What to Consider when Analysing Adhesive Cost

At this point, you’ve done your research on the best ways to solve your problem with bonding two materials. You know that adhesives will be able to solve that problem. Now you have reached the stage where you need to look into the actual adhesive cost. This is where several issues can crop up.

At Forgeway we come across a familiar theme. Often the cost of the adhesive in any finished product is a tiny percentage of the total end-product cost. Yet the majority of buyers base final decisions purely on price.

What people often don’t consider is how this could result in a far greater price to pay. Because when life safety is at stake, price shouldn’t be the sole consideration. Although it often is.

Buyers also don’t remember to include other factors in their buying decision. An example of this is some of the hidden costs that can arise when purchasing adhesives. These hidden costs will also play a significant role in the overall cost of the solution.

So what should you be looking out for when it comes to analysing the cost of adhesives? And what can you do to ensure you don’t get it wrong?

This article will cover the different factors that can affect the price in the first place. It will then cover nine hidden costs that you may not have been aware of. Finally, it will discuss what you should be doing to minimise the risk of getting the decision wrong. By the end of the article, you will have a clear understanding of what you should consider before, and after the purchase of an adhesive product.

Are you comparing like for like products?

Before we get started on the nine considerations, you should be aware of a few things first. The two or more products you are comparing should at least bear a resemblance to each other, if not very similar.

However, there is one thing to note. This section may not be so relevant to you if you are comparing identical products. At this point, you are likely considering the cost between two different vendors. So it may be worth you skipping this section and start reading the Nine Hidden Costs.

Assortment of different Forgeway products that can varying degrees of adhesive cost

You want the cost comparison process to be as easy and quick as possible. So, ensuring the products are similar will allow you to evaluate the cost in isolation. Ultimately making the comparison much simpler.

Here at Forgeway we have seen multiple examples of when products appeared similar on the surface. After doing some digging, it was clear they were vastly different. The following section is going to talk through two of the ways products can differ and how this can affect cost.

Two ways to assess the difference between adhesive products

Do you know what Product Performance & Durability you need?

Every adhesive will vary in performance in different situations. Whilst some adhesives may appear to be exactly the same, their performance and durability ratings may be very different. That may be difficult to understand so here’s an example. Your end product is being used in some very hot and humid climates such as Africa. However, you manufacture the product in the UK. Because of the disparity between climates, it is difficult to know if the adhesive will endure the extreme climate.

You should be absolutely certain that the adhesive will not fail in extreme conditions. Without ensuring this before comparing the price, you run the risk of choosing an adhesive that is not fit for purpose.

The products in your price comparison must reflect this. All the adhesives should have sufficient performance and durability ratings to ensure they won’t fail. The products that don’t meet these specifications shouldn’t be in the comparison. We advise you remove them from the cost comparison process.

How Base Chemistry & Raw Materials can affect the cost

Performance and durability aren’t the only factors that can differentiate an adhesive. Finding out the base chemistry of your adhesives is the logical next step. If the adhesives’ base chemistries differ, the price will likely differ too. However, that’s not to say the performance will differ as well. Adhesives could be equally qualified for a situation but have different base chemistries.

You may be thinking what on earth this all means. Here’s a practical example. A bonding problem requires an adhesive that is durable for 20 years in a hot and humid climate (let’s say Africa). You have found two adhesives that would meet the requirements and solve the problem. But there’s a difference. One has a base chemistry of Methyl Methacrylate (MMA). The other, Modified Silane Polymer (MSP).

At this point you are probably thinking, “Why does this have anything to do with price?” The answer lies in the fact that MMA based adhesives are likely to cost more than their MS alternatives. And as long as they are both able to meet the requirements (that should be established already), the cheaper MS-based adhesive is the obvious choice.

But that’s not all. The raw materials in that base chemistry will also affect the cost. If you’re struggling to understand again, let me provide another example.

You have two adhesive products that are both MMA based but are still vastly different on price. But why? Just because they have the same base chemistry, does not mean that they have the exact same raw materials. Different manufacturers of adhesive will have varying levels of access to different raw materials.   

So there is a lot to consider before choosing what option to go with. The decision ultimately comes down to what else you are looking for in an adhesive solution. In the cost comparison process, making sure the products are as similar as possible will make the decision a lot easier. If the cost is still different, consider whether factors – such as raw materials and base chemistry – are affecting the price.

