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What Was Super Glue Meant for?

Discover the Surprising Origins of Super Glue and its Unexpected Uses!

What Was Super Glue Meant for?

What Was Super Glue Originally Invented For

Super glue, also known as cyanoacrylate adhesive, was accidentally discovered by Harry Coover in 1942 while working on a heat-resistant polymer for jet canopies. He was attempting to create a material to produce clearer gun sights for warplanes. However, he noticed that the new formulation stuck to everything he came into contact with, including his skin and other materials.

The Accidental Discovery

Coover and his team recognized the potential of the adhesive's sticking properties but disregarded it for several years as they believed that its bonding strength was not sufficiently strong for practical application. They returned to the cyanoacrylate compound in the 1950s and, after much experimentation, were able to improve it to produce the product we now know as super glue.

Its First Use as a Medical Adhesive

During the Vietnam War, super glue was accidentally discovered as a medical adhesive by a surgeon named Dr. Coover. He used it to quickly close wounds on the battlefield, significantly reducing the time required to suture and heal them. This discovery resulted in the development of medical-grade cyanoacrylate glues that are still commonly used in hospitals worldwide to close incisions, surgical wounds or repair bone fractures.

Application in Industrial and Household Settings

Super glue became widely available in the 1950s and was marketed as a household adhesive. Its fast-drying and strong bonding properties made it appealing for small repairs like fixing broken ceramics, plastics, and glasses, as well as attaching car side-mirrors and decorative trim. Industrial manufacturers also embraced super glue, using it for assembling small components or parts and bonding metals, wood, and plastics, due to its strong bonding strength and ability to remain unaffected by harsh environments such as heat or water.

Today, super glue continues to be a versatile adhesive, with new formulations and increased bonding strengths that offer more uses for both industrial and household applications. Its ability to bind to almost any surface has made it one of the most popular and valuable adhesives ever invented.

The Science Behind Super Glue's Sticking Power

Super glue, also known as cyanoacrylate adhesive, was first discovered in 1942 by Dr. Harry Coover while he was searching for a way to create clear plastic gun sight for World War II. However, he found that the substance formed an incredibly strong and permanent bond that was unlike anything he had seen before. This accidental discovery led to the development of what is now one of the most popular adhesives in the world. Let's take a closer look at the science behind super glue's sticking power.

Chemical Composition

The chemical composition of super glue plays a significant role in its bonding strength. Super glue consists of short chains of molecules that are highly reactive, specifically, cyanoacrylate molecules. These molecules bind tightly to surfaces by forming long chains. This process is called anionic polymerization.

When the super glue comes in contact with water, it initiates a chemical reaction. The water causes the cyanoacrylate molecules to break down and form a polymer chain. This chain is incredibly strong and is responsible for the adhesive's ability to bond with surfaces so effectively. Furthermore, the short chains of the molecules make it easier for them to penetrate into the tiny cracks and crevices of materials, creating a bond that is stronger than the material itself.

Fast Drying Time

Super glue dries rapidly, and this is due to its reaction with moisture. The glue's formula is such that it reacts with the moisture and trace amounts of acid that are found on most surfaces. This reaction activates the glue and causes it to dry almost instantly. The fast-drying time is particularly useful when bonding surfaces that are difficult to clamp or when doing small, intricate jobs where there is little time to waste.

It's crucial to note that the glue's rapid-drying time is also it's a significant drawback. Once the glue has set, it is usually too late to make any adjustments to the bond. Therefore, it's important to work quickly when using super glue and ensure that all surfaces are correctly aligned before bonding.

Strong and Durable Bond

Perhaps one of the most significant advantages of super glue is the strength of the bond it creates. It is incredibly strong and durable, even in situations where the bonded materials are subjected to high-impact stress. The bond is also flexible, which means that it can bend and twist without breaking. This makes it useful for bonding materials that need to be able to flex, such as rubber or plastic.

Furthermore, the bond created by super glue is so strong that it is almost impossible to break. This poses some challenges when attempting to remove it from surfaces, and that's why it's always advisable to use it with caution. The bond is so strong that it can sometimes make it difficult to separate the bonded materials without causing damage to them.


In conclusion, super glue is an adhesive that has revolutionized the way we bond materials. It is effective, reliable, and easy to use. The glue's chemical composition, fast-drying time, and strong bond make it the ideal adhesive for various DIY and construction projects.

It's important to note, though, that super glue can be dangerous if not used correctly. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully and use it in a well-ventilated area. Keep it out of reach of children, and avoid getting it on your skin or eyes. With proper use and caution, super glue can be an excellent addition to your toolbox.

