March 12, 2015 - General Transportation

Adhesives transforming rail car manufacturing

As in most transportation markets, the need for faster, lighter and more efficient rail cars is becoming a necessity. Rail car manufacturing is turning to new components to create lighter vehicles including glass-fiber reinforced plastic (GFRP). This new body structure has resulted in a sizable weight reduction and transformed the production process. With this kind of structural innovation comes the issue of bonding the train together without adding to its weight, thus doing away with metal fasteners and finding an effective alternative.

Because of this new method of manufacturing rail cars, it is no longer necessary to weld on metal sheets to take up shear stress. Instead, train manufacturers are using adhesives to bond the supporting metal structure to the outer skin elements of the train. This new structure and reduction of metal sheets makes these trains about 25% lighter than older trains resulting in lower production and operating costs and reduced energy requirements for operations.

In order for rail manufacturers to adhere the outer skin to the metal, there are certain specifications for the adhesive that must be taken into consideration such as fire retardancy, lightweight solutions, and whether or not elastic bonding is needed.

  1. Fire retardancy in adhesives is critical in any transportation application. They aid in rail patron safety by reducing fire, smoke and toxic fumes, allowing passengers increased time to exit a train in a high-risk situation.
  2. A lightweight solution is essential for increasing rail speed and efficiency. Reducing weight in transportation vehicles translates to fuel savings and a lower overall impact on the environment. These kinds of adhesives must be lightweight yet provide strong, lasting bonds that keep transportation moving.
  3. Elastic bonds are unique because they include a family of adhesives that join and seal individual components to a structural frame. This kind of bonding is ideal for rail applications because they are extremely durable, yet dynamic, making them a perfect fit for continuous movement and stress like that in a train.

Trains all around the world are being constructed using Bostik adhesives and sealants because of our strength, adhesion, flexibility, and reliability. Rail car manufacturers are specifically focused on the durability of the adhesives being applied to their rail cars, instead of traditional metal fasteners, such as bolts, which can be greatly affected by vibrations. Over time, the vibrations of the train can loosen the mechanical fasteners and cause clattering and unnecessary noise, whereas adhesives have flexibility and can endure the stress of day-to-day operations. Manufacturers need to be certain that the adhesives used on the train will work properly with the expansion and contraction of the trains and, once out on the rail systems, continue to work properly for years to come.

Bostik adhesives can be found in many other rail applications including side panel bonding, windshield and glass installation, luggage compartments and door assembly, and the interior trim.  Bostik offers multiple products that vary in strength, flexibility, cure time, and UV resistance, including silyl modified polymer adhesives, liquid and web adhesives and pressure sensitive adhesives. Through proprietary technologies, material-to-material bonding expertise and flexibility of form, we create bonds that will keep your transportation moving.

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