Solutions That Stick

When it comes to top-end pedigree some of the most demanding and upmarket automotive marques are still lovingly crafted in England.

For over three years now one of these leading OEM British manufacturers has been successfully working with Ceramicx in its automotive panel construction work.

Put simply, the client had an issue with component-to-component adhesion. The workable area in manufacture was also recessed and provided a difficult space to work within.

The client adhesive materials were also of an extremely high specification; offering the equivalent strength of steel when set while offering equivalent lightweighting of some 80%.

Ceramicx engineers worked with the OEM client to design the right form of IR heating that would dry and anneal two components together in the optimum time. Success in this key manufacturing process has led to further work in other areas for the same client.

Ceramicx infrared heating know-how was invaluable for the client in a pre-emptive strike against possible production bottlenecking; reducing the cycle time for this process and ensuring that the gluing station would not hold up the line and would not hinder output and productivity.

The process involves an 8mm bead of adhesive being applied to a component then positioned and squeezed down to a 25mm wide strip on a 2nd component. Surrounding areas also needed heat work whereby a 75mm strip was heated around every panel on the car. Flexibility was key and the heat needed to be adjustable within very tight tolerances.

Initial heating work involved an experimental period with tungsten based IR heaters. These were then changed over to a specially designed array of Ceramicx hollow ceramic elements (FFEH 400W or HFEH 200W). The Ceramicx system was used to heat a carbon fibre component from the outside of the join order to achieve a curing temperature of ~50°C on the inside of the join - at the same time not exceeding a temperature of 80°C on the outside.

The Infrared (IR) heaters for the system are controlled by a Jumo controller with temperature feedback from a Micro Epsilon pyrometer that measures the temperature on the outside of the panels. Dwell times were typically 15-25 with a median value of 17 minutes with 60-80°C setpoints.

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