How to identify the correct adhesive repair for plastic

Written by tracy morris
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How to identify the correct adhesive repair for plastic
Plastic such as a car bumper can be simply repaired using adhesive. (bumper car image by Elena kouptsova-vasic from

Plastic is in many objects in our lives from our car bumpers to our children's toys. When a piece of plastic breaks, the impulse may be to replace it, but you can easily repair some types of plastic using an adhesive. Since not all types of adhesive will bond all types of plastic, you must determine the correct type to use when repairing your plastic parts.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Bowl of water
  • Broken plastic
  • Soap
  • Clean cloth
  • Electric sander
  • Rotary grinder
  • Epoxy adhesive
  • Urethane adhesive
  • Acrylic adhesive
  • Aluminium body repair tape
  • 80 grit sandpaper
  • 120 grit sandpaper

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  1. 1

    Determine the type of plastic that your object is made of by placing a small piece of it in water. This will help to determine the type of adhesive that you use as well as the procedure that you use for repair. Most plastics are one of two types: Thermoset plastic, which is mixed from components and then injected into a mould, and Thermoplastic, which is melted in a hopper in pellet form and then injected into a mould. Thermoset plastics sink in water while thermoplastic floats.

  2. 2

    Clean the plastic along both sides of the break with hot, soapy water. Plastic will not repair properly if it is not clean.

  3. 3

    Straighten the plastic along the tear so it will align properly. Thermoset plastics are more likely to retain their shape. Thermoplastics will return to their original shape if heated.

  4. 4

    Sand the area around the break to help the adhesive adhere. Be careful not to create heat on the surface that can warp a thermoplastic surface.

  5. 5

    Bevel the surfaces of the tear with a rotary grinder. This will help lock in the adhesive. Vaccum the area and clean it with soapy water again.

  6. 6

    Select epoxy or urethane adhesive for a thermoset plastic. Select acrylic adhesive for a thermoplastic surface. Epoxy is easy to use and sand. Urethane is stronger, but will not sand as well.

  7. 7

    Hold the tear together with aluminium body repair tape. Mix the adhesive and apply a thin layer along the back side of the break. Once the area is saturated with adhesive, apply the reinforcing cloth. Then apply a second layer of adhesive. Allow the mend to cure completely before proceeding.

  8. 8

    Remove the aluminium body repair tape from the front of the tear. Apply a thin layer of adhesive, followed by reinforcing cloth and a second layer of adhesive.

  9. 9

    Sand the area with 80 grit sandpaper. Then sand again with 120 grit sandpaper.

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