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Pressure Sensitive Adhesive Glossary Terms



An adhesive is a chemical-based substance which bonds materials together by their surface, such as glue.

Adhesive Failure

Adhesive failure is when two bonded substrates separate from each other, usually occurring when the cohesive strength is higher than the strength of the adhesive bond.

Related terms: Bonding, Cohesion, Substrates

Adhesive Liners

Adhesive liners are protective in nature and prevent adhesives on single-sided tape and double-sided tape from sticking to itself or other unintended surfaces.

Aggressive Tack

Aggressive tack has high initial tack and ultimate adhesion. Adhesives with aggressive tack are often used on textured substrates like wood, corrugated paper, carpet backing and other textured or difficult to label substrates. Aggressive tack is also great for using on products which encounter uncontrolled environments, such as tire labels. Aggressive tack is generally extremely difficult or impossible to remove.

Related terms: Tack, Tackifiers, Substrates

Adhesive Remover

Adhesive remover is a substance used to break down adhesives and separate the bonded substrates.

Related terms: Adhesive, Bonding, Substrates

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Adhesive backing provides a flexible support. The most common adhesive backings include foil, paper, plastic, and fabric.


Adhesive bonding attaches two surfaces together using glue, epoxy, or another plastic material.

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Cohesion defines the adhesive’s interior strength, determining its power of adhesion.

Related terms: Adhesive

Cold Flow

In the pressure sensitive adhesive market, Cold Flow is also referred to as creep or adhesive migration. Cold Flow causes pressure sensitive adhesives to move like a thick, viscous liquid. Overtime, this causes undesirable characteristics, particularly when the PSA adhesive is subject to stressful conditions like heat. In pressure sensitive adhesives, cold flow can cause a blotchy appearance, unwanted sticking to other components, adhesive accumulation in machines during processing and potential adhesive dysfunction.

Related terms: Pressure Sensitive Adhesive, Creep, Viscosity, Adhesive Failure

Construction Adhesive

Construction adhesive provides a strong bond for flooring, tile, drywall, and other construction materials.


Creep refers to the deformation of adhesives caused by the strain of a load, temperature, moisture, and time.

Related terms: Cold Flow

Cure Time

Cure time is the length of time it takes for an adhesive to cure. Before an adhesive is fully cured, the adhesive bond will fail.

Related terms: Bonding

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Epoxy Adhesive

See: Two-Part Adhesive

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Food Grade Adhesive

Food grade adhesive is safe to use on materials that come in contact with food.

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Green Strength

Green strength refers to the adhesive’s capacity to bond two separate surfaces prior to the adhesive developing an ultimate bond when completely cured.

Related terms: Bonding, Cure Time

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Heat Resistant Adhesive

Heat resistant or high temperature adhesives, depending on the material, can withstand temperatures of 200–600°F, or even higher.

High Temperature Adhesive

See: Heat Resistant Adhesive

Hot Melt Adhesive

Hot melt adhesives, or hot glue, are heated to the melting point and applied to the desired surface. An example of a hot melt adhesive is hot glue applied with a hot glue gun. The gun melts the plastic glue, which is tacky when hot and solidifies after less than a minute. Some hot melt adhesives can be applied by dipping the object in the glue or by spraying the glue onto the surface.

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Insect Strips

Insect strips (also called pest strips or insect trap coating) are sticky tapes, barriers, screens, and other traps for a variety of bugs, such as flies, gnats, aphids, thrips, and weevils.

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Low Temperature Pressure Sensitive Adhesives

Low temperature pressure sensitive adhesives are categorized as 5 degrees Celsius (41 degrees Fahrenheit) or lower. In the modern world, most pressure sensitive adhesives for low temperature applications adhesion must be preserved for temperatures -25 degrees Celsius (-13 degrees Fahrenheit) or colder.

Related terms: Pressure Sensitive Adhesives

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Moderate Open Time

Moderate open time refers to the time it takes after adhesive application for a serviceable bond to be created. Open time affects the level of instant bonding. Moderate open time ranges from approximately 30 seconds to approximately 2 minutes.

Related terms: Open Time Adhesives, Bonding

Melting Point

The melting point of an adhesive is the temperature at which the glue becomes tacky or liquid after being in solid form.

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Open Time Adhesives

Open Time is one way of processing hot melt adhesives. Open time refers to the period of time following adhesive application where a serviceable bond is able to be created. Open time impacts the degree of instant bonding. Various factors influence open time, including the amount of adhesive application, temperature, the substrate used and other considerations.

Related terms: Moderate Open Time, Bonding, Substrates

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Peel Adhesion

Peel adhesion is the force needed to remove pressure sensitive adhesives from a particular surface.

Related terms: Pressure Sensitive Adhesives

Plasticizer Resistance

Plasticizer resistance means pressure sensitive adhesive tape preserves its properties despite contact with plasticizers or rubber-based adhesives.

Related terms: Pressure Sensitive Adhesive

Pressure Sensitive Adhesive

Pressure sensitive adhesives (or PSA) are created by means of a viscoelastic material. Pressure sensitive adhesives adhere immediately to most solid surfaces with light pressure.

