A small look at glue through the years.
Glue sticks, super glue, liquid glue and glue spray are common materials found in each classroom. Strikingly, the creation of glue dates to around 200,000 BC, when it was mixed with paint to make cave drawings last longer. Derived from plant and animal materials, glue has been a staple of humankind for millennia.
Being only one member of a large class of adhesives, glue works by binding two materials together. It does this through producing a small surface chemical reaction and bond between the materials. Glue was first used to connect materials together for the repair of broken ceramics and statues in 4000 BCE. At this time, glue was made from the bones, hides, and skin of animals.
The ancient Egyptians first discovered an important historical use of glue in the furniture creation process. Throughout multiple centuries, furniture creation and repair has required significant glue resources. While the Egyptians were the first to develop this practice, the use of glue in furniture making continued through the 19th century!
Despite the hard, water sensitive nature of animal derived glue, this remained the only available substance until World War I, when milk derived glues were first invented. From the 1930s, the advancement of the plastics industry resulted in the development of additional adhesives and glues. These substances were stronger, stickier, and waterproof compared to the animal glue of the past.
Today, the development of the glue industry is moving forward rapidly, and the creation of stronger and more flexible glues are continuously being invented. In the United States the economic influence of glue was over 11 billion dollars, with economists predicting an increase to 50 billion dollars by 2019! Although glue is thought of as simple and common, it will continue to be a material necessary for the world sustained and persistent development.