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Henkel Adhesive Technologies

Henkel Adhesive Technologies

Steel pioneer embraces chrome-free coatings

Voestalpine switched to chrome-free steel coil coating processes from Henkel more than 25 years ago to boost safety, sustainability and cost efficiency.

Pioneer with a problem

Voestalpine is a European steel producer that takes a leading role in promoting safety and sustainability. In the early 90s, it wanted to eliminate chrome-six from its coatings for steel coil because this substance requires extensive waste. But the company also demanded excellent corrosion protection, paint adhesion and durability.

At that time, most conversion coatings for steel contained chromium – and the European Union had not yet introduced regulations covering the use of chrome-six in the metal industry. That meant very few chrome-free coatings were available on the market and no large steel producers in Europe had taken the bold step of switching away from chrome-based technologies.

A safer and more sustainable solution

As a pioneer for safety and sustainability, Voestalpine decided to explore chrome-free surface treatments for steel coil. To make certain this transition would not bring a negative impact on quality, the company started trials involving sustainable solutions from three providers – including Henkel. Scientists at Voestalpine conducted a range of examinations including salt spray and T-Bend tests.

Henkel won that race to join Voestalpine’s journey to safer, more sustainable metal coating processes. In all tests, BONDERITE M-NT 1455 T proved its ability to achieve strong corrosion protection and outstanding paint adhesion without chromium-six. It also demonstrated unique versatility because it is suitable for spray or immersion applications, as well as Lineguard and coater approaches.

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“With help from Henkel, we are the first steel producer in Europe to switch our coil coating process away from using chrome-six.”

Markus Pirklbauer, Head of Organic Coating & Electro Galvanizing at Voestalpine.

Shared success for steel coil

Teams from Voestalpine and Henkel worked closely to set up the optimal parameters for using this innovative technology. The new process was officially launched in July 1999 – making Voestalpine the first steel producer in Europe to process steel coil via a completely chrome-free methodology.

Voestalpine has now produced almost 7 million tons of steel using this more sustainable solution. The new approach eliminates the need for extensive (and expensive) waste management processes, which saves energy and cuts costs. And technical experts from Henkel and Voestalpine are still working side by side to keep boosting safety and sustainability – without compromising performance.

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