2015 Enlighten Award in Review – No. 10: Dow Automotive Systems

1st July 2016 by Richard Yen

Earlier this week, we announced the nominees for this year’s Altair Enlighten Award. A really exciting and diverse range of entries covering both vehicle OEMs and suppliers alike. While our judging panel start their efforts to pick the 2016 winners, we’re going to continue our looks back at last year’s nominations. Today, it’s the turn of Dow Automotive Systems, a previous runner-up during the 2014 award.

As car makers look for ways to minimize weight and maximize fuel economy, one methodology continues to make more headlines than any other, the use of multi-materials. However, the mechanics involved in creating a multi-material vehicle to maximize the benefits of different material solutions in discreet areas of the car, creates some additional problems to be overcome. In particular, joining different materials together in a cost efficient way can be a significant challenge. As a result the use of structural adhesives has become a more common sight during the vehicle manufacturing process.

For its nomination, Dow submitted BETAFORCE™, a series of two-component polyurethane adhesives. BETAFORCE is the key structural joining solution on the BMWi3 carbon fiber compartment. The specific grade of BETAFORCE used on the i3 model was optimized to meet BMW process requirements including a cycle time of one minute, open times that can be adjusted to accommodate specific mounting requirements in the plant (such as a quicker curing time by infrared treatment), and technology that allows for initial adhesion requiring no additional fixing tools.

Following the development of this new adhesive technology, special pre-polymer, polyol and accelerator technologies were developed offering superior thermal modulus stability and excellent adhesion to challenging substrates like coated metals or carbon fiber-reinforced plastics (CFRP) and highest bulk elongation for superior energy absorption under crash conditions.

As car makers continue exploring the potential of improvements in performance and weight that a multi-material design can deliver, the need for structural adhesives will continue to increase. For suppliers like Dow, efforts to minimize the curing time will enable OEMs to use the technology more and more widely in a mass production environment.

Find out more about the Altair Enlighten Award here.


Download a PDF of this nomination here – Dow Automotive Systems