adhesive, substance capable of sticking to surfaces of other substances and bonding them to one another. The term adhesive cement is sometimes used in place of adhesive, especially when referring to a synthetic adhesive. Animal glue, a gelatin made from hides, hooves, or bones, was probably known in prehistoric times; it remained the leading adhesive until the 20th cent. It is now used especially in cabinetmaking. Animal glue is sold both as a solid (either ground or in sheets, to be melted in a water-jacketed glue pot and applied while hot) and as liquid glue (an acidic solution). Adhesives from vegetable sources are also important; they include natural gums and resins, mucilage, and starch and starch derivatives. They are commonly used for sizing paper and textiles and for labeling, sealing, and manufacturing paper goods. Other adhesives derived from animal and vegetable sources include blood glue, casein glue, fish glue, rubber adhesives, and cellulose derivatives. Adhesives having special properties are prepared from synthetic resins. Some synthetic adhesives, such as the epoxy resins, are strong enough to be used in construction in place of welding or riveting. Adhesive tapes have a coating of pressure-sensitive adhesive.
See I. Skeist, ed., Handbook of Adhesives (1962); N. A. de Bruyne and R. Houwink, ed., Adhesion and Adhesives (2 vol., 2d ed. 1965–67); A. J. Kinloch, Adhesion and Adhesives: Science and Technology (1987).
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