What is a Cyanoacrylate Glue and How is it used?

What is a Cyanoacrylate Glue and How is it used?

Cyanoacrylate glue is the industrial term for a substance that is commonly known as ‘Super glue’. Cyanoacrylate glues are extremely strong glues that can be used to bond almost anything from plastics to even human skin.

Working of a Cyanoacrylate Glue

Usually glues and other adhesives are water based. Superglues on the other hand is made of a cyanoacrylate resin. Cyanoacrylate is an acrylic monomer that turns into plastic after curing. Unlike the traditional glues, cyanoacrylate glues also have unique bonding properties. For instance, one of the important characteristics for a super glue to work is the presence of moisture. If the surface that needs to be stuck using a cyanoacrylate glue is dry, the glue won’t work nor form a bond between the surfaces.

On the contrast, no matter how much moisture is present on the surface, the cyanoacrylate glue reacts with the moisture and forms a string bond chains creating the effect of a ‘superglue’. This reaction is exothermic (it evolves heat) and occurs almost instantly. Traditional glues on the other hand wait for the base fluid to evaporate to begin forming bonds.

Curing Process

Curing is an important property that mostly affects a glues suitability for a certain application. It is one of the most crucial factors that must be carefully considered before selecting the glue for the project one is working on. Generally, curing is a process that lets the substances form a strong chemical bond, over the period of time, under certain conditions to create linkages and strong bonds. Curing application require special environmental conditions like humidity, temperature, air flow, which can affect the rate of curing of a substance. For glues, curing is affected by various factors such as moisture content, UV Radiation, temperature etc. This can be used to adjust the rate of curing in glue.

Problems Associated with Cyanoacrylate Glue

Superglues are not perfect. They have some problems associated with them, which must be known and understood before selecting the glue for your project. One of the biggest drawbacks is the lack of moisture on some surfaces. Since cyanoacrylate glues require moisture to be present to form bonds, absence of moisture is one of the scenarios which cannot be guaranteed that will always be there and one where these glues fail.

However, the solution to this problem is as simple as it sounds: Applying a light layer of moisture will initiate bond formation in the glue and the problem can be mitigated. Some materials, on the other hand, such as heat resistant plastics, tend to repel moisture, hence super glues cannot be used. So, in this case it is generally advised to use epoxy resins.

Another problem that is associated with cyanoacrylate glue is the tendency to stick with human skin. This is because human skin constantly perspires leaving behind a layer of moisture that makes it highly vulnerable for cyanoacrylate glues. This can be easily removed by using acetone or nail polish removers.

David Lockhart