All about superglue or where the boundaries of superpowers are

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Superglue, along with many great inventions, was born by chance, but, as befits a substance with this name, it is firmly entrenched in a variety of economic industries. In this article we will tell you what superglue is and what it is, what it is capable of and what it cannot, and also share useful tips and tricks for using such glue..

All about superglue or where the boundaries of superpowers are

A compact and handy tube of super glue is in every DIY’s drawer. You cannot do without it, if you need to glue a broken handle to your favorite cup, glue the sole of a sandal, fix a broken children’s car. The scope of application of this amazing substance is very large, and the history of the emergence and victorious march around the world is very instructive..

What is superglue

The composition of the substance, which we used to call “superglue”, without fail includes 97-99% of cyanoacrylates, that is, cyanoacrylic acid esters, plasticizers, stabilizers, with insufficient joint moisture – activators, as well as retarders.

To obtain a glue gel, ultrafine silica is also added to the composition to thicken. Superglue does not include solvents.

The mechanism of action of superglue is actually simple – under the influence of slightly alkaline agents (ordinary water belongs to such substances, and atmospheric humidity is quite enough), the substance polymerizes, that is, it solidifies, becomes solid, while reliably bonding both surfaces to each other.

Conventional cyanoacrylate adhesives can easily withstand a load of 150 kg / cm2, and more advanced ones, for example, Black Max from Loctite – 250 kg / cm2. Heat resistance of ordinary superglue is up to 70-80 degrees, modified – up to 125 degrees.

Loctite 401 glue

Superglue classification

In our country, it is customary to call any glue that contains cyanoacrylates and hardens almost instantly, “superglue”. However, in fact, there are several varieties of this substance:

  1. One-component ethyl cyanoacrylate superglue. As the name implies, it does not contain additional active substances. Perfectly glues a variety of surfaces and quickly hardens – for this useful property it was named second glue. The full hardening period does not exceed 24 hours with an air humidity of at least 55%, but in general, after a minute the surfaces are held securely, and after two hours the glued object can be used fearlessly.
  2. Two-component. Adhesive, which includes not only a cyanoacrylate binder, but also fillers that give it heat and electrically conductive properties. The rest of the characteristics of the two-component adhesive are similar to the one-component composition..

Superglue tube

Depending on the consistency, superglues are divided into:

  1. Liquid, they are thin or penetrating. They are used only where the gap is very small – they perfectly penetrate between two tightly fitted parts, into holes less than 0.05 mm thick.
  2. Average. Universal adhesives that have the widest range of applications.
  3. Viscous or gel-like. Capable of filling small voids.

Superglue history

Like a lot of other ingenious inventions, superglue was discovered absolutely by accident, and not once, but twice. American chemist Harry Coover was not at all busy looking for the perfect adhesive – in 1942, the development of plastic for optical sights was much more relevant..

Coover used cyanoacrylates in his work, but quickly abandoned his idea, as these substances adhered tightly to any surface and laboratory equipment quickly failed..

Unfortunately, at that time Harry Coover did not appreciate all the prospects for the accidentally discovered properties of cyanoacrylates and continued to work on improving optical sights with other materials..

Harry Coover

Only in 1951, 9 years after the first discovery, the chemist, working with his colleague Fred Joyner on the creation of an acrylic polymer for the cockpit lights of jet aircraft, again faced the amazing properties of cyanoacrylates and this time decided to start creating superglue in earnest.

It took the scientist seven more years to develop the optimal composition of the substance, adding stabilizers and plasticizers, and, finally, in 1958, Eastman Compound 910 was ready for use..

By the way, the Russian name “superglue”, which we habitually call all adhesives based on cyanoacrylates, is a tracing paper with SuperGlue – under this name Dr. Harry Coover patented his composition. It’s a shame, but superglue only started to make a profit after the SuperGlue patent expired. However, Harry Coover deservedly received his share of fame, he himself starred in advertising for his invention and was awarded the US National Medal of Technology and Innovation.

