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Feats of Engineering Part 2: Transportation Case Studies

( 03/19/2020 ) Written by: John Hill

For utility trucks, service trucks and heavy-duty trucks hard daily use is the norm, however for trucks with a dump-bed, the situation is extreme. Panels must endure almost constant impact and deformation.

One truck bed manufacturer wanted to replace welding—an expensive and time-consuming process, especially with non-ferrous or coated metals—with structural adhesives. Adhesive bonding can be accomplished with simpler equipment and requires less employee training. Flexible acrylic adhesive was a desirable solution because of its ability to provide impact resistance. 

The manufacturer worked with three kinds of metal substrates—aluminum, galvanized steel and an aluminum-zinc-alloy-coated steel. Galvanized steel can be difficult to bond since many acrylic adhesives do not adhere or cure well on the coated metal. Aluminum-zinc-alloy-coated-steel is typically even more challenging to bond. Next-generation acrylic adhesives, however, showed excellent results on all three substrates during tests that included:

  • Impact resistance testing: Sharp impacts hard enough to cause deformation of the substrate did not cause brittle delamination of the adhesive, and the subsequent failure mode in tear-down was 100 percent cohesive.
  • Bake resistance testing: Lap shear strength and failure mode were not altered during the baking process—a milestone that had previously been a significant challenge for 10:1 acrylic adhesive systems.
  • Environmental resistance: The next-generation acrylic adhesive was able to retain excellent bond strength on various metal substrates when exposed to environmental extremes.

A similar success was experienced by a manufacturer looking to use lightweight substrates for truck bodies and beds. Finding an adhesive that could handle stress loads of the truck chassis and withstand the vehicle’s high-bake finishing process were priorities for the manufacturer. Only a next generation acrylic adhesive was able to meet all the design requirements. Tests included:

  • Torsional testing in which the truck bed was systematically twisted back and forth. The next-generation acrylic adhesive was strong enough not to fail; it was also flexible enough to avoid collateral damage such as stress cracks in the truck body.
  • Bake resistance testing. While other adhesives fell apart during the high-temperature e-coat process, the next-generation product maintained structural integrity without any degradation.

Using next-generation acrylic adhesives saved the manufacturer time and labor costs by simplifying part assembly; it also cut costs by eliminating the steps of grinding and sanding welded spots. Next-generation acrylic adhesive use also improved the aesthetics of the finished vehicle, since using adhesives allows flat panels to maintain a smooth, unmarred appearance.

Watch for the next installment in our blog series, which will examine how wind turbines are assembled—and how next-generation acrylic adhesives are part of their structural design. If you missed part one of our series on "A Sea Change in Adhesive Chemistry," be sure to check it out. 

John Hill

John Hill has been with LORD for 24 years and is a principal engineer in the structural adhesives group. He has bachelor degrees in chemistry and microbiology from the University of Minnesota and a PhD in organometallic chemistry from Purdue University.

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