Just for Fun: Why Do Sticky Things (Like Stick On Name Labels) Stick?!
Today marks the start of British Science Week – a ten-day celebration of science, technology, engineering, and maths. We’re celebrating by taking a look at the science behind why sticky things (like stick on name labels) stick together!
Why Do Sticky Things Stick?
Humans have used adhesives for hundreds of thousands of years to stick stuff together. But why does sticky stuff stick stuff together? Surprisingly, we don’t really know.
What we do know is that adhesives need good cohesion and adhesion – in other words, they must stick to themselves as well as other things.
Cohesion is the tendency of similar or identical particles within a substance to hold together. This is due to intermolecular forces of attraction and repulsion; an adhesive with good cohesion has particles that are strongly attracted to each other.
Adhesion is the tendency of different particles to stick together; however, no one knows exactly why this happens. There are a number of theories but no single theory explains how adhesives work – it is possible that adhesives actually work through a combination of some (or all) of these theories, which include:
- Adsorption: van der Waals forces develop when adhesives come into contact with surfaces; particles may have areas of positive and negative charges – neighbouring adhesive and surface particles interact, resulting in a force of attraction that holds the two together.
- Chemical: adhesives form chemical bonds with surfaces; a chemical bond can result from forces of attraction between particles or from atoms sharing or transferring electrons.
- Diffusive: particles from the adhesive move into the surface (and from the surface into the adhesive) while remaining connected to their source.
- Mechanical: adhesives move into empty spaces (pores or voids) in surfaces and harden into a solid state, creating a physical interlocking between the adhesive and the surface.
- Electrostatic: electrons are transferred between the adhesive and surface, which creates areas of positive and negative charge that are attracted together.
Stikins ® Stick On Name Labels
While we might not be able to tell you exactly how the adhesive on our name labels works, we can tell you what they are good at sticking to – almost everything! Our name labels are made with a unique adhesive, which has been specially developed to ensure that our stick on name labels really do just stick on and stay on.
Our name labels have been independently tested (using the BS EN ISO6330 wash test procedure for 60 washes at 40 degrees) to ensure that they can withstand the tough conditions that labelled items go through in washing machines. They’ve also been tested to ensure that labelled items can be safely put through tumble-dryers, microwaves, and dishwashers.
Stikins ® name labels can be used to label clothing and fabric items safely and securely. They should be applied (firmly!) onto the wash-care label of each item. We don’t advise sticking your name labels directly onto the material of fabric items because we cannot guarantee that your labels will work. This is because there are many different variations of materials in use today and we are unable to test how well (or not) our adhesive will work on each one. Based on feedback from customers, we know that your labels will work perfectly fine on some materials but will work less effectively on others.
Our stick on name labels can also be used to label all kinds of personal belongings including: shoes and bags, lunch boxes and water bottles, mobiles and tablets, books and stationery, sports equipment, arts and craft supplies, and kit required for a wide range of school lessons.
Learn more on our information pages or place an order for your very own stick on name labels today and getting sticking!