Adhesion confusion. It's a condition that can affect even the best engineers when it comes time to bond unfamiliar or dissimilar materials. The web, though, can bring a bit of clarity to adhesives.
For a site that boils adhesive choice down to its simplest elements, check out This to That (http://rbi.ims.ca/4921-531). As the site's name suggests, it provides advice on how to glue things together. Its simple interface asks you to pick adherend materials from two drop-down menus one labeled "this" and the other, "that." You click the "Let's Glue" button to get back adhesive suggestions and bonding tips.
So if you select "ceramic" from the "this" menu and "metal" from the "that" menu, the site returns both epoxy and cyanoacrylate products. And it suggests that the epoxy will form a stronger bond with a visible bondline, while the cyanoacrylate is recommended for applications where adhesive needs to remain unseen.
As for bonding tips, the site recommends cleaning the metal surface for the best adhesion.
The site's biggest limitation is that the very simplicity that makes it so easy to use also limits its utility. The material categories are too broad for many engineering purposes. The lists, for example, break the very large world of polymers down into just four categories plastics, styrofoam, vinyl and rubber. Metals and ceramics likewise don't get any detailed treatment by type.
Still, this site can be a good starting point for researching adhesives, thanks to the links it provides. Follow the links on the results page, and you'll find much more detailed information about each adhesive mentioned.
For example, the metal-to-ceramics page contains a handful of links to specific epoxy products with information about toxicity, open time, cost for consumer quantities and availability. It also links to the official product pages for each adhesive.
The site also has some hidden gems in its FAQs:
On a less serious note, the site offers up its share of glue-related trivia and contains links to news stories, including a cautionary tale involving an unfortunate victim of a glue-covered toilet seat at Home Depot. Click on http://rbi.ims.ca/4921-535 if you really want to know more.
Finally, the site even offers a bit of glue philosophy that many adhesive-addled engineers will appreciate. "We do know one thing for sure," the site's philosophy page proclaims, "There is no such thing as the All Purpose glue. Every glue has its pros and cons."
Reach Senior Editor Joe Ogando at firstname.lastname@example.org.