Efficiency, cost-effectiveness and performance are always key motivators for industry developments. The marine industry in particular is faced with the impact of climate change, requiring resistance regarding harsh environmental impacts, long-lasting and reliable manufacturing results. Likewise, developments have to improve on previous performance characteristics with more demanding requirements: such as speed, greater power and more aesthetic, to name just a few. As such, lightweight construction has seen a tremendous growth and acceptance in recent years.

Dr. Johannes Martin, Sales Manager for Composites, Tooling & Adhesives at Biesterfeld Spezialchemie’s Performance Products department, provides some insight into the manufacturing technologies and products used in the marine sector. As such, adhesives play a vital role in the engineering process of joining composites.

Looking at the adhesive market, there are various types of adhesives dedicated to different applications. Especially Methyl Methacrylate (MMA) adhesives which are designed specifically to meet the challenges of creating strong and durable, but also flexible joints for bonding composites, plastics and metals. Thanks to the combination of bond strength, toughness and ease of use, MMA adhesives have been used in a number of areas such as marine, transport and construction industries for many years. The latest market research report on MMA Adhesives by Mordor Intelligence confirms its market position and values its international growth in the industry and expects a CAGR of about 7 % over the five-year forecasting period (2019–2024) [1].

The versatility of MMA adhesives

Adhesive technology has been around for centuries, constantly developing and serving changing industry demands. One of the current trends and driving factors setting a new tone is lightweight construction. Requiring efficient adhesives, the lightweight construction industry sets novel demands as well as challenges to the adhesive technology manufacturers. The key element of lightweight construction is a complex mix of different materials that pushes conventional methods to the limit of their capabilities. Tailored specifically to these needs, MMA adhesives have the following properties: strength, fatigue resistance, flexibility (toughness) and resistance to harsh environmental impacts (Caribbean to arctic environmental conditions). In addition to that, they combine very high strength with good flexibility, which is ideal for joining materials with a different coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE). For example, the marine industry benefits from the performance in strength and flexibility by bonding large structural elements (e.g. GRP stringer) into a glass fibre reinforced hull to resist wave action caused by rough seas. Not only the combination of strength and flexibility, but also the durability of the material is a tremendous benefit for boat building compared to other methods of joining.

Furthermore, metals, thermoset and thermoplastic polymers can be bonded together efficiently and effectively. Hence, MMA adhesives can be used for bonding and cross bonding a variety of materials and replace inefficient traditional processing practices.

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