Cyanoacrylate Esters Are The Key

Essentially what differentiate one CA adhesive from another are the cyanoacrylate esters.

For instance, what most people are familiar with is Ethyl cyanoacrylate (ECA). This is the main ingredient in super glue. It is an ethyl ester of 2-cyano-2-propenoic acid. It has all the properties common to all instant adhesive; it’s soluble in acetone, methyl ethyl ketone, nitromethane, and methylene chloride and polymerizes rapidly in presence of even the tiniest detection of moisture. So in ECA the primary description would be that it is an ethyl ester cyanoacrylate.

A far less commonly found CA adhesive is methyl cyanoacrylate (MCA). This is an organic compound that contains several functional groups, a methyl ester, a nitrile, and an alkene. It also is a chief component of cyanoacrylate glues.

Get the Flash Player to see this content.

Yet another cyanoacrylate, n-Butyl cyanoacrylate (n-BCA or NBCA) is a butyl ester of 2-cyano-2-propenoic acid. This is the primary ingredient in some medical grade cyanoacrylate glue. It too, like the two CAs mentioned earlier is also insoluble in water. It does not function well for anything other than superficial wounds. It’s most commonly used by vets or as liquid skin glues, as in band-aids.

Octyl cyanoacrylate (OCA) is an octyl ester of 2-cyano-2-propenoic acid. Notice that the n-BCA and OCA are essentially the same. However, in octyl cyanoacrylate polymerization of the monomers modified the chemical structure of the cyanoacrylate monomers making it far more robust for medical use. The breaking strength of octyl cyanoacrylate is 3 times that of butyl cyanoacrylate and is closer to that of a traditional 5-0 monofilament suture. Additionally, cyanoacrylate adhesive manufacturers have added plasticizers to produce a more pliable and tissue-compatible product that flexes with the skin and remains inherent for longer periods. This stronger, flexible bond may allow its use on longer, deeper incisions. It is finding great popularity for its efficiency with quickly sealing certain vascular anomalies as well.

There are many uses for cyanoacrylate; everything from common household repairs, to manufacturing medical devices, to replacements for traditional medical treatment methods. As adhesive manufacturers are introduced to the shortcomings of CA they are pushed to overcome these limitations by formulating new and improved formulas.

For more information about Adhesive System’s Cyanoacrylate glue or accelerators, please contact us at 877.740.1250 x20. You can also send us an email at  For general information about all of our adhesive products you can visit our website at