Welcome back my fellow learners, today we are going to separate fact from fiction regarding why super glue was invented, and for what.
Super Glue, also referred to as cyanoacrylate, was discovered by Dr. Harry Coover in 1942, who sadly passed away on March 26th, 2011. Harry was trying to create clear plastic gun sights to be used on guns by Allied soldiers in World War 2. One formulation he created didn’t work for gun sights, but worked as an quick bonding adhesive. Surprisingly, despite the potential of this product, Harry abandoned this completely, as it wasn’t suitable for his current project
Nine years passed, Harry now working at Eastman Kodak in 1951, was the supervisor of a project developing heat resistant acrylate polymer for canopies for jet. Fred Joyner was also on that project, and used the rediscovered Super Glue, and tested it by spreading ethyl cyanoacrylate in between 2 refractometer prisms. To his amazement, the prisms became stuck together. This time, Harry ran with his once abandoned project, and he realized the potential of such a product which quickly bonded various materials, and only required very little water to activate.
Super Glue was put on the market in 1958 by Eastman Kodak, and was then known as Eastman 910, however, they re-named it later as super glue. Eastman 910 was eventually licensed to Loctite, who in turn re-branded it to Loctite Quick Set 404. Although, at a later date they developed their own formula, naming it Super Bonder. By the time the 70s round around, several manufactures of cyanoacrylate glue had cropped up.
Now, to put to bed the urban legend that super glue was originally invented accidentally by soldiers in World War 2, who subsequently started using it to close battle wounds. This is completely false, it was discovered as stated above, and didn’t hit the market until after the war was over.
However, according to Dr. Harry Coover, Super Glue was actually used in the Vietnam to help seal wounds while soldiers were being taken to hospital.