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Cyanoacrylates: What They Are and What They Do

Posted 11 Feb 2021 by Kimberly Tucker, Research Scientist

If you’ve ever wondered how cyanoacrylates have become so pervasive in the industry and what they have to offer, this is the article for you. Originally patented in 1949, cyanoacrylate adhesives have since become one of the fastest and easiest bonding methods for a wide variety of materials. By understanding the different varieties of cyanoacrylates available today, you’ll know exactly what you need for your next purchase.


Most adhesives are large molecules that do not penetrate well into surfaces. Cyanoacrylates are small molecules that contain polar chemical groups (nitrile and ester) that make them very reactive to most surfaces. Cyanoacrylates are liquids that can penetrate into surfaces before the molecules link together as they react to form sturdy, transparent chains that bond closely spaced surfaces together. Cyanoacrylates remain liquid due to very minute amounts of acids and other chemicals that inhibit the polymerization process. Once the cyanoacrylate is placed upon a surface that contains moisture and/or other neutralizing chemicals and is pressed into a thin film, these inhibitors are neutralized, and the adhesive hardens at an exceptionally fast rate. This extremely fast cure rate and nearly instantaneous bonding of many substrates is what gives cyanoacrylates their nickname – instant adhesives.


What are the Benefits of Cyanoacrylates?

Cyanoacrylates can be refined to suit several specific purposes, but they generally share many of the same attributes:

  • Rapid curing time

  • Easy application

  • Tunable viscosity

  • Strong and flexible bonding

  • Non-flammable

  • Waterproof and sweat resistant

  • Heat-resistant

  • Effective on many composite surfaces


Cyanoacrylates in the Beauty Industry

Cyanoacrylate glues are best known in the beauty industry as eyelash extension adhesives. In order to perform effectively, they must be flexible, fast-setting, long-lasting, and specially formulated to bond eyelash extensions to existing eyelashesTo achieve this, we formulate medical grade, biocompatibility tested adhesives to ensure both safety and performance for professional use. We know that lash artists need flexibility and personalization in their products, so we shape our portfolio accordingly with different setting speeds and formulations for optimal client experiences.


Cyanoacrylates in the Medical Industry

Beyond gluing surfaces together, cyanoacrylates can be specially formulated to safely bond human skin. Our formulated butyl cyanoacrylate adhesive, for example, is a skin safe adhesive specifically made for athletes. It can act as a pre-workout and activity barrier while also slowing bleeding and keeping germs at bay. Medical grade cyanoacrylates also see use in surgery, as they provide strong, flexible bonds to act as an alternative to suturing cuts.


Cyanoacrylates in the MRO (Maintenance, Repair & Operations) Industry 

When it comes to MRO, cyanoacrylates are typically used as general-purpose adhesives. They bond well to metals, rubbers, and plastics, and can be further enhanced for more specific applications. This includes altering the cure time to suit any situation, whether you need it to bond in five seconds or a few minutes so you have more time to align the bonded surfaces correctly. They can also be developed with superior shock and thermal resistance to handle harsh environments.


H.B. Fuller Cyanoacrylates

We have decades of experience formulating and providing cyanoacrylates for adhesive industries across the world. Browse our products to find some of the highest quality cyanoacrylates available in the market or find more information about our products and manufacturing and contact us. 


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