History & development of the Glue Gun | Glue Guns Direct

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History & development of the Glue Gun

While it’s difficult to trace an original inventor, it’s clear to see the evolution of the glue gun over time. The industry has developed quickly over the last 50 years, paving the way for the glue gun technology we know today.

Think Glue

Paul Cope: the inventor of thermoplastic adhesive?

Many sources claim Paul Cope invented thermoplastic adhesives in the 1940s. It was an alternative to water-based glue, which often failed in humid climates. However, many texts mention thermoplastic adhesive before this point. Even as early as 1907.

George Schultz’s Polygun

Early hot melt glues were applied using a brush or poured from a pot. This was messy, time-consuming, and often left users with burns and blisters.

In 1954, George Schultz was said to have invented his Polygun – the first glue gun. The technology was simplistic, and loading the glue was difficult. But the gun was a crucial innovation across industries. It’s claimed that 3M bought the rights to his technologies in 1973, even though there are no early patents for the Polygun at all.

Early glue gun design influences

While not a glue gun, Myers and Tennant’s 1949 plastic extrusion gun (left) had some influence over early designs. And was referenced in many patents. This gun was made to produce fishing flies – with plastic melted and extruded onto fishing hooks. It used long ribbons of plastics, like hot melt glue sticks.

Similarly, Hans C Paulsen’s 1965 portable thermoplastic cement dispenser (right) had some influence over glue gun design. And perhaps the idea of melting adhesive within the tool itself.

Patent number: 3204828 (filed 16.03.1964)

Carl Weller: the inventor of the glue gun?

In May 1971, Carl Weller filed a patent for a tool to dispense thermoplastic material and he’s often said to be the inventor of the glue stick glue gun. The patent abstract describes the invention as “an electrically heated glue gun having an elongated tubular melt chamber for receiving a solid adhesive rod”.

Patent number: 3744921 (filed 07.05.1971)

The Nordson AD-25

The Nordson AD-25 hot melt hand gun arrived on the market in 1973. Nordson described the tool as “a self-contained melting/feeding unit designed to increase productivity and reduce high assembly costs”. For its time, the gun was pretty impressive. But it didn’t perform too well within the glue gun market.

The glue gun revolution

By the mid-1970s, a glue gun revolution was in full flight – with many engineers working to advance glue gun design, and many patents were filed.

In 1974, Herbert C Dickey filed a patent for an air-assisted glue gun. It’s believed to be the second pneumatically-controlled 43mm gun.

Patent number: 3877610 (filed 01.02.1974)

Robert L Ornsteen: 43mm glue gun

In 1976, Robert L Ornsteen filed a patent for the second 43mm industrial glue gun. His tool is a predecessor of the TEC 3200 we know today. Although it’s undergone multiple design changes, the basic functioning is (almost) the same.

Patent number: 4033484 (filed 29.01.1976)

The Plastitherm PG 751

The Plastitherm PG 751 was compatible with sleeved glue slugs – acting as a seal within the tool. The gun was actually developed locally, by Tivoli Kay in Bury! Their range of guns also included Minimatic, Hipermatic, and Supermatic models. The guns were sold around the UK from 1973.

And from 1979, we sold the Plastitherm PG 751 – trading then as the Kenyon Group.

The TEC power adhesives

The TEC range began in 1974 with the Hipermatic TE glue gun. The Hipermatic TE was the second all-electric industrial 43mm glue gun available. Previous models accepting shaped glue sticks and slugs were aimed at the DIY markets.

The Hipermatic TE was the starting point for many modern day industrial glue guns. Available with a basic range of glues, it was suitable for a select few tasks. At the time, key applications included shoe manufacture, packaging, and carton sealing.

The TEC 2000 (left) model came onto the market in 1978; another predecessor of the modern TEC 3200. The design was revolutionary at the time, thanks to it’s “flick” standby switch. An upgraded TEC 2001 (right) was released soon after – with an auto-standby function. The same feature is built into the current 3200.

A further upgraded, robust TEC 3010 was popular throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Three decades of designs led to the current TEC glue gun range – including the 3200.

Today’s glue guns

Today, a vast range of TEC glue guns are available. Each with its design strengths and suitable applications. The guns range from small, craft glue guns to industrial, heavy-duty glue guns. Cordless guns can be taken straight to the point of application – instead of bringing elements to the gun. Bulk systems and work stations can allow users to glue effortlessly – even hands-free – without losing control over the glue flow. Spray glue guns can offer an open time of six minutes, with an instant bond over 2m² materials.

The developments in glue gun design and technology have allowed it to become a truly versatile and valuable piece of equipment for users in a variety of industries.

While guns have evolved over time, so have the glues. Tecbond glues now come in many different forms – including dotssticksslugspillows, and cartridges.

There’s even more variation within the glue forms. These can come in different sizes, and for different applications. Glues can vary massively in set time, viscosity, tack, and temperature – low melt glues are available for heat-sensitive materials. Even pigmented and glittered glues are available for arts and crafts.

We stock a wide selection of glue guns and hot melt adhesives – for a range of applications. For more information about our products, call the team today on 0161 627 1001.

View our range of glue guns


Q: Who is considered the inventor of the thermoplastic adhesive?

A: Paul Cope is often credited with inventing thermoplastic adhesives in the 1940s, providing an alternative to water-based glues.

Q: What was the first glue gun and who invented it?

A: George Schultz is said to have invented the first glue gun, known as the Polygun, in 1954, marking a significant advancement in adhesive application technology.

Q: How have glue guns evolved since their invention?

A: Glue guns have undergone significant evolution since their invention, with advancements in design and technology leading to a wide range of models suitable for various applications, from crafts to industrial use.


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