What Was Super Glue Originally Invented For?

Super glue, formally known as cyanoacrylate adhesive, was originally invented as an alternative to plastic surgery during World War II. The beginning of super glue traces back to the efforts of Dr. Harry Coover and his team at Eastman Kodak Company.During the Second World War, Dr. Coover was conducting research on clear plastics, but he and his team accidentally discovered a new substance. While working on a heat-resistant material for gun sights, they came up with a synthetic adhesive that was capable of bonding metal with plastic. However, they found the substance to be too sticky to use for its intended purpose.Years later, in 1951, after several attempts at improving the formula, the team discovered a new application of their invention. Dr. Coover found that the adhesive could bond almost everything except for smooth surfaces like Teflon. Super Glue first became available for commercial use in 1958 under the name "Eastman #910," and it has been a household tool since then.

Benefits and Uses of Super Glue

Fixing Broken Items

Today, super glue is commonly used to fix broken items like ceramics, glass, metal, and plastic. It can help restore the original strength and appearance of the item and is a great go-to product for emergency repairs. The adhesive is not only fast-acting but also creates a strong, durable bond between surfaces, making it welcome in any tool kit.

Craft and DIY Projects

In addition to being a household staple for repairs, super glue is frequently used in craft and DIY projects. It can bond various materials, including fabric, wood, leather, paper, and many more. This adhesive can be a useful tool for creating decorative pieces and repairing everyday items, such as broken jewelry, picture frames, and household decoration.

Medical Applications

Super glue is not only practical to have around the home, but it is also commonly used in medical settings. It is used to close wounds, especially small ones that are not too deep, as it forms a strong bond quickly and prevents bleeding. Medical grade glue has also been used during surgical procedures, such as bone and cartilage surgeries, as it sets rapidly and securely. Dentists also use this glue to secure braces and fillings in clients' teeth. Therefore, Super Glue has become an essential tool in the medical and dental fields.


Super glue is a handy and versatile adhesive, initially invented as an alternative to the surgical procedure and has since become a household staple worldwide. Its quick and strong bonding capabilities have allowed it to have practical applications in numerous fields. The possible benefits and amazing results derived from using super glue happen to be infinite, making it an incredible invention.

What Was Super Glue Originally Invented For?

Super glue, also known as cyanoacrylate adhesive, was originally invented in the 1940s by Dr. Harry Coover while he was working at Eastman Kodak. It was actually a byproduct of a research project aimed at creating clear plastic gun sights for the US army during World War II. However, its value as a glue was not immediately recognized, and it wasn't until years later that its potential was discovered.

Super glue's adhesive properties were not fully understood until Coover and his team revisited the formula in the 1950s. They eventually patented the formula and it became available for use by consumers in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

The Many Uses of Super Glue

Since the invention of super glue, it has been used for a variety of purposes. Perhaps one of the most common uses is for bonding small items together, such as ceramics, plastics, and wood. It is also often used for repairing broken items, from eyeglasses to toys, or sealing cracks and crevices in household items.

Beyond home use, super glue has played a crucial role in various industries, including the automotive, aerospace, and medical sectors. In the medical field, super glue has been used for sealing wounds, with some surgeons even using it as an alternative to traditional sutures in certain cases.

The Dangers of Super Glue

While super glue has proven to be a reliable and versatile adhesive, it is not without its risks. As with any chemical, it is important to handle super glue with care and take appropriate precautions to avoid injury or harm. Here are some of the potential risks to be aware of:

Skin Irritation and Burns

Super glue can cause skin irritation and burns if it comes into contact with the skin. It is important to handle the glue carefully and avoid skin exposure. In the event that the glue does come into contact with the skin, it should be washed off immediately with warm, soapy water.

Eye Irritation and Injury

Super glue can also cause eye irritation and injury if it gets into the eyes. It is advisable to seek medical attention immediately if this occurs. To prevent this from happening, wear protective eyewear when working with super glue, and do not allow the nozzle of the glue to come too close to your eyes.

Inhalation of Fumes

Inhaling super glue fumes can cause respiratory irritation, nausea, and dizziness. It is important to use super glue in a well-ventilated area and avoid inhaling the fumes. If you begin to feel unwell while working with super glue, move to a place with fresh air immediately.


Super glue has come a long way from its early days as a byproduct of research into clear plastic gun sights. Today, it is an incredibly useful adhesive with a wide range of applications. However, it is important to keep in mind its potential risks and take appropriate precautions when working with it, to ensure that you stay safe and healthy.

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