View Full Version : Archival Hot Glue question.

08-04-2010, 08:21 AM
The following question was just posted to the RCAAM Listserv and I am interested in the answer as well so I thought I would cross post it here. Looking around I found conflicting information about whether archival hot glue is needed for box making or not.


Here is the original post: On Wed, Aug 4, 2010 at 9:47 AM, Ashley Henderson wrote:

Hi Everyone, I am making custom trays and boxes for a project and am looking for a source for archival hot melt glue sticks. The trays will be used for long-term storage and the artifacts will not come into contact with the glue used in construction. Gaylord has discontinued their product. University Products carries the sticks but states that their $250 applicator gun is required for proper application. Has anyone used these sticks with a regular applicator gun from a craft store? I can't find a package of hot glue sticks at the store that lists ingredients. Does anyone know of a good source for hot glue sticks or if regular old hot glue sticks from the store pose a threat in long-term storage? Thanks for any suggestions! Ashley Henderson Collection Manager Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History www.ccmuseum.com (http://www.ccmuseum.com) (361) 826-4659

T. Ashley McGrew
08-04-2010, 11:06 AM
I strongly recommend the 3M Polygun LT.
I would purchase it as shown in the picture with a quadtrack converter and palm grip.
I have used it working for two different commercial companies and two different museums.
The gluesticks were some of the first to shown to pass oddy testing by the Getty way back in the day and it is still what they use there.
They have different sticks for different applications I would buy the clear general purpose ones - LM for low melt.
The sticks for the TC model are similar but will melt through foam more and is harder to work with when it comes to thin materials like Tyvek.
3M also offers a variety of guns that work with these sticks, including ones with different temperature "chips". In my experience they are prone to breakage and basically a waste of the considerable cost increase over this gun.

Here is a link that might make it more clear but I have not actually ordered from this vendor.

3M Polygun LT (http://www.hillas.com/Products/3M_Polygun_Applicators/3M_PG_LT_QC_PT.asp)

The price on this one seems to be low so I would make sure that it is being sold as pictured (with both quad converter and palm grip).

Mark Wamaling
08-05-2010, 08:37 AM

Can you give us more detail as to which hot melt or low melt 3M glues passed the ODDY tests back in the day?

T. Ashley McGrew
08-05-2010, 09:38 AM
All I can remember is that I was working in NY for FAE and I heard about this so that had to be more than a dozen years ago. I had been curious about the topic since at the museum I had worked for prior the use of hot melt glues was not allowed. I had to use white glue to adhere Ethafoam into storage mounts (skived on one side obviously)!

While I have heard of many museums testing the 3M gluesticks it should be noted that I don't know that all of the different gluesticks that 3M manufactures passed or were even tested. To be more helpful I need to look up the stock numbers I suppose. I also don't know if any of the institutions followed up with testing for contact with objects, but I can't think why you would ever want hot glue in contact with objects anyway.

Basically I just know that at the Getty, any material that goes into a crate interior, display case, or storage environment is oddy tested periodically. Similarly at NMAI and more recently at the SW Museum where my wife now works the product was tested because it is so frequently used for storage mounts.

One of the reasons the Getty tests all kinds of materials periodically is that manufacturers sometimes change formulations of products and therefore their characteristics without any notification to the buyer, but I have never heard of this product not-passing oddy tests. Have you guys heard of it failing by any chance?

T. Ashley McGrew
08-05-2010, 05:01 PM
Oh duh, I guess I was in a hurry and didn't actually read your very clear question - and instead went into story telling mode!

Low melt # 3M #3792 LMQ
Also for Coroplast it seems like higher temps worked better (especially if you didn't abrade the surface a bit - which I think is wise) -
#3M # 3748Q

I also just came across a related bit of info in Hatchfields Pollutants in the Museum Environment (http://www.pacin.org/showthread.php?96-Pollutants-in-the-Museum-Environment-by-Pamela-Hatchfield&highlight=hatchfield)pg 141 under Ethylene/ Vinyl Acetate (EVA) copolymers (main component of gluesticks) :

"E-VAs are found as hot glues, used increasingly in the fabrication of storage, exhibition and travel mounts or other components which may remain in proximaty to works of art for prolonged periods of time."

