A truly versatile adhesive can be hard to come by. While very few (if any) adhesives will cover every single application you’ll need for your cosplay, there are a few multi-purpose adhesives you can keep in your kit that will work for almost anything you need to stick together. One go-to adhesive that can cover a wide variety of common cosplay materials and situations is your standard super glue (also known as CA glue).
Super glue is an incredibly permanent adhesive that goes a long way to ensure that your costume components stay stuck together. In this post, we’ll discuss the best uses for super glue in cosplay and the benefits and challenges of working with it.
Best Uses for Super Glue in Cosplay
Super glue is an incredibly versatile adhesive that works with a wide variety of common craft, household, and, more specifically, cosplay materials. It’s made of an acrylic resin called cyanoacrylate, which creates a strong chemical bond between surfaces. In particular, super glue is an ideal adhesive for EVA foam armor, props, and other cosplay pieces. Essentially, you can use super glue in any foam application that you’d also use contact cement for. Because super glue usually comes in a small bottle, it’s great for controlled application when bonding small EVA elements, but you can make entire sets of EVA armor using exclusively super glue. It’s also safe for attaching LED strips to EVA.
You can also use super glue to bond pieces of plastic together. Super glue works on PVC, ABS plastic, styrene, acrylic, and, according to Bill from Punished Props, basically any model-making plastics you might be working with. It’s best of you sand down the plastic surfaces you’re bonding together to give the super glue something to grip on to. Along the same lines, super glue is also a great adhesive for ceramics and 3D print material. Bill uses super glue to attach all of his 3D printed parts.
Additionally, super glue can be used to seal rough edges on a variety of materials. It can stop fraying at the edges of some fabrics and cutting down the “fuzz” on the cut ends of MDF (Medium-density fibreboard) before sanding the wood down smooth.
As we mentioned above, however, most adhesives don’t work on every single cosplay material. You should be aware that super glue is not a suitable option for insulation foam or styrofoam. Due to its chemical properties, super glue can actually melt those types of foams.
Benefits of Working with Super Glue
Super glue makes a useful multi-purpose adhesive for a variety of reasons. Here are the benefits of working with super glue.
- Super glue is widely available from craft stores, hobby stores, and most mass retailers.
- It comes in different varieties and viscosities, meaning you can choose the thickness of super glue that will work best for your specific purposes.
- Thin super glues have an almost watery consistency that makes them perfect for gluing in extremely tight spaces. While thicker glues might glob out when you press the pieces together, thin super glue can get down in the smallest cracks.
- Medium-viscosity super glue is great for filling in any gaps in your seams or accidental cracks in your foam.
- If mixed with something like baby powder, you can turn super glue into a sandable paste that also fills gaps and fixes holes.
- Super glue comes in small bottles that are easily portable for fixing mistakes, even if you don’t have much room to carry it in your kit or bag. There are a few different sizes of bottles to choose from depending on how much you need.
- Additional products can be used to both accelerate and remove super glue’s bond.
- Super glue is permanent (except with the remover), dries clear, and is paintable.
Super Glue Challenges
However, as with all adhesives, there are some challenges to deal with when you’re using super glue for your cosplay. Here are a few to be aware of:
- Super glue can be relatively expensive. Because it’s only sold in relatively small bottles, it can be pricy to buy and refill, especially if you’re using it as the adhesive for the bulk of your cosplay.
- Additionally, super glue bottles tend to get pretty crusty and gunked up relatively quickly. This can cause your glue to dry out or make it difficult to squeeze the glue out at all. To combat this, you can buy replacement caps to switch in and out, but this adds a small additional cost.
- Super glue will cloud up clear plastics, so it’s not the best choice for lenses and other transparent pieces.
- Prolonged use of super glue can produce toxic fumes. If you’re working with super glue for an extended period of time or in large quantities, you’ll probably need to wear a mask or work in well-ventilated area.
- Super glue will stick to your skin. It can stick your fingers together, and it can stick your fingers to the material you’re working with. It’s a good idea to either wear gloves if you’re using a lot of super glue or keep a bottle of remover nearby.
- While super glue cures relatively quickly, it’s not an instant hold. It may take a few seconds and start to pull apart on EVA if you don’t use the spray accelerator.
Super Glue: A Last-Minute Lifesaver
In the world of adhesives, super glue is one of the most widely applicable and strongest glues you can use for cosplay. It’s strength and multi-purpose nature make super glue a favorite for many cosplayers who use it as their main adhesive of choice. However, perhaps the best quality of super glue is that it always comes in handy when you’re in a pinch. If you’re working on a cosplay and it’s down to the wire, you might not have time to run out for more hot glue sticks or order more contact cement, but if you have a tube of super glue, you can still finish on time. If you have a tiny travel tube of super glue tucked in your bag or even just hidden somewhere inside your cosplay, you can make last-minute repairs during a convention or photoshoot without going out of your way to find something else that will work. While super glue is a great solution for plenty of average cosplay situations, it’s real superpower is as a last-minute emergency failsafe.