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How to UV Bond Glass

UV bonding entails joining two pieces of glass with specialized adhesives to achieve an elegant, clean appearance, especially important for retail applications, such as frameless glass display cases.
Published March 06, 2020

How-to-UV-Bond-Glass---Text-GraphicUltraviolet (UV) bonding involves the preparation and joining of two glass pieces utilizing a specialized, two-step adhesive process of pre-curing and final curing. 

When successfully completed, the UV bonding adhesive should be minimally visible, with smooth and clean lines. This is used frequently for retail applications, such as creating frameless glass display cases. Despite involving several pieces of glass, UV bonding produces an elegant and seamless display.

Before discussing how UV bonding can achieve a desirable look, let’s first address where this process can be adopted. 

Applications for UV Bonding

UV bonding is most helpful when your project requires a strong, clear adhesive to create glass displays such as retail showcases, furniture, and other decorative pieces.

image001Glass can also be bonded with metal, specifically aluminum and stainless steel knobs, locks and hinges. This retains aesthetics while maintaining strength—you can simply adhere the desired parts to your glass materials. 

Security Features

Transparent, UV-bonded display cases can attract smash and grab crimes, whereby thieves enter the store, smash cases with a hammer, grab high-end merchandise, and run for the exit. 

Aside from the beauty of UV-bonded glass cases, they also offer underlying security features for luxury retailers of high-end jewelry and watches—natural targets for would-be thieves. 

Transparent, UV-bonded display cases can attract smash and grab crimes, whereby thieves enter the store, smash cases with a hammer, grab high-end merchandise, and run for the exit. 

Dillmeier Glass has developed a process to thwart these efforts, while still maintaining the brilliance and elegance of UV-bonded cases. This involves every pane and case to be securely fastened through specific techniques designed to make smashing more difficult. 

The Process

Choosing Materials

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The glass type should be low iron with  flat-polished edges. Both provide a finished appearance for retail display cases and furniture pieces. 

It's critical glass components are completely flat with limited bow and warp from tempering. Only specific tempering equipment and experienced operators should be trusted to fabricate glass to the necessary bonding quality level.

Tempered and mirrored glass pose minimal issues due to their high strength and low UV absorption. Permeability is dependent upon glass thickness and color.

Laminated glass is more difficult due to edge interlayers, but can be UV bonded by an expert fabricator, such as Dillmeier Glass. 

Weaker surfaces, such as ornamental, wired, or sand-blasted glass could be problematic bonding with regular adhesives, and require specialized types. 

When bonding glass to glass, self-stabilizing construction is preferred to avoid high-bending tensions in the glass and bond, and withstand higher loads. 

UV bonding glass to metal and glass to glass feature UV-stabilized, yellowing-resistant properties providing permanent transparency, the highest level of clarity, and strongest adhesion, because of its curing adhesive.  

Adhesion is accomplished through a specialized UV-curing procedure. 

Surface Preparation

It’s important that to-be-bonded surfaces are clean and residue-free. This promotes maximum adhesion and ensures the absence of dirt and other remnants. 

Stainless steel is appropriate when bonding metal to glass because of its strengthening properties. It must be free of natural separating agents that can interfere with the bonding process, such as greases and oils. 

To achieve these preparation standards, it’s important to work with a fabricator, such as Dillmeier Glass, who can provide a climate-controlled, clean room for a pollution-free environment devoid of contaminants such as chemical vapors, dust, and aerosol particles. 

It’s also recommended to wear UV-protective glasses and synthetic-based disposable gloves while handling materials.

Adhesive Selection

UV adhesives comprise acrylate- or epoxy-based resins that polymerize with curing through UV-light origins. These are generally utilized in an industrial setting due to their quick drying process and production yield. Selecting the right adhesive depends on the types of materials bonded, conditions, and temperature.  

The actual process involves UV adhesives that set once exposed to light emanating from special UV-curing lamps. The transparent adhesion occurs when the bonded materials harden through UV exposure. 

UV-curing adhesives are strongest when bonding glass to glass and glass to metal. Note: The specific type of glass is also dependent upon strength levels. 

Adhesive Application

For added assurance, it’s recommended to add a fixing aid, such as a positioning device, to hold the glass in place through suction pads to support easy positioning. 

Ensure your materials are securely fastened, and fit properly. For added assurance, it’s recommended to add a fixing aid, such as a positioning device, to hold the glass in place through suction pads to support easy positioning. 

Positioning devices are especially important for high-end applications requiring extra attention to detail, such as retail glass displays and cabinets. It’s therefore paramount to choose a specifically designed reinforcement.

The adhesive should be applied shortly after heating the bonding area, and completed before or after joining the glass. The former is typical of medium-viscosity adhesives, while the latter is used with low-viscosity adhesives. 

UV Curing

Finalizing or curing the bond is a two-fold process—pre-curing and final curing—as outlined below: 

  • The pre-curing stage occurs anywhere from 10 seconds to two minutes. Time spent is dependent upon the UV lamp used and its effectiveness. Any residues and excess adhesive should be removed at this time. 
  • The final curing lasts one to five minutes. Similar to the aforementioned pre-curing state, it’s dependent on lamp type.
  • Lamp type should be a smaller size than the glass edge, to ensure even curing. It should also be placed as close as possible to the edge for the best accuracy. 
  • If you still require guidance on appropriate conditions, it’s recommended to perform a few test bondings by following the aforementioned instructions. 


Safe Shipping

Transporting finished UV-bonded casework for damage-free arrival is essential for any frameless glass project.

Dillmeier Glass has perfected custom packing and crating, supporting the weakest points for safe arrival. This facilitates the safe and secure shipment of thousands of UV-bonded glass projects, with a breakage rate of less than 1 percent. 

UV-bonding processes conducted in a climate-controlled, clean room undergo a secondary layer of temperature control during shipment. To avoid damage from drastic, in-transit temperature swings, Dillmeier Glass utilizes custom hot packs during winter months. These maintain optimal temperatures, for crack-free deliveries.  

This process can be used for glass office furniture and other decorative pieces, such as glass shelving, shower enclosures, and splashback panels in a commercial setting. 

Achieving A Specific Appearance

If your project requires UV bonding for glass to glass or glass to metal, consider working with a glass fabricator and relevant partners. It can be a highly specialized process involving high-caliber equipment, so they can provide assistance to help achieve your desired appearance.

Contact us to learn how to best implement UV bonding for your project.

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