The breadth of its uses are virtually limitless. There are few surfaces – other than glass – that cannot be repaired by its judicious application. Yet infuriation is all to often experienced as you fail to notice whilst carefully applying it to the intended area of repair that you have, in fact, fused your thumb and fore-finger.
The iconic product the can achieve this dubious success is, of course, Super Glue. “Super Glue” is a trade mark now used extensively but often associated with the “Loctite” brand – a German owned US company founded in 1956 – that was rebranded “Loctite” in 1963.
Its logo is now akin to that of a Superhero – DC Comic Book Superheroes.
The core of this small but hugely influential product is the catchily named “Cyanoacrylates”, which are a family of strong, fast-acting adhesives that have an infuriatingly short shelf life – whether or not they reopened. Included in this family of chemicals is “ethyl-2-cyanoacrylate” that is commonly sold as “Super Glue”. Other variants have medical applications, as anyone who has had a wound dressed with the last decade will attest to. Indeed first uses can be traced to 1966 when a spray was developed that was used on injured military personnel in Vietnam to reduce bleeding.
The Goodrich Company filed the original patent for cyanoacrylate in 1942. A group of scientists including Harry Coover Jr. discovered the formulation largely by accident whilst researching clear plastics to make gun-sights. It wasn’t until 1951, whilst working for Eastman Kodak on jet airplane’s cockpit construction, that Coover and his colleague, Fred Joyner, saw the commercial application for an adhesive that stuck to literally everything. A Patent for the new adhesive was applied for on 2nd June 1954 which was granted on 23rd October 1956. The product was first sold in 1958 as “Eastman #910”.
During the 1960s, Eastman Kodak sold cyanoacrylate to Loctite who repackaged it and marketed it as “Loctite Quick Set 404”. In time Loctite developed their own manufacturing capability and acquired market share very rapidly such that by the late 1970’s Loctite and Eastman Kodak (in a new guise as “Permabond”) together controlled around 75% of the US industrial cyanoacrylate market.
The addition of rubber to the cyanoacrylate makes Superglues flexible and by adding bi-carbonate of soda it is given the properties of a very effective filler.
So what are the tried and trusted techniques to unseal glued fingers?
Solution 1 – Soak the skin in warm soapy water to soften the glue. With an acetone-based nail polish remover the cyanoacrylate will soften. Use an emery board to remove the residue of glue or let it peel off.
Solution 2 – Dip the affected fingers in sugar or salt paste – just add water!
Solution 3 – Pour olive oil or spread margarine over the affected area and gently rub together.
Solution 4 – Rub petroleum jelly or liquid detergent diluted with a small amount of water into the stuck skin.
If the glue affects the eyes try none of the above and great straight to A&E/ER!
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