Superglue breakthrough for multi-material automotives

Koenigsegg makes extensive use of carbon fibre in its vehicles. — AFP pic
Koenigsegg makes extensive use of carbon fibre in its vehicles. — AFP pic

ROME, Aug 23 — Automotive designers say the future lies with multi-material vehicles: High-strength steel, carbon fibre, aluminium and advanced plastics. The problem arises when it comes to joining these different materials together during production. But there might finally be a solution — a new kind of superglue.

There are a lot of big things going on in the industry right now, with big leaps in vehicle design, engineering and production. Advanced materials such as carbon fibre and aluminium are increasingly finding their way into mass-market models, hybrid and all-electric vehicles are becoming more common, and autonomous drive technology is also becoming increasingly prevalent.

On the face of things, a new glue doesn’t sound like something to get too excited about, but the implications for a new advancement in this area are immense.

Materials like high-strength steel, carbon fibre, aluminium and advanced plastics all have their advantages, but car designers will tell you the future is heading towards multi-material vehicles. The problem is working out how to combine all these very different materials together on the assembly line.

There might be a solution in sight as researchers at Michigan State University, supported by the American Chemistry Council’s automotive group, think they may have come up with a new kind of adhesive that will allow automakers to join multiple materials to each other.

Sandra McClelland, a member of the American Chemistry Council and sales development manager for Solvay Specialty Polymers, the group is promoting the new adhesive, says the new adhesive is a type of superglue capable of adapting to different surface properties that will work at different material temperatures.

Perhaps just as important, possibly even more so, McClelland says the group believes the adhesive will mean mixed auto materials will be able to be cleanly separated at the end of a vehicle’s life, which is another increasingly important concern as manufacturers become more and more focused on recycling.

The adhesive is a type of enhanced thermoplastic with extremely small magnetic particles that can bond different types of plastic, different kinds of metals or any combination thereof without having to use any extra rivets or connectors. As the bond itself can be relatively easily reversed, separation for effective recycling at the end of the product’s life would be reasonably easy.

At the moment, research into the potential of the new glue is still in the laboratory testing phase, but signs are extremely encouraging for its potential in real-world applications. — AFP-Relaxnews

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