Mark Wamaling
08-06-2010, 06:45 AM

Thanks for answering my question. I thought some of the other forum folks might benefit if we talked about specific types of 3M glues. I have heard conflicting results about the 3M #3792, so you are saying that the Getty, NMAI and SW museum have confirmed that it pass the ODDY tests?

PS: I always enjoy your story telling regardless if you answer my question right away.

08-06-2010, 07:17 AM
Someone posted on RCAAM that University Products do carry Archival Bostik Glue Sticks again:



T. Ashley McGrew
08-06-2010, 07:33 AM
Mark you are ever the gentleman and your generousity is much appreciated.

You know, I am sure about the SW and NMAI (it was published in the move manual) but I am not sure if they are currently using the low melt at the Getty (they use a lot of double stick for Tyvek and such) so I don't know if there would be current test results. Do you remember where/when it failed this is news to me.

Of course as you know Dow Ethafoam has failed on several occaisions and have I have heard that the SealedAir version has failed at least one test since they bought the brand.
These things rarely seem to be clear cut. That is why in dreamland there is a distributor who tests every batch they get (I don't personally know any museum that actually manages to follow this supposed "rule of thumb"). I always figurethat it is good to follow the trends and test materials whenever possible if you hear mixed results.
Thanks for passing on questions about the 3792.
I have an idea on what that might be about. I will need to do some searching in some Oddy related correspondense. Will get back on it if I find applicable info.

T. Ashley McGrew
08-07-2010, 11:46 AM

I saw that they make these in 15" lengths. One of the things I like about the 3M is that they are just shy of 8" which is twice as long as the 4 inchers. These on the other hand, are almost twice again as long - pretty cool!
Do you know what guns are commonly used with these in museums and/or fine art service providers?
If we can get some recommendations on models and sources as well as a fough idea of prices that will help visitors searching this topic. I think I will put out something on the listserve to that effect. Thanks for the heads-up on the Bostik type gluesticks.

08-09-2010, 07:55 AM
The original reason for my cross-post was to ask if "archival" hot glue sticks are absolutely necessary. If yes, can any gun be used or should one use a proper one like the 3-M model recommended earlier? Thanks to all the posters and those on the listserv.


T. Ashley McGrew
08-09-2010, 10:19 AM
Hey Jason,
Most of the PACIN folks are still posting on the listserv (which has about 800 folks signed up) until a few of them start pitching in over here I will drag comments over and post them.
In answer to your question, off-gassing generally means how a material behaves in its normal state so yes, it is recommended that any material that will be in an proximate to art/objects - especially in an enclosed environment over a long period of time be - chemically stable/inert/archival/acidfree etc....
This usually just referes to what is it made off - Polyethylene foams vs Urethane foams, or how they are processed - Blueboard (where the acidity is balanced by a base buffering agent) vs regular cardboard.
For non-storage use though I think just about any gluegun/stick is ok.

Mark Wamaling
08-09-2010, 11:24 AM

I like the dialogue you have going regarding the various hot melt types and brands! I cannot tell you where I heard about the 3792 failing but I can see if I get dig that up somehow. As for Jasons comment about archival hot glue, it has been an issue where museums are looking at long term use, otherwise it may not be an issue for short term use in crates.
As for Ashley's comment about Ethafoam failing that is true from the SealedAir plants but not the case in the old Dow plants. We noticed a slight physical difference in the two and started asking them about it. They are trying to provide a consistent product but everyone should be aware of the differences. Foams due change from time to time.

12-12-2011, 06:33 AM
So is there an overall concensus concerning the Bostik Thermogrip 6363 hotmelt? and it is not the same thing as the 3M 3792?

T. Ashley McGrew
12-12-2011, 07:28 PM
Way back at the beginnings of this tread I think the basis of the question had to do with the use of bostik 6363 gluesticks in less expensive more available glueguns. I have to confess a whole lot of ignorance on a bunch of levels here. The product Bostik 6363 shows up in several places in which the context would suggest that it is appropriate for use in proximate to art/objects.

