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Polycarbonate Sheet in Automotive Glazing Application

Time: 2018-06-23

PC compounds have proven to offer up to 50% weight reduction as compared to glass.


Apart from light-weighting, increased design freedom, part consolidation and improved functionality have gained importance among automotive OEMs while choosing materials. These aspects are becoming increasingly important as style, aesthetics and comfort have become paramount in automotive design. PC compounds have proven to offer significant advantages over conventional materials used in glazing applications. For instance, colored glazing.

 

Technological Advancement

State-of-the-art coating technologies that offer significant resistance for more than 10 years of outdoor exposure, which is the stipulated quality standard for PC in glazing applications, are being developed in the marketplace. PC glazing systems are further required to meet and exceed regulatory requirements for driver visibility such as FMVSS 205, R43 and JIS R 3211 that have been stipulated in US, Europe and Japan respectively. This will be made possible only with a well-established coating technology.

Coatings requirements vary with individual glazing application. For instance, abrasion and weatherability requirements vary amongst the front windows, rear windows and roofing applications, which in turn demand suitable coating formulation. Polysiloxane hard coating via plasma enhance vapour deposition method has proven to effectively meet regulatory requirements as well as OEM demands. However, coating facilities are yet to be well established to support mass production applications. Cost of coating these systems eventually boost total cost of product and it is therefore compelling that manufacturers establish a cost-effective coating technique to competitively position the product in the marketplace. PC manufacturers, coating companies and automotive OEMs are working closely to establish large-scale production facilities. Certain PC compound manufacturers are also evaluating options to add in-house coating capability to achieve cost efficiency.

 

What's the Future for PC Compounds?

PC compounds have a promising future in the automotive glazing landscape once the issues related to coating technologies and production capabilities are addressed. Revision of existing regulatory specifications and testing methodologies for plastic based glazing systems will further facilitate adoption of PC in windshield glazing applications. Over and above this, globalization of automotive OEMs and technology transfer across regions are compelling the need for standardization in material usage. Harmonization of regulatory standards at a global level therefore remains paramount to aid the replacement of glass by PC compounds. North American standards for plastic glazing materials are the most stringent as they specify high weatherability requirements. Harmonization of standards will consequently increase the requirements on material's chemical and mechