A Better Bond

February 1, 2009
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American Coach switches to LORD engineered adhesives to improve aesthetics.



Mexico’s American Coach is a national manufacturer of premium intercity coaches. After learning that several major automotive manufacturers had used structural adhesives to minimize the use of unsightly screws on the body work of more than 50 million cars for 25 years, the company decided to evaluate their merit as well.

In 2005, American Coach sought to replace the typical metal design of the luggage doors on their HL2 and HL models using fiber reinforced plastics (FRPs). However, this change presented their design team with the challenge of finding a better way to bond the assembly of FRP parts. Once they finished the new design of the luggage doors using FRP and conducted several trials with different adhesive and sealant manufacturers, the team leaders of the project, Engineering Manager Martin Amezcua and Product Engineer Jaime Cruz, contacted LORD Corp., a pioneer in specialty structural adhesives and polyurethane coatings, as well as electronic, vibration, and noise-control solutions. According to Cruz, LORD Corp.’s structural adhesives allowed American Coach to obtain a perfect appearance on the FRP with the expected strength bonding.

LORD’s solution was LORD 406/19 GB, an acrylic adhesive that bonds a variety of prepared and unprepared metals and engineering plastics and FRPs. In use for more than a decade, these adhesives have proven to be extremely reliable when exposed to demanding outdoor environments.

“Not only were the aesthetics of the doors improved, but the use of LORD adhesives also reduced the time spent in the post finishing and weight of the parts, all contributing to a 10% reduction in cost,” said Cruz.

According to Arnulfo Garcia, LORD sales representative, the use of these adhesives enabled the removal of unsightly screws on the outside body, resulting in a more durable and appealing coach. Another benefit was the savings in labor and material costs. Once the crews became accustomed to the adhesive-bonding process, they quickly recognized its speed, which had a direct impact on their weekly production goals. The adhesives are also expected to be a quieter solution than welded doors and panels due to the fact that a bonded component cannot warp out-of-plumb because of its superior stiffness. Other attributes include impact resistance and vibration control. Since the integration of adhesives, not a single failure has occurred.

Ben Zamora, Western Region sales manager at LORD Corp., recounts that, while learning about American Coach’s needs, LORD also had the opportunity to suggest another improvement: a mounting option for the coach’s powertrain suspension and cooling suspension.

“American Coach was already using LORD Corp.’s Torsilastic primary suspension system,” Zamora said. “We recognized additional opportunities to improve the noise vibration and harshness of their coach through the application of LORD mechanical products. We analyzed their powertrain suspension and their cooling suspension. A six-degree-of-freedom analysis allowed us to determine which mechanical products would optimize the suspension systems. The suspension systems were prototyped, the optimization was realized, and they elected to switch to LORD products.”

Zamora claims that the integration of LORD adhesives and mechanical products supports the American Coach vision of producing a coach tailor-made for the Mexican market.

“Other manufacturers apply coaches designed for other markets to the Mexican market, but coaches designed for other markets do not provide the durability and comfort needed in Mexico,” he said. “LORD products contribute to American Coach’s ability to produce a market-differentiated coach. Further, the adhesives improve the aesthetics and dovetail with our mechanical products to improve durability and performance. Concurrently, our products reduce cost and complexity.”

About LORD Corp.

LORD Corp., Cary, NC, is a privately held company that designs, manufactures and markets devices and systems to manage mechanical motion and control noise and vibration; formulates, produces and sells general-purpose and specialty adhesives and coatings; and develops products and systems using magnetically responsive technologies. With manufacturing in nine countries and offices in more than 15 major business centers, LORD Corp. employs more than 2,600 people worldwide.

For more information, visit www.lord.com.


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