GM Gluing Cars Together To Save Weight and Money
GM taking the world by storm with its newest idea for the future of cars, trucks, and SUV’s
It’s all about finding changes that can positively impact the environment, and to bring to the consumer a better gas mileage for the vehicle they are about to purchase, which is in many times attributed to the weight of the vehicle. Rather than trying to change the engine of many of their vehicles, or making them electrically run, GM has just introduced the new 2017 GMC Acadia with a new concept. Instead of joining the vehicle body components with rivets and traditional welds, GM is using adhesives of aircraft grade along seams to produce a stiffer body style that leads to needing less steel in the process. Their end result was a reduction in weight of about 700 pounds, and a more efficient gas mileage of 23 miles per gallon, compared to the Acadia’s original 18 miles per gallon. Using the adhesive gluing of the vehicle components has been a less drastic change while creating a monumental difference in weight and gas efficiency.
Is this concept safe, and how does it work?
Many people may be under the assumption that this practice is seemingly unsafe. However, the practice of gluing and using advanced adhesive processes has been used on the Boeing Airliner airplanes circa 2009. This has lead to decreased maintenance and less fuel usage due to the lightness of the aircraft. Carbon fiber is treated at extremely high temperature and infused with epoxy resin, forming a composite resin which is both light and tough. It is described as having a sort of black duct tape looking effect, with multiple layers formed. After this process, the material is autoclaved to harden it to its furthest state.
Are other manufacturers using this process as well?
According to The Wall Street Journal, there is a growing market for structural adhesives being used for automobiles, airplanes, and other vehicles. It is estimated that the global market for these adhesives will top out at or around 2 billion dollars this year, making head adhesive makers very happy manufacturers. Some of the top adhesive makers such as H.B. Fuller Company, Dow Chemical company, and Henkel AG, are still trying to overcome ways for being able to make the adhesives able to withstand higher temperatures. This, in turn may be able to also be able to replace metal fasteners with the concept of tougher, reinforced glued structural adhesives.
The president of Dow’s automotive unit, Steve Henderson has been in the industry for years following in his father’s footsteps. He is very fond of the adhesive and gluing concept and was quoted as saying, “ Bonding with adhesives is the new welding”. And the concepts of welding are on his side. Since aluminum has a known past of not bonding well with steel, this makes gluing all the more important.
Of course, there are safeguards that must be held in place, and the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration is keeping a close eye on making sure federal safety standards are met. Regardless of what kinds of techniques and materials are used, rigorous training for individuals working with these compounds and the manufacturing process of them must be top notch. Overcoming hurdles such as engineers more used to traditional parts like nuts and bolts, and the psychological frame of mind in switching to adhesives is also a work in progress. It will be interesting indeed to see how the future of adhesives will pan out.