Project Summary

Towards and adhesive design toolkit (MMS7)


The successful implementation of adhesives technology within the UK has been recognised by the DTI as a crucial component for stimulating innovative development within the manufacturing sector. The benefits of adopting this approach initiated several years ago through the MTS and Performance of Adhesive Joints (PAJ) programs, are already starting to emerge. Such a situation is not unique to the UK; Germany has shown a 40% reduction in rework costs through the active promotion of adhesives technology training and certification programs. Last year the number of adhesives bonder certifications in Germany exceeded 1000, a large proportion of whom were from the rail transport sector.

The volume of valuable information generated by the previous MTS programs has been significant. So much so that it has created the problem of efficient dissemination to industry at large. In addition, the wide range of experience and level of acceptance of adhesives within industry, especially SMEs, requires a structured approach to make effective use of such material. To address this need, a method of distillation and dissemination of what is predominantly text based information has been put forward by TWI. The complementary proposal, entitled Promoting the Competitive Advantage of UK Industry by Making Adhesives Technology Available On-Line (PR5408/1), will enable users to have free and targeted access to adhesives information and data over the internet via the JoinITŪ site. This work will be carried out in parallel with the work described in this proposal.

One key aspect of adhesives technology that has been lacking from previous programs is an overall framework with which to guide would-be adhesives users in terms of design, selection and total quality control (QC). There exist discrete software packages that have been developed from earlier initiatives. Such systems include:

  • Quality Assurance in Adhesives Technology, QUASIAT (EUREKA)
  • Design of bonded joints, GLUEMAKER (Design Data Initiative)
  • Stress analysis (BISEPS-TUG, BISEPS-LOCO, FELOCO etc - AEA Technology Projects)
  • Distance learning training schemes, (COMETT)
  • Techno-economic analysis, (Joining Forces - DTI Initiative)
  • Joining process selector, LIVEMAN (Lightweight Vehicle Manufacture)
  • Adhesive selection, CAT (Centre for Adhesives Technology) ADHESIVES SELECTOR

These software packages go some way to addressing adhesive selection and design requirements but they do not provide an integrated solution in themselves. It is proposed that the most effective way forward is to work towards the development of an adhesives design toolkit in which a common format is adopted. The definition of appropriate protocols will ensure that all identified software packages can be integrated with the capacity for future expansion at a later date.

The DTI has previously funded a composites design toolkit, the need for which arose for similar reasons described above. The work was carried out by AEA, NPL and QinetiQ (formerly DERA) and resulted in the production of a system that integrated five software modules to assist design engineers with composites use. This work is in the final stages of completion and it is anticipated versions of the software will be available in late 2002. In a similar way there is an equal if not greater need for a similar type of toolkit for adhesives design. It is believed that due to the extremely broad range of applications and end users, the adhesives design toolkit should be made freely available to the widest audience possible. In view of this, a browser driven web based format is proposed.


The aim of this project is to develop an integrated adhesives design toolkit that will become an essential resource to any individual or organisation that wishes to utilise adhesives bonding technology to its greatest advantage. The toolkit will be browser driven, thereby enabling it to be accessed over the World Wide Web.

Objectives of project

The objectives of the project are to:

  • Identify, audit and select key adhesives design modules using industrial input
  • Develop a toolkit infrastructure and protocols
  • Develop and integrate a minimum of four modules into the toolkit
  • Validate the toolkit with industrial collaboration
  • Identify missing modules and develop a strategy for future sustainability.


The existence of an integrated, highly accessible adhesives design toolkit will be of significant benefit to all industrial sectors. Key benefits to the user will include:

  • A fully integrated approach to adhesives design in which the user can assess adhesive performance from a variety of perspectives including process selection, joint design, adhesive type, failure criteria etc
  • An unbiased approach where a range of adhesives and associated mechanical and physical properties will be available enabling the user to undergo the first stage in selecting an adhesive that will be fit for purpose with respect to the required design criteria.
  • An internet based central resource with a range of links to adhesives suppliers, equipment manufacturers, RTOs, standards agencies etc
  • Free access
  • Up to date information

