CHICAGO Henkel Corp.s automotive group has introduced a new pretreatment process in North America that will allow more aluminum to be used in cars and trucks, the company said.
Henkels Bonderite Flex Process made its North American production debut on the 2013 Ford F-150, which features an all-aluminum hood, German parent Henkel AG & Co. KGaA said April 16.
The process replaces traditional zinc phosphating processes with a zirconium oxide pretreatment, which enables a "significant increase in aluminum content." Zinc phosphate becomes more difficult to control after aluminum content on a car or truck hits approximately 30 percent, Henkel said, noting that zirconium oxides dont have the same limitations.
"Treating aluminum with zirconium oxide gives vehicle manufacturers the flexibility of processing up to 85 percent of aluminum on vehicles vs. 25 percent with conventional zinc phosphate coating," Manish Dave, director of surface treatment for Henkels North American automotive group, said in a statement.
The technology is being used at Ford Motor Co.s Dearborn, Mich., assembly plant and at Auburn Hills, Mich.-based Chrysler Group LLCs plant in Brampton, Ontario. Approval programs are also under way with General Motors Co., Detroit, with the process expected to be introduced at one of the automakers plants by the third or fourth quarter, Terry Giles, Henkels business development manager for metal pretreatment, said.
"Everybody wants to meet their fuel requirements," he said of stricter government standards for emissions and fuel economy. "And everyone is talking about increasing their aluminum usage in the next three to four years."