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News

Bonding expertise from 3M is cutting costs and increasing production capability in commercial vehicle sector

3M Europe : 28 June, 2006  (New Product)
Advanced adhesive tapes and process knowledge from global innovation company 3M is helping Mansfield-based SDC trailers to optimise long term reliability while cutting costs and saving weight. Trailer specialist SDC turned to 3M as part of a programme to reduce the use of mechanical fasteners in trailer bodies. Now SDC is working with the bonding experts to explore a wide range of new joining and assembly technologies.
In the fiercely competitive world of trailer construction, makers are constantly on the hunt for new techniques that will allow them to cut manufacturing costs and improve reliability for their customers. As part of this process, SDC trailers began a comprehensive review of all its assembly processes. 'Our trailers used to be constructed using hundreds of pop rivets and other mechanical fasteners,' explains Tony Sturgess, Chief Design Engineer at SDC. 'Not only did that mean a lot of labour content, drilling all those holes, but you also had to ensure that they were all weatherproof. We were sure we could find a better approach, so we started to explore a range of alternative methods.'

SDC's solution was the development of a novel 'snap-lok' aluminium plank system that consisted of custom designed aluminium panels that could be clipped together forming a strong rigid structure without the need for rivets. 'Obviously, we still need to weatherproof our designs, particularly at the roof joints,' explains Sturgess. 'We explored the use of double sided adhesive tapes for the job, but the products we tested suffered from environmental degradation over time. In use, they began to stretch and creep, which just wasn't good enough.'

SDC took its problem to 3M. Its technical specialists were able to recommend a product that could deliver the bonding performance SDC needed with the environmental resistance to withstand extended use in tough conditions. 'All the roof bars on our box vans and curtain siders are now bonded using 3M High Performance Acrylic Foam Tape.'

With the successful introduction of the new roof bar bonding system, 3M and SDC have begun work on a range of other applications for adhesive tapes in trailer production. 'So far, we've seen some impressive results on test using new construction methods in the lab,' says Sturgess. 'Now we need to work to replicate them on our production lines. We are also looking at the introduction of some automated dispensing equipment to cut even more time out of the manufacturing process.'

'The commercial vehicle sector is a fantastic one for 3M products,' says Mike Killner, technical specialist at the 3M Industrial Adhesives and Tapes division. 'its exactly the combination of tough usage and tight cost constraints in which our technologies really excel. The work with SDC is just the latest example of 3M commercial vehicle projects that range from refuse disposal vehicles in Japan to mobile advertising in Scotland.'
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