Hot melt adhesive (or hot glue) is a form of thermoplastic adhesive that is commonly supplied in solid cylindrical sticks of various diameters, designed to be melted in an electric hot glue gun. The gun uses a continuous-duty heating element to melt the plastic glue, which which may be pushed through the gun by a trigger mechanism, or directly by the user. The glue squeezed out of the heated nozzle is initially hot enough to burn and blister skin. The glue is tacky when hot, but hardens and stops being sticky in a few seconds—a minute at most.
For domestic use just a few types of stick are available, and more or less interchangeable. For industrial use many types of sticks are available for special purposes, with the most common diameters being 12, 15, and 45mm. Sticks have different open times (the working time to make a bond), varying from a second or two to several minutes. A range of values of viscosity and heat resistance of the bond are available.
A common material for the glue sticks (e.g. the light amber colored Thermogrip GS51, GS52, and GS53) is ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) copolymer. The vinyl acetate monomer content is about 18–29 percent by weight of the polymer. Various additives are usually present, e.g. a tackifying resin and wax. Other base materials may be based on polyethylene, polypropylene, polyamide, or polyester, or various copolymers.
In addition to bonding surfaces together, hot-melt glue can be used to fill gaps, but the properties that allow gap-filling (high viscosity, high toughness, or lack of brittleness, and so on) keep it from forming an adhesive film as thin and smooth as is possible with other adhesives. (For example, a wood joint properly made with hide glue may be invisible, marked only by a difference in grain at the seam line.) Bonds must be made quickly before the glue has time to cool and harden. Usually it must be applied accurately with the glue gun, as it can not easily be spread, but it is always possible at any time to melt and spread the glue with a heat gun or a household clothes iron, which helps when bonding larger areas.
Surprisingly hot-melt glue can be used to assemble and repair foam models as an alternative to foam safe Cyano or UHU POR adhesive. Due to the insulating properties of the foam the hot-melt glue stays sticky for much longer than when used on wood, metal or plastics.
Shell shock: Andrew Fisher, a San Francisco decorator and a Faberge with a hot glue gun, lives with an aesthetic he describes as "Martha Stewart on LSD."(Cover Story)
Jul 01, 1997; Andrew Fisher's San Francisco apartment is a place to discover, not to describe. Fisher, a longtime partner in the traditional...