What’s an adhesive resin?

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Adhesive resin is a plastic precursor compound used to make adhesives and plastics for various purposes, including building materials, packaging, and automotive parts. Urea-formaldehyde dominates the market, and most compounds are polyolefins based on propylene. Resins can be blended with wood fiber and pigments to create a semi-solid glue-like polymer. New types of resin adhesives are being developed, such as wood fiber-based lignol, which is more environmentally sustainable. Resins also act as a barrier adhesive to prevent punctures and leaks in packaging and seal medical compounds and equipment. Cement adhesive compounds bond well with various types of plastics and metals, making them useful in automotive and packaging applications.

Adhesive resin is a form of plastic precursor compound composed of caboxylic acids used to make plastics and adhesives for everything from dental work to pressed building board compounds and everyday commercial glues. Much of the adhesive resin produced by the petroleum industry goes to building materials, such as urea-formaldehyde, which is widely used to bond particleboard, fiberboard, and plywood components together. Urea-formaldehyde dominates the world market as an adhesive resin and is used in over 80% of all products requiring resins. Since 1996, over 1,000,000 tons of the compound have been created worldwide each year.

The adhesive bond created by some resins is due to two primary chemical properties. The molecular structure of polymer chains is intricately intertwined, which gives them a durable structure. They are also a form of thermosetting plastic, which takes a rigid shape when heated and cannot be melted and reshaped again. Epoxy adhesives are another form of resin based on the epoxy group, which is similar in structure to carboxylic resins, with an oxygen atom bonded to a carbon atom in multiple molecular bonds.

Most of the adhesive resin compounds are polyolefins, the most frequent thermoplastic category produced industrially, and are based on propylene to produce urea-formaldehyde, ethylene, pentene and others. These resins can be a no-mix adhesive used in their pure form as a binding agent, or they are often blended with wood fiber and pigments. This allows them to be ground into a powdered form that is transformed into a semi-solid glue like polymer when subjected to pressure and high temperatures, such as in particle board forming. A new type of resin adhesive under development in Canada, as of 2011, uses wood fiber-based lignol to create oriented strand board (OSB) that is widely used in the construction industry as a more environmentally sustainable resin source environmental compared to oil.

Packaging has also made widespread use of resin adhesive because it demonstrates the ability to act as a barrier adhesive to prevent punctures and leaks, as well as form a sealed adhesive bond. Multi-layered plastic containers, such as ketchup bottles or food intended to be cooked in the container itself, use several layers of different types of adhesive resin. They act as a barrier to bacterial contamination by sealing in air and water and locking in the taste and odor of food. Similar processes are used to seal medical compounds and equipment or to keep drugs and biological materials in a safe and sterile state until needed.

Cement adhesive compounds are a stronger version of standard resins and bond well with several commonly used types of plastics, such as nylon, polystyrene, and polycarbonate, which gives them a variety of uses. Automotive parts such as plastic gas tanks, valves and fittings use adhesive cement, as it will bond well to steel and aluminum parts. Phenolic terpenes are a class of adhesive resins used in both automotive and packaging applications, as they demonstrate a strong ability to bond to difficult materials, such as glass, and metal film coatings on plastics in temperature sensitive applications.

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