Scope of super glue

Superglue is widely used in various fields of activity – in everyday life, industry, manufacturing, instrument and mechanical engineering, in repair and construction.

Currently, the number of modifications of superglue is constantly growing, respectively, the scope of its use is also expanding..

So, in medicine, superglue is already used as a sealant to stop bleeding and treat wounds. And not so long ago, Swedish scientists have developed a superglue composition that will help heal fractures, including the spine and skull bones, without the use of metal plates..

Modern super glues are capable of withstanding enormous loads, so they can be used not only for gluing small parts, but also for much larger tasks..

So, the new Loctite superglue is considered the strongest in the world and was entered in the Guinness Book of Records. As evidence, two vehicles weighing over five tons were glued to a metal frame by Loctite and raised to a decent height. The cars lasted for a while, and the representatives of the Book of Records used only nine drops of superglue for gluing.!

Loctite glue broke the world record

According to scientists, over time, superglue may well replace welding and other, more labor-intensive types of joints..

As you can see, today superglue is really universal and is used literally everywhere where you need to glue dissimilar or small materials with high quality and as quickly as possible..

By the way, few people know, but vapors of cyanoacrylates can be used for fingerprinting. Want to know who took your diary without asking? Use superglue.

Safety precautions when working with superglue

Since superglue hardens and glues surfaces instantly, and also has a number of other features, the following safety rules should be observed when working with this substance:

  1. Even if you’re as careful as possible, a drop of glue can still get on your clothing, so take care to protect it..
  2. Cyanoacrylate vapors are toxic – be sure to handle the adhesive in a ventilated area.
  3. Use the correct amount of glue. A lot of superglue should not be applied for the following reasons: firstly, it will increase its curing time and worsen the quality of work; and secondly, there is a high probability that the excess will protrude from the seam and fingers or other objects that pressed the parts to be glued very firmly to the part.
  4. Since the glue sets instantly upon contact with atmospheric humidity, the tip of the tube is often clogged. Therefore, it should be carefully cleaned with a needle or scissor tip before reuse. Do not under any circumstances press on the tube hoping to pierce it with force – the glue can shoot at a decent distance, and in the best case, you will stain your clothes or the table, in the worst case – the glue can get into your eyes.
  5. The tube with glue should be directed away from you, preferably downwards, trying to cover it with your hand as much as possible, thereby excluding the possibility of superglue getting into the face, especially into the eyes – once on the eye shell, the glue causes a serious burn, which requires long-term treatment and medical intervention!
  6. You should not fold and fold the started tube of superglue. It breaks very easily at the folds – you will stain your hands, clothes, or ruin the part to be glued..

And one more serious danger – when gluing materials that contain cellulose, for example, cotton cloth and paper, there is a possibility of an exothermic reaction, that is, sharp heating and even ignition. That is why safety precautions prohibit the use of woolen clothes and cotton clothes, especially cotton gloves when working with glue, which contains cyanoacrylates. Otherwise, you can get burned, small if the superglue was small, and serious if the amount is large enough..

Today, special types of superglue have already appeared, which, thanks to special additives, can be used for gluing cardboard and do not cause an exothermic reaction.

The toxic properties of cyanoacrylates

Immediately, we note that in the hardened state, superglue is safe, so it can well be used for gluing a cup or plate. BUT! Still, you should not drink hot tea from such a cup, because superglue softens under the influence of a liquid with a temperature of 70 degrees. So we recommend using cyanoacrylate glue only for gluing decorative utensils, for example, a painted plate or flower vase, and not for serving items from which you plan to eat..

In liquid form, directly during gluing, superglue releases poisonous fumes, which in case of high concentration can cause nausea and dizziness. Therefore, we repeat, you should work with superglue in rooms with good ventilation..

However, there are special types of cyanoacrylates, for example, octyl-2-cyanoacrylate, which is the least toxic of all cyanoacrylates. Such adhesives are considered medical and, even during the Vietnam War, were successfully used to stop bleeding, provide first aid to victims and glue wounds..

