How Do I Choose the Best Conductive Adhesive?

Selecting the best conductive adhesive hinges on your project's specific needs: thermal conductivity, electrical properties, and environmental resistance. Consider the adhesive's compatibility with your materials and its ease of application. Will it withstand the conditions it's exposed to? Reflect on these factors to ensure a robust and lasting bond. What will your project demand from its conductive adhesive?
Alex Newth
Alex Newth

Most adhesives are not suitable for electrical components, but the proper conductive adhesive can help complete electrical projects. The amount of conductivity, which generally is determined by the carrier in the conductive adhesive, is important on some projects. A project may require low adhesion strength or a higher level, so this type of adhesive often has variable strength, which should be considered. This type of adhesive is attached to a strip of tape — it is not a liquid — so the size of the tape also may be important. Outgassing can be a problem with this type of adhesive, so it may be smart to get low-outgassing versions.

Conductive adhesive is used for electrical components, so it often is a smart idea to check out the amount of conductivity in the adhesive. While there may be varying levels within the same material because of size and purity, the carrier material is the broadest consideration for this. For example, carbon usually is a low electrical conductor, while copper generally conducts electricity better.

Man with hands on his hips
Man with hands on his hips

Projects that require an adhesive normally need the bond to be strong, but there are some electrical projects that require low adhesion to help the circuit function correctly or to make it easier later to remove the adhesive. This makes checking the adhesion level for conductive adhesive an important consideration. Most offer standard or high adhesion rates, because these are used more often, but low adhesive also is available.

The majority of adhesives are delivered through a liquid or paste, but conductive adhesive normally is delivered in tape form. This usually is better for circuits or metals that need the conductive surface, because it keeps the adhesive from spilling on important parts. With this adhesive being attached to tape, the size of the tape normally will be an important consideration. If the tape is too narrow, then several strips may be needed, while wide tape may cover too much of the surface.

Adhesives normally outgas, meaning noxious gas from chemicals comes off from the adhesives. One of the largest offenders of this, because of the materials used to make it, is conductive adhesive. If the adhesive is being used in a project that will be around many people, then high outgassing may be a problem and can lead to some people passing out or having other problems. This means it may be a good idea to find a low outgassing adhesive to avoid the problem.

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Discussion Comments


I was searching for a conductive epoxy to repair this printed circuit board that had a hairline fracture in the solder. I didn't want to reflow the whole board so I ended up coming across this tumblr which linked to an article that was pretty informative. I ended up just ordering the 916 product. It was the cheapest conductive epoxy I could find and it was silver filled. Worked well too.

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