Learn how our technical center is allowing our team to help you easily address challenges in automotive manufacturing with Bostik's Technial Service Engineer, Cristina Uribe.
From sustainability to thermal management and designing EV batteries, manufacturers like you are busy developing new innovations while running regular manufacturing productions. Here at Bostik, our technical support team has the expertise to help enhance your new ideas and assist in assuring your processes are operating as smoothly as possible. We sat down with Cristina Uribe, Bostik’s Technical Service Engineer for Automotive Applications, where she shared insight on how our technical center in Farmington Hills, Michigan is making it easy to help throughout all phases of your transportation manufacturing.
Q: What are typical challenges you see automotive manufacturers and companies trying to manage?
A: There are a few challenges that include:
- Sustainability: Many companies are looking for ways to make their production more sustainable without compromising performance or increasing cost. This could be looking for bio-based materials, recyclability, lower energy usage, making the overall vehicle lighter—all of which have their own set of challenges. We want to be involved in these discussions by sharing an existing bio-based or recyclable product or by helping develop a sustainable adhesive. Either option can be challenging, but also fun to solve with a customer.
- EV battery development: OEMs have this new market of opportunities to enter, but there is a lot of constant flux with complex battery designs and new standards that get developed. We’re very much in a time of innovation, and it’s interesting working with all these teams to find the best way to implement adhesives into these batteries, even if it is challenging to fit all the pieces together. There are also a lot of industry concerns around thermal management and thermal runaway events, so we also need to take into account that these adhesives and sealants are a part of those important barriers that protect passengers from potential risk.
Q: As an adhesive supplier, how does Bostik’s technical support help OEMs address these challenges?
A: I’ll touch on the sustainability challenge first. Sustainability is at the forefront of our minds, but we also want to ensure that improvements to reduce environmental impact also are part of an efficient and high-performing system. Basically, it’s important to not overlook that. There are a few ways we can help:
- Recyclability: After gaining a clear understanding of customers’ specific needs, we may want an adhesive with the same base resin so the full construction can be recycled together. For example, they may be looking for an adhesive that is already made of recycled material or can be removed after use; having that conversation can help us narrow down what products we want to validate.
- Lightweighting: We can show customers how to use adhesives to replace heavy mechanical fasteners and welds. We can also recommend products that have been formulated to use less adhesive overall, which will help create a lighter vehicle. We don’t want customers to just buy more and more adhesive; we want to use our products in a way that makes sense for the application.
We are also excited to provide bonding and sealing solutions for EV batteries. We can help create innovative designs by addressing:
- Processing considerations: Precise timing and application conditions are key for a productive automotive line; beyond recommending an adhesive that bonds well to the materials involved, we want to make sure we are choosing products that will work well with the process flow. Our technical service team can provide details about working times, cure times, process temperatures and environmental considerations of each suggested product to make sure everything runs smoothly and we get optimal performance from the adhesives or sealants.
- Thermal Management: For EV battery packs, adhesives can offer thermal stability that will help extend the lifespan and reduce repair costs for the end user. Additionally, we can formulate adhesives to align or anticipate the general industry standards for safe use and thermal protection in different areas of the battery. We can recommend adhesives that can conduct heat during charge or discharge, isolate electrical components, seal off parts from the environment, etc. to create a safe battery.
We have several ways we help all types of manufacturers with these priorities, which include development, testing and troubleshooting. We accomplish a lot of this from our Farmington Hills, Michigan Technical Center.
Q: Can you tell us more about the Farmington Hills Tech. Center and what it provides?
A: The tech. center is meant to support all verticals within the mobility industry with adhesive and sealant solutions, as well as support our other durable goods market sectors. We are located in the heart of automotive manufacturing (the greater Detroit Metro area), so the center serves as a hub for discussion and investigation for OEMs, tier suppliers, raw materials suppliers, equipment manufacturers, etc. We can use this site to support existing or potential customers on any specific challenges they may be facing, assess the best solution or explore new opportunities together. This lab serves as a location for problem solving by testing adhesion, sealing properties, environmental exposure, mechanical properties, lab scaling and prototyping. We really want to lead data-driven conversations and focus our efforts to the specific needs of each customer. With this we can inspire confidence in our work and our drive for high quality information and communication. Our customers are always welcome to join us in the lab and watch the testing trials or even help us bond the parts together for hands-on experience. This can help our customers see for themselves how the adhesives may work on their own materials and equipment, without needing to pause their production or disrupt their timing. If a customer is not able to attend in person, we can also provide video or live demos, as well as provide detailed written reports on lab work and methods.
