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What is Cyanoacrylate Glue?

What is Cyanoacrylate Glue?

Cyanoacrylate glue is the industrial name for what is commonly known as “Crazy Glue” or “Super Glue”. In fact, the term cyanoacrylate glue generally describes quick-bonding super glues. They can be used to combine anything from metal to plastic and even human skin.

How It Works

Unlike traditional adhesives which are water-based, cyanoacrylate glue is composed of an acrylic resin. The main ingredient in cyanoacrylate glue is cyanoacrylate, which is an acrylic monomer that transforms to a plastic state after curing.

Cyanoacrylate glue also differs from traditional glue, due to its special bonding conditions. This is because cyanoacrylate glue can only bond with a surface when there is moisture present. This means if the cyanoacrylate glue is placed on a perfectly dry surface, it will not stick to the surface or form a bond.

In contrast, when any amount of moisture is present, the molecules in the cyanoacrylate glue will react with the moisture to form tight chains in between the two surfaces in contact. This reaction generates heat and occurs instantly, which differs from traditional glue bonding that occurs by evaporation of the base fluid. 

Curing Process

Curing is an important process for all glue types and should be considered when choosing the right type of glue for specific applications.

Broadly speaking, curing is defined as the process where a chemical reaction takes place to form harder and tougher linkages in a chemical substance. For some materials, this process will only occur at specific temperatures or humidity levels. For glues, curing can be facilitated by radiation, heat, moisture or UV light.

As mentioned above, curing for cyanoacrylate glues is facilitated by the presence of moisture and occurs almost instantly at ambient temperatures. The bonds formed during curing are also extremely rigid, hence its nickname of “super (strong) glue”.   

Potential Problems

Like all other products, there are potential issues to consider when deciding if cyanoacrylate glue is the right choice for your application. One of the main problems is the possible lack of bonding occurring between the glue and a surface. This is largely due to an absence of moisture, which may occur on some surfaces.

Luckily, this is a simple problem that can be solved by applying a thin layer of water on the surface to initiate curing. However, this method may not work on all materials, as some materials, such as the heat-resistant plastics, tend to repel moisture. Instead, epoxy resin should be used to bind these materials.

Another problem you may experience is the cyanoacrylate glue‘s tendency to form strong bonds with undesirable surfaces, such as your skin. This is a common problem, because the human skin is constantly respiring and generates a layer of moisture, creating conditions for the cyanoacrylate glue to cure.

This problem can be easily solved with the help of acetone, commonly known as nail polish remover. Acetone can chemically dissolve the strong bonds occurring in the cyanoacrylate glue without harming your skin. It can also be used to eliminate glue residue from any surface.

 Super glue stuck to woman’s hands 

The last issue with cyanoacrylate glues stems from its chemical composition. Because they are so strong and fast-acting, cyanoacrylate glues have a short shelf-life and should only be purchased when needed. Specifically, they have an average shelf life of one year from the date of manufacturing, and one month once the glue has been opened. Do not purchase them in bulk or stockpile for future use.

Popular Brands

Most adhesive brands have cyanoacrylate glue lines, often marketed under the name of Super Glue or Crazy Glue. Popular cyanoacrylate glue brands include Infinity Bond and Permabond.

Permabond offers cyanoacrylate glues in low, medium and high viscosity formulas. This is because the viscosity of your cyanoacrylate glue should fit your application. For example, low and medium viscosity glues are great for binding wood and rubber, while high viscosity glues are great for vertical applications and porous surfaces.

Another popular cyanoacrylate glue brand is Infinity Bond. The company also manufactures a wide range of other adhesive products. Its line of cyanoacrylate glues is classified based on specific applications.

For example, you can purchase a cyanoacrylate glue for binding rubber and plastic, one for binding metals, one for medical applications, one that is low in odor and one that is resistant to high temperatures.

 super glue

Final Thoughts

Cyanoacrylate glues are the proper name for a type of glue commonly known as Super Glue or Crazy Glue. Their name derives from the strong bond they can form with any surface in the presence of moisture.

Some common problems with cyanoacrylate glue include their tendency to stick easily to human skin and the requirement of moisture to facilitate curing, but both can be resolved easily. Popular brands of cyanoacrylate glue include Permabond and Infinity Bond.