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Adhesives come in various forms, including pressure-sensitive, reactive, desiccant, contact, light-cure, and thermoplastic. They vary in strength and reaction with other substances, so it’s important to choose the right one. Examples of adhesives include aluminum tape, duct tape, and hot-melt glue. They are used in various industries, including manufacturing, aerospace, and medical equipment.

Adhesives are natural or synthetic compounds, usually in liquid or paste form, used to join two objects. Depending on how they form a bond, adhesives can be classified as pressure sensitive, reactive, desiccant, contact, light cure, or thermoplastic. Their strength and how they react with other substances can vary widely, so it’s always advisable to use the correct glue for the job.

Pressure sensitive adhesives come in permanent and removable forms. Examples of the permanent variety are aluminum tape used in heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, equipment safety and warning labels on machinery and appliances, and to secure interior trim work on vehicles. They can be removable when first applied, with the bond strength increasing over the course of hours or even days.

Removable adhesives create a temporary bond and typically cannot support a significant amount of weight. Common examples of pressure-sensitive temporary adhesives are duct tape, sticky notes, and price tags. They are also used in the production of transdermal patches such as smoking cessation patches, contraceptives and motion sickness prevention. This type of glue is also a component of common self-adhesive bandages such as Band-Aids®.

Reactive adhesives are applied in liquid form as a very thin layer. They are best used for attaching items that need to be completely flush and don’t require adhesive to fill a gap between them. The reactive type of adhesive is suitable for bonding wood, many plastics, metal and glass. This type of glue usually has a rapid increase in strength and a very quick setting time.

Drying adhesives are a combination of polymers and solvents. The adhesive hardens as the solvent evaporates. Ordinary white glue is one of the most widely recognized adhesives of its type, along with rubber cement. By creating a relatively weak bond, drying glues are mostly suitable for home, school and craft use.

Contact adhesives are unusual in that they need to be applied to both surfaces to stick and then allowed to dry for a period of time before the items can be pressed together. Neoprene and natural rubber are two common examples. Applications include applying soles to shoes and applying Formica® to countertops.
Light-curing adhesives set quickly, some in as little as a second. These extremely strong glues are capable of joining dissimilar materials, such as plastic to glass, and are able to maintain integrity under extreme temperatures. Light-curing adhesives are used almost exclusively in industrial settings such as manufacturing, aerospace applications, electronics, medical equipment, and telecommunications.

Thermoplastic adhesives are also called hot-melt glues. As the name suggests, these glues are applied hot and then harden as they cool. Able to adhere to a wide variety of different materials, thermoplastic glues are primarily used for homemade crafts using a hot glue gun for dispersing.

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