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Aluminum materials can be glued together or to other materials successfully using one of two types of aluminum adhesive. For general purpose or hobby applications, a range of store-bought adhesives may be used, such as two-part epoxies and super glues. Projects that require an extremely strong or shear resistant bond will require the use of a specially formulated aluminum adhesive of the type commonly used in hi-tech applications, such as the aerospace industry.
For household and hobby applications where there is no need for great strength, general purpose adhesives can be used to bond aluminum to a variety of porous and non-porous materials such as wood, leather, ceramics, glass, and plastics. Aluminum adhesive types that work well in these applications include various two-part epoxies and any of the better quality cyanoacrylate or super glues.
For general applications where a certain amount of flexibility is required, rubber- or neoprene-based adhesives may be used. Other flexible, medium strength solutions are any of the double-sided adhesive tapes available. Users should keep in mind that the success of any of these adhesives in bonding aluminum relies on the correct preparation of the material.
Aluminum bonding projects that call for high tensile strength and shear force resistance characteristics require the use of more specialist adhesives designed specifically for use on metals such as aluminum. These aluminum adhesive products are commonly used in specialist areas, such as the aerospace industry where soldering or welding of the aluminum is not practical. These products may be more difficult to acquire and will certainly be far more costly than hardware store adhesives, but do ensure far superior bonding on aluminum materials. These adhesives should not be necessary if only moderate strength is required.
The success of aluminum repair or construction using glue depends largely on how well the surfaces to be glued are prepared. The aluminum surface in particular needs particular attention before an aluminum adhesive will bond correctly. The surface should be thoroughly cleaned with a mild soapy solution to remove all dust and grime, and once dry, it should be degreased with ethyl alcohol. When degreasing the aluminum, the surface should be wiped in one direction only to prevent grease being spread back onto the surface.
Once the surface is clean, it should be roughened slightly with fine sand paper to create a good "key" for the adhesive. All metal dust should then be flushed off with water and the surface dried thoroughly. When this has been done, the adhesive can be applied and left to cure according to the manufacturer instructions.