Consider the entire application process, not just the adhesive itself

Here is a quick tip to consider before you get to the buying process. You need to be aware of everything (including additional products) that goes into the correct application of the adhesive. All too many times, we have seen manufacturers guided down to the point of sale with minimal issues. They then have a shock after the sale has taken place because ancillary items are required to make that adhesive function correctly. 

It may seem obvious to some, but activators, cleaners and primers are all examples of this. They are items that can be essential to the application process to ensure the adhesive functions correctly. You must consider these before analysing the cost of an adhesive product.

As an example, a glass primer is likely to cost between £25 – £60 per 250ml unit. A surface activator could cost between £10 – £15 per litre unit. These are just rough figures. I should also mention that there are cases where this price can skyrocket. Specifications and order quantity plays a massive role in these prices.

Operator applying primer

You must determine what else you will need to make the entire adhesion process as seamless as possible. It’s important to do this before you make your buying decision – otherwise, it can catch you out. If you haven’t already done so, ask your supplier what else you may need if unsure.

See the below point on “Equipment” and “Potential Health and Safety Costs” for more information about what to look out for with ancillary items.

9 hidden costs to understand before buying an adhesive

If you have been through the above points and are confident you can make your buying decision now, you are ready to go; right? Not quite.

The most significant pitfalls in the buying process are often overlooked. The below points usually become an issue after the sale and are sometimes deliberately not mentioned. Here are nine potential hidden costs that can catch you unawares and what you can do to avoid them.

1. Training

Whenever you purchase a new adhesive product or there is a change in the adhesive process, training is usually needed. Training can consist of classroom-type sessions as well as on the job bonding techniques with a technical expert from the supplier. 

The sessions could cover anything from the fundamentals of the glue to the correct application processes. There is a reason for the number one ranking on this list. It is because of the implications that training (or lack of) can have. 

There are many misconceptions about the correct application of adhesives. Good quality training can dramatically reduce the usage of adhesives. The other factor to consider is the risk of failure. This can greatly increase if the application of the adhesive is incorrect.  

Adhesive suppliers offer varying levels of training. Some offer in-depth, high-level training. Others don’t provide any training. 

We advise that you first determine what level of training your organisation requires. If you are unsure about the level of training you are likely to need, contact the adhesive supplier to guide you. Once you know what training you will require, you will be able to find out how much that training is likely to cost.

2. Technical Support

Technical Support is similar to training. It can occasionally be the difference between a high-quality end product, and an accident waiting to happen. Where life safety is concerned, you shouldn’t gloss over this.

Changing substrates used in the manufacturing process is a common occurrence. This doesn’t seem like a big problem, but this oversight can sometimes prove fatal. 

When you change a material (from ABS to polypropylene for example), there is a possibility that the new substrate will not bond as effectively as the previous material. Therefore, we recommend that you test the new material and send the substrates to the adhesive supplier to ensure the bond will still hold.

Many adhesive suppliers offer this service free of charge. However, you must define this before placing the order as this can incur hidden costs.

Some adhesive suppliers will even keep a substrate ‘library’ from previous tests that have taken place. This provides an audit trail to allow their customers to trace back any information on previous tests.

To learn more about this topic, we have written a more in-depth guide about this topic in our Ebook.

Chapter 7 – Test Methods, goes into detail about the different test methods and why they are so important. Follow the link below

3. Warranty

Warranty is a significant additional cost that you should consider before placing the order. A lot of companies fall for the mistake of choosing the cheaper option before checking what warranty is included.
And while some companies do not want to have the additional cost of a warranty with their supply and do not deem it necessary to include one, it is always something that you should discuss. We recommend that the warranty is high on the priority list of questions to discuss with your supplier before you make your decision.

4. Application Equipment

Equipment is very similar to the ancillary costs previously mentioned. If the required application equipment has not already been put in place, those hidden costs will soon be looming large. But why do you need them? And what can you do about it? 

Applying adhesive to the surface

Put simply, without the necessary equipment, your adhesive will be going nowhere. You need to determine what adhesive applicators you will require and then purchase these before the adhesive.

There have been a few occasions over the years whereby companies did not check before they commenced with their order. This resulted in delays to production and consequently affected the whole manufacturing process. 

This is an easily avoidable situation that can prove extremely costly. We suggest you confirm the application requirements before purchasing the product.

