Development of adhesives

Chemistry makes bonding possible

Increasing demands on productivity, resource efficiency and health protection require very special adhesives for many applications. This requires special formulations that are often not yet available on the market. This is where we are the right development partner. The focus of our R&D work is on harnessing novel raw materials for adhesives with previously unattainable properties, such as debonding on demand or extreme fast curing. The issue of sustainability is also becoming increasingly important for companies. Here we focus on the use of renewable and toxicologically safe raw materials in reactive polymer systems.


We develop the right adhesive for your application

The requirements for an adhesive differ depending on the application. In electronic applications, for example, it is often important for the adhesive to have good thermal conductivity, while in automotive body-in-white applications it is important to find a good compromise between flexibility (elongation at break) and strength. In the past, Fraunhofer IFAM has already demonstrated that it is able to meet very specific needs in addition to developing conventional adhesives. For example, the institute has developed adhesives for medical technology which are resistant to special sterilization methods, as well as pre-applicable adhesives (PASA®; "Pre-Applicable Structural Adhesives") for bonding bolts or for the local reinforcement of steel sheets. Other examples include the development of potting compounds for electronics with adapted coefficients of thermal expansion and conductive adhesives. 


Use of new raw materials in adhesives, sealants and potting compounds 

The development of new adhesive applications is often accompanied by the development of new raw materials. In this way, adhesives can be made more effective or new functions can be integrated. Here, knowledge from general polymer chemistry is transferred and tested for practical applicability. These include, for example, new types of catalysts that ensure rapid adhesive curing with improved storage stability, or new resin systems such as benzoxazines or semi-crystalline resins with improved impact strength. Other examples include pressure-sensitive adhesive tapes that can be used to locally pickle or anodize metal surfaces, and pressure-sensitive adhesives that can be cured to form a structural adhesive.


Using renewable raw materials to produce sustainable adhesives

In connection with the issue of sustainability, which is increasingly being addressed by industry in the development of new products, we are intensively involved in the use of renewable raw materials in reactive polymer systems. Our focus here is less on the side of academic research and more on the integration of sustainable concepts in commercializable adhesives. This is done in close cooperation with our partners from industry. For example, solutions have been developed to carry out the highly complex bonding process in the manufacture of corrugated board using biobased Stein-Hall adhesives without the use of borax, which is of toxicological concern. Our goal in every adhesive development is to find solutions that are not only substitutes for petrochemical products, but are actually superior to these products in terms of performance. 


Debonding on demand for the circular economy

In many adhesive developments, debonding and subsequent recycling of adhesives also play an important role in terms of the circular economy. Be it a repair case for bonded housings or the dismantling of joined parts: A residue-free debonding is often desirable, so that the joined parts can be further used afterwards. We deal with different approaches to realize a "debonding on demand". Particular attention is paid to debonding on demand by applying an electrical DC voltage at room temperature or slightly elevated temperature. This principle could already be transferred to various adhesive classes, e.g. hotmelt adhesives or epoxy resins.


Your contact for adhesive development:

Dr. Matthias Popp is head of the "Adhesive Development" working group at Fraunhofer IFAM. Together with his team, he develops customized adhesives for a wide range of industries such as medical technology, automotive, or aerospace. Comprehensive market knowledge regarding adhesives and raw materials is the prerequisite for successful development. Together with Prof. Dr. Andreas Hartwig and Andreas Lühring from Fraunhofer IFAM, Dr. Matthias Popp was awarded the Joseph von Fraunhofer Prize 2014 for work on "Bonding with pre-applied adhesives".