Super glue is one of the most ingenious products created by man, yet its discovery was purely accidental. In fact, It actually took 2 accidents to create super glue. In 1942, Dr Harry Coover was attempting to create crystal clear, plastic based gun sights during world war two. It was during one of his earlier attempts that the plastic he created did not work well for creating the sights, but worked excellently at bonding things together. However, he quickly abandoned his discovery as it did not serve a purpose for the project at hand.
It would be a further 9 years later in 1951 before Dr Coover’s second accidental discovery led to the creation of modern day super glue. Working as a supervisor on a project to create heat-resistant jet canopies alongside Fred Joyner. Joyner discovered the previous glue that Coover had created and decided to test it by spreading a layer of ethyl cyanoacrylate between two refractor prisms which quickly became permanently bonded.It was at this time that Coover realised the potential of “super glue” and pushed forwards with his invention.
In 1958, super glue entered the market and was initially called “Eastman 910” before coining the name “super glue” shortly after, the product was licensed to Loctite who renamed it to “Loctite Quick set 404” followed by a slightly altered version they branded as “super bonder”. By the time the 1970’s rolled around there were many manufacturers selling their own versions of super glue using Coovers Cyanoacrylic formula.
There are many myths surrounding its invention being on the battlefields of world war two. While much of what surrounds its wartime myth is false, it was indeed used during the Vietnam war to help close the wounds on the soldiers. Applying super glue to cotton wool can actually cause enough heat to cause minor burns if applied to the skin and if the cotton wool is saturated with it, I can actually produce enough heat to catch on fire. This trick has been employed by people in survival situations and has helped them survive their ordeal.
Super Glue only requires water to activate it, and since many products, it is applied to already contain residual moisture from the air, the use of an activator is not normally required. Through the discovery of super glue, the medical grade glue that is used in place of or in conjunction with sutures was created. Many of the medical grade super glues also contain healing inducing additives that can help prevent scarring and promote wound healing at a faster rate than stitches alone.
Created in The United States, super glue quickly became a worldwide phenomenon and had reached all 7 continents by the 1970’s. Since its creation, the formula has remained much the same, however, stronger versions have been created that hold enough strength that attaches chairs to the ceiling. No matter its formula, super glue has countless uses aside from simply joining items together.