Cyanoacrylates and MDF: A Picture-Perfect Match!

Written by Brian Steeves on . Posted in Cyanoacrylates

ASI Adhesives – ASI Cyanoacrylate Adhesives and Bonding MDF, by Peter Atchison, Technical Sales Expert

Cyanoacrylate adhesives, next to wood glues, are the most common adhesives used in the world today. “CA’s” as they are commonly known, are in just about every toy, electronic component, automobile and home appliance on the market today, and simply put, they are amazing in terms of strength and durability on variety of the substrates: rubber, plastic, metal etc. What they’re lesser known for bonding is Wood and Wood Fibre based materials like MDF (Medium Density Fibre). MDF is widely used in home construction, home decoration (picture frames) or anywhere that traditional wood products have been used in the past.

What is MDF? We’re sure you’re going to say:”Wood!” And you’d be correct, but did you know almost all MDF products use a Formaldehyde resin to hold the particles together before being pressed into shape? And resins are plastics (in generic terms) which means that CA’s, which bond really well to most plastics, can be used to bond pieces of MDF together… in SECONDS! And yes……we mean seconds!

In the past year Steeves Agencies has been talking with numerous Art Galleries and framing stores and demonstrating how CA’s can improve productivity. To our credit, we’ve had a few early adopters. But in an industry steeped in traditional methods, a revolution has taken place. It had been common-place to have frame makers, or better yet, “Craftsmen and Artisans” create frames from hardwoods like Maple, Oak, Mahogany and other exotic woods. Well, just like everything else these days, even those craftsmen are becoming a thing of the past as the manufactures of framing materials have moved in to the modern age. The uses of plastics and new technologies have taken over and where those skilled craftsmen are unfortunately being turned into technicians and assemblers. More and more frame materials are being created by machines, chemical and moulded products like MDF and other Poly Plastics. But more notably is the techniques used to assemble them (Wood Glue, Nails, V-Nails etc) don’t work on these new materials very well, and as hard as they try…..there is failure in one manner or another. If there isn’t failure there certainly is an abundance of frustration because of them. But fear not, the CA’s are your NEW friend. Better yet, you don’t have to buy any costly tools, jigs or clamping devices to make them work. There is a technique to master and it isn’t too hard to learn.

The range of CA’s offered by ASI (Adhesive Systems Inc) and distributed by Steeves Agencies is very extensive; and range from as thin as water, to as thick as a gel…..it just depends on your application. In the world of picture frames, thicker is better because you don’t want the product to run once you place it. The next step is to apply what’s known as an “Activator” (heptane based) that when applied to the opposite part of the adjoining substrate triggers the CA to cure instantaneously on contact. There is of course the technique, I was speaking of earlier, but you need to test it and see just how best to perform the assembly without using too much (resulting in “ooze-out”) or too little (weak bond). It’s important to note, that with this kind of product, more isn’t always better. The purpose of the activator is to prevent the adhesive from migrating into the porous, moisture absorbing, substrate and essentially locks it in the joint where it belongs. And though there is some migration into the MDF, the adhesion and strength is better because it’s rooted in the MDF. Breaking the joint (which is always fun) results in the destruction of the substrate but the adhesive remains intact. In the world of adhesive sales, substrate failure is the measure of success.

My suggestion to you is to try them! You’ll be amazed!

-Peter Atchison

Want to learn more about CA’s and their many uses? Use our Contact Form to send a request, and Peter will contact you directly about your project!