Have you ever spent hours correctly measuring, cutting and fitting pieces of Corian® or other solid surface material together, only to have your seams fail? If you have, then you know how frustrating this can be!
How do you avoid this? The key is to keep your solid surface adhesive live and performing throughout the fabrication process. Here are some highly effective strategies for storing and applying adhesive to ensure the best possible performance and seaming success:
- Store adhesive upright in a cool dry place that is away from direct sunlight.
- Store adhesive in an air-conditioned room or a refrigerator designed for the storage of flammable products to extend its shelf life. (NOTE: Do not store adhesive alongside food.)
- Store upright to allow any trapped air bubbles to reach the top (outlet) of the cartridge and be eliminated during the initial purge. To purge, hold the cartridge at an upward angle, mixing tip NOT attached, and dispense approximately a tablespoon into a disposable container like a paper cup. Make sure you see adhesive dispensing from both sides of the cartridge.
- Do not use the adhesive if it has been exposed for an extended period to high temperatures during transport or storage. In this situation, the activator (catalyst) may break down and lose strength.
- High temperature decomposition of the activator can also release gasses into the activator component, which may impact the consistency of the cure, leaving uncured spots.
If stored correctly the adhesive can last for a year. However, the activator portion will slowly lose reactivity over time. If in doubt, run a test by dispensing a ¼” bead on cardboard and if a slow, uneven or incomplete cure results, discard the adhesive.
In addition to properly caring for your adhesive, following these eight performance guidelines will help ensure successful seaming during your fabrication process:
- Allow both the adhesive and solid surface sheet material being joined to reach a room temperature of at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit (18 degrees Celsius) before assembling. Bringing material into a warm humid room after being cold can cause moisture to condense on the surface, which can interfere with bonding.
- Fabricating cold sheets in a warm room will cause the adhesive on the edge of the joint to cure faster than the adhesive deep in the joint. This is because cold solid surface materials absorb a significant portion of the energy from the chemical reaction, resulting in less than optimal curing conditions. This can ultimately cause a weakening of the seams in those areas. It is best practice to let the sheets reach room temperature.
- Another reason to allow cold adhesive to return to room temperature before use is that some adhesive components become thicker at low temperatures. This creates higher pressure that may flex the cartridge wall and throw off the mix ratio.
- If you re-warm adhesive, make sure the cartridge outlet plug is in place rather than the mixing tip. Adhesive left in the tip will warm faster and may expand back into the activator chamber where the two components will harden and result in a plugged cartridge.
- Never expose adhesive to high heat. Warming adhesive above 110 degrees Fahrenheit can damage the activator component.
- When gluing pieces together, run two small beads (one over the other) instead of a larger single bead. Overlapping adhesive streams will greatly reduce the possibility of under cured areas caused by air bubbles, from the activator side of the cartridge, mixing in with the base component in place of activator.
- Use the full stroke of the trigger to maintain a smooth and constant feed pressure. Quickly re-trigger the gun and continue this technique until dispensing is complete. This application technique will help to prevent adhesive from seeping out of the tip between strokes. Using a dripless adhesive gun is also beneficial.
- Apply as little pressure as possible to dispense the adhesive and maintain a constant forward motion of the cartridge pistons to minimize off-ratio dispensing. We recommend an 18:1 thrust ratio on the gun for smooth dispensing.
Here’s to Your Seaming Success!
Using a quality dispensing gun and quality adhesives, storing them correctly and following the simple procedures outlined above will result in a flawless seam most every time. If the viability of your adhesive is ever in doubt, simply run a ¼” diameter test bead on some scrap cardboard for a couple of feet and look for slow, uneven or incomplete cure results. Once you are certain you have live and performing adhesive, you’re fabrication process should go seamlessly!
Visit our Working With Solid Surface guide to learn more great fabrication techniques.