposed of without special precautions.  Glue stick hot-melt adhesives typically have lower volatile toxicity organic compound content and do not require a drying and curing stage that is common with solvent based adhesives and so are much more user friendly.

       Glue sticks are available in several diameters depending on the type of glue gun. The most common sizes are 7/16" (11mm) and 5/8" (15mm) and in various lengths, from about 4" (10cm) to 10" (25cm) and 15" (38cm). Hot-melt and low temperature glue sticks are available for different types of guns, and some dual-use sticks melt at low temperatures but can be used at high temperatures without degradation. Hot melt adhesives such as pressure sensitive and fugitive (removable) glues that cannot be made into sticks are normally extruded using bulk applicators and supplied in aluminum tubes.

       Some HMAs are formulated to resist chemical attacks and weathering.  Another characteristic of HMAs is their ability to not shrink during solidification as solvent-based adhesives do.

Adhesive Selection
                Most manufacturers formulate and supply an extensive range of hot-melt adhesives and are the a recommended starting point in selecting the glue stick that best suited for your work that might include;
  • Corrugated and Carton Sealing
  • Furniture and Woodworking
  • Home Decor - Floral & Crafts
  • Product assembly of different materials including fiber glass, metal, plastic, shells, glass, ceramic, china, jewellery, painted surfaces and magnets
  • Carpets
  • Miscellaneous solid surfaces such as Corian and wood
  • Point of Purchase Displays
  • Electrical Potting
  • Foam applications including upholstery and others.
        Buyers should conduct their own product tests before use to determine the proper preparation technique and suitability for a proposed application.

      Leading manufacturers also supply material safety data sheets (MSDS), specification sheets with physical properties, suggested uses, precautions and handling information.

      The application information normally includes the application temperature range and this helps the user select the most suitable glue gun which leads us to the next section. 
Glue Gun Selection

       Glue guns come in many models with low-temperature and a high-temperature (hot-melt) versions. Low-temperature glue guns heat up to about 250F (121C) and are well suited to gluing delicate materials such as lace and cloth. High-temperature guns heat up to around 400F (204C) for stronger bonds. There are also dual-temperature guns with a switch for both low- and high temperature operation.

700MX       One with excellent versatility for a wide range of applications is the Surebonder PRO9500A (shown) that features a variable temperature control and delivers 7 lbs/hour with 220 watts of heating power.        With a stainless steel heater and thermostat temperature control to regulate the heat output this ergonomic design includes a long trigger to reduce operator effort, a lighted on and off switch and a double insulated ground cord. A magnetic or wire stand keeps the gun at the proper angle when idle and there is an exterior removable safety fuse for easy replacement. 

Surebonder PRO600 Pneumatic Glue Gun       For more heavy duty operations, there is the Surebonder PRO600 Temperature Controlled Pneumatic Industrial Glue Gun with 450 watts of heating power and pneumatic pistons that feed the glue stick when the trigger is squeezed. A stroke adjustment screw releases the same amount of glue for each squeeze. The higher wattage heater melts the glue faster to increase production.  This gun features a hole for a balancer, a lighted on and off switch and ergonomic finger trigger design for less effort and an exterior removable safety fuse for easy replacement.

More Application Tips

      Besides bonding surfaces together, hot-melt glue can be used to fill gaps. Gap-filling requires higher viscosity and toughness.  These bonds must be made quickly before the glue has time to cool and harden and is not easily spread. However, it can be melted with a heat gun to spread the glue later to bond larger areas.

       Hot-melt glue can also be used to assemble and repair foam shapes. Due to the insulating properties of the foam the hot-melt glue stays sticky much longer than when used on wood, metal or plastics.

      To assist the operator to accurately place hot glue, glue guns can be fitted with a variety ot nozzles including 2" and 3" wide T-nozzles, ideal for carpeting, round extension nozzles, needle nozzles for fine beads, block nozzles, slotted nozzles and others.

We hope you found this informative and useful and we welcome your comments.

Frederick J. Oille, P.Eng.
Industry Depot
In This Issue
Glue Gun Adhesive Basics
Selecting Adhesives
Selecting a Glue Gun
More Application Tips
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