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Hot melt adhesives

Hot melt adhesives are a type of adhesive commonly used in various industries. They are made from multiple materials, including synthetic resins, waxes, and oils. Hot melt adhesives have many benefits over other adhesives, including their quick set time, muscular bond strength, and flexibility.

What are hot-melt adhesives?

Hot-melt adhesives (HMAs) are thermoplastic adhesives used in various bonding applications. Hot-melt adhesives are solid at room temperature and melt on heating at high temperatures. This is when they get their tacky property required to bond two surfaces. On cooling, they again solidify to create a permanent bond.
Hot-melt adhesives offer several advantages over other adhesive technologies. A few benefits include excellent adhesion, a quick set, and ease of use. Also, volatile organic compounds are reduced or eliminated, and the drying or curing step is eliminated compared to other adhesives. Hot-melt adhesives have a long shelf life and can usually be disposed of without special precautions.
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Hot glue is available in a wide range of polymer technologies and has applications in manufacturing and end-use products. Hot-melt Adhesives do not require high drying time, unlike water-based or solvent-based adhesives. They offer the critical advantage of fast processing in production. Hot melt begins bonding almost immediately after application as it cools down and solidifies. This fast solidification is ideal for use on highly automated manufacturing lines that require rapid bonding.
Hot-melt adhesives have been used for various applications for decades. However, they have made their mark in the packaging industry to a great extent in recent years. Hot-melt adhesives are a small but essential component of modern packaging. One of the use cases of Hot-melt adhesives is in the corrugated paper board industry. Corrugated cartons, also known as master cartons or shipper cartons, are used for the packaging and transporting of every possible item worldwide. They are a very simple but essential component in packaging since they protect the things inside during shipping and handling.

Hot-melt adhesives in the manufacturing of master cartons

Corrugated boxes are a simple design requiring no complex manufacturing process. It involves cutting a flat sheet of groove and then folding and bonding its edges to create the final box.
Over the years, the most common methods used for the side flap pasting of master cartons include either the use of
(i) staples
(ii) water or solvent-based adhesives.
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Staples vs Hot-melt adhesives

1. Using Hot-melt adhesives takes as much time as stapling the side flaps but costs much lower.
2. The material cost reduces by over 60% when using hot glue compared to staples.
3. Also, the stapling process cannot be fully automated for the high-speed production of master cartons.
4. Staples are made of iron; they rust very quickly, which is not acceptable for shipping a wide variety of goods. Stapled boxes are also not allowed for the packaging of items for exports. Non-rusting staple pins cost way more, usually made of SS or brass. Stapling is also not a recycling-compatible process.

Water/solvent-based adhesives vs Hot-melt adhesives

1. The most common method for side-flap gluing is using cold adhesives. These water- or solvent-based adhesives are liquid at room temperature, tacky, and do not require any preparations before use.
2. However, such adhesives take a very long time to dry and hence add a lot of delay and cost in manufacturing cartons.
3. Also, these adhesives have a high content of volatile organic compounds, which are not environmentally friendly.
4. With their quick drying properties, Hot-melt adhesives provide a massive advantage in time-saving at a similar cost
Hot-melt adhesives in case of sealing applications
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Once the cartons are filled and their flaps folded shut, the cases need to be sealed to avoid spillage of contents and for easier handling.
Once the cartons are filled and their flaps folded shut, the cases need to be sealed to avoid spillage of contents and for easier handling. The most common method used for case sealing is BOPP tapes. Tapes are made of 70% plastic/paper backing, and only 30% of the adhesive is required for holding the carton flaps. However, tapes can easily be tampered with during transportation leading to pilferage and product loss. In addition, cartons sealed with hot glue tear on the opening, leaving clear signs of tampering.
Carton flaps are bonded with each other using hot glue and have much higher strength and sturdiness than tapes. This allows for taller and more giant stacks of cartons for transportation. It also allows using corrugated boards with lesser plies for manufacturing the same cartons, reducing costs.
Hot-melt adhesives in the manufacturing of other items made of corrugated box
As the world tries to innovate with increasingly sustainable products and reduce our dependence on plastic, corrugated boards are finding uses in new ways. Due to their strength, lightweight, and long life, corrugated paper is used to manufacture POS/POP displays, furniture, etc. Hot-melt adhesives are the go-to choice for the bonding of corrugation in such products due to their various advantages over other adhesives.
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