High temp versus low temp glue guns.

What’s the Difference Between High-Temperature and Low-Temperature Hot Melt?

If you’re struggling to decide whether your business needs a high-temperature or low-temperature hot melt, this blog wants you to know that we feel your pain. We’ve been wobbling back and forth on how to handle this topic for days – on the one hand, temperature is among the richest literary metaphors. On the other, it’s also the butt of the most exhausted clichés.

You might say we’re ambivalent about our approach. Indecisive, even. It might be, in fact, that we’re a little bit hot and a little bit cold. Also, two drums and a cymbal might fall off a cliff. No, that’s fine, we know where the door is, we’ll see ourselves out.

In seriousness, choosing the right adhesive for your specific application is simple – you just need a little background information. Let’s get started:

Annie, Get Your Gun

Or, “Johnny, get your gun,” or whatever your name happens to be – if you want to use glue, you’ve got to have a solid glue gun. We’ve rounded up a selection of superior applicators for high- and low-temperature hot melts (and some that do both) so you can be sure you’ll have the right equipment for the job. You’ll find them alongside our adhesive recommendations below.

Some Like It Hot

If you are looking at adhesives for industrial applications, or to bond hardy substrates such as wood, metal and heavy cardboard that can handle plenty of heat, then a high-temperature hot melt is right for you. Applied at between 375 and 450o F, high-temperature hot melts ensure that you’ll get even adhesive distribution on both substrates and superior wet-out on secondary surfaces. This makes high-temperature hot melts – including super-hot industrial adhesives like polyamide – the darling of the packaging industry.  

We recommend the Infinity Bond Scout HT (high-temp only) and the Power Adhesives TEC 820, which is a variable-temperature applicator.

Here are some of our favorite adhesives:

The Big Chill

Well, “big chill” is a little bit of poetic license, if you’ll excuse us: Low-temperature adhesives are applied at around 200-250 F, so they’re not exactly cold; they’re just cooler. If you’re working with more delicate substrates that shouldn’t be exposed to high heat, such as fabric, foam or paper, it’s important to choose a low-temperature hot melt that won’t damage your project.  These adhesives offer many advantages:

They decrease the movement of joints while solidifying, are harder for porous substrates to absorb, provide greater heat stability (and thus greater bond integrity when releasing compression) and don’t get brittle when they cool.  Also: they lower the risk of serious operator burns, making them among the safest hot melt products available. Low-temperature hot melt adhesives are favored by hobbyists and crafters, though they have also been used for commercial applications such as coupons and credit cards.

For low-temp applications, we recommend the Infinity Bond Ranger PROPower Adhesives TEC 3400 Heavy Duty and the 3M Scotch Weld EC Applicator, all of which feature interchangeable temperature modules.

Here are some of our favorite adhesives:

  • 3M 3798 Scotch Weld Gummy Glue (sometimes called “booger glue.” This is irrelevant, but funny. Also, we have the sense of humor of a nine year-old.)
  • Ad Tech Magic Melt 2030
  • Surebonder 725 (a multi-temperature hot melt that provides superior performance in both high- and low-temperature applications. Oh, and it’s your lucky day: We carry both bulk and sticks.)

If you’ve got questions, comments, or really bad jokes you think we would like, don’t hesitate to contact us via the Web or give us a call at 877-933-3343.

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