Q: What type of equipment do you use in the Farmington Hills Tech. Center?
A: We have equipment for adhesive application including:
- Roll coater
- Hot melt tanks
- Spray booth
- Foam melt unit
- XYZ robot
- Profile puller
We also have equipment for bonding, aging and cycling, as well as equipment for testing the strength and mechanical properties of the adhesives. All this allows us to use different technologies and test on a smaller scale, up to prototyping for a customer by closely simulating how the material would be processed in production. We also have additional equipment resources at other Bostik or Arkema technical centers and R&D centers to build comprehensive solutions.
"I think the problem-solving elements of assessing adhesion or production challenges and determining how our adhesives can provide a solution are exciting parts of my job. The more I can assist, the more I can learn to help with any other hurdles down the road."
Q: What can customers expect if you’re helping them with testing?
A: For general requests where they want to know what adhesive will work best for their project, we will often go through a technical service request process. During this process, we can:
- Collect information from the customer to get any background on the materials they are trying to bond, the process parameters, any equipment or timing limitations or any information that will help us understand the full picture of how the adhesive will be used.
- Conduct trials at our facility with their materials. This will usually involve some initial screening to test for basic adhesion and chemical compatibility as well as assessing the right processing parameters that work with the system. At this point, we invite the team we’re working with to join us for observation if they’re interested.
- Provide product and process recommendations based on the results once testing is complete or working results if we would like initial feedback from the customer.
- Provide documentation for the test plan, test results, processing parameters and application method details. At this point we can do a deep-dive into the data we collected, and we like to review this documentation with the customer in case either party has questions or concerns, or if further testing is needed.
- Follow-up to provide support for implementation of the adhesive in production, additional testing and validation.
Q: Sometimes, customers are dealing with challenges in their own facility; how do you help with troubleshooting these issues?
A: The first step is to investigate to make sure we understand what is happening. Could something have changed in the process? Is the problem coming from the materials being used? The environment? Once we have the full picture of the situation, we can recommend equipment adjustments, or even a different product if the application warrants it. For example, say an customer has found that cycle times can be reduced by applying a hot melt in a different pattern or to different pieces at the same time...but now, the hot melt doesn’t stick because the timing between the adhesive being applied and the part getting bonded has gotten longer, and the adhesive has cooled off. At this point, even if nothing has inherently gone “wrong” in the process or the adhesive, there may be a better option that can fit with the changes.
I think the problem-solving elements of assessing adhesion or production challenges and determining how our adhesives can provide a solution are exciting parts of my job. The more I can assist, the more I can learn to help with any other hurdles down the road. Our team is always available to our customers by phone or in person. Since our tech. center is located near many automotive manufacturers, we offer local convenience to many people; however, we are always happy to travel to customers as well. We want them to know we are here to help them regardless of location or process stage.
Q: When a company is considering options for technical support, what about Bostik should the OEM consider that separates us from competitors?
A: Bostik’s portfolio is unlike many of our competitors; we’re involved in so many different aspects of a vehicle with technical support to provide expertise on those components. A lot of other companies may be very focused on a few areas of a vehicle, but we’ve built up the expertise and resources to address varying concerns throughout the vehicle. It allows us to be a one-stop-shop, especially with our tech. center serving as a central location to have discussions and see the testing process. As the industry evolves, we make sure our customers will always be able to rely on us to meet demands.
Are you trying to address a new challenge with your automotive manufacturing such as sustainability, performance or processing efficiencies? Contact our Bostik team to get in touch with an expert today to learn how we can help you with testing at our tech center or visit your facility for troubleshooting.
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