Nobody likes the dentist. Sure, regular checkups are essential to our oral health. It’s hard to argue this point. But there is nothing enticing about spending 30 minutes being poked, prodded, and lectured about the importance of flossing.
In many cases, dental procedures can be downright frightening. There are very few things more unnerving than the sensation of having tiny chunks of your old tooth fly off into the sides of your cheeks while having a cavity drilled out, and I’ve never been particularly fond of having a suction hose shoved into the side of my cheek. But there is one particular dental procedure that is forever burned in my memory.
April 21st, 2002. I’m 12 years old, and in the process of getting braces for the first time. I could handle the mold, and I could handle the scraping. But nothing freaked me out more than having the braces bonded to my teeth. First, the dentist applied a little dab of bitter tasting goop. One by one, a massive set of pliers inched closer to my face to mount a brace on each tooth. Once held in place, an apparatus that looked dangerously similar to a gun was held to my face. With the squeeze of a trigger, blinding light blasted out of the tip, slightly warming my gums. 20 seconds later, the procedure was complete. For the next four years, those braces were a permanent fixture in my teenage mouth.
This experience was so heavily influenced by my teenage anxiety, that I never stopped to think about what actually happened there. What kind of glue is so powerful that it could bond metal to bone for years? Dr. Tom, a German Dentist, was particularly fascinated by the stuff. Today, he’s found a new application for it in the form of BondicEvo: a liquid plastic welder.
Bondic is the first commercially available form of this dental adhesive. It’s in incredibly strong adhesive that operates differently than any other glue on the market. This viscous fluid starts out feeling a little like some kind of oil, but as soon as it’s exposed to UV light it hardens into one of the toughest bonding agents available. After a Kickstarter campaign that raised over six times it’s initial goal, we knew that we had to put our negative dental experiences behind us. To find out how this bonding agent can be used outside of our mouths, we decided to test it out for ourselves.
BondicEVO comes in a small metal tin with two components. The adhesive itself is in a small tube, similar in size to super glue. Removing the cap and squeezing a little out is no different than any other adhesive we’ve used in the past. What’s unique about this system is the UV gun. Instead of just letting it sit there and air dry, you have to expose it to UV light. This is done with an included light cut, enticingly crafted from bright orange plastic. The manufacturer claims that this material can be used for an incredibly versatile set of functions, so we tested a few of these out for ourselves.
Although all Bondic packages perform the same basic function, there are a few different options available. The basic package includes a standard 4ML tube of Bondic and a gun-shaped UV light source. Higher end packages replace the gun-shaped UV light with a pen-shaped model. The pen shaped option is more compact, and easier to carry. A smaller light is a little more agile, letting you be more precise when drying. Aside from that, they are nearly identical in terms of functionality.
You can also select the BondicPRO material for an additional cost. This material includes a fluorescing compound. In simple terms, it glows when exposed to UV light. This makes it easier to see all of the Bondic, so you can make sure you dry it all correctly.
The Contractor packages are where things really start to get fancy. You can get options such as a 14 LED UV light in addition to the 7 LED model. This covers a larger area, and speeds up drying. These packages also include tools like vice grips, pliers, stands, and supports. These packages include 30ML tubes of Bondic instead of the small 4ML version.
The tube that includes the Bondic is very thick and durable – much tougher than we’re used to seeing from adhesives. The tip of the tube is a tiny steel cylinder. This needle-like tip allows you to apply the material very precisely. When it comes out, it has the consistency of honey. It’s still malleable, and tends to form in rounded-off shapes, similar to a droplet. However, you can apply it in a manner than is much more articulate than you would with a glue, which tends to be much waterier.
It can be used on almost any material. Plastic, metal, glass, and wood are all examples. But there is a little prep-work required. Because this isn’t actually a glue, it doesn’t really ‘stick’ to surfaces. You need to have an uneven surface for it to grab-on to. This doesn’t mean that is has to be jagged, but you will need to sand or grind smooth surfaces. The edge of a glass table could work, but the smooth surface on top would not unless properly prepared.
Once you have your surface ready, you simply apply as much or as little of the Bondic material as you need. You then use the gun to cure it. Just point the tip at the material, pull the trigger, and illuminate it or five seconds. After that, it’s rock hard. Rarely do we even see plastics as rigid as Bondic is.
This isn’t something you just apply and then forget about. Once it’s dried, the possibilities really start to open up. The main advantage is that it can be milled. You can file it, sand it, and even use power tools on it. We found that it feels like somewhere in between wood and metal. When drilling, for example, you don’t get the malleability that you do with wood. However, the drill bit cuts through it much more quickly than it does metal. We found that using bits designed for metal produced much cleaner results, while wood bits tended to give a messier hole.
To see how it worked, we tried a couple of different projects. First, we drilled a hole in a piece of wood with a half-inch drill bit. We then filled the hole with Bondic, and sanded it flat. Sanding it did take a bit of work, as the material is quite dense. Once we got the finish we wanted, we then drilled out a smaller hole and tapped it with a fine thread. The Bondic was solid enough to install bolts through our new hole.
We were also able to form Bondic to fill in chips or cuts from uniquely shaped devices. We had an old MP3 player with a large dent in the corner. After filing it down and filling with bondic, it looked almost as good as new!
These two experiments showed us how powerful this material can be. Mistakes can be corrected, and it’s got enough structural integrity to be used as a mounting point. This makes it a great choice for construction projects, or simply to repair damage that other materials just aren’t suitable for.
Bondic may seem like a tool with virtually unlimited possibilities, but there are some limitations you need to keep in mind. First, remember that you’ll have to use it on a rough surface. Bonding something to a window would require sanding, and that would reduce the clarity. Sticking two smooth materials together isn’t entirely possible. Finally, you can’t use it in direct sunlight. UV light forces it to set, so if you’re using it outdoors you’re racing against the clock.
BondicEVO is one of the most unique products we’ve come across in quite some time. “Liquid Welder” really is the best description for it. We find it incredibly useful for both repairs, as well as our construction projects. Whether you’re using it as filler material to mould one of your unique designs, or you’re simply trying to find an easy way to bond two types of material, we’d chose Bondic over glue any day. You get to apply it with precision, and determine the exact moment it hardens.
The only real downside to Bondic is the price. It should be used in addition to other materials, and not as the only construction material. For example, the manufacturer demonstrated how you could create a nut by applying Bondic around a threaded bolt. In reality, it would be much more cost effective to simply use Bondic to mount a 5 cent nut where needed. But as long as you are conservative with the amount of Bondic you use, it’s no more expensive than any other type of high end glue. If the rest of the world sees this material the way that we do, we can see this becoming a staple in everyone’s tool-box.