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Which to Use? Adhesives vs. Welding

( 09/27/2021 ) Written by: Jennifer.davis1

When it comes time to determine the best fastening method, the debate is often over whether to use adhesives or to weld. Structural adhesives offer many advantages over mechanical fastening methods, in industries ranging from automotive, signage and construction. 

Welding is considered a mechanical or metal bonding method. It is known for its immediate handling strength and being easy to inspect. 

Structural adhesives, when used with the right design, are as strong or stronger than welding.  They can eliminate the labor and times costs associated with metal preparation and finishing operations and improving your manufacturing processes. But that’s only the beginning.

Why Use Structural Adhesives?

Structural adhesives have evolved to accomplish many things welding cannot, due to its limitations. When considering structural adhesives, its advantages over welding include:

  • Easier to use, requiring only a low skill level
  • Minimal surface preparation  
  • High aesthetic appearance 
    • No visible scarring from welding
    • Substrate does not warp or shrink (common to welding)
    • Eliminates the need to refinish after bonding as they can bond to coated surfaces
  • Can be used on thinner substrates, unlike welding
  • Accommodates complex shapes, which is difficult for welding
  • Can be used for dissimilar substrates, such as 2 different metals and metal-to-plastics and composites. Welding is only for the joining of metals. 
  • Excellent durability
  • Evenly distributes stresses
  • Helps prevent corrosion
  • Bonds and seals in a single operation. Welding requires a separate step for sealing.
  • Cost-effective due to its reduced material costs, number of parts, labor and process time

Traditional Welding

While welding may be preferred in some select structural applications, it’s aggressive to material coatings, surfaces and structures. Grinding or abrasion is often required in both prior to welding and post finishing and cleaning using organic solvents. More manufacturing operations are required with skip welding, since additional sealing is required between welds, as well as post finishing. Welding has limited use on metals – not dissimilar materials. It requires a higher skillset with complex shapes and thin substrates.

During welding it’s important to watch for potential warpage due to heat, which can cause shrinkage on some metals. A high skill level is needed to accurately weld the substrates together requiring a costly trained welder. The end results of welding can be an assembly while joined correctly, still suffers from concentrated stress areas, corrosions sites and poor vibration characteristics.

Structural Adhesives Lead the Way

The limitations of welding are alleviated with the use of structural adhesives. Adhesives simplify surface preparation, prevent damage to the material surfaces and coatings, bond and seal in a single operation and do not require any secondary operations. 
Using LORD Structural adhesives, you will have improved performance. There is reduced stress and fatigue on the bonded part, no material distortion, no corrosion, and the resulting mechanical strength can outperform welding. It’s durable performance through a simplified process.

Learn more about how Structural Adhesives can replace welding and provide you with design flexibility and cost savings. 

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