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2k versus 1k Adhesives for Auto Assembly

( 01/11/2021 ) Written by: Delphine Andrivot

Automobile manufacturers are finding plenty of motivation to convert to two-component (2K) adhesives from one-component (1K) solutions. As automobile designs advance, the industry is moving toward lightweighting more vehicles and 2K adhesives are the preferred method to bond the array of materials now used, whether it’s aluminum, metal or plastic.

In particular, 2K adhesives are recommended as they enable lower-cost assembly of automotive closure panels, such as doors, hoods, trunks and liftgates. They are also used to bond automotive grills and spoilers. 

As the lightweighting of designs continues, it is becoming standard to use a variety of materials necessitating the bonding of dissimilar materials. In the next 20 years the percent of lightweight materials will increase from 29 percent to 67 percent. (See Automotive Chart Below) The increased use of aluminum, composite and hybrid materials requires new and efficient joining techniques. 

OEMs are increasingly driven by CO2 regulations to make lightweighting a priority. Additionally, electric vehicles are limited to lightweight materials in their design since heavier materials would reduce their battery range. Therefore, a cost-effective, easy-to-use adhesive is essential to bond a variety of materials and replace welding and riveting, which in the end adds more weight. The use of 1K adhesives is not as productive or cost-efficient since it requires long curing times, is not as stable, and cannot cure at room temperatures. Also, lightweighting often results in the combining of dissimilar materials, such as aluminum and plastics, a process that is not always successful with options other than 2K adhesives.

Moving from 1K to 2K is a savings to OEMs on the capital investment. With 1K adhesives energy and heat is necessary for curing, but 2K adhesives do not require energy to cure. This simplifies the process and reduces costs and labor when using 2K adhesives instead of 1K. (See Flow Chart Below) Another consideration is that aluminum is not easy to manage through the heating processes, making 1K adhesives difficult to use. The 2K adhesives are also more efficient for batch applications, which makes process applications flow quicker and easier. Having a 2K adhesive that cures at room temperature gives OEMs the freedom and flexibility to better design and manufacture with these substrates. 

Additional advantages of 2k adhesives are that they achieve high dimensional stability through a low temperature cure, obtain increased corrosion protection through excellent adhesion properties, and simplify the manufacturing process by reducing process steps. Substantial cost savings can be achieved through process optimization.

Our adhesives bond metals, plastics and composites enabling automotive OEMs to build lightweight vehicles which is helping lead to lower carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Suitable for a wide variety of materials, substrates and applications, our adhesives maintain their strength and durability.

Delphine Andrivot

Delphine Andrivot is EMEA Business Development & Technical manager for Structural Adhesives and Thermal Management who's focus is on the electric vehicle market. Her formal education was in Sales, Marketing and Organic Chemistry and she has over 15 years of experience in the Industrial and Automotive markets.

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