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Under the Microscope: A Close Up of Vehicle Lightweighting Technologies

    August 29, 2016

Remember your first chemistry set? The white lab coat, mysterious chemicals and a microscope complete with a slew of slides? Maybe you found a butterfly and examined its wings. Or, maybe you inspected an egg shell to see the differences between it its bumpy and smooth surfaces.

It was curiosity and the need to know that drove you to use the microscope for discovery. It also gave you an understanding of the phrase – under the microscope – as a way to critically examine the properties of an object.

In many ways, vehicles are “under the microscope” as the automotive industry looks to new technology to reduce mass and meet the rigorous CAFE 2025 standards of 54.5 mpg.

Henkel has been working to prepare the auto industry by using advanced chemistry to develop high-performance materials for vehicle parts and adhesives that reduce mass while maintaining superior performance. When examined under the microscope (literally), Henkel’s products reveal a high-performance chemistry that meets the lightweighting challenge in a variety of environments and vehicle development phases.

Under the Hood

Take the harsh under-hood environment. Powertrain designs now use lightweight plastics and aluminum in combination with compressed graphite iron. A look under the microscope here shows the textural differences in these dissimilar materials that enable reduced-mass engine designs. For the engine to function at optimal levels, new gasketing is required that can tolerate the different thermal expansion rates to create a strong seal against engine fluids of varying levels of heat.

In addition, electric engines have different requirements, and their gaskets need to protect connectors by sealing against cooling system fluids. Henkel’s new moisture-cure polyacrylate gaskets can be used on the new lightweight metals. They are highly resistant to all automotive fluids and conditions, and ensure an airtight endurance for the seal on any under-hood assembly.


Lightweight materials are also used in the body-in-white phase of vehicle production. Aluminum and steel at this phase all need to be coated with one material that ensures optimal paint adhesion and corrosion protection. Henkel developed BONDERITE® technology (such as MGC, M-NT 1800 and Flex Process) to keep the vehicle’s body-in-white protective coat durable and lightweight to reduce mass.


Lightweight materials are also transforming vehicle interiors to save weight. The chemistry of Henkel’s new, lighter substrates address application methods and their ability to bond to multiple lightweight materials. Not only do they reduce weight, these high performance substrates maximize adhesive performance while improving interior vehicle comfort.

Learn more about interior solutions here

Lightweighting Resources

Vehicle lightweighting is now the mission of the automotive industry. Using smart chemistry to meet the stringent 2025 CAFE standards will enable automakers looking under the microscope find small, yet important areas where lightweight adhesives can have a big impact on overall vehicle weight reduction.

As an expert in automotive lightweighting, Henkel offers a number of resources to educate and inform individuals and organizations that seek to reduce vehicle weight. Check out:

  • Henkel’s Smart Chemistry Hub, which features a compilation of critical engineering white papers that provide insight into how OEMs and suppliers can use chemistry to develop more robust, sustainable lightweight automotive designs.
  • Henkel Automotive Lightweighting offers insights into the many uses of smart chemistry in vehicle lightweighting structures.

Over to You

Have any questions about vehicle lightweighting technologies? Let us know in the comments and our team will answer them!

About the Author, Angela Cackovich

Angela Cackovich is the Henkel corporate vice president of the Transportation and Metals Industries, located in Madison Heights, Mich. In her role, she leads sales, operations, strategic planning and overall business management for North America and Latin America regions. Cackovich holds degrees in Chemical Engineering, Business Administration and International Finance.

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