Automotive Engineering Blog

Looking for automotive industry trends? We cover how chemistry is advancing future vehicle trends to meet Automotive OEM and Supplier design requirements. Topics covered include autonomous vehicles, eMobility, and lightweighting to name a few. Subscribe and receive monthly posts, covering these topics and many more!

Auto Industry Experts Talk Surface Treatments at Henkel’s Smart Chemistry Spotlight

    October 11, 2016

With 2025 CAFE standards on the horizon mandating an average 54.5 mpg per vehicle, automakers and suppliers are examining every vehicle component and manufacturing process to subtract weight. Remove a few ounces here and a pound there, and suddenly an automaker may realize a vehicle weight reduction of 600 to 700 pounds.

It’s not enough that materials are lightweight; they must retain, or improve upon the strength of the original heavier material. It’s not wizardry; it’s smart chemistry, a hallmark of Henkel’s innovations for the automotive sector.

Henkel Smart Chemistry Spotlight Event

Leaders from the automotive pretreatment world converged at Henkel’s North American Adhesive Technologies headquarters in Madison Heights, Michigan, for Henkel’s Smart Chemistry Spotlight Event on September 20. The event moderated by Jeff Gilbert of WWJ 950, focused on the role of surface treatments in achieving lightweighting and sustainability goals.

Learn more about enabling the use of light metals to meet sustainability goals here

Representatives from Henkel, Ford, GM, Novelis and researchers from Oak Ridge National Research Laboratory (ONRL) offered presentations covering research innovations that enable multiple different lightweight materials to function together without compromising safety or appearance, especially in the paint finish, as well as sustainability considerations.

During a break-out session, participants toured several Henkel onsite labs – the Electro Ceramic Coatings Research lab, the Metal Pretreatment Applications lab, and the Analytical Solutions lab – to observe explorations and innovations, and tools in place to validate and/or troubleshoot customers’ processes. Validation testing ensures that Henkel’s processes integrate seamlessly with those of OEMs and suppliers for Henkel’s coatings to perform optimally.

Speakers addressed the properties of aluminum, a high-strength metal with reasonable formability characteristics that is 40–50 percent lighter than steel, as well as magnesium, which offers 50-60 percent weight reduction. However, magnesium has a unique set of challenges, particularly its high rate of galvanic corrosion when it comes in contact with disparate materials, according to representatives from ONRL.

Surface Treatment Innovations

Henkel’s surface treatments are making lightweighting possible by reducing galvanic corrosion, improving surface quality and paint adhesion, as well as contributing to process efficiency and sustainability.

Here are just a few Henkel surface treatments optimal for lightweight metals:

  • BONDERITE® MGC ceramic coating designed for magnesium substrates to protect against corrosion and improve paint adhesion.
  • BONDERITE® FLEX enables the processing of up to 85% aluminum, while decreasing sludge generation in the pretreatment process.
  • BONDERITE® M-NT 1800™ conversion coating is formulated to process 0 to 100% aluminum substrates.
  • BONDERITE® M-NT 1820™ provides an innovative surface composition on clean metal substrates, while eliminating the problems associated with the conventional zinc-phosphate pretreatments for improved quality, ecology and economics in the paint shop.
  • BONDERITE® M-NT 8453 is the first product of a partnership between Henkel and Novelis, a leading supplier of aluminum sheet for the automotive market. A surface pre-treatment for aluminum, it improves adhesion and durability of bonded joints in vehicle structures as well as paint finishes on exterior components, including body panels.

This unique event brought industry experts together to discuss trends and opportunities in incorporating leading-edge surface treatment processes that ultimately support lightweighting efforts.

For additional information on lightweighting, 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.

Other posts by


Please make sure your comments are respectful and appropriate. All comments will be reviewed by an administrator, and if approved, will then be displayed on the page.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *