18th May 2016 by Richard Yen
In the run up to the nomination deadline for the 2016 Altair Enlighten Award, we’re continuing our look back at last year’s award. Having spent the last few posts reviewing Volvo’s nominations, it’s time to move on and review an interesting entry from Sika Automotive.
The BMW i3 vehicle architecture has gained huge press coverage since it was unveiled due to the uniqueness of its body and the fact that it was designed from the start to be an electric vehicle. Weight had been a central design consideration from its inception in order to maximize the range the vehicle could travel without requiring a recharge.
Like Dow Automotive System’s entry from 2014, Sika’s entry concerned the use of adhesives for bonding mixed material vehicles. Specifically, its entry detailed the use of the company’s Ultra High Modulus Adhesive, a product used by BMW to bond the carbon fiber passenger compartment to the aluminium chassis for its highly innovative i3 vehicle.
Sika’s adhesive product was considered unique due to the high elongation which was designed to compensate for the different thermal expansion of the two different materials during the vehicle’s operation life. This was key to ensure that the i3 could achieve good crash performance.
Although it is difficult to point to a direct weight saving achieved through the use of adhesives such as Sika’s ultra high modulus product, it is clear that without these chemicals, the potential to develop mixed material vehicles like the i3 would be severely impeded, perhaps making such vehicles impossible to create cost effectively.
As mixed material vehicles become an increasingly hot topic for the automotive market and beyond, I expect that adhesives from companies like Sika will be the key ingredient in turning future innovative ideas into manufacturable and profitable products.