Game-changing new technologies are driving the biggest transformation that the automotive sector has seen in 100 years. The car of the future will be electrified, connected to its environment, autonomously driven, and even shared among several users.
But what does this step-shift mean for manufacturers? Which adaptions will they have to make to production processes—while still delivering high performance, safety and efficiency?
For Dr. Christian Kirsten, Corporate Senior VP of Automotive & Metals at Henkel, three changes will have profound opportunities for automotive material suppliers moving forward:
Lightweight construction: Lightweighting in the automotive industry has been a trend for many years. Manufacturers have been constantly looking for ways to take weight out of the car body and chassis. There are many methods to do so, including the increase of aluminum content.
The emergence of electric vehicles: As well as for cost efficiency and safety challenges, electric vehicles need to be able to achieve sufficient range. Manufacturers need to ensure that the battery is completely protected, maintaining its structural integrity in the case of a crash or a fire.
The continuous trend towards autonomous driving: The road to totally autonomous vehicles is a long one. The first step will be electrification, with smarter cars to follow. But this shift presents its own challenges, especially in ensuring the reliability and safety of all vehicles on the road.
Henkel drives the next steps
Optimizing the design of these future vehicles will require a combination of engineering and material science expertise.
Henkel Adhesive Technology solutions include thermal interface materials, like gap filler technology, which will help batteries run safely at a consistent temperature. Other technical examples from the portfolio include adhesive technologies for bonding battery cells together, and UV light purification solutions that reduce cycle times and lower processing costs.
“Our portfolio includes thermal interface materials, adhesives, sealants and functional coatings for battery packs, but also other specific components on the car,” says Frank Kerstan, director e-mobility & Powertrain at Henkel. “We combine this material expertise together with engineering support to work with our customers on new designs in a very early phase, to ultimately allow them to achieve smarter and more cost-efficient designs for certain components.”