Most industrially applied polymer resins and composites have low surface free energy and lack polar functional groups on their surface, resulting in inherently poor adhesion properties. A strong research momentum to understand polymer adhesion in the last decade has been motivated by the growing needs of the automotive and aerospace industries for better adhesion of components and surface coatings. This paper reviews the recent research efforts on polymer adhesion with a special focus on adhesion mechanisms. It starts with an introduction to adhesion with explanatory notes on adhesion phenomena. Recent research on the adhesion mechanisms of mechanical coupling, chemical bonding and thermodynamic adhesion is then discussed. The area of adhesion promoters is reviewed with the focus on plasma and chemical treatments, along with direct methods for adhesion measurement. The topics of polymer blends and reactive polymerization are considered and the interactions with adhesion mechanisms are reported. The concluding section provides recommendations regarding future research on the contentious aspects of currently accepted adhesion mechanisms and on strategies for enhancing polymer adhesion strength.
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