What Are Aircraft Adhesives?

Adhesives are used in nearly all industrial sectors, all of which are made with varying strengths to meet a myriad of operational requirements. Aerospace adhesives in particular are generally considered more volatile than conventional variations. Typically, they cover the interior, exterior, and engine compartments of various aircraft, and their applications range from thread locking and retaining to gasketing, thread sealing, and more.

In general, adhesives are made to improve stress distribution over bonded joints, protect against corrosion, and enhance aerodynamics and aesthetics. Instead of using bolts or similar hardware to join materials together in aircraft, adhesives can be implemented, so that aircraft weight is not compromised and costs are kept low. More than that, select grades of adhesives have unique characteristics that offer additional benefits.

To understand how aerospace applications take advantage of differing adhesives, you must have an understanding of the primary types that are used in aircraft, those of which are either reactive or non-reactive in nature. Reactive adhesives rely on chemical interactions to bond materials together, whereas non-reactive adhesives utilize heat or pressure to harden into a bond.

Reactive Adhesives

Natural Adhesives: are made of animal gelatin or a material derived from vegetables.

One-part and Multi-part Adhesives: create bonds through chemical reactions that take place in a single adhesive, or when two or more adhesives are combined.

Synthetic Adhesives: are composed of many materials, with common types including polyurethane, epoxies, and acrylic polymers. Epoxies are especially popular because of their strength, low density, and their ability to keep aircraft as light as possible.

Non-Reactive Adhesives

Contact Adhesives: are made of rubber or its variants, and they can be attached to one or more surfaces and pressed together for secure bonding.

Drying Adhesives: need air to form a solid bond.

Hot-melt Adhesives: are applied in molten form and cool into a solid to form a bond.

Pressure-sensitive Adhesives: create a molecular bond by applying pressure to the materials it is applied to. These adhesives are usually implemented in areas where a temporary bond is desired.

As aircraft necessitate high quality adhesives that comply with certain specifications to guarantee their reliability, with AS 9120 being the most common military specification, the aforementioned adhesive types can be tailored to meet the ever-changing needs of the aerospace industry. To ensure an aerospace adhesive is working optimally, surface preparation is critical, and careful consideration of the materials at hand is paramount. Some adhesives are flammable and may pose health hazards to humans in storage and transport. Solvent-based and chemically reactive adhesives need special attention to safety precautions, as they are incredibly hazardous.

Usually, adhesive manufacturers are responsible for indicating the wide range of hazards associated with a product in its safety data sheet (SDS). Additionally, they are also required to catalog the product’s storage conditions and shelf life. With so many adhesions systems on the market, there is no universal guide for storing adhesives. As such, you must always verify the details of each product.

Cogent Purchasing is a leading distributor of aircraft adhesives, adhesives tapes, sealants, as well as electric motors, engine components, and more. With countless ready-to-purchase products on our database, customers can easily meet rigid time constraints and strict budget parameters. As our supply chain network stretches across the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, we are equipped to offer expedited shipping services to domestic and international customers alike. Get started today and see how Cogent Purchasing can serve as your strategic sourcing partner. For additional questions about our other offered services, call or email us at any time; we are available around the clock! 


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