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Dow Automotive’s innovative approach for bonding in hybrid front-end systems went officially into production in May 2005 with the launch of the new Polo. This is the first commercial application of the company’s bonding technology in a hybrid front-end solution from Volkswagen.
(Published on January-February 2006 – JEC Magazine #22)
The Polo’s new front end is an important aspect of this new model. Working together with Dow Automotive, Volkswagen developed a solution that not only reduced weight, but at the same time met all requirements for part rigidity and cost. Weight reduction was achieved on 25% or 1.5kg per part in comparison to other solutions.
Higher flexibility and lower costs
The prototype for this part, first presented in 2002 and based on the Golf IV front-end carrier, already displayed many of the features present on the new Polo front end: a combination of long glass fibre reinforced (LGF) polypropylene bonded with low energy substrate adhesive (LESA) to metal parts. Unlike more traditional hybrid solutions, this design incorporates a closed box section not possible with the traditional overmoulding technique, enabling maximum stiffness with minimum weight. By using LESA technology, materials with low surface energies, such as polypropylene, can be bonded to dissimilar substrates without the use of pre-treatment. In addition, this hybrid solution also enables the flexibility to implement design changes late in the product development phase, resulting in lower tooling costs.
A concept with great potential
The hybrid concept as presented in the new Polo is a mature concept that still offers potential. Emphasizing this future potential, Roland Janssen, plastics marketing manager at Dow Automotive, said, “We are delighted that Volkswagen decided in favour of our technology and thus proved our approach. With our application know-how, we see still great potential for further weight reduction as the central area of the concept.”