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Bonding Composite Materials and Lightweighting

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

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 meet their weight reduction goals.

  • Image of the front fender of a motorcycle, made of a composite material
    Adhesives for Composite Material Applications

    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.

    Read the Whitepaper (PDF, 798.5 KB)


  • Drawing of a bus showing where plastic might be attached to a metal frame for lightweighting
    Joining Plastic to Metal

    As design engineers seek out more materials that will aid in lightweighting, challenges with bonding dissimilar materials can arise due to differences in chemical properties. Download the article about 'New Techniques for Joining Plastic to Metal' to explore how manufacturers are using tapes and adhesives to bond dissimilar materials.

    Read the Article (PDF, 553.6 KB)

    Learn More About Bonding Dissimilar Materials

  • Image of several 3M adhesive and tape products that can be used to bond lightweighting materials
    Tapes and Adhesives for Lightweighting

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

    Explore tapes and other adhesives for bonding

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.
  • 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 adhesion technology can be used to achieve this in a variety of applications such as small appliances, handheld tools, electronics and signage.
  • Heat and flame resistance are critical considerations in designing products as diverse as hair dryers, vacuums, snowmobiles and commercial vehicle battery cables. 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 foil tapes may provide the necessary protection.
  • 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 such as consumer electronics or large home appliances to make plastic surfaces more visually appealing.

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Need help finding the right product for your project? Contact us if you need product, technical or application advice or want to collaborate with a 3M technical specialist.

Need help finding the right product for your project? Contact us if you need product, technical or application advice or want to collaborate with a 3M technical specialist.