The 3M product is most surely not going to be compatable with a run of the mill glue gun (slightly larger diameter and cross hatching to fit the quadtrack feature) but the bostik might. From what I can tell, although I have not seen specific reports on it having passed Oddy tests, it would seem from the context that is presented in



as well it's basic components that it may be a similar product.

It is true that different guns operate at different temperatures and I have seen warnings about using the wrong temperture gluesticks in the wrong guns. That said, I have seen it happen (both directions - hot gun cool glue, cool glue - hot gun) and while the low temp glue in the high temp gun did appear to be kind of "watery" by definition it was only as hot as the gun it came from to begin with!

As usual it seems I have wandered far afield from our starting point. Basically a think a couple of good questions are raised.

1) Does the Bostik 6363 product pass Oddy testing consistently? I am kind of stodgy that way.
2) Can that glue be used in less expensive - more available glue guns?

If the answer to both questions is in the affirmative then it would seem that museums that anticipate very limited use of the product, with limited budgets could benefit greatly from the knowledge.
I think it is worth a little more research - maybe starting with the PACCIN listserv?

04-25-2012, 10:01 PM
This doesn't relate to the specific question asked, but you kind of touch on it, re: archival quality of 3M Hot Melt (3764 TCQ) and Low Melt (3792-LM TCQ) adhesive.

I've been creating permanent storage boxes at various Australian Museums and I've always used 3m glue (Hot Melt) and gun, but have taken it as a given that it's suitable in regards to its archival longevity etc. However, I'm in the process of placing a large order, so just wanted to clarify that using 3M glue doesn't jeopardise the integirty of the object.

Any help that could be offered would be much appreciated. Especially in regards to a definitive answer to the archival quality of the 3M glue mentioned above.

If it is questionable, what might be another alternative?


T. Ashley McGrew
04-25-2012, 10:28 PM
I guess I can just say that I know of multiple major museums that have tested the 3M product and use it routinely in storage applications. I wouldn't put it in direct contact with an object but I also can't imagine why you would ever want to do that anyway.

04-25-2012, 10:49 PM
Purely storage, obviously.

More the concern about offgassing, etc.

I've spoken to numerous conservators that I work with, plus the product supplier, but there doesn't seem to be a definite conclusion.

I just thought with the lull in this thread, that maybe someone had located a conclusive answer since the last post.

Thanks, anyway.

T. Ashley McGrew
04-26-2012, 12:01 AM
I don't really think I understand. What do you mean by definite conclusion? Oddy testing is an accelerated aging test that is designed to visually indicate the presence of byproducts that might damage sensitive objects. It has many limitations but frankly when materials consistently pass the Oddy test even skeptical individuals rarely proceed to more scientifically stringent testing. The nature of the test is that it can easily give false "fails" but rarely gives false "passes". Even with the most sophisticated testing thing can and are missed that can cause damage. If skeptical individuals had performed exhaustive testing, if adverse effects were discovered it would be pretty surprising that it wouldn't have become common knowledge since the product has been in such wide use in the field for so many years now.
In this case the product is a pretty simple material - 100% solids chemically stable thermoplastic - EVA - Ethylene Vinyl Acetate. If you read the MSDS you will note that its description makes it appear to be it quite innocuous. I haven't put a lot of research into it but a quick search of COOL yields the following post by a paper conservator http://cool.conservation-us.org/byform//mailing-lists/cdl/instances/2001/2001-08-17.dst (http://cool.conservation-us.org/byform/mailing-lists/cdl/instances/2001/2001-08-17.dst) about its use. Paper people are usually pretty sensitive about these things.
As well from my understanding anything that is manufactured by another party can't be absolutely guaranteed to be conclusively "archival" but the fact that it has been tested repeatedly, is approved by, and has been in standard use by the Getty, at least one Smithsonian museum and multiple smaller yet equally competent museums leads me to be fairly comfortable in using it. Practically speaking anyway I am not sure how you can get too much more conclusive that in the real world. Sorry if I have gone on and on. I may just not understand your inquiry completely.