What is hot melt adhesive?

Hotmelt adhesives are generally 100% solid adhesive formulations based on thermoplastic polymers. The best known types are glue sticks, these can be based on EVA, Polyolefin, PUR and PSA.

Glue sticks are familiar to almost everyone and known from hobby applications with a glue gun and a typical 11 mm diameter glue cartridge. The cartridges are also available in other diameters, such as 7mm, 15mm, 18mm and 43mm. These are almost exclusively EVA, Rubber Based and Polyolefin adhesives.

EVA hot melt

EVA hotmelt is at the beginning of the hotmelt revolution. Before EVA hotmelt was widely used, solvent glue or water-based glue was applied. The advantage of a hotmelt is that it contains no solvent, but dries much faster than a water-based glue.

typical EVA hot melt and application


These hotmelts replace EVA hot melt adhesives in many applications. The Polyolefin polymer has a wider bonding range and better thermostability than the EVA polymer.

Typical polyolefin hot melt with improved thermal stability

PUR hot melt

Due to the success of EVA hotmelt, the industry has come up with the idea that adhesives can be heated before processing, and when cooled, realise a fast “sticking power”. This was applied to a whole new polymer for hotmelt applications, the Polyurethane or PUR hotmelts were born.

typical pur hot melt panel gluing

PSA hot melt

PSA is the English term for “Pressure Sensitive Adhesive” and in Dutch terms, these are “self-adhesive products” such as tape, stickers and labels. PSA hotmelts are also frequently used for other materials, where a double-sided tape or laminate can be applied, but then directly by inline application of hotmelt on for example foam, plastics or devices.

typical psa sealing application


There are several hotmelts that have a biological basis of 30%-70%. For packaging hotmelt, assembly hotmelt and also self-adhesive PSA hotmelts.

VEGAN hot melt

Hot melts are mainly based on vegetable oils and synthetic (petroleum) raw materials. Due to the different compositions and additives, a hot melt is usually not demonstrably vegan. Intercol has 100% vegan hot melt adhesives available, with certificate.Hot melt in Nordson glue tank

hot melt examples

GELATINE adhesives

Gelatin adhesives are of a biological nature (gelatin and polysaccharides), and qualify as 100% biodegradable and 100% compostable. These adhesives do require specific adjustments of the hotmelt equipment and may require a slightly longer pressing time in the machine. We can advise you on this, test your material in our R&D centre and guide you through the process.