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Sealing in Quality with Vacuum Impregnation

    July 28, 2017

High-quality die-cast metal components and electronic parts play a vital role in the automotive industry. The reliability and safety needs of today’s automotive industry requires all parts to be fully sealed against fluids, gases and other external influences. At the same time, the automotive industry is confronted with the increasingly demanding challenges of reducing costs, increasing productivity and complying with environmental regulations.

Greater use of lightweight materials and electronic components that provide higher mpg, control driver safety systems, and pave the way for autonomous vehicles, requires eliminating all potential failures modes. Porosity, tiny voids, leak paths, and microscopic holes are nearly unavoidable in these components.

These gaps can be catastrophic because corrosive fluids and moisture can intrude and spread throughout electronic parts and components, causing them to fail. Vacuum impregnation is one of the solutions offered by Henkel to seal in quality of electronic parts, while preventing leaks and internal failures of casted parts.

Lightweight Casted Parts

When casted parts are manufactured, you want the finished product to be resistant to fluids, strong and durable to hold up to the everyday driving demands of the end application.

Due to the emphasis in lightweighting within the automotive industry, lightweight materials such as aluminum, magnesium, carbon-fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) and/or lightweight steel are being used, and changes in part designs are being made to reduce weight.

As a result, you are seeing parts made of lightweight material with thinner walls and more intricate designs, which during the casting process, makes them more prone to porosity. When a part is found to leak, these parts are not capable of being utilized for production.

 Electronic Components

Often the most troublesome and critical problems are those that are least visible. This is especially true of electronic components, such as connectors, coils, wires and harnesses.

In the manufacture of these components, tiny voids, leak paths and microscopic holes are unavoidable. These gaps, while often not readily discernible, can be disastrous when electronic products are operated in harsh environments because moisture and corrosive agents can enter through these voids and spread through parts, causing them to fail.

Fluids, gases and particles can enter the component and travel along its fault-line leak path, leading to corruption of wires and connectors and even nearby sensors that ultimately are exposed to the agents making their way along the path.

While they may initially be difficult to spot, the presence of these voids can be proved by submerging the part in water and applying as little as five psi of air pressure to it. Air bubbles will pour out of the holes and gaps, making the leaks obvious.

Effectively sealing electronic parts can avert catastrophic component failure. As an example, a faulty fuel pump can disable an entire vehicle.

Vacuum Impregnation: Managing Sealing Issues

Vacuum impregnation is a proven solution to permanently sealing porosity for both die-cast and electronic applications. It reduces scrap due to porosity. This method saves time and resources, prevents costly warranty issues due to its superior sealing quality and helps decrease labor costs because the sealing process is more efficient.

Henkel is applying Smart Chemistry to the porosity challenge, using vacuum impregnation process with its family of resins to ensure 100 percent leak-proof sealing without changing structural characteristics of lightweight metal cast parts and electronic components. This process removes the air from voids and then draws the resin in to fill them, eliminating potential leak paths, ensuring resistance against common solvents as oil, glycol, caustics, acid solutions and water.

In addition, Henkel’s resins address the inherent stresses formed from the coefficient of thermal expansion differences when normal automotive temperature cycling occurs and provide the type of fluid resistance needed to withstand harsh operating environments. They have an added ultraviolet tracer to identify them with a black light to ensure all leak paths are sealed.

Processing Expertise

Henkel is a one-stop shop for vacuum impregnation. In addition to resin technology that meets major automotive OEM and supplier specifications, there are multiple processing options including:

  • Henkel maintains its own vacuum impregnation centers globally to fully process and support customer requirements
  • The equipment can be co-located: Henkel delivers the equipment, trains the customer’s team, maintains the equipment and charges only for each cycle – all with no capital outlay.

For customers who own their own equipment, Henkel can supply impregnation resins, sell and refurbish equipment to customers to increase their productivity and offer multiple impregnation system options to meet specific application needs, including:

  • High-volume fully automated impregnation solutions for casted parts:
  • Automated or manual modular impregnation systems for electronic components:

Over to You

To learn more about how Henkel’s vacuum impregnation process and unique custom resins, subscribe to On the Road with Henkel or visit www.loctiteimpregnation.com.

About the Author, Scott Simmons

Scott Simmons is in Business Development for the North American automotive business at Henkel. In his role, he is responsible for business development of Henkel’s automotive business in the Pre-Applied Threadlockers and Thread Sealants, and Loctite® Vacuum Impregnation business for both castings and E/E components. Scott joined Henkel in 1998, through the Loctite Corporation acquisition, holding various regional sales assignments prior to his current responsibility. He has over 22 years of adhesive and sealant application experience, and earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering from Widener University.

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