Interest in the use of composites to reduce vehicle weight and increase performance is rising rapidly among automotive OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers. But their demands are strict: they require cost-effective processes suitable for production of more than 10,000 parts per year. In practical terms, this means they often want custom-formulated, fast-curing resins for use in short production cycles. This magnifies the importance of having reliable partners with in-house test capabilities.
This is why Henkel, a global leader in composite matrix resins, adhesives, sealants and functional coatings for the automotive industry, has opened the new Composite Lab, where automotive customers can work with Henkel experts to develop and test composite parts, and also optimize series production process conditions. They can carry out trials with different test molds on Henkel’s own High Pressure Resin Transfer Molding (HP-RTM) equipment. The HP-RTM machine includes a 380 tons press for trials close to series production conditions.
Increasing global development activityLast year, Henkel also opened a Composite Lab in Europe – in Heidelberg, Germany. The new test center in Asia reflects Henkel’s commitment to deliver high levels of service, quality, service and know-how close to its customers around the world.
Frank Kerstan, Global Program Manager Automotive Composites, says: “We are very proud to have this new state-of-the-art test center in Asia. As vehicle manufacturers worldwide look to reduce weight in cars and trucks to help boost fuel economy and reduce emissions, they are having to set aside the mindset that has dictated traditional material and process choices, and look at new and emerging technologies. Both our Composite Labs offer OEMs and Tier-One suppliers the opportunity to work together with our experts to learn first-hand what the options and possibilities may be for using advanced composite materials with short production cycle times in their vehicles.
Henkel strives to create a competitive advantage for its partners along the value chain. We continue to work closely with our customers to create cost-effective integrated solutions that are suitable for high volume production. Henkel products make vehicles quieter, lighter and more durable, while providing comfort, strength and safety.”
Henkel’s diverse composites portfolio includes composite matrix resins and adhesives. The Loctite MAX series of matrix resins is suitable for use with glass and carbon fiber preforms designed for the RTM process. This range also includes binders and release agents for fiber-reinforced components. Loctite composite adhesives are ideal for multi-material bonding and assembly. All these materials are backed up by extensive process know-how and engineering expertise for the RTM process and the simulation and characterization of composite parts.
The rear axle of the Volvo XC90, S90, V90 and the new Volvo XC60 features a new transverse leaf spring, made of lightweight composite material. Benteler-SGL mass-produces the composite leaf springs for the rear suspension using Loctite Matrix resin from Henkel