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Uh Oh - Looks like ordering a grip set from Nikon is the real solution... Another dpreview posting...

Re: rubber grip glue
In reply to calson, Apr 30, 2008

A thread about grips and glue comes on here every other month, and every time, the same suggestions are made, and I wonder how many people have actually tried these suggestions??

The grips are NOT natural or synthetic rubber (ie, isoprene). Instead, they are made of thermoplastic rubber, which is a non-vulcanized heat moldable variant that has exceeding low surface activity. What this means is that most adhesives will NOT work very well.. Many glues will seem to bond and have a fair degree of tensile strength, but if you catch an edge and cause it to peel, the whole thing will tend to separate- this is what they talk about in the glue specs about tensile bond strength vs. peel resistance- many glues have decent tensile bond strength, but have very poor peel resistance. Another factor is shear, but that's not really an issue when it comes to the grips..

Here are some of the glues I've tried on my old D1 and their efficacy. For terminology, I use "no adhesion" to mean the entire range from no adhesion at all, up to that where while it may seem to have bonded, it's actually very easy to lift an edge and cause the glue joint to separate fail permanently. I use "adhesion" to mean that it's fairly difficult to lift an edge, ie, it has formed a reasonable tensile bond, but once you overcome the bond, the whole joint experiences failure of some sort.

Lepage contact cement - no adhesion
Barge "regular" cement - no adhesion
Barge "polyurethane" cement - adheres, but no peel resistance
Supermarke generic 5-minute epoxy - no adhesion
Industrial formulation G2 epoxy - no adhesion
3M 77 spray adhesive - no adhesion
3M 90 spray adhesive - no adhesion
Raycrete (I think it's a 2 part polyurethane) - no adhesion
Pliobond cement - no adhesion (this has got to be the WORST adhesive of all time- it doesn't stick to much of anything at all, and certainly does NOT work with the grips, so any anecdotes about Nikon repair using this product have got to be patently false)..
Supermarket generic "superglue"- spotty adherence- some parts stuck very well, others peeled off readily, and glue film is hard and brittle and fails when flexed.
Loctite 420 Cyanoacrylate- adheres, but glue film is hard and brittle and if the grip material is flexed, the glue cracks and peels.
Loctite 420 with primer- greatly improved adherence, same problem with brittle glue film
Loctite "Black Max"- on par with 420+primer, not quite as brittle, but not exactly flexible either..
Loctite "Black Max" with primer- I didn't see any difference vs. without primer
Loctite structural acrylic adhesive + primer - no adhesion
McNett Polyurethane adhesive - adheres, no peel resistance
PL3000 Polyurethane construction adhesive- adheres, no peel resistance, foams and makes a huge mess
3M outdoor carpet tape- adheres, but not for long, and leaves a sticky gooey mess..
Now I happened to have all of these glues around for various projects and things, so I really was able to try them and see if they worked, but I see so many recommendations for products that didn't work at all for me that I have to wonder if people have actually tried these products and what their criteria for a successful product is? For me, in order for a product to "work" in this situation, it cannot be one of those that "sticks OK as long as you don't pick at it" (indeed, most products will work at this level), but think about it- these grips for the most part came off even though you didn't pick at them, so I want an adhesive that won't move no matter what.. So, in the field of what I tested, the best conventional approach was to use an industrial superglue or better yet, a "rubberized toughened" product, but even then it was not a perfect solution. In all cases, the glue stuck very well to the metal body of the camera, and in most cases, was incredibly difficult to remove, which is a concern if the camera needs to be serviced..

The solution I found that finally worked was worked out in consultation with a 3M adhesives engineer that I happened to be working with on a project at work, and that was that surface prep was going in the direction, but primer was not the appropriate method; for thermoplastic rubber, a flame treatment was the appropriate means of surface activation.. The procedure is basically, after you have cleaned and degreased the grip, you take a small torch and play it over surface until it goes dull (if it starts to bubble, you've gone too far, but it also proves that the material is NOT vulcanized rubber as that burns and chars vs. melting). After activating the surface, he suggested one of their double-sided acrylic tapes, which he happened to have a sample of.. Before activation, the tape peeled off the grip just like its waxed backing paper, but after surface activation, this stuff was amazing- you had to use an inordinate amount of force to peel the grip from the camera, and when you did, the tape separated from the camera vs. the grip more often than not, but best of all, if you were careful not to get any contamination on the tape and you were lucky enough that the tape did not tear, you could carefully stick the grip back down and be OK.. It has been a year now with the newly attached grips and although I don't use the camera much, I still take it down to check the grips every so often, and they are still stuck tight..

That said, it's probably cheaper and easier to just buy a new set of pre-taped replacement grips from Nikon than to mess around with all sorts of third party adhesives, if nothing else, because these adhesive do tend to stick to the metal body of the camera very well, and can make accessing screws and plates for camera repair very difficult, and the leftover residue can also impair application of new grips afterwards..
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