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Lightening Liftgates - Part 2

( 03/19/2019 ) Written by: Federico Ciardelli

Part 1 of our multi-part series on achieving lighter-weight vehicles gave an overview of how regulatory demands are challenging auto manufacturers to innovate. It introduced engineering solutions that can help you stay competitive. Today’s installment focuses on recent improvements to a particular category of auto parts: liftgate assemblies.

Making vehicles lighter-weight can reduce the amount of fuel needed to power them, subsequently reducing CO2 emissions. Traditionally, auto body panels have been structured using heavy metals, but switching to plastics—such as sheet-molded composite (SMC) plastic and polypropylene—is an excellent strategy for achieving lower weights.

While doors and front-end components have safety requirements that may preclude plastic construction, use of plastic in rear liftgates is expected to double in the next four years. With roughly 55% of passenger vehicles worldwide having liftgates, this represents a significant market increase.

Liftgates typically consist of outer and inner panels with a reinforcing structure between them. Adhesives, particularly urethanes and acrylics, have largely replaced mechanical fasteners for joining these components, further improving overall weight. The adhesives are suitable for a wide variety of substrates and provide excellent appearance and durability of assemblies.

We are already an active player in the auto body assembly market and have worked with major OEMs and tier suppliers to implement our structural adhesives into panel bonding assemblies. For example, LORD® 7800 and LORD® 7545 adhesives are used in panel bonding by OEMs to join FRP, SMC and other plastics with little surface preparation. Even thermoplastics, which can be difficult to bond, are candidates for use with these urethane adhesives. Since surface chemistries can differ among thermoplastics, we are happy to collaborate with you on selecting and testing the right adhesive for your application. Both products are an equal-mix, two-component urethane adhesive system with excellent environmental resistance. LORD 7800 features rapid cure strength development and an enhanced regulatory profile, being free of heavy metals. LORD 7545 and 7800 are available with various curatives, which means you can choose the best system for your plant's process and manufacturing volumes. We collaborate with our customers to find the right adhesive and work time that fits your needs, including fast cure time to accommodate assembly of large parts (or small parts) and easy dispensing with manual or robotic equipment.

Our adhesives deliver another major advantage in today’s international marketplace: our company is a global supplier, so OEMs with plants located around the globe don’t have to worry that their locations will encounter regulatory issues – as they might when exporting a domestically supplied product. Our adhesives meet the strictest standards, enabling your company to remain agile in the global marketplace.

It's expected that regulators will call for even higher emissions standards in the coming years and there will be continuing demand for lightweight vehicles. Watch for upcoming installments in our series on engineering and manufacturing methods that help reduce vehicle weight—while keeping your supply chain and factory processes straightforward.







Federico Ciardelli

Federico Ciardelli is the Global Automotive Business Manager for LORD Corporation and is focused on automotive assembly growth and trends. Prior to joining LORD, he held many positions in various automotive Tier 1 companies such as Pilkington, Faurecia and Hitachi. 

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