There's a new glue in town and it's about to kick all others to the curb! Today, many products such as composite bike frames, helmets and golf clubs, are made with two-part epoxy adhesives.
These adhesives require air, heat or light to cure and bond, and are traditionally quite expensive and energy-consuming. Now, scientists from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) have developed a method of gluing called "magnetocuring" that does not require anything but a magnetic field.
The new development has many advantages and potential applications.
“Our key development is a way to cure adhesives within minutes of exposure to a magnetic field, while preventing overheating of the surfaces to which they are applied. This is important as some surfaces that we want to join are extremely heat-sensitive, such as flexible electronics and biodegradable plastics," explained associate professor Terry Steele.
A five minutes craft
The new glue contains special magnetic nanoparticles that heat up and automatically bond when electromagnetic energy is applied. This results in a curing process that takes a mere five minutes.
“The curing of our newly-developed magnetocuring adhesive takes only several minutes instead of hours, and yet is able to secure surfaces with high strength bonds, which is of considerable interest in the sports, medical, automotive and aerospace industries. This efficient process can also bring about cost savings as the space and energy needed for conventional heat curing are reduced significantly," said the first author of the study Dr Richa Chaudhary.
The process is also much more energy-efficient than conventional gluing approaches using 120 times less energy than an industrial oven. It's also highly adaptable.
“The speed and temperature of curing can be adjusted, so manufacturers of existing products could redesign or improve their existing manufacturing methods. For example, instead of applying glue and curing it part by part in a conventional assembly line, the new process could be to pre-apply glue on all the parts and then cure them as they move along the conveyor chain. Without ovens, it would lead to much less downtime and more efficient production," said professor Raju V. Ramanujan.