Hot melt adhesive (HMA), also known as hot glue, is a form of thermoplastic adhesive that is commonly sold as solid cylindrical sticks of various diameters designed to be applied using a hot glue gun. The gun uses a continuous-duty heating element to melt the plastic glue, which the user pushes through the gun either with a mechanical trigger mechanism on the gun or with direct finger pressure. The glue squeezed out of the heated nozzle is initially hot enough to burn and even blister skin. The glue is tacky when hot, and solidifies in a few seconds to one minute. Hot melt adhesives can also be applied by dipping or spraying, and are popular with hobbyists and crafters both for affixing and as an inexpensive alternative to resin casting.
In industrial use, hot melt adhesives provide several advantages over solvent-based adhesives. Volatile organic compounds are reduced or eliminated, and the drying or curing step is eliminated. Hot melt adhesives have a long shelf life and usually can be disposed of without special precautions. Some of the disadvantages involve a thermal load of the substrate, limiting use to substrates not sensitive to higher temperatures, and loss of bond strength at higher temperatures, up to complete melting of the adhesive.