Superglue for wounds

Today, LifePath, a superglue-based patch, is applied to wounds if the surgeon cannot pinpoint the source of the bleeding and firmly seals the damaged area, saving the patient’s life..

Not so long ago, medical superglue saved the life of a three-month-old girl with a brain aneurysm. Specialists at the University of Kansas Clinic sealed the site of the child’s artery rupture with medical superglue, which literally “sealed” the site of the cerebral hemorrhage in a few seconds.

Useful Tips

In this section, we will answer the most popular questions that arise when using superglue:

  1. Does superglue conduct current? Regular one-part super glue – no, it is an insulator. There are special adhesives that, with the help of special fillers, acquire the property of conducting current or heat..
  2. How to wash glue by hand? Superglue often sticks fingers together, since rubber or latex gloves are not very convenient to work with when it comes to small details, and cotton gloves, as we remember, cannot be used. A special “Antikley” solvent will help to cope with the problem, you can also just wash your hands with hot water and soap and rub with a washcloth, use acetone or a pharmacy solution “Dimexid”. When working with Dimexidum, you should carefully read the instructions, since the drug is toxic and is intended only for external use. And don’t worry, even without the use of solvents, superglue from your fingers will come off by itself in a couple of days..
  3. How to remove superglue from clothes? If a drop of superglue gets on your favorite jeans or sweater, you should again use a solvent such as “Antique”. However, not all fabrics are as resistant to this chemical, so try applying a little thinner to an inconspicuous area before cleaning the stain. Another option is to warm up the glue spot with an iron through a thin fabric, alternately, on either side. Under the influence of high temperatures, the glue is destroyed and your clothes will become clean after intensive heating with an iron.
  4. How to clean the table from superglue? If the surface of the table is covered with polish, then only the spot of the stain should be left open, and the rest should be covered with cellophane so as not to damage the polish. You can use the pharmacy Dimexide or solvent 647. Attempts to remove superglue from the table surface by heating with a soldering iron or iron are fraught with fire, besides, it is not known how the polish, varnish or paint itself will react to heating – together with the glue stain, the table may lose part of the surface itself … The easiest and most effective way is to use a kettle or a ladle of boiling water – such a vessel should be placed on the glue spot for a while. No ordinary superglue can withstand a temperature of 100 degrees, only modernized.
  5. How to fill large cracks in plastic products with superglue? In this case, the amateur method of combining superglue with soda is widely used. For example, suppose you have a significant crack in a plastic part. A small amount of baking soda should be poured into this gap, and on top of it, apply a thin layer of liquid superglue. Soda instantly turns into acrylic-like filled plastic, which is in no way inferior, and sometimes even superior in strength, to the original material.

Removing superglue from hands

Finally, I would like to talk about a few curious cases of using superglue, which, although they look, to put it mildly, ridiculous, still prove the reliability and amazing adhesive properties of this substance..

So, one resident of Germany, having ended up in a Spanish prison, decided not to part with his bride, who came to him on a date, and asked her in advance to bring superglue for gluing car parts. The couple poured superglue into their palms and exchanged a firm handshake. As a result, it took doctors several days to separate the lovers..

And the Mexican schoolboy did not want to go to school so much that he simply glued his hand to the headboard and one day of school, during which parents and doctors tried to unhook him, he still missed.

Worst of all was the Englishman, who became the victim of pranksters who smeared superglue on a toilet seat in one of London’s public toilets. The poor guy had to go to the hospital with a steel seat.

Superglue is a truly amazing substance, which today is the most popular and easiest to use during repairs, in industry, construction and, of course, in everyday life. The few disadvantages of superglue include the stiffness of the seam, so that it cannot be used for joints that experience fracture loads, low heat resistance and inapplicability for joining polyethylene, polypropylene, silicones and Teflon. However, superglue has much more advantages and benefits, and companies continue to develop more and more new formulations that expand the scope of this legendary super-assistant.

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