Henkel Adhesive Technologies

Henkel Adhesive Technologies

Three ways advanced materials help EV manufacturers

Driving improvements with materials, processes, and engineering.



3 min.
Close-up image of EV car battery.

Electric vehicles (EVs) are poised to grab a significant share of the automotive market in the next decade. Despite similarities in external appearance, EVs are significantly different from cars powered by internal combustion engines (ICEs). As such, they require very distinct designs, materials, and manufacturing processes.

Tailored advanced materials such as coatings, adhesives, and thermal interface materials are helping automakers tackle new EV challenges and innovate, but challenges to more mainstream adoption remain. To gain insights, we sat down with Stephan Hoefer, Henkel’s global market strategy head for e-mobility.

Without question, EVs benefit from the use of tailored advanced materials. As manufacturers race to boost consumer adoption, innovation in advanced materials is a powerful enabler.

For example, in the quest to increase vehicle range, EVs need to be lighter and more efficient than their internal combustion counterparts. Decreasing vehicle weight, however, can also reduce vehicle durability and safety. The pressure is on to develop lighter EVs and meet stringent safety guidelines, while concurrently driving down costs, streamlining production, and supporting net-zero sustainability. Solving these multilayered and often opposing goals is not easy. But, when done right, it’s worth it—the improvements derived from achieving the right balance are significant.

Design optimization and the use of Henkel's structural solutions in one application achieved approximately 10% in weight savings (42 kilograms) for an electric SUV body and reduced joining elements by 6%. These results were achieved while simultaneously meeting target crash and performance standards. Weight-saving strategies employed included downgauging existing metal, optimizing stamping format, and changing existing architecture to remove certain parts.

Henkel design optimizations using advanced materials reduced body-in-white and closure weight by 42%, reduced the number of joining elements by 6%, and achieved 100% of crash performance targets.

Improving manufacturing with tailored advanced materials

While advanced material solutions can deliver extraordinary improvements to EV designs, they must also support fast processing or cycle times in manufacturing. Materials must be engineered with innovative chemistry to meet the automotive industry’s state-of-the-art, high-speed manufacturing standards.

To achieve production-enhancing properties, customized chemical formulations are vital. Properties that help streamline manufacturing processes include fast cure times, pumpability, flame resistance, weldability, humidity resistance, and wash-off resistance. Within manufacturing processes, chemical formulations are also optimized to minimize waste—for example, the reduction of sludge in the painting process. That’s important because the primary source of hazardous waste in automotive manufacturing stems from paint sludge. Reducing sludge generates multiple benefits such as decreasing waste, costs, and environmental impact.

Carefully crafted advanced materials can deliver holistic improvements, a big part of which is bolstering manufacturing processes for efficiency, effectiveness, and sustainability.

WITHIN THE PAINTING PROCESS, ADVANCED MATERIALS ARE FORMULATED TO REDUCE SLUDGE IN THE PAINTING PROCESS, A KEY WIN THAT REDUCES WASTE, COSTS, AND ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT.

Engineering success with accelerated development

The right engineering approaches can accelerate the deployment of advanced material innovations in EV design and production processes. That’s because pretesting and optimization before implementation into EV designs and manufacturing processes are crucial to achieving both speed and success. Using input from manufacturers, tools such as advanced simulations, numerical analysis, and rapid prototyping deliver better results, faster.

As a partner, Henkel can collaborate with EV manufacturers to deploy those tools. Simulation tools such as computer-aided engineering help refine formulations and outcomes. Numerical analysis helps save time and money by leveraging data to build solutions, and 3D printing allows for rapid prototyping before manufacturers move on to full production. Together, these engineering approaches save time, improve performance outcomes, and reduce cost.

TOOLS SUCH AS ADVANCED SIMULATIONS, NUMERICAL ANALYSIS, AND RAPID PROTOTYPING DELIVER BETTER RESULTS, FASTER.

Learn more about the road ahead

The road to zero emissions is a journey. Innovations in advanced materials that consider the entire EV and its ecosystem will be vital to making EV manufacturing processes and EVs themselves better, safer, and more sustainable.

To learn more, see our white paper, “More Than Just Good Chemistry: Advanced Materials’ Pivotal Role in the Future of EV Adoption.”

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