Common Types of Sealants and Adhesives

When constructing assemblies and systems that will handle fluids and other substances or when attaching parts and materials together, sealants and adhesives both serve well for ensuring robust and secure connections. When procuring parts for a given operation, sealants and adhesives are often given the least amount of attention despite their respective roles in ensuring that substances don’t escape or enter a system and that components are secured together through adhesion. With a variety of part types available for both industrial products, it can be useful to be aware of the common types for each component and how they may be used.

In general, sealants are substances that may be placed between surface joints of materials or on their openings to impede the flow of fluids. Additionally, sealants may also protect components from dust, sound, and heat transmission depending on their type. With a variety of sealants available, their performance can range from having no flow characteristics to runny components that allow capillary action so that fluids may penetrate the substrate.

While there are many sealants that may be procured for a specific application, common types for construction include water based latex, acrylic, butyle, polysulfide, silicone, polyisobutylene, and polyurethane sealants. There is also no particular sealant that is better than another, as each will provide their own unique physical and chemical properties that can make them beneficial for a given application. As an example, teflon tape, pipe dope, and anaerobic resin compounds all serve as common pipe sealants due to their ability to optimally prevent leaking while remaining cost-effective and easy to install. For metal, plastic, and fiberglass piping or fittings, thread sealants are commonly used.

Adhesives are more general in their categorization, encompassing any non-metallic substance that can bind materials together in a fashion that prevents their separation to a certain degree. Unlike other connection techniques such as sewing, welding, and using fasteners, adhesives provide the capability to connect differing materials, distribute loads more efficiently, and are often very flexible in their use and are cost-efficient. Despite this, adhesives are not often used for larger objects due to their general limitations in capabilities, and they typically have a disadvantage when exposed to high temperatures.

Similar to sealants, adhesives can come in a large variety of types to cater towards different applications and industries. Generally, however, adhesives can be classified according to factors such as their chemistry, form, type, and load carrying capabilities. Structural adhesives are those that have strong properties that allow them to undertake significant stresses. Coming in the form of adhesive types such as epoxies, acrylics, urethanes, and cyanoacrylates, such industrial products may serve well for structural applications. Pressure sensitive adhesives are also common for non-structural applications, and they are low modulus elastomers which will often deform when pressure is induced. For their common types, pressure sensitive adhesives may come in the form of tapes and labels, though they may also be double-sided foam tapes when used as a semi-structural adhesive.

While adhesives and sealants are often confused for one another, the two components differ in their use. Sealants are also never adhesives, but can have adhesive qualities in order to efficiently attach to a component and be secured for its intended use. When sealants have adhesive properties, they are referred to as an adhesive-sealant.

With the proper sealants and adhesives, mitigating the flow of fluids and attaching components can be done with ease. At Industrial Part Sphere, we are a leading supplier industrial products that have been sourced from top global manufacturers. As you explore our expansive offerings, we invite you to submit an Instant RFQ form for the items that you are most interested in. Once received, a member of our staff will reach out to you in 15 minutes or less to provide a personalized quote based on your individual needs and requirements.


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