3 Reasons Why you shouldn’t rely Solely on Adhesive Technical Datasheets

Creating strong and durable bonds is reliant on more than just a strong adhesive. Nevertheless, adhesives are one of the most important pillars of a strong bond. Ensuring you get the right adhesive is essential.

Analysing the adhesive’s characteristics is the best way to make sure you have the right product. You’re now at the stage where you’re analysing the adhesives technical data sheet (TDS). It’s got the characteristic information you need to make a decision.

But how can you be sure the datasheet is giving you an accurate representation of the adhesive’s ability? 

This question, despite not being asked enough, is one that comes to us here at Forgway. As an industrial adhesive manufacturer, customers use our technical datasheets to review our adhesives. It helps them understand whether the product is the right fit.

And that’s what we want to demonstrate in this article. Technical datasheets should help you understand whether the product is the right fit. They shouldn’t be the ultimate deciding factor when selecting a product.

By the end of the article, you will understand why you shouldn’t solely rely on a TDS when selecting an adhesive. It will also explain what you can do to make sure you have the right product.

Why Adhesive Technical Datasheets aren’t always reliable

What are adhesive technical datasheets?

Before we analyse their effectiveness, let’s first analyse the definition of an adhesive technical datasheet. Several sources on the web all point towards a common definition of ‘technical datasheet’. 

“A technical datasheet is a document that provides a detailed summary of the information about a product. It helps buyers gain enough detail so they can make an informed decision about using the product.”

Adhesive’s technical datasheets are much the same. They typically display testing results from the manufacturer to demonstrate the performance capabilities of the product.

Adhesive manufacturers use widely accepted standards like ASTM G154 (weathering testing), ISO 37 (strength and flexibility testing), and ASTM D1002 (strength and performance testing) to help potential buyers understand the product’s characteristics.

QUV testing of adhesives

Potential buyers can also use this data to compare adhesives. This then provides insight into which adhesive product is best for their needs. 

But it doesn’t provide the full story. There are three main reasons why religiously scrutinising an adhesive TDS is not going to help you find the perfect adhesive solution. The next section explains those three reasons.

Why technical datasheets don’t provide the full story

We want to be clear. Technical datasheets are an excellent source of information. We always recommend potential customers to look at the technical datasheet of a product.

We aren’t downplaying the usefulness of adhesive technical datasheets. But we want to make you aware that there’s more to adhesive selection than just analysing the TDS.

3 things to consider when analysing adhesive technical datasheet

Reason No 1: Is the data accurate?

The first, and perhaps biggest, concern is the accuracy of the data. It’s not uncommon for adhesive manufacturers to exaggerate their product’s capabilities. 

Whilst this may seem like a wild claim of fraudulence against our competitors, it actually is often the fault of the testing methods rather than those doing the testing.

Certain testing methods to determine the adhesive’s strength have flaws. For example, the thickness of the adhesive bead can make the adhesive seem stronger than it actually is.

And yes, the recorded strength isn’t going to be wildly different from its actual strength. But it could be enough of a difference for someone to overestimate an adhesive ability.

So before you look at the adhesive’s technical datasheet, bear in mind the accuracy of the data. Remember that the data is brilliant at providing an idea of the adhesive’s ability. And, as we explain further in the next point, some factors can affect how accurate that data is.

Reason No 2: Do lab tests accurately recreate real-life conditions?

Most people understand that finding a good product on paper is different to finding the perfect product in situ. The same is definitely true of adhesives. 

Just because a product has excellent strength in a nice warm lab, it doesn’t mean it will have the same performance after facing exposure to the elements.

The durability of a bond is dependent on more than just the strength rating. Laboratory tests do not always replicate the inevitable unpredictability of Mother Nature. 

Harsh conditions can affect the durability of an adhesive

Lab tests can examine the effect of UV exposure. They can also determine the ability to withstand different forces, cyclical loads, and fatigue. Some tests can even mimic the weathering conditions of outdoor exposure.

Nonetheless, these tests will only analyse the product in isolation. Real-life conditions will put the adhesive through all of these elements at the same time.

So whilst the tests are very useful, they only provide an idea of how the product will perform. Some adhesive manufacturers can expertly recreate real-life conditions. They mimic the end application as closely as possible.

However, the data on the datasheet doesn’t always accurately reflect how an adhesive will perform in its end application.

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Reason No 3: Are you looking for the right thing?

Looking at a datasheet can be like opening the floodgates for a deluge of information. It’s great. You now have most of the data you could possibly need at your fingertips.

But it’s also a negative. You now have more information than you ever needed. Often, your original need becomes an afterthought as you start getting sidetracked by other characteristics that aren’t actually important to your application.

Features like cure time, chemical resistance, and format of supply might catch your eye on the TDS. However, your original need only had a strength and flexibility requirement. 

Whilst it is always good to improve and seek the best option, it’s also critically important to remember what you really need from an adhesive in the first place. 

Otherwise, you run the risk of unnecessarily prolonging your search for the right adhesive solution. No one wants that.

Speed up production with faster curing adhesives?

How can you be sure you have the right adhesive?

Now that you understand what to look out for when analysing an adhesive’s technical datasheet, it’s time to start learning about what you should be doing. 

Firstly, you should keep data accuracy and relevancy at the forefront of your analysis. You should also remember what you’re looking for in an adhesive. 

But there are other things you can do too.

Here at Forgeway, we help people find the perfect adhesive solutions for their challenges. When it comes to selecting an adhesive, there are often 4 important steps to choosing the right adhesive.

If you want to learn more about choosing the right adhesive, click the button below to read how to select the right adhesive.

Of, if you would prefer the help of an adhesive expert, you can get in touch with a member of the Forgeway team who would be happy to help.