Related terms: Viscoelastic

Pressure Sensitive Tape

Pressure sensitive tape (also referred to as PSA tape or adhesive tape) adheres without heat, water or solvent activation. PSA tape may be single-sided or double-sided and is used in virtually every industry.

Related terms: Solvent


A polymer is a macromolecule composed of natural and chemical compounds, consisting of structural unit repetition. When polymerization occurs and monomers are created, physical properties like toughness and viscoelasticity are formed. Plasticizer inclusion enhances the mobility or flexibility of a polymer.

Related terms: Viscoelastic, Plasticizers


When added to a polymer plasticizers create or enhance softness and flexibility, increasing the substance’s pliability and stretchability, while reducing characteristics of brittleness. Plasticizers are frequently added to PVC, resins, and rubbers. There are a variety of plasticizer types used for various applications by various industries.

Related terms: Polymer

Polyurethane Adhesive

Polyurethane adhesives form strong bonds before the adhesive is even completely dry and sealed.

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Release Force

Release force is the energy required to remove the adhesive liner from the pressure sensitive tape.

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Set Time Adhesives

Set Time refers to a way of processing hot melt adhesives in which instantaneous bonding is impacted. Set time is the amount of time required to create a suitable bond when there is a combination of two or more substrates paired with an adhesive. Like open time adhesives, set time is affected by the adhesive application amount. Set time adhesives are also influenced by the actual application system, its bonding processes and the adhesive substrates used.

Related terms: Bonding, Substrates, Open Time Adhesives

Short Open Time

Short open time is the period of time after adhesive application where a serviceable bond is able to be created. Open time affects the degree of instant bonding. Short open time is approximately 20 seconds or less.

Related terms: Open Time Adhesives, Bonding

Softening Point

Softening point is the temperature at which the resin gradually softens over varying temperatures. Typical softening points for pressure sensitive adhesives and hot melt adhesives range from 90°C to 120°C. Dependent on other factors, softening points can be as low as 20°C and as high as 130ºC. Contact our adhesive formulators if you require additional information about the softening point of your adhesive.

Related terms: Pressure Sensitive Adhesives, Hot Melt Adhesives

Strain Rate

Strain Rate refers to the time at which deformation occurs when an object or material is placed under stress. Deformation in relation to strain rate includes the expanding or contracting of a material or object, as well as its shear rate.


Self-adhesive surfaces are pre-coated with adhesive so no additional glue or moisture is required.


A solvent is able to dissolve other substances. Solvent-based adhesives are typically made of polymers dissolved in a solvent. The evaporation of the solvent creates the strong bond.


Substrates are the two materials being held together by an adhesive.

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Tackifiers are chemical compounds with viscoelastic properties. Tackifiers are used in hot melt adhesives and pressure sensitive adhesives to enhance tack properties.

Related terms: Tack, Aggressive Tack, Viscoelastic, Hot Melt Adhesives, Pressure Sensitive Adhesives


Tack refers to the stickiness of an adhesive.

Tack Mounting Paper

Adhesive tack mounting paper is a piece of film with adhesive on both sides between two layers of backing. Cut the sheet to the size you need, peel of one side of backing, stick it to one of the substrates, and then do the same on the other side with the second substrate.

Thermal Adhesive

Thermal adhesive is a type of glue, paste, or double-sided tape able to withstand high temperatures. Thermal adhesives are often used with electronic parts and heatsinks.

Two-Part Adhesive

Two-part adhesives (or epoxy adhesives) are two materials which, when combined, provide a strong adhesive bond. The two parts are a resin and a hardener.

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Ultimate Adhesion

Ultimate Adhesion is the bond strength of a pressure sensitive adhesive (PSA) after 72 hours.

Related terms: Pressure Sensitive Adhesive

Urethane Adhesive

Urethane-based adhesives are ideal for joining two different materials (substrates) with a durable, flexible bond.

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Viscosity is a measurement of the fluidity or thickness of a substance. For example, a thick liquid like honey (or glue) has a higher viscosity than a thin liquid like water.


Viscoelastic materials have both viscous and elastic (stretchy) qualities.

Related terms: Viscosity

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Wet Strength

Wet Strength applies to paper-based products, like corrugated boxes. Wet Strength is the product’s ability to retain much of its original strength after being completely saturated with water or other liquid solvents. Wet Strength levels are typically categorized as Moisture Resistant, Water Resistant, and Waterproof.

Related terms: Solvents, Moisture Resistant, Water Resistant, Waterproof


Water-based (or waterborne) adhesives are made from a combination of water, polymer, and various additives. A bond is formed when the water evaporates or is absorbed by a substrate.

Related terms: Bonding, Substrate

Water Resistant

Water resistant, or moisture resistant, adhesives can withstand some water (such as humidity, steam, and dampness) but are not impervious to water.

Related terms: Waterproof


Waterproof adhesives are impervious to water, meaning they prevent water from passing through.

Related terms: Water Resistant

Wood Adhesive

Wood adhesives (or wood glue) are used to attach pieces of wood together or to other substrates.

Related terms: Substrate

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