Image of adhesive being applied on a gasket.

Adhesion Basics: Introduction to the Science of Adhesion

Adhesion Science

  • Surface science, joint geometry, and adhesive chemistry comprise the principles of adhesion science.

    The principal requirement of an adhesive bond is to connect two materials while withstanding the stresses they will be subjected to in their use. Using adhesives is not as intuitive as it may seem: adhesion science is a multidisciplinary field requiring a knowledge of chemistry and physics, mechanics and rheology, design and engineering.

    Adhesion Science, or the study of adhesion, consists of three equally essential parts which combine to form the basis of adhesive selection and adhesive engineering.

  • Surface Science

    The chemical composition of a surface dictates whether an adhesive will make adequate contact, allowing for a bond. Unique factors like cleanliness and surface texture affect adhesive performance. Surface science examines these and other characteristics that impact the surface of a substrate.

  • Adhesive Chemistry

    The unique adhesive chemistry of an individual adhesive will, in part, determine it’s suitability for a given bonding application. Not only will chemistry play a role in an adhesive’s ability to bond to the surface, but different chemistries will respond differently to stresses – loads, temperatures or environments.

  • Joint Geometry

    Joint Geometry, or the shape of a bond, will impact performance of an adhesive bond, as will the direction and intensity of the stresses. Not only do adhesives respond to stress differently than mechanical or thermal fasteners, but different substrates and adhesive chemistries respond differently as well.

Adhesive and Tape Formats

  • Learn about different adhesive and tape formats and how they can be used in product designs.

    An adhesive is a substance used to bond two materials together. Some common formats include one- and two-part reactive adhesives, hot melt and reactive hot melt adhesives, and solvent- and water-based adhesives.

    A tape is a film or paper coated on one or both sides, used to attach or bond materials. Some formats used for durable assembly include adhesive transfer tapes, double coated tapes and foam tapes, and reclosable fasteners.

    Learn more about adhesive formats

Adhesive Bonding: Connecting Two Materials

  • Learn about the different factors that contribute to an effective adhesive bond. Image of the cross-section of an adhesive bond.

    Adhesive bonding is a method by which two materials are joined into an assembly. Adhesive bonding may take the place of or be used in addition to traditional thermal or mechanical attachment methods such as welds, bolts, screws or rivets.

    The principal requirement of an adhesive bond is to connect two materials while withstanding the stresses those materials will be subjected to in their use. Adhesive bonding is a sophisticated process in which several factors interact to contribute to success

Measuring Adhesion

  • Learn how adhesion scientists determine a bond’s ability to withstand the stress of an application. GIF of an adhesive bond being pulled apart.

    Adhesion scientists investigate the strength of an adhesive bond to determine its ability to withstand the stresses of the application.

    To understand the strength of an adhesive bond it helps to understand the work of adhesion on a bond. The most common way to measure this is to pull an adhesive bond apart. The force needed to pull the bond apart allows engineers to understand how the adhesive will perform in an application.

    Learn more about adhesive bond strength