How Important is Part Prep?

What is “part prep”? Part prep, or surface preparation, is the process of getting substrates ready to bond.

The adhesive needs to cover the surfaces you are bonding together, to ensure a high-strength bond that maintains long-term structural integrity. The goal is to apply adhesive to the substrate itself, so if the surfaces you’re bonding are smooth and clean, your adhesives will have the best chance to adhere. Not preparing your substrates can be the difference between adhesive success or failure. Without proper part prep, even the best adhesives will not provide the strongest and most durable bond.

To prepare your substrates, you will need to clean the surfaces to be bonded. Often, there are contaminants that will prevent the adhesive from making contact with the surface, which prevents a strong bond. Contaminants include, dust, dirt and other loose particles, as well as oil and grease. Loose particles can just be brushed off, whereas oil and grease may need some deeper cleaning. Another often overlooked problem is oxidization of metals – especially aluminum. A solvent such as MEK or Lacquer Thinner may work on its own; put some in a clean rag & clean off the surface. However, it is probably safer to lightly abrade the surface with an abrasive like scotchbrite, and then solvent wipe. Once your surfaces are clean, you are ready to apply the adhesive!

You should bond the substrates together as soon as possible after part prep, as a delay in bonding could give the surfaces a chance to catch more contaminants, meaning you may have to clean your substrates again. Improper part prep is one of the main reasons for bond failure, so generally the more prep you do, the stronger and more durable bond you will have!

Want to learn more about part prep for your specific application? Contact us and let us know your application and the substrates you’re bonding – we would be happy to recommend proper surface prep procedures!

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