Catching Some Rays: Outdoor assembly and UV-curing with natural sunlight

Summer’s here and the time is right for gluing in the street. Or in the yard, anyway.

It’s the ideal time of year to build or repair glasswork fixtures such as patio lampshades or barware, and decorations such as mosaics, sun catchers, and fountains. As discussed in the previous post, two UV light cured products available from CLK Associates are well-suited for projects that end up out of doors through the four seasons.

A UV lamp is your best option, but if you don’t have one, you can also use natural sunlight to cure these products. Sunlight’s lower UV intensity means curing takes longer – sometimes several hours – but it can yield a bond just as strong and durable as one formed with a UV lamp.

If curing with natural sunlight, take care that all parts are immobilized to ensure that glued parts don’t slide or shift as the glue cures. Creative use of clamps, clothespins, and elastic bands can help with this. Some of this fixturing material may prevent light from getting to the total glue line – once you have a hard fixture remove the fixture aids and let the sun finish its work.

NOTE:  these adhesives will also bond well to wood and paper so if the fixturing materials come into contact with adhesive that extrudes from the glue joint it may want to stay attached to the glass.

Once the adhesive has set you can clean up any adhesive that is outside the joint with a razor blade and isopropyl alcohol as sunlight isn’t strong enough to fully cure the surface of the adhesive fillet outside the joint.

Best practice is to apply and build your work away from direct sunlight. If you have to work in direct sunlight, install an umbrella to shade the work area until you are ready to let the sun begin curing the product.

For repair or prototyping a concept the sun is fine: However, if you plan on building items for resale, it is recommended that you make the investment in a black light that will allow you to better control the curing process.

Good Gluing!

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