The Adhesives and Sealants Council of the US met recently in Indianapolis and heard a paper by Marc Benevento.
Benevento works for Industrial Market Insight and his presentation described the outstanding potential for growth of composite materials in the automotive sector.
It seems that most vehicles are initially manufactured as stamped metal bodies in one part. This is in contrast to designs which feature the placing of the vehicle body on a frame. These are mostly used for lower volume parts of the industry, such as high-quality sports cars and heavy trucks.
Drive to Reduce the Weight of Automobiles
However composite bodies, especially if they use adhesives like http://www.ct1ltd.com/en/metal-to-metal-adhesive.html and similar appropriate sealants and adhesives, have enormous potential for growth. Automobiles are getting heavier, partly from consumer preference and partly because of the influence of safety rules. However at the same time manufacturers are under pressure to reduce the weight of vehicles in order to make them more fuel-efficient.
This need to reduce the weight of the vehicle could drive an increase in composite designs. These designs, in which the vehicle body is bonded using metal bonding adhesives, can also be much quieter compared with metal vehicle bodies. Bonding welds can help extend the life of a number of automotive parts. And another advantage is that tooling costs are often lower for the composite designs than they are for metal union body unibodies.
Challenges in Using Composite Designs
However there are some challenges in using composite designs for vehicle bodies. Benevento explained that car manufacturers can find it difficult to simulate designs that use welding in composite bodies. Unibody designs are much easier to simulate.
And another complication is painting. Because the composite bodies are made of different materials assembled before they are painted, you can get uneven thermal expansion of the different parts. During painting the materials that have been used to build the vehicle are exposed to high temperatures – this is often the part of the production process that uses the most energy.
Apparently, mild steel is becoming less popular than aluminium and high-strength steel in vehicle bodies and more cars are being built from multiple materials. This may have the beneficial effects of increasing the use of composites, with all their advantages of lightness and noise reduction.