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aerospace adhesives
Lee K. HouseJul 25, 20235 min read

Aerospace Adhesives: Common Uses and Where To Find Them

A couple of months ago, my family and I visited the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.

In the midst of staring at the massive air and spacecraft and geeking out over Mr. Spock’s iconic silicone ears on display, I found myself thinking about the aerospace projects we’ve worked on.

Aerospace is a vast industry, and Strouse has manufactured custom adhesive parts from aircraft seat fasteners to fuel tank gaskets. 

If you’re on the hunt for aerospace adhesives, look no further. Today, you’ll learn the different types of aerospace adhesives and where to find them. 

What Are Adhesives Used For in the Aerospace Industry?

Adhesive tape is used in many aerospace applications, from interior to external aircraft design. These applications will demonstrate the scale and purposes of aerospace adhesives, so you better understand what’s used.  


When you hear aerospace adhesives, you’re likely picturing a permanent component. However, masking kits are often used during paint jobs or applying finishes before the aircraft construction is done.

Masking kits contain pre-cut shapes that fit over lights, openings, or the general surface to protect the vehicle from paint or other substances applied. 

Applying rolls of masking tape can be a slow, imprecise, or wasteful process. Masking kits enable workers to quickly and precisely mask the areas they need, often allowing for a clean and easy removal using tabs. 

Another common type of masking is foil masking for window masks during sandblasting. Sandblasting is used to maintain or strip paint from the sides of an aircraft, but it requires window covering lest they become scratched and damaged.


Traditionally, panel securement has been done with bolts or other mechanical fasteners. However, replacing these fasteners with adhesives can reduce the weight of connecting pieces.

But wait… Can we hold together panels using adhesive?

Actually, yeah. It depends on the application, of course, but 3M has already documented using very high bondage (VHB) adhesive to attach anti-chafing aluminum parts between airplane wing flaps. The VHB attachment prevents abrasion from flap movement during take-offs, landings, and general in-flight vibration. 

While mechanical fasteners are still the most common method, adhesive tapes also play a role in lightweight yet powerful bonding applications. 


If you’ve ever ridden a commercial airplane, you’ve definitely been ordered to set your cell phones on airplane mode. EMI and RFI shielding present a similar concept: they help prevent interfering signals from reaching the onboard computers or navigational tools and causing in-flight disturbances.

Aircraft are riddled with sensitive technology and monitors bombarded with stray signals during takeoff and landing. Built-in adhesive EMI and RFI shielding in the form of adhesive gaskets or foils stops potential issues from disrupting regular operations.


Keeping an aircraft sealed is essential to the safety of the onboard passengers. 

Moisture barriers like foam gaskets keep windows, fuel tanks, and other components sealed. They offer resistance from moisture, fire, and serve as adhesive filler between mated surfaces. 

Gaskets and Seals

In addition, closed-cell foam can seal air and other gases, which is essential to many air and space applications. 


One of the most significant considerations in aerospace engineering is reducing the weight of components to aid the lift and thrust of the aircraft. Like panel securement, many internal attachments now contain adhesive components.

Adhesives are significantly lighter than mechanical fasteners, which are usually made of metal. They often come pre-cut and attach dissimilar materials, making them ideal for quick assembly of seats and other attachments. 


Aluminum structural adhesive tape and structural adhesive film are used in the aerospace industry for metal-to-metal and metal-to-honeycomb applications. 

Often used on insulating systems, these structural adhesives are aging-resistant with powerful mechanical strength. Depending on the type of adhesive tape, it could also have thermal management or sealing capabilities. 


The internal vibrations of air or spacecraft can be a technology hazard, and companies use computer mounts using adhesive gaskets.

These pieces are inlaid to hold together the frame of a mount or cushion computers and other devices to protect them from accidental damage from sudden movements upon takeoff or turbulence. 


Leading edge protection can serve helicopters by protecting their blades from erosion caused by abrasive winds.

The aerodynamic efficiency of helicopter blades can lessen over time as they are eroded by abrasive winds, a.k.a. winds containing sand or other eroding substances. Leading edge protection is applied to the blades as a shielding precaution to prolong the aircraft’s lifespan. 

Tape vs Epoxy in Aerospace Use Cases: Which is Better?

You might think, What are the strongest structural adhesives for aerospace?

In terms of strength, liquid adhesives are usually the stronger structural adhesives. However, they aren’t always ideal for every use.

For starters, liquid adhesive or epoxy takes far longer to cure than adhesive tape. Other downsides include its messy and sometimes challenging application. 

It can be difficult to measure the exact quantity of liquid adhesive you’re applying if you aren’t using a fully automated process, and you may want to consider adhesive tape, which takes less time to apply and offers more consistency and precision.

When comparing tape vs. liquid adhesive, the intended purpose determines which is appropriate for a specific situation. If you’re prioritizing consistency and easy application, adhesive tape might be your right decision. 

Where to Find Aerospace Adhesives

Based on the type of aerospace adhesive you’re searching for, you’ll want to find a reputable supplier of your desired material. However, the right adhesive for your application will depend on your specific requirements. 

To learn more about the materials that might be used in aerospace, see our additional resources:

Learning Center

Even with the right material, aerospace adhesives come in a range of multilayered and complex designs. If you’re looking to build a design, consider reaching out to a converter for material and part samples.



Lee K. House

Copywriter & Content Creator for Strouse. Lee graduated from the University of Alabama in the Spring of 2022 with a double major in English and Spanish.