Adhesives and sealants: a dynamic and successful industry
The adhesive and sealant industry is a continuing success story that spans hundreds of years. It is a fascinating story that can trace its origins back to the days of making "glue” from natural products such as tree sap and starch, through to today’s high-tech adhesives that make our aeroplanes safer.
Man first exploited bonding technology 200,000 years ago. Today, innovation continues apace. The history of bonding is a fascinating tribute to human ingenuity. Bonding and sealing play an essential role in thousands of everyday items: From your mobile phone to your car, your washing machine to your shoes, the construction and weather-proofing of your house, to the tissues you use when you have a cold. All of these items (and many more) rely on adhesives and sealants. Not only do adhesives and sealants make these products possible, in many cases they also enable manufacturers to produce them in a more cost-effective and environmentally responsible and sustainable manner.
Almost 5 million tonnes of adhesives and sealants are produced and used in Europe each year, and this volume is growing every year. Adhesive manufacturers offer more than 250,000 different products for the most diverse applications.
The European adhesive and sealant industry:
Makes many everyday products possible
Contributes significantly to the economy
Fosters sustainable development
Offers stimulating careers for people with a wide range of skills
FEICA: essential support for a vibrant industry
FEICA can trace its origins back to the first meetings of vegetable adhesive producers in the late 1950s. In 1967 producers of synthetic adhesives were invited to join the meetings and in 1972 FEICA was founded.
Today, FEICA’s members comprise adhesive and sealant manufacturers, national adhesive and sealant associations, channel partners, and the institutes and associations of related industries. FEICA works with its members to create a powerful voice for the adhesive and sealant industry in Europe, constantly seeking to improve the economic and legal landscape for the industry.
Learn more about adhesives and sealants, technologies, applications and market in the Our Industry pages of the website.
What makes sticky things so sticky?
We are surrounded by things that are stuck together, from our mobile phones to our cars. Whether adherence comes from chemical or dispersive forces, the basic science boils down to two key concepts: cohesion and adhesion. Adhesion occurs when similar or different materials bind to one another each other and cohesion is when the molecules of a material bind to themselves (inner strength of the material). With low cohesion, a material is more sticky, with higher cohesion, less so. By varying the strengths of these forces, and thanks to innovations in chemistry, scientists can create an immense spectrum of adhesives and sealants, perfect for every need.
Geckos have millions of small hair follicles on their feet which are each one tenth the size of human hair. Each of these follicles has billions of split ends which can interact with any surface they touch. This is a great example of ‘stickiness’ in nature deriving from dispersive forces, rather than chemical forces, whereas space shuttles, for example, are held together by high performing (synthetic) adhesives where chemical bonds can occur.
Innovations in adhesion chemistry are also increasingly helping products to become more circular. The use of adhesives and sealants in many sectors, including construction, automotive, and energy production, already contributes to reducing the carbon footprint of a multitude of products and manufacturing processes.