Hot-melt adhesive fundamentals

Appropriate for a variety of applications, hot-melt adhesives provide optimal hold and superior manufacturing flexibility versus waterborne or solvent-based adhesives. Hot-melt adhesives are widely used in a variety of applications, including packaging, hygiene, and assembly.

Hot-melt adhesives are solvent-free, thermoplastic materials that are mixed and applied in the molten state at temperatures varying from 120° to 180°C.

Hot-melt adhesives are composed of three main components:

  • High molecular weight polymer (e.g., performance polymers, EVA or synthetic rubber), which acts as a backbone and provides the primary mechanical properties of the adhesive
  • Tackifier, which provides wetting and adhesion properties
  • Plasticizer, such as an oil or wax, which controls the viscosity of the blend and enables the adhesive to be handled by simple machinery

The success of hot-melt technology is driven by superior economics:

  • Significantly lower investment than solvent technology
  • Less space needed for production equipment
  • Lower raw-material inventory requirements
  • Less preparation than solvent- or water-based technology
  • Reduction in energy costs with higher throughput compared to water-based technology