Toolkit vision

It is envisaged that the look, feel and function of the toolkit from the user?s perspective will include the following features:

  • A unique web address (URL) which will be easily remembered and associated with the toolkit function
  • A browser driven application
  • Open access (with priority initially given to UK based companies/individuals through various dissemination activities and IAG involvement)
  • A registration and login procedure to enable usage to be monitored
  • A feedback page/bulletin board to enable ongoing user comment and validation
  • A simple introduction page with access to the individual modules in the form of labelled buttons or similar
  • An opportunity to select a guided module approach, for non-expert users
  • Fast applications, (limited only by internet connection speed)
  • The facility to obtain the output from each module in more than one format i.e. direct print, text file to down-load, data file, bit image etc
  • The facility to try different scenarios from within a module without the need to start-again
  • Links to other useful sites (adhesives suppliers, equipment suppliers, RTOs, standards agencies, academic sites etc)
  • A neutral site i.e. not associated with any one organisation or company, therefore able to provide impartial expert information
  • A ?what?s new? page (regularly updated)

There are many commercial sites that claim to offer some of the above but an initial investigation would suggest that the output is either heavily product biased, difficult to use and lacks a structured approach that many new or potential adhesive users will require. As a result, the user can become confused with the range of sometimes-conflicting data on offer, increasing the possibility of selecting an inappropriate adhesive.

Overall this toolkit must be simple, easy to use and intuitive, it must be seen as an essential resource that 'cannot be done without', delivering useful information and data based upon sound design rules and expert knowledge.


The primary focus of this project will be the development of a toolkit infrastructure with a set of clearly defined protocols into which a number of modified software modules will be placed. This ?first-phase? or skeleton toolkit will be web based and its functionality will be defined, developed and evaluated in conjunction with a broad industrial user base. The work can be divided into nine clear tasks as listed below:

Task 1: Identify, audit and select key toolkit modules (T1)
The identification, auditing and selection of possible key toolkit modules for the first-phase toolkit with final selection being based upon the results from Task 2.

Task 2: Review industry requirement (T2).
A review of industry requirements with regards to what end users require in order to design and utilise adhesives thereby clarifying the identity of modules to be included in the first phase toolkit

Task 3: Develop toolkit infrastructure (T3).
The development of an infrastructure or shell into which the working modules will be housed

Task 4: Develop toolkit modules (T4).
The development/modification of the modules to be housed within the toolkit

Task 5: Data management (T5).
The identification, specification and collation of data required by the various modules to function

Task 6 Toolkit validation (T6).
Validation of the toolkit modules and the toolkit itself

Task 7: Dissemination (T7).
Dissemination of the project to UK industry via electronic, paper and workshop formats

Task 8: Identification of missing modules and sustainability strategies (T8).
Identification of missing functionality and associated modules and the identification of strategies for future sustainability

Task 9: Project management (T9).
Overall project co-ordination and management.

It is proposed to use the methodology shown in Fig.1 as a means to do this.

It is recognised that there is insufficient scope within the present project budget to incorporate all of the modules that have or will be identified. It will therefore be necessary to select a minimum of four of the highest priority modules, which can be completed within the appropriate time-scale and budget. In addition, until Task 2 has been completed, it will not be possible to define the total content of Task 4.

Fig.1 Interrelationship between project tasks

Timescales and deliverables

The project duration is two years with the proposed commencement date being April 1 2002. The deliverables are defined within each task, as summarised below.

Table of targets
A fully functional adhesives design toolkit that will work from the internet containing a minimum of four adhesives design modules An adhesives design toolkit that will contain sufficient fully working modules such as to meet with the project objectives. The toolkit will be available over the internet.
The identification of subsequent modules for inclusion into a second generation toolkit The toolkit will have the design requirements to enable incorporation of new modules when additional funding becomes available
A minimum of two industry workshops to be held at different locations within the UK Two industry workshops with an attendance of 35 in each case
Production of articles and press releases for a variety of publications Production of two articles and two press releases for trade journals and RTO newsletters advertising the toolkit
Identification of sustainability strategies Inclusion of two advertising revenues onto the website