What are hot melt adhesives used for?

From packaging to diapers, woodworking to labelling, and much more, hot-melt adhesives play an important role in countless industries and applications across the globe. Delivering valuable productivity and product performance benefits, they continue to grow as a bonding technology, replacing other adhesives and fastening techniques.

If diversity is a strength, then hot melts are one of the strongest bonding technologies in the market today.  The almost endless customisation options – thanks to their advanced polymer base – and compatibility to high-volume, automated product lines; as well as low and high-temperature resistance, makes them an invisible, yet vital component in millions of products.

Furthermore, the lack of potentially toxic volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and the increasing availability of bio-based hot melts, make them both a safe and sustainable gluing option.

Common hot-melt adhesive applications

Food and beverage

Protecting food from spoiling or contamination is the primary function of packaging and the adhesives that bond it together. Due to the lack of volatile organic compounds – which otherwise could migrate from the packaging to its contents – hot melts are a popular choice for cereal boxes, on-the-go paper cartons, coffee cups, paper bags; roll bags for sugar, flour, and other foodstuffs, as well as flexible packaging.

Case and carton sealing adhesives

Frequently changing packaging designs and materials require an adhesive that is equally innovative in its formulation and performance characteristics; whilst growing consumer demands for ‘greener’ packaging necessitates the availability of hot melts that are sustainable – from plant-based raw materials or vegan certified, for example. End-of-line manufacturers rely on hot melts to successfully meet these challenges.

Self-adhesive tapes

Clean, cost-effective, and practical: it’s easy to see why self-adhesive tapes are popular across packaging, masking, healthcare, automotive, electronics, and many other industries. But with rising adoption comes an ever-increasing number of new applications and materials – that’s why pressure-sensitive adhesives (PSAs) must ensure bonding across difficult, irregular, or uneven surfaces.

E-commerce packaging

Nobody wants to receive a damaged package. Consumers have high expectations when buying online and expect swift, safe deliveries that protect their purchases - an unboxing experience that will encourage repeat orders. Application-specific pressure-sensitive adhesives are key to providing a durable bond for both permanent or removable applications, across both rigid and flexible packaging.

Container labelling

Recycling and reuse schemes for bottles and containers are growing in importance with governments, consumers, and brands wanting to reduce the number of single-use products and their resulting waste. Developments in alkali washable hot-melt adhesives, and the availability of various water-based adhesive technologies, make this possible – providing a durable bond that holds labels neatly in place throughout the life of a product, until they are easily washed off at the end of a products use.

Bookbinding and print finishing

Despite predictions of prints demise, it remains a healthy, albeit changing industry; one where on-demand printing and faster production speeds present ever greater challenges for adhesives: strong bonds that set quickly are needed to avoid smearing equipment during trimming, and to provide the necessary page pull strength to satisfy both readers and printers alike.

Non-woven and hygiene

Demand for non-woven items such as baby diapers, feminine hygiene products, incontinence products, and personal care products such as wet wipes, is growing year-by-year; as is the increased expectations of improved functionality: better leak prevention, as well as thinner, more discrete products, for instance. Non-woven applications rely on hot melts to meet these changing needs, and to deliver products that offer the correct levels of fit, comfort, absorption, retention, and breathability.

Woodworking and furniture

Hot melts bond a variety of wooden parts, being used for edgebanding, profile wrapping, soft forming, and lamination applications, to name a few. Key to their performance is resistance to moisture and heat – to prevent damage from accidents and spoilages, and the ever-increasing number of appliances in kitchens, for example – as well as providing a high-quality, efficient, and sustainable bonding experience.

Automotive and transport adhesives

Helping to streamline both production processes and vehicle design, adhesives play a big role in reducing the complexity, costs, and potential for corrosion and fatigue, that is commonly associated with mechanical fasteners. Manufacturers increasingly rely on hot melts to bond a range of materials, in their push for a safer, lighter, and more aesthetically pleasing vehicle design.

Mattresses and pocket springs

Mattress technology has advanced significantly in recent years; customers can choose between open spring, memory foam, hybrid foam, latex, and pocket-sprung designs. Each of these – which can be produced on both manual and automated lines – requires a different adhesive, with its own performance specification. Moreover, national and international regulations concerning municipal waste, means producers are expected to invest in recycling technologies as well as sustainable products, such as fully recyclable pocket springs.

Appliances and white goods

Bonding a variety of engineering materials across applications that include seal and gap filling, component bonding, and foam-in-place gaskets; manufacturers depend on hot melts to produce everything from refrigerators and laundry equipment; to air conditioners and dishwashers, and many other common household products. Adhesives continue to replace traditional fastening techniques, helping to reduce vibration and sound in appliances, prevent leaks, and enhance manufacturing productivity.

Adhesive support: onsite trials and audits

To successfully provide the necessary bonding performance - regardless of the industry - it’s important to support hot melts with a technical service that can advise manufacturers and help them to get the best out of their adhesive.

Beardow Adams’ dedicated service teams, which have extensive experience across both adhesive and machinery sectors, work closely with manufacturers to ensure they achieve the best possible value from their hot-melt machines, equipment, and production lines.

From trial and start-up support, to ‘non-intrusive’ onsite and remote auditing, adhesive optimisation programmes, and quick turnaround of technical analysis of materials, we aim to provide a smooth, continuous set of services that promote adhesive usage and site efficiency gains.

For further information, get in touch via our contact us page, or send an email to: marketing@beardowadams.com

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