Adjustable Rigidity Allows New Adhesive to be Hard or Soft – or Both at Once

Posted on 2/13/2018 4:12:27 PM By ASC

Airplanes, wind turbines, cars, and even orthopedic appliances need to be lightweight, while bonded components must also be able to have rigid bonds to substrates that are nevertheless flexible enough to withstand stress at the joint zone. Application-orientated research organization Fraunhofer believes that it has discovered the solution with MetAK, a new adhesive formula that allows technicians to choose the amount of hardness or flexibility they need.

When the adhesive is exposed to UV light and heat, it becomes harder, while untreated areas retain a rubbery consistency. The company says that its discovery will eliminate the need for using a variety of adhesives with different properties since it can be adjusted to compensate for the specific frequency of the vibrations to which it will be exposed. Longer exposure to UV light will result in greater hardness, and full hardening can be achieved through an additional heat treatment at 100 to 180 degrees centigrade.

The material can also be used to cast complete shapes. Radiation and heat can then be used to create zones of varying hardness or softness. This potentially makes it suitable for use in the manufacture of orthopedic appliances, and it has already been used to manufacture corsets that provide spinal support for scoliosis patients. Because the corset can be flexible in areas not requiring support, the appliance offers a greater level of comfort. Fraunhofer says that the technology can also be used in the manufacture of prostheses and orthopedic shoes.