5. Health and Safety

Similar to the previous point, health and safety requirements can become a significant hidden cost if not identified and evaluated early on. Mandatory equipment can come with unwanted and unexpected costs. Cleaners, primers and some adhesives can have detrimental repercussions on the users because they can contain harmful substances. Mandatory costs could be, special storage, special training or equipment such as air extraction or PPE.

Correct PPE use for Cleaning an adhesive machine

An example of this recently was a caravan manufacturer who had to provide health screening to the workers. This occurred after they had used a certain type of cleaning wipe which contained harmful chemicals.

The cost of the screening equipment wasn’t the only damaging cost. It also took up a lot of time which considerably impacted the overall manufacturing process.

Our advice is to consult with the adhesive supplier if you are unsure about health and safety requirements. The supplier will be able to guide you and ensure you aren’t caught out by potential hidden health and safety costs.

6. Waste Disposal

Once the adhesive has been applied, a common issue that crops up is what you should do with that contaminated waste packaging? Some adhesives contain chemicals that throw a spanner in the works when it comes to disposing of them. This can make it difficult to know what to do next.

Additional costs can be inflicted when you discover what specialist disposal arrangements you require. 

Whilst it doesn’t happen very often, you may require specialist waste disposal. This is usually when the adhesive contains harmful chemicals but you may require it in other instances. With a huge focus on reducing plastics in today’s world, you may even need to consider the cost of disposing of plastic adhesive cartridges.

A large proportion of adhesive manufacturers and suppliers will provide support, guidance or even offer the service of the safe removal of that product. But as always, some don’t. So, we advise that you ask your supplier what disposal methods you should be following before you proceed with the purchase.

7. Audits

Similar to training, audits are a benefit that only some companies like to take advantage of. Not everyone enjoys having an expert inspect and scrutinise their work. This is particularly the case when you know that you will need to resolve any issues.

But in view of quality control and ensuring best practice is being followed, auditing is vital. And, as mentioned earlier in the article, poor quality can cost lives.

Typically, most adhesive suppliers do not provide an auditing service. However, some of the companies that we work with here at Forgeway have taken the next step to install their own self-auditing devices. These devices allow the companies to audit their own adhesion process without requiring us to visit their facilities.  We do provide examples of what an audit report would look like.

Depending on your requirements and what level of auditing you are looking for, we advise enquiring about what auditing services are on offer before you make a buying decision. Some suppliers will even offer a level of auditing within their standard pricing, so this could become a point of negotiation.

Technician using machinery to test the product

8. Direct Purchasing

A significant factor in the cost can be simply down to who you are buying the product from. Whilst this isn’t exactly a hidden cost and won’t be something to be wary of, it’s always worth noting what type of supplier you are purchasing the adhesive from. 

If you are buying from a third-party distributor, the cost is likely to be significantly higher. This is because they are an additional step to market and will add their margins. Buying direct from the manufacturer is likely to provide a much more favourable cost as there are no ‘middle man’ costs involved.

Whilst this isn’t always the case, the type of supplier can play a role in the cost of the product. We recommend you bear this in mind when considering prices.

9. Accreditations

This topic is very similar to the previously mentioned point about the performance of a product. Accreditations will indicate if the product – or the supplier – meets the specifications set out to acquire that accreditation. Whilst not always required, accreditations are a useful indicator in showing you whether you can use a product in certain situations. 

An example of this is AS 9100. It is an internationally recognised quality management standard for the aerospace industry. This accreditation is a benchmark that sets out the supplier’s ability to provide products suitable for use in the aerospace industry. 

So, why does this matter? 

Accreditations can add a significant chunk to the overall cost of the product and we thoroughly recommend you consider them when evaluating the next steps.

Why Hidden Costs should affect the buying decision

There are two main takeaways we want you to consider when going through the cost analysis process. Determine what specifications you would like to meet BEFORE you purchase the product. The other takeaway is to be wary of hidden costs that can catch you unawares.

Of course, other factors play a role in the price of an adhesive product, but the 9 points mentioned above are the real difference makers. Here at Forgeway, we have seen multiple examples of where buyers have been caught out by these things.

We hope your decision process is now just a tiny bit easier, but understand it might still be difficult to know what the best course of action is.

If you are still struggling, there are a few options available.

If you want to conduct a bit more research into some of the topics mentioned above, the Forgeway Ebook will go into much more detail on each of these topics. The download link is below.

The other option is to have a chat with one of our technical consultants.

Whatever you choose, we are here to help. We would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.

New call-to-action