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Reducing product weight with material decisions

With government regulations requiring ever increasing fuel economy standards automakers are leading the way in applying lightweighting technology. 3M and Automotive Engineering International teamed up to find out which technologies and materials will be most effective in helping manufacturers met their weight reduction goals. 

Graph showing the percentage of lightness of different material

Composites rank among the most favourable materials for lightweighting 

Engineering professionals voted on which materials would be most beneficial for lightweighting. 

Read the full story (EN, US) 
Yellow double decker bus in the city
Bonding composite materials 

Reducing product weight can lower manufacturing costs, improve energy consumption, and enhance aesthetics. 3M design specialists can help. 

Ask an expert
  • A guy on a bike riding on grass

    Joining and bonding composite parts

    Substrates, such as metal and plastic, can have significantly different physical and chemical properties that must be accommodated in new, lighter weight designs. Download the whitepaper to learn more about bonding composite parts.

    Learn more

  • Car headlight 

    Lightweighting

    Strength. Durability. Longevity. Versatility. 3M Brand Adhesives and Tapes can be the ideal solution for bonding composites, plastics, and other lightweighting materials.

    Learn more

Joining and bonding composite parts

  • Close up of white vehicle headlight and bumper

    Glass-filled polypropylene

    Permanent composite bonding for strength and aesthetics

    3M™ Scotch-Weld™ Structural Plastic Adhesive DP8010 Blue was used to bond ABS inserts to glass-filled polypropylene bumpers. It was the only solution that provided a permanent structural bond without pretreatment while maintaining the desired look.

  • Tan vehicle interior 

    Thermoplastic composites

    Lightweight composite adhesive bonding for vehicle panels

    3M™ Scotch-Weld™ Structural Plastic Adhesive DP8010NS Blue is used in bonding interior trim panels to the aluminum frame. It provided the desired bonding strength for the lightweight interior panels that could also withstand driving force and provide structural support.

  • White busses

    Glass Reinforced Plastic

    Flexible adhesive for vehicle manufacturing

    A 3M™ Polyurethane Adhesive Sealant was used to bond the glass-reinforced plastic (GRP) side panel to the coated steel frame of a commercial bus and coach. It was selected because it offered a high load capacity and could withstand vibrations and thermal expansion. This customer also used 3M™ VHB™ Acrylic Foam Tape with the adhesive sealant to speed up production.

  • Yellow oil rig at sunset 

    Carbon fiber

    Carbon fibre composite bonding for drilling platforms

    3M™ Scotch-Weld™ Toughened Epoxy Adhesive has been used to bond carbon fibre during the assembly of lightweight drilling platform equipment. 3M’s epoxy adhesive was used to secure bonded joints of carbon fibre and stainless steel. Field tests have shown resistance to dynamic loading, crude oil, hydrocarbon mud and fragments of rock mixture flowing at 80°C to 100ºC.


Four challenges to consider when reducing product weight with substrates 

  • Noisy substrates

    Lightweighting of substrates can produce noise of greater frequency and higher pitch, which can create perceptions of lower quality or decreased safety. 3M has products that can be used to provide sound damping, thereby decreasing excessive frequency and pitch. 

  • Flexible Substrates 

    Lightweighting substrates can be more flexible but also weaker, so some products may need reinforcement to increase strength. However, the reinforcing materials must be light-weight enough to provide a net reduction in product weight. 3M Brand Adhesion Technology can be used to achieve this in a variety of applications.

  • Heat susceptibility of substrates

    Heat and flame resistance are critical considerations in designing products . Some applications may require overall heat resistance while others need one-time protection from a flame event at the end of product life. When lightweighting, if a new substrate is susceptible to heat or flame, 3M Brand Foil Tapes may provide the necessary protection.

  • Visual Appearance of Substrates

    A change to lightweighting substrates, especially from metal to plastic, can significantly change the appearance of products and create the perception of reduced quality. However, this can be addressed by adding veneers to new substrates or products to enhance their aesthetics and consumer appeal. Decorative film solutions from 3M can be used on products to make plastic surfaces more visually appealing.

Resources for bonding materials

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  • 3M Canada composite bonding brochure

Bonding and assembly resources

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