A deep look into the construction of today’s vehicles will reveal the extensive use of adhesives to replace traditional fastening hardware, such as bolts and welding. This trend is advancing as lightweighting continues to be a factor for battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and the addition of in-vehicle electronics, such as advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). The fact that adhesives enable stronger and more durable bonds between vehicle part and components, while reducing weight, makes them an integral technology for vehicle lightweighting. 

In addition to providing a 15% weight reduction, adhesives also offer OEMs enhanced design flexibility. The flexible bonding properties of adhesives enable the combination of disparate lightweight materials, including aluminum, magnesium and composites, with steel while maintaining material performance, safety and passenger comfort. 

The importance of lightweight construction is now accelerating further due to the increase in EV car production, which Deloitte predicts will reach 35 million by 2030! However, EVs bring new lightweighting challenges as each lithium-ion battery accounts for approximately 600 to 800 kg (1,323 to 1,764 lbs.) of vehicle weight that needs to be offset. 

Electric Vehicle Production Forecast

Automotive OEMs are using advanced adhesive technologies to achieve the needed degree of lightweighting while maintaining safety standards and achieving reliable performance. Below are a few examples of how adhesives are advancing vehicle designs:

Structural Inserts

Integrating Henkel’s structural inserts at the body-in-white (BiW) stage to create a lightweight hybrid structure enables down-gauging the A-/B- pillar reinforcements. Also, applying structural inserts to rear vehicle components enables downgauging. This can produce a weight reduction greater than 40 kg (88.2 lbs.), while achieving crash performance targets that include no intrusion into the battery cells.

Thermal Interface Materials

To optimize thermal management in BEVs, Henkel’s thermally conductive adhesives provide the added benefit of thermal management. Applied with an automated process, they offer fast curing, excellent shear strength and provide solidly reliable performance. These are used throughout the BEV battery pack, especially for module-to-pack bonding and cell-to-cooling plate bonding.

Liquid Gasketing

To offset the weight of in-vehicle electronics and ADAS, Henkel’s liquid gasketing solutions offer lightweighting properties while also protecting against intrusion. Henkel’s liquid gasketing is typically used to fill voids and gaps for connectors, sensors, ECU modules, water pumps, inverters, converters and battery packs. In addition to reducing weight, adhesive materials for potting, impregnation and low-pressure molding maintain fastener tension, distribute stress evenly and provide excellent chemical resistance. 

Chemistry is leading the way, with Henkel’s adhesive solutions that enable vehicle weight reduction without compromise and with enhanced performance. Join Henkel for a hands-on workshop, to review technologies enabling the significant growth in automotive electronics, wider-scale introduction of battery electric vehicles and the development of lightweight ICE vehicles. 

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