Adhesives used in the production of board games and jigsaw puzzles

  1. What is the role of adhesive in the production of board games and jigsaw puzzles?
  2. What is the most popular adhesive in the production of board games and jigsaw puzzles?
  3. How to improve the production process?
  4. Is it possible to use the same brand of adhesive for different applications?

The choice of adhesive is crucial when connecting pieces of beautiful and bright pictures with various types of cardboard in the manufacture of games. Let's take an insight into the unique industry of producing board games, brain-teasers and jigsaw puzzles, as well as the role the adhesive plays in it.

Jigsaw puzzles and board games were given a new lease of life thanks to the demand for indoor activities during COVID-19 pandemic. According to experts, the global market will be growing due to the commercialization of board games featuring characters of films, cartoons and video games. We are often asked questions about the application of adhesives in the production of paper-made games. This article will provide answers to frequently asked questions that will help in creating games and puzzles. 

What is the role of adhesive in the production of board games and jigsaw puzzles?

Traditionally, board games and jigsaw puzzles are made of paper and cardboard. Actually, the adhesive binds the layers together, gluing cardboard and laminated paper (the rigid base and the upper part of the product), with a ready-made game we have as a result. The 'face' of the board game is the place with all the information concentrated, and the adhesive must keep the colourful image on the base evenly to serve for many years. 

What is the most popular adhesive in the production of board games and jigsaw puzzles?

Water-based adhesive is the most popular type of adhesive for manufacturing board games. Adhesives belonging to this group are often used for the production of jigsaw puzzles and boxes holding their pieces.

Water-based adhesives or dispersion adhesives are eco-friendly, non-toxic, easy to recycle and safe to handle. Liquid adhesives do not need to be heated before application, and you may easily clean them up from the surface with water. Water-soluble adhesives are made on the basis of natural and synthetic polymers, including polyvinyl acetate (PVAc), ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA), polyvinyl alcohols (PVS), acrylates and other components.

To meet the specific needs of the enterprise, dispersion adhesives are produced with high, medium and low viscosity. This allows to use them on various equipment with a wide range of adhesive assemblies such as nozzle, shaft, disc, etc.

Water-based adhesives have a wide range of applications, including the production of paper tubes, sealing and production of boxes, gluing wood, lamination, book binding in printing industry, food packaging, beverage labeling and product assembly. 

When manufacturing jigsaw puzzles and board games, it is preferable to use dispersion glue with a high setting speed, especially if you have to cut the glued sheet into smaller parts. If the adhesive is not completely dry during the cutting process, there is a risk of blunting the blades of the die-cutting press or causing deformation of the parts. Warped jigsaw puzzle pieces spoil the fun of the players in doing the puzzle. The application of quick-drying adhesive during production is the key to obtaining even and easy-to-cut puzzle pieces.

How to improve the production process?

Never store cardboard or use it in wet conditions. The presence of climate control in the production facility is one of the best ways to improve the production process of board games. Working in a wet and cold room can lead to deformation of the cardboard and increasing the adhesive's setting time.

What is cardboard deformation? In most cases, cardboard warping is associated with humidity. Paper and cardboard are made of cellulose fibers having a tubular shape. In the presence of moisture, these fibers absorb water, resulting in a significant increase in diameter. Cardboard manufacturers use paper waste to create new cardboard made from recycled materials. Every time the paper is recycled, its fibers become shorter. Long fibers are more stable compared to short fibers as they are not saturated with moisture as quickly. Today, all cardboard is made from recycled materials, which are sometimes get recycled up to 15 times, which makes the fibers shorter and most sensitive to moisture.

It is also important to make sure that the paper does not dry out. In factories, paper or cardboard is brought to optimal humidity and packed in shrink wrap to maintain the necessary balance for as long as possible.

Another reason for cardboard warping is the amount of moisture in the adhesive. The amount of adhesive applied to the base will affect the probability of warping. If you add more adhesive, you add more moisture. This can accelerate the deformation, as the porous surface will be absorbing water. If you want to apply as little adhesive as possible to attain the desired adhesion, this can be achieved by using a high-quality adhesive with a high dry residue, which requires a thinner application.

Working with adhesive can be challenging since there are many variables to consider. These are not only the materials of the surfaces to be glued and the optimal humidity, but also the application speed, and the operating temperature of the adhesive.

To get the most out of the adhesive, you need to apply it at the right temperature. The temperature of application of water-based adhesives ranges from +15˚С to +35˚С. Applying the adhesive below this temperature will make it set too slowly and make proper gluing of surfaces impossible. Cold adhesive will also be sticking to the equipment's surface, creating lumps.

If you cannot have the operating environment controlled or you have to work in a cold room, it is necessary to use the adhesive with a high setting speed. Reducing the speed of lamination and die-cutting equipment will also help prevent problems on the production line if the adhesive does not dry quickly enough.

When manufacturing cardboard jigsaw puzzles and games, the best way to test the adhesion is to test the tensile strength of bonding. To do this, you need to:

  • prepare one or more glued products made for testing and set them aside for 24 hours until completely dry.
  • After that, take the glued bases and tear them one from the other. This will destroy the bond, and you will be able to see how the adhesive holds the surfaces together. 
  • If the surfaces resist tearing, and come off along the fibers of cardboard or paper, and not along the bonding line, we may speak of 'good fiber tearing', which indicates excellent adhesion.
  • If you can easily remove the paper or film from the cardboard, it means that there is no proper adhesion and you have a problem with applying adhesive or compression.

Is it possible to use the same brand of adhesive for different applications?

There are many different sizes of jigsaw puzzles and game boards to be used in board games, while each type of product is completely unique. Many different types of coated and uncoated paper, cardboard and other bases are used in the industry.

The adhesive is not 'versatile', it should be selected or specially developed for each type of equipment and the surfaces to be glued. When working with the adhesive supplier, it is important to know exactly what types of cardboard and paper will be used. With this information at hand, specialists in the research laboratory of LUX-X company will be able to select the right adhesive or, if necessary, develop the adhesive you need. So, you may be sure that the adhesive will operate correctly on the equipment and provide good adhesion to the bases.

Having problems with the selection of adhesive for the production of board games or needing to buy adhesive? The team of the LUX-X company professionals will always be there to help you resolve any issue. Please contact us by calling: (050) 324-06-36; (068) 766-06-36 or use the feedback form on the website, and our specialists will call you back asap.