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Adhesive Bonding vs. Mechanical Fasteners

In the 1978 Superman film starring Christopher Reeve, there is a moment in the climax during an earthquake where a section of train track has snapped in two. The fasteners used to keep those rails connected have shattered – the mechanical fasteners have failed beyond repair. And worse yet, there is a train on a direct course for that section of track. A deadly and terrible crash is imminent. But not so fast! Superman is able to see the damage and strategize a solution! Superman swoops to the rescue! He is able to lie across the track and reconnect the damaged portion with his strength and flexibility. The train is able to safely sail over his form – the speeding wheels of the train smoothly using the new, pliable connection created by the hero. Superman, the Man of Tomorrow, is able to do what those ruined mechanical fasteners were unable to: connect the track. He becomes the new bond between the broken rails like the smart adhesives of Bostik, the adhesives of tomorrow. While Bostik does not bond actual rails like Superman, Bostik adhesives are widely used in the manufacturing process of rail cars.

And there lies a simple yet accurate example of the difference between mechanical fasteners and adhesive bonding. If a fastener is damaged, it is done. It must be scrapped. There is no saving it. Bostik adhesives have forgiveness; they have wiggle room. If a mistake is made, you can simply scrape away the error and reapply. Furthermore, they can be repaired before they are destroyed; they can be altered and improved even after their application. There is elasticity to adhesives that shows stretch and give at the connection point. They are flexible while still incredibly strong in their connection. If any wear or tear occurs, it happens slowly and gradually. With routine maintenance, any weathering can be seen and repaired with ease and without fear that the connection may suddenly fracture. With adhesive bonding, there is time to prevent catastrophe. Adhesives do the job of the mechanical fasteners, but better.

In addition to our adhesives being fire retardant, they create a quieter and smoother train ride than fasteners. Over time, bolts and fasteners loosen from the vibrations of the train over the endless miles of travel. The fasteners get loose and begin to make noise that can echo throughout the interior of the train, which creates an unpleasant ride. With adhesives, the connection remains firm. The bolts and connections all around the passengers do not begin to rattle or clank. Bostik adhesives allow a quieter experience within the train.

Mechanical fasteners are devices used to affix two or more objects together. They are as simple as a button or a retaining ring or far more complex, containing a series of components and parts linked together to attach part A to part B. In the world of rail systems, mechanical fasteners are used regularly in construction of train cars. And when a mechanical fastener fails, it fails disastrously. There is no fixing it. The connection is broken completely, like a section of track snapped in two. And a catastrophic failure like that, on a rail system, can mean lives are on the line. Because of this, Bostik adhesives are being used more and more instead of mechanical fasteners in the interiors of rail cars, trains and subways. Because even within a train, the connections being made must be able to withstand the most strenuous of circumstances.

At Bostik, we are striving for even further superiority with adhesive bonding. We are furthering the functionality of adhesives used in rail systems to not just connect part A to part B, but to enhance the entire system with that connection. Our adhesives are far more functional than the alternative mechanical fasteners. Our bonding process allows for flame retardant materials and vibrational dampening from the adhesive. We offer safer and more secure connections. Bostik has devoted ourselves to perfecting the elastic bonding process.

More and more, adhesive bonding is replacing the mechanical fasteners of yesterday. The bonding of today and tomorrow is Bostik adhesive bonding, the Superman of adhesives. It is the right choice, and using the right adhesive for the right application is what’s smart in the rail industry.