Hello, my name is Anthony Wells, Marketing Manager for Industry at Sika Limited in the UK. Industry develops bonding, sealing, damping and reinforcing solutions for the transportation market which includes automotive, shipbuilding industries, bus manufacturing, commercial vehicles, trains and caravans.
We are also a development partner and supplier for the manufacture and assembly of sandwich panels, wind turbine blades, solar panels and even the production of white goods.
When we think about the manufacturing of a car or a sleek high speed train, we think about welding and hi tech robots attaching bolts and rivets however, with the added pressure on manufacturers to create products with improved performance, are aesthetically pleasing and have a smaller carbon footprint, new technologies and techniques are being explored and developed.
Adhesives are becoming a standard feature in manufacturing plants, selected over traditional fixation methods because of many key advantages.
Tailored to the Customer
Adhesives can be tailored to any application (or selected from an extensive existing range of technologies) with varying levels of strength, flexibility, viscosity, heat resistance or curing time. This is reflected in Sika’s extensive product portfolio and large investment in R&D. Depending on the complexity of the application requirements, Sika’s technical departments can test substrates for the customer and recommend the best product for the application. Essentially, this ensures that all the boxes are ticked in terms of what the customer needs for their application.
One of the biggest topics of discussion across the automotive manufacturing sector is weight reduction, lowering CO2 emissions and providing improved fuel economy. Environmental targets are set and this is just one of the ways in which they are met.
So what does this entail? In addition to replacing heavy metal bolts/ panels and rivets with adhesives, manufacturers are using different composites which can ultimately improve performance e.g. higher strength and lower weight. Some of these materials (including carbon fibre) cannot be exposed to high temperatures so welding is a “no go” area. In addition to the environmental impact, the reduction in weight from adhesive solutions can also provide cost savings in terms of the payload in Buses & Commercial Vehicles.
A big advantage of adhesives is that they do not corrode like metals. Corrosion is a major problem particularly in the boat building industry with the constant exposure to salt water.
In fact when you think about it, boats are literally covered with all kinds of different metallic materials; from bronze propellers, stainless steel shafts, zinc anodes and mild steel guard rails, through to deck cleats, the potential for ‘galvanic’ reaction is enormous.
The net effect can be alarming at best and devastating at worst, with tales of propellers dropping off and hull skin-fittings and seacocks etc failing on a regular basis.
Besides the potential to eliminate metal fixings altogether, one of the additional benefits of adhesives in the manufacture of boats or vehicles is the gasket layer of insulation they can provide, so the prospect of different metals coming in to direct contact with each other can be reduced.
When using mechanical fixation, manufacturers tend to use additional layers of padding and insulation to reduce vibration and noise transmission. Elastic bonding offers vibration dampening and sound deadening properties as well as a watertight seal. 2013 saw the launch of fully bonded caravans using Sika technology! Not only did the caravan manufacturer want a reduction in weight (as in the automotive industry), they also wanted to extend the life of the caravan by taking away vibration and stress on mechanical fixations which are generally caused by a lifetime of uneven roads, speed bumps and. constant thermal expansion and contraction.
For Sika to secure the caravan contract in question a number of prototype caravans were bonded using different solutions and festooned with accelerometers and load displacement sensors to provide information on the performance of the body structure.
With literally thousands of test miles towed around the famous Millbrook test track, it was the manufacturing solutions provided by Sika that came out on top.
The introduction of new materials and adhesives has also triggered a major shift in the aesthetics of products over the years. By using adhesives designers can produce modern, curved designs whether it is for a new microwave or high speed train. In the days of mechanical fittings, this was a difficult thing to achieve. In addition to aesthetics, the curved design also minimises drag which in turn provides better fuel economy, a major advantage in times of rising fuel costs. The curved teardrop trailer is becoming a common sight on UK roads, adopted by many major commercial fleets (including several large UK supermarkets); the design has been known to reduce CO2 emissions by 20%.
To view the full range of Sika Industry solutions, please click here: Sika Industry