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Less Weight. Endless Benefits: How to Protect Lightweight Metals

    September 1, 2017

Faced with tighter regulatory demands and growing consumer awareness of better fuel efficiency and reduced emissions, automotive manufacturers and suppliers are increasingly moving from traditional steel sheet or galvanized alloys to mixed and very lightweight metals that offer significant savings. Reducing a vehicle’s weight by just 10 percent can improve fuel efficiency by 6-8 percent!

Automotive manufacturers have traditionally turned to zinc phosphate for their metal pretreatment needs. But tradition is being replaced with a newer, more environmentally friendly, processes as the industry transitions from 0 up to 100% aluminum.

Learn more about enabling the use of light metals to meet industry lightweight and sustainability goals

Aluminum Surface Treatment


Let’s take a deeper dive into pretreatment considerations when making the switch and explore the role of the following:


Easily integrated into existing production lines without cost-intensive modifications defines flexibility. Zirconium-based pretreatment processes for aluminum provide flexibility in paint shop operations. The process consists of a zinc phosphate coating (with or without Nickel) applied on cold-rolled steel and zinc-coated substrates, while a zirconium-based coating is applied on the aluminum surfaces.

Benefits include:

  • Selective deposition on each substrate: zinc phosphate on CRS, EG and HDG, zirconium-oxide on Aluminum
  • Excellent corrosion performance on all substrates
  • Less sludge generation
  • Existing phosphate systems convertible with minimal cost and downtime


As sustainability becomes an increasingly important factor in the manufacturing industry, the elimination of heavy metals, reduction in energy and wastewater/consumption is top of mind. Next generation pretreatment options are meeting these needs, while reducing complexity.

Henkel’s BONDERITE M-NT process brings decisive ecological and economic benefits, including:

  • Suitable for mixed metals
  • Operates at ambient temperatures
  • Shorter process contact time; Three process steps eliminated
  • Minimal environmental footprint
  • Heavy metal-free
  • Up to 90 percent less sludge generated
  • Improved carbon footprint with up to 30 percent energy savings
  • Up to 20 percent less water consumption
  • Less wastewater

Overall, the BONDERITE M-NT system enables lightweight constructions while saving time, lowering costs, reducing energy requirements and cutting down on waste.

Performance and Efficiency

Metal pretreatments in the paint shop must protect lightweight metal mixes from corrosion, while also increasing paint adhesion.

New pretreatment processes help optimize performance with benefits that include reduced operating costs, fewer process steps and shorter cycle times.


More Efficient

Reduced process steps for cost and process efficiency:

  • Reduced maintenance
  • Higher productivity for existing lines
  • Lower investment cost for new lines
  • Reduced manufacturing footprint

Faster Performance

Speedier path to quality:

  • Fewer process steps
  • Shorter cycle time
  • shorter contact time
  • Outstanding corrosion and paint adhesion performance


Outstanding quality in less time:

  • Broad operation window
  • Simple to control
  • Fewer control parameters
  • Reliable superior quality
  • Simple to install

Next Generation Metal Pretreatment Technologies enable the increased use of light metals while maintaining excellent corrosion protection, reducing/eliminating the heavy metals and sludge generation. For additional information, please visit:

About the Author, David Caro

David Caro is Head of Global Engineering Transport and Metal SBU at Henkel and has more than 20 years of international experience in automotive. After joining Henkel in 2001, he held roles in the company’s operations in North America, Germany and Spain. David has degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Polytechnic University of Barcelona and in Business Administration from IESE Business School, University of Navarra.

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