Flexibility has become a buzzword for system designs, where it can mean many things. But it's also become a watchword in adhesives, where flexibility is a descriptive word that has a much more precise meaning.
In adhesives, where it's common to bond dissimilar substrates, flexibility provides some protection against damage. That's especially important in environments that have very high temperatures, often hitting 300F.
"When materials expand at different rates, adhesives that are too stiff can crack or cause the substrate to crack," says Robert Michaels, technical sales vice president at Master Bond Inc.
A challenge for adhesive designers has been to combine some of the benefits of silicones and other flexible adhesives with the desirable properties of acrylics, epoxies and other rigid materials. "Sometimes you don't need the flexibility of silicones, you can get good bonds between dissimilar materials with materials that are just flexible enough to stick your fingernail in a bit," Michaels says.
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