A Buyer's Guide to Hot Melt Applications

Introduction to Hot Melt Applicators

When searching for the best applicator to fit your project needs, the wide variety to choose from can be overwhelming. To help you narrow down your options and find the right applicator for your needs, we put together this guide to get you started.

Choosing Your Hot Melt Adhesive Applicator by the Level of Coverage You Need

Assembly, packaging, and installation are moving faster than ever. If you’re going to keep up, you’ll need to have the right hot melt adhesive applicator in place. Most of the coverage options below can be found in both small-scale manual and large-scale systems to best fit your coverage needs.

For Precise Coverage: Extrusion Applicators

Extrusion hot melt adhesive applicators are great in situations where a small amount of adhesive needs to be applied precisely. These applicators focus on cut-offs and eliminating strings and trails and are often used in narrow spaces. You’ll often see extrusion devices like hand-held “guns” being used for hot melt application in woodworking, packaging, case sealing, and other product assemblies. Here is one of our favorites.

To Cover Large Areas: Spray Applicators

The strength of spray hot glue guns is that they can apply hot melt over a larger area than their counterparts. While they’re not a great choice for smaller products, they fill the need for hot melt application in furniture assembly, foam packaging, and other large-scale jobs.

For Thin, Flat Substrates: Adhesive Roll Coater Applicators

Roll coater applicators 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. Check out one of our favorite roll coaters here.

If You Need a Little Bit of Everything: Slot Coating Applicators

Slot coating applicators can disperse hot melt in areas ranging from less than an inch to as wide as a foot. Slot coating systems can range from one applicator to several, and all of them can be programmed to distribute hot melt in complex patterns. Able to move quickly, and configurable to coat multiple surfaces all at once, slot applicators are great for manufacturing and assembly lines, for anything from automobiles to furniture.


Car Manufacturing

Best Hot Melt Adhesive Applicator by Industry

You’ll notice a theme in the industries below. Almost all of them can benefit from a variety of adhesive applicators, once you consider manufacturing, packaging, and installation. It’s important that you pick the correct hot melt adhesive applicator for the substrate and application you’re working with to ensure you’re able to achieve the stable long-lasting bond that hot melts are known for.

Construction Industry

The construction industry is a great example of why there are so many great options for applying hot melt adhesives. For small manufacturing jobs or onsite installations, you’ll want the precision of manual and automatic extrusion adhesive applicators. For large products rolling across the assembly line, like doors and countertops, spray applicators get the job done efficiently.

Furniture Industry

Just like construction, the furniture production industry requires a range of hot melt adhesive applicators. Large items like mattresses can benefit from spray applicators to keep assembly lines chugging along. However, for securely fitting together furniture, both automatic and manual extrusion and slot coating adhesive applicators get the job done well.


Furniture Manufacturing

Packaging Industry

Extrusion systems for hot melt adhesive are widely used in the packaging industry. They offer a fast and efficient way to keep up with the demand for packaging that online shopping generates.

Slot coating applicators can be used for smaller packaging like envelopes. And, of course, for the labels that are common in packaging, adhesive roll coater applicators create great self-adhesive stickers and labels.

Transportation Industry

To go right along with the trend, transportation is yet another industry in which you’ll likely want to use a variety of hot melt adhesive applicators to get the job done. For really big applications—think airplanes and automobiles—you’ll want to invest in spray applicators that speed up completion time by dispensing a wide arc of hot melt all at once.

At the same time, there are tons of small components that are used in the transportation industry. For these, both slot and extrusion hot melt applicators do the job. For the most delicate settings, manual extrusion hot melt adhesive applicators are key.

Still have questions about applicators? 

If you need further guidance about choosing the hot melt adhesive applicator that’s best for you, contact us. Our knowledgeable staff is happy to help.

Ask a Question

Have questions? Our team of hot melt experts can help. Submit your questions and we'll get you answers right away. We're here to help.