The advantages of using adhesive tape to eliminate rivets in vehicle manufacturing

These days, OEMs across the transportation industry — including automotiveaerospace and marine — are looking to make vehicles lighter and more fuel efficient. Some ways to do that include changing the overall vehicle design, changing component designs, using new materials and new manufacturing processes. But there’s another solution that shouldn’t be overlooked: adhesives. Flexible adhesives like VHB tape, adhesive transfer tape and others can help OEMs and suppliers bond panels, eliminate rivets, reduce vehicle weight and more. Here’s how Saunders converts tape and other adhesive materials to help transportation manufacturers achieve their project goals.

Using adhesives for panel-to-frame bonding applications

Flexible adhesives are ideally suited for replacing mechanical fasteners in panel-to-frame bonding applications. Particularly for trucks and trailers, a material like VHB tape can replace rivets when attaching a panel to the trailer frame. VHB tape provides extremely strong bonding and can withstand a range of environmental conditions, making it an ideal material for transportation applications. With VHB tape, the bond actually gets stronger over time, helping to make the structure of vehicles more secure. For aerospace and marine projects, specialty tapes can be used in the same way to bond panels to frames, or panels to other panels, while still satisfying regulatory requirements.

Saunders can die cut tape to the exact length and width needed for a given application. For trailers, this is often 6-foot pieces of tape to which we add an easy-to-remove liner. This makes it faster to apply by hand or feed into manufacturing equipment during assembly, speeding up the entire process. Making this simple switch can help OEMs and suppliers increase efficiency in the manufacturing process.

Benefits of replacing rivets with adhesives

In addition to boosting manufacturing efficiency, there are a number of other reasons to choose flexible adhesives to eliminate rivets in transportation applications, including:

More aerodynamic – Even though rivets have a relatively low profile, they nevertheless create drag when the vehicle is in motion. That drag from the wind hinders fuel efficiency. But by eliminating rivets from the design, vehicles have a much smoother outer surface, making them more aerodynamic and helping to improve fuel efficiency.

Lighter vehicles – Rivets may not be heavy on their own, but when you’re using dozens of them to attach a single panel, the weight adds up. Adhesive tapes are typically much lighter by comparison, helping to reduce the overall weight of the vehicle.

Reduced noise and vibration – With many vehicles that use rivets to bond panels, eventually, the rivets start to come loose. This creates vibration and unwelcome noise that can have a detrimental impact on user satisfaction. Flexible adhesives not only ensure a permanent bond to keep panels securely affixed, but eliminate the possibility of unwanted noise and vibration.

More equal weight distribution on the bond line – Because a rivet is a fixed point, it can create stress on the attached panel. Eventually, panels can start to rip, compromising the structural integrity of the vehicle. But with adhesive tapes, the weight or stress of the panel is distributed evenly across the length of the tape at the bond line. This helps prevent damage to panels and ensures durable bonding for the life of the vehicle.

Less corrosion – Rivets left exposed to the elements can corrode over time, or contribute to corrosion of the affixed panel. By using adhesives to eliminate rivets, there is no opportunity for corrosion to occur, improving vehicle aesthetics and reducing the total cost of ownership by eliminating the need for repairs.

The bottom line

To meet the demands of today’s consumers and regulatory organizations, OEMs and suppliers need to explore every avenue for making vehicles lighter and more fuel efficient. Flexible adhesives and tape solutions provide a valuable opportunity to advance these goals. By working with a converter like Saunders to develop durable adhesive bonding solutions, transportation manufacturers can boost manufacturing efficiency, improve vehicle performance and create the next generation of successful vehicles.

Looking to eliminate rivets in your next transportation project? Contact Saunders today to learn more about how our tape converting services can help you achieve your project goals.