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Best Glue for Plastic (PLA, ABS, PETG, Nylon)

by Hironori Kondo
Jul 1, 2019

Sometimes, there's no way around bonding 3D printed parts. But with the dizzying variety and types of glues available, which one is the best for you?

Best Glue for Plastic Why Bond?

Using hot a hot glue gun to bind 3D printed parts
A glue gun can be used to bond pieces together. Source: www.hackster.io

Bonding 3D prints is often necessary for cosmetic and practical reasons. Printing a model in separate pieces can minimize support material on cosmetically critical areas, optimize part strength by changing the direction of the print’s layer lines, and allow for larger assemblies.

Picking a proper glue for your plastic, however, can be difficult. We already have an article dedicated to exploring the bonding methods available, so, here we will determine the best glues for specific plastics and use cases.

Let’s get into it!

Best Glue for Plastic Best All-Rounder: Cyanoacrylate

Gorilla super glue is the best all-rounder glue for plastic.
Gorilla super glue is the best all-rounder glue for plastic. Source: Gorilla Glue

Cyanoacrylate, more commonly known as “superglue” or CA glue, is the best all-rounder glue for plastic. It’s not the most durable option available, being brittle, but it should suffice for most applications.

CA glue’s appeal comes from its versatility and short setting time. It comes in both runny and gel forms, making it perfect for both flowing into cracks and precise application. When coupled with a few drops or sprays of a dedicated accelerator, CA glue will set in seconds, allowing you to get on your way.

Superglue does, however, lean towards the brittle side, so its long-term durability may not be the best. That being said, its quick setting time makes it useful for acting as a temporary bond while a stronger glue sets.

Overall, Cyanoacrylate is an excellent choice for general use.

Surface preparation: Sand, clean, and degrease bonding surfaces.

Safety: Use in a ventilated area, keep away from skin.

Suitable for: PLA, ABS, PETG, struggles with Nylon

Buy from: Amazon

Best Glue for Plastic Best Strength: Solvent Welding

Though technically not a glue, this MG Chemicals Acetone will bond two surfaces.
Though technically not a glue, this MG Chemicals Acetone will bond two surfaces. Source: RS Components

Solvent welding takes the two surfaces being adhered and chemically dissolves them, allowing them to bond when stuck together. While technically not a glue, it is an excellent bonding method, working well with acetone and dedicated products like plumber’s cement.

Solvent welding is great for its incredible strength; of the gluing methods here, this is the only one that doesn’t introduce external material. Instead of adding a joining substance, it directly bonds surfaces on a molecular level, making the weld incredibly strong when applied properly. This also means that no additional thickness or weight is added, making part design and assembly much easier.

Solvent welding does, however, come with safety concerns. Please use solvents with great caution and in well-ventilated areas, as exposure may cause respiratory or skin irritation. If you are not comfortable with using solvents, try another option instead.

Surface preparation: Sand, clean, and degrease bonding surfaces. Apply just enough solvent to make surfaces tacky. Avoid part deformation.

Safety: Use in a well-ventilated area, keep away from skin.

Suitable for: PLA, ABS

Buy from: Amazon

Best Glue for Plastic Best Versatility: Polyurethane Glue

Gorilla polyurethane glue will adhere to almost anything.
Gorilla polyurethane glue will adhere to almost anything. Source: Gorilla Glue

If you’re looking for something sticky that’ll adhere almost anything, look no further than polyurethane glues. Even Nylon, a material notoriously difficult to glue, will likely work with this tacky substance. What’s more, polyurethane glues are usually waterproof and can range anywhere from rigid to flexible, covering a variety of use cases.

The main drawback of polyurethane glues will be the extra thickness added when applied.

Surface preparation: Sand, clean, and degrease bonding surfaces.

Safety: Use in a ventilated area, keep away from skin.

Suitable for: PLA, ABS, PETG, Nylon

Buy from: Amazon

Best Glue for Plastic General Strength: Epoxy

JB Weld ClearWeld epoxy is versatile and durable.
JB Weld ClearWeld epoxy is versatile and durable. Source: JB Weld

Two-part epoxy is a very common glue used for its versatility and durability. It comes in two parts that are mixed together, initiating the setting process. From there, apply and wait for it to set to form a strong bond. Epoxies tend to be less brittle than CA glues, making them more durable.

While it does add thickness to joints, Epoxy is an excellent alternative to solvent welding for strength due to fewer safety concerns. It can also be sanded and painted after setting.

Surface preparation: Sand, clean, and degrease bonding surfaces.

Safety: Use in a ventilated area, keep away from skin.

Suitable for: PLA, ABS, PETG, Nylon

Buy from: Amazon

Best Glue for Plastic Quick 'n Dirty: Hot Glue

This DeWALT Glue Gun is perfect for a quick fix.
This DeWALT Glue Gun is perfect for a quick fix. Source: DeWALT / Amazon

If you’re just looking for a quick solution, hot glue could do the trick. It’s simple to apply, and while certainly not strong, could be enough for light applications.

Use caution when applying to PLA, as the heat of the glue may deform the plastic.

Surface preparation: Sand, clean, and degrease bonding surfaces.

Safety: Keep away from skin.

Suitable for: PLA, ABS, struggles with PETG and Nylon

Buy from: Amazon

Best Glue for Plastic That's It!

A glued 3D print.
A glued 3D print. Source: MakerBot

There you go! The best glues for all your 3D printed plastics. Hopefully, this guide was helpful for finding the right choice for you.

For more on post-processing, we have a general guide to bonding 3D prints, a beginner’s post-processing guide, and a breakdown of more advanced post-processing tricks.

Happy printing!

Feature image source: MakerBot

License: The text of "Best Glue for Plastic (PLA, ABS, PETG, Nylon)" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.