Glue-gun glues are used in crafts, school projects, manufacturing, shipping rooms and construction. They're available in the familiar clear-stick form, but they also come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colours. Some glue sticks are multifunctional and can be used with any glue gun at any temperature, but others are intended for use at only one temperature.
Types of Glues
Glue sticks are manufactured to melt at temperatures specific to the types of guns they're used in. The guns can be full-size or mini, and the glue sticks are sized accordingly. Full-size glue guns use 7/16-inch-diameter sticks, while mini glue guns use 5/16-inch-diameter glue sticks. Both sizes are sold in 4- and 10-inch lengths. Cool-melt glue sticks are sold in 5/16-inch diameter and 4-inch length. Industrial glues are sold as bricks, sticks, dots, dabs and chips. Most glue sticks are clear in colour, but black, coloured and glitter glue sticks are also available.
Uses for High-Temperature Glues
High-temperature glues, heated to 193 degrees C, are used mainly for metal, plastic and ceramics. Industrial glue guns may have several heaters, dual-temperature controls and reach even higher temperatures. They use high-temperature glue chips or pellets to seal cartons and to manufacture products. Some glues are made specifically for use with low-grade recycled paper stock. Contractors use industrial high-temperature glue guns with high-temperature glues to bond wood and metal.
Uses for Low-Temperature Glues
Low-temperature glues, heated to 121 degrees C, are better for lightweight materials, such as fabric, paper and foam. Crafters use high- or low-temperature glues, but many craft glue guns use a lower temperature to lower the risk of burns and skin damage from extremely hot glue. Ultra-cool glues, which melt at 79.4 degrees C, are ideal for children and for crafts that don't require much heat for bonding. Foam glue sticks melt at very low temperatures and are popular with model-railroad enthusiasts who create styrofoam scenery. Some low-temperature glues are also manufactured for industrial uses, such as carton sealing, and offer advantages such as low odour and worker safety.
A speciality glue gun is needed for application-specific glues. These include: fugitive or "credit-card" glue, which forms a temporary bond that can be peeled off; pressure-sensitive adhesive, which forms a permanent, very strong bond and is not removable; and polyurethane, hot-melt adhesive, which dries to a strong, tacky state in three to four seconds, then cures to a tough permanent bond.
Black glue sticks were developed specifically for use in auto-body shops. A worker uses glue with a tool to pull dents out, then cleans the black glue off of the car with rubbing alcohol. Coloured glue sticks are used when the glue is visible and matching the project's colour is important.