A Buyer’s Guide to Purchasing Bulk Hot Melt and Bulk Hot Melt Equipment

Hotmelt.com is the number-one provider of bulk hot melt equipment, which ranges from hot melt tank and tank-less systems to hoses, nozzles, roll coaters, and more. As knowledgeable, long-time leaders in this industry, we’ve seen and tried it all. Now we want to share that knowledge with you.

Bulk hot melt and bulk hot melt equipment isn’t one size fits all. It’s important to choose the right combination of adhesives and dispensing tools to complete the quality projects your customers have come to expect with an efficiency that boosts your bottom line. We’re here to help. Use this handy buyer’s guide next time you’re in the market to select bulk hot melt and bulk hot melt equipment that’s perfect for your project.

What Is Bulk Hot Melt and Bulk Hot Melt Equipment?

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Before we explore bulk hot melt equipment, let’s revisit the basics of hot melt. “Hot melt” is a phrase used to describe thermoplastic or thermoset materials that are heated to a liquid state so they can be applied to and bond substrates. When cooled, they typically cure in a solid state.

Hot melts are used as adhesives on things you come into contact with on a daily basis, including cabinetry and furniture, food packaging, countertops, major appliances, shoes, mattresses, and a lot more! The most well-known, high-performance types of hot melt are ethyl vinyl acetate (EVA), polyolefin, polyamide, and reactive urethanes.

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Hot melt can be purchased in solid glue sticks for lighter use or in solid, gummy, or even liquid cubes, pillows, and pellets for bulk use. Bulk hot melts are used, often interchangeably, in hot melt dispensing equipment.

Tanks, nozzles, hoses, roll coaters—the list goes on and on. But before we take a deep dive into what you need to set up the perfect system (which we’ll definitely do!), let’s explore why choosing the right bulk hot melt equipment is vital to your business.

The Pros and Cons of Investing in Bulk Hot Melt and Bulk Hot Melt Equipment

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The biggest advantage of bulk hot melt over traditional hot melt glue sticks is cost. Because it undergoes less manufacturing, packaging, and distribution, the cost per pound of bulk hot melt is typically a lot less than the cost of a pound of the exact same product in individual stick form.

In addition, purchasing hot melt in bulk usually allows you to take advantage of wholesale pricing and reduced shipping costs since freight carriers can be used instead of standard shipping services.

Since bulk hot melt is typically melted inside bulk hot melt equipment before being dispensed, it’s more universal than stick hot melt, which comes in very precise sizes to work with specific dispensers. You don’t have to worry about the product going bad because hot melt has a long shelf life and is very easy to store!

The main downside of bulk hot melt equipment is that it requires an upfront investment of your time and money. However, if you take care of this investment, your equipment will more than pay for itself as it outlasts its hand-held, manual, and lighter-weight counterparts.

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Bulk hot melt and bulk hot melt equipment cost more than standard hot melt and dispensers, but, once you make that investment, you’ll have everything you need to set up large-scale, automated systems that can eliminate labor needs and increase productivity and efficiency.

Bulk hot melt machinery also requires more regular maintenance than standard hot melt dispensers. With the right care, your bulk hot melt dispensing equipment will operate efficiently and safely for years.

A Guide to Bulk Hot Melt Equipment

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Like we mentioned before, there’s a lot of bulk hot melt equipment to choose from! Especially in today’s online-shopping world, bulk hot melt and bulk hot melt equipment play a huge role in streamlining package and container sealing processes. If you want to remain competitive in your industry, use this buyer’s guide to help you create the perfect hot melt system.

Hot Melt Tanks

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Bulk hot melt tanks, or melters, are exactly what they sound like. You put bulk hot melt in and enjoy a steady stream of adhesive as long as the tank remains full and turned on.

Hot melt tanks provide an uninterrupted flow of hot melt adhesive for high volume production lines and can provide a full drum of adhesive to be staged so it’s ready when you need it. Their temperatures can often be adjusted to accommodate for whichever adhesives and substrates you’re working with.

Tanks are perhaps one of the most versatile pieces of bulk hot melt equipment. Not only do they come in all kinds of sizes with all kinds of settings, you can often interchange attachments like hoses, dispensers, nozzles, and more.


Looking for a recommendation? Astro Packaging makes most of our best-selling bulk hot melt tanks. Our favorite unit? The Astro AP100 Hot Melt Tank - Nordson ProBlue 50 Replacement. With 100-pound melter capacity, it can utilize up to six hot melt hoses and be used for both manual and automatic dispensing.

