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Sustainable Adhesives: Greener Bonding for Manufacturing

In today's world, adhesives must balance their essential role with their environmental impact. Thankfully, the tide is turning towards sustainable adhesive manufacturing, guided by innovations and a shift in priorities.

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Sustainability is increasingly important as we look to future-proof global manufacturing processes, and sustainability within adhesive manufacturing is multifaceted. Global adhesive manufacturers are improving techniques to reduce potentially dangerous chemical pollutants, shorten manufacturing times, increase efficiencies, reduce the need for non-recyclable components, and diminish carbon emissions.

sustainability in adhesive manufacturing So, how does the choice of an adhesive influence sustainability? 

Sustainable adhesives in manufacturing processes

A crucial factor in the sustainability of an adhesive is its production process. “Traditional” manufacturing methods face numerous challenges, such as high energy consumption and waste generation. Additionally, controlling potentially harmful emissions can present problems. New manufacturing processes help combat these issues, creating more sustainable adhesives. 

The development of sustainable adhesive manufacturing is found in methoxyethyl cyanoacrylates (MECA)-based cyanoacrylate (CA) production. This process consumes much less energy than conventional adhesive manufacturing techniques, has a high yield, and generates less waste. In addition, the process is “cleaner”, allowing for a significant reduction in emissions. 

Faster curing times

Effectiveness is another important contributing factor to an adhesive’s sustainability credentials. Adhesives with faster curing times make the manufacturing process more efficient. This can be found in developments to cyanoacrylate technology, such as the patented “Light Cure” technology that allows curing to take place via light (UV) and contact (moisture). This development allows for rapid adhesion and curing of areas exposed to light with significant implications for sustainability, efficiency, and cost reduction. 

Using LED lamps (both “traditional” and more modern dual-curing systems) for curing saves energy and is more efficient. The dual cure process is faster and uses less energy than conventional UV systems, as it does require post-curing.

Adhesive performance impacts sustainability in numerous ways. High-performance adhesives reduce the amount of material required via automated and manual dispensing, whilst dual-curing technology allows for the assembly of multiple substrates in the same production, something hard to achieve with mechanical fasteners. As such, materials such as glass, metal, plastic, leather, and even textiles can be bonded with precision, allowing for the manufacturing of products with complex designs, including electronic devices, luxury goods, and automotive components.

Waste reduction

The new generation of adhesives contribute to reducing the number of parts and components in final products, simplifying and rationalising designs. This not only makes the products lighter but also requires less energy to manufacture. Fewer parts means more efficient use of resources and less waste, improving the manufacturer’s sustainability credentials. Additionally, speeding up production lines helps increase margins for businesses.

The new generation of adhesive technologies contributes to the reduced number of parts and components needed in end-products by aiding design simplification. This simplification and reduction, not only achieves light-weighting but requires less energy to manufacture. Fewer parts mean more efficient use of resources and less waste, improving the manufacturer’s sustainability credentials.

In conclusion, developments in sustainable adhesives are helping manufacturers achieve sustainability goals and offer more efficient processes to their customers, thus contributing to a more sustainable business as a whole.

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