Know When to Choose to Use Epoxy Adhesives
To know when to choose to use epoxy adhesive seems like a challenge. After all, there are plenty of products out there and many of them claim to be the "best" one. As a result, trying to navigate the glue options that exist inevitably brings professionals to questions like, "When should I use epoxy adhesives?", "When is epoxy better than polyester?", or "Is epoxy the best adhesive for my project?" In this article we are going to examine information that will shine some light on the answers to those questions. Why? Because knowing some basic information about epoxy adhesives will give you knowledge on when to choose epoxy and when other glues might be a better option.
What Is Epoxy Adhesive?
It can be somewhat difficult to familiarize yourself with exactly what makes a glue an "epoxy" because in the United States, virtually every glue can be referred to as an epoxy. In fact, products are often called "epoxies" irrespective of their properties or chemical composition. However, the properties of a glue and its chemical composition must be considered in order to determine if something is actually an epoxy. According to the Epoxy page on Wikipedia, this is very important. Notice what that page says about the composition of true epoxy:
Epoxy resins, also known as polyepoxides, are a class of reactive prepolymers and polymers which contain epoxide groups.
So the composition is important when considering the term. The properties are too. Notice what that reference goes on to say:
Reaction of polyepoxides with themselves or with polyfunctional hardeners forms a thermosetting polymer, often with favorable mechanical properties and high thermal and chemical resistance.
As you can see from that quote, epoxy adhesives have characteristics that are appealing in some circumstances. The properties of epoxies and their capabilities make them favorable in some situations and contrary in other ones.
Uses for Epoxy Adhesives
As you might imagine, epoxy adhesives are closely associated with a number of applications. Industries and products such as the following are all indicative of epoxy being used:
- Automotive Industry
- Aircraft Construction
- Snowboard Production
- Ski Manufacturing
- Bicycle Construction
- Boat Production
- Golf Club Industry
That list is not an exhaustive one, but it does show something very interesting about about epoxy adhesives; they are a strong glue that is used in various industries. So one key that helps you to know when to choose to use epoxy adhesive is determining how strong the glue needs to be.
Epoxy Is Good When You Need Strong Bonding
The list of applications above highlights a glaring fact that fixes our attention on the strength of epoxies. In fact, epoxy adhesives are very strong glues. They are highly performant adhesives and can be used to glue a variety of materials together or to bond one material to another one.
Epoxy adhesives make up a large segment of the glue industry classified as "structural adhesives". Structural adhesives must be able to "bear a load". In other words, for an adhesive to be "structural", it needs to perform under stress. That list above really shows this quality of epoxy adhesives. Many of those products have to hold together under a tremendous amount of stress. High impact conditions as well as temperature variations and chemical exposure are situations when epoxy can "hold true" if you will.
Epoxy Is Adaptable
You may be wondering at this point if all epoxy is the same. That is a good thing to consider. In addition to their ability to glue multiple materials (mentioned above), they are adaptable in other ways too. In fact, epoxies are not only highly performant, but they can also be made to be very rigid if needed or flexible if you have a use for a flexible adhesive. Keep in mind, that not all adhesives are as cost effective to manufacture, but the fact of the matter is, epoxies can be made for just about any application.
If you are in need of a super strong glue that must match a color, you can change the color of epoxy adhesives. By either adding a specific coloring pigment to the glue or mixing multiple pigments together, you can formulate a glue that is the color of whatever surface you are bonding. In fact, epoxy adhesives can be used when you need glue that is completely opaque, fully transparent, or somewhere in between.
Another important variation that epoxy is known for is its variable curing times. Yes, epoxy adhesives can be specifically made to cure at a certain rate. Engineering that rate at which a glue cures is very practical because it means the curing time can be adjusted to fit the work timeline.
Typical Time to use Epoxy Adhesives
Let's face it, not all bonding projects are the same. Some glue needs to hold better than others. Other times, cost effectiveness comes into play because several adhesives will work and some are more costly to make than are others. And yet, there are times when the performance of the glue being used is crucial and the way it looks after time has passed is not as vital. (Epoxy tends to darken in color when exposed to UV, but the integrity of the glue's performance does not diminish.)
When a project calls for strength, epoxy is a go to adhesive. If you are gluing to different types of material together, you probably will be reaching for epoxy adhesives, and if the bond needs to hold up under a load or stress, epoxy adhesives form structural bonds. Furthermore, in cases where the temperature with fluctuate between freezing and thawing repeatedly, epoxy can handle that. Finally, if you need a glue that is capable of being used where the adhesive must resist chemicals, an epoxy is probably that glue.
It is completely true that there are many kinds of glue that are capable of completing a task. For some projects, it may not matter how temperature friendly the adhesive is, you might not want a glue that will hold together even if when the stone (or other material) breaks. In those cases, you aren't really as concerned with some of the things that make epoxy a good fit for the job. But if you absolutely have to have a structural adhesive that is performant in a variety of conditions and you know that the bond is is more important than getting the cheapest adhesive on the market, you should consider choosing an epoxy for the task.