Tankless Hot Melt Systems

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Tankless systems are a new and exciting product in the bulk hot melt equipment world. According to Processing Magazine, tankless bulk hot melt equipment uses a vacuum feed to draw adhesive pellets into heating chambers. The pellets are melted on demand and dispensed quickly.

Because they only draw a small amount of hot melt at a time, heating times are quick (think 10 minutes, compared to a minimum of 30 minutes with a tank system) and short so char and burned adhesive are eliminated. That means less product is wasted and workers spend less time on maintenance.

Tankless systems could also increase the longevity of bulk hot melt equipment, as they create fewer instances of char that clogs nozzles and causes fluid seal failures. Since it’s a vacuum-fed system, tankless bulk hot melt equipment also eliminates contaminates so adhesives can be applied with greater consistency. Because they are a new technology, good tankless bulk hot melt systems collect advanced adhesive tracking data. Now you can track true cost and efficiency over a single shift or product run.

Looking for a recommendation? Our favorite is the Graco InvisiPac HM50 Tankless Bulk Hot Melt System for its temp range, up to six hose connections, and impressive 15-minute start-up time.


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Hoses transfer melted adhesive material from the melting unit to the applicator. Most hoses used on bulk hot melt equipment are heated and lined with Teflon. Hoses built for manual applications are designed to be flexible and durable so their operators can move freely. Those for automatic applications are rugged and typically last longer because of their stationary position on a production line. Hoses come in all shapes and sizes, from standard braided to water wash, corrugated, high flex, and beyond.

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Looking for a recommendation? Try the Graco InvisiPac Heated Water Wash Hose - All Length. We also build custom hot melt hoses to meet your exact specs!

Bulk Hot Melt Applicators

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Applicators are the mechanisms that take melted adhesive from the bulk hot melt equipment and apply it to a substrate. This can be done via a manual or automatic application process. They can also be electric or pneumatic.

Manual applicators are trigger by a manual process. Typically, this means a hand trigger like a glue gun. Manual applicators are used in applications that don’t require precise bead placements or glue usages.

Automatic applicators are triggered by a signal to the applicator from a pattern controller or photo eye that signals them to fire. Automatic applicators provide accurate and consistent bead placement.

Electric hot melt applicators are controlled by an electric current that triggers the gun to open and close with an electrical signal to the coil and valve. Pneumatic hot melt applicators use air pressure to open and close. There are two types of pneumatic applicators—air-open air-closed (AO/AC) and air-open spring-closed (AO/SC).

Looking for a recommendation? For manual applications, try our Bulk Hot Melt Hand Gun with Swirl Pattern. If you’re looking for an automatic solution, check out the Graco InvisiPac GS35 Low Profile Four Module Applicator.

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Time to top off your bulk hot melt equipment! The nozzle of a hot melt system is the final element in the dispensing sequence. A nozzle is fitted with one or more orifices so, when pressure is applied, hot melt is extruded in a bead or dot pattern onto the substrate.

Bulk hot melt equipment has a variety of nozzles that can help make your job easier—but only when you use the right one. Switching nozzles can improve your productiveness and overall application quality. Learn how to choose the right nozzle from our Glue Gun Nozzles Guide.

Looking for a recommendation? We love the 12 Hole Steel Swirl Hot Melt Nozzle without O-ring, which comes in a variety of sizes.

Complete Manual, Hand-Held Systems

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Pre-configured systems are perfect off-the-shelf solutions for standard, hand-held bulk hot melt dispensing. They make it easy—especially for first-time bulk hot melt equipment buyers—to select the perfect combination of hot melt tanks, hoses, and applicators.

Looking for a recommendation? AX96 Butyl Hot Melt Tank, Hose & Gun has a 10-pound melt tank, an eight-foot hose, and an L2 handgun.

Roll Coaters

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For thin, flat substrates, roll coater bulk hot melt equipment is the best way to apply hot melt across a wide surface. Hot melt coating is the process of applying a layer of hot melt to a substrate where you first heat and apply the hot melt, and then force it to cool quickly to solidify the adhesive. This process is most commonly used for pressure-sensitive adhesives on thin substrates like self-adhesive labels—stamps, stickers, and product labels.

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Looking for a recommendation? All our Datco roll coaters are excellent for applying bulk hot melt to large, flat surfaces. Our favorite is the Hot Melt Top Coater and Roll Coater - Datco Versa Hot Series, which we’ve found can accommodate almost any substrate with a roller up to 37 inches wide.

There you have it: A complete guide to bulk hot melt and bulk hot melt equipment! Whether you’re a first-time buyer or seasoned pro just looking to improve your processes, our experts have tons experience in finding (or building) solutions for every need and budget. Just contact us online or call (877) 933-3343 for help putting together the perfect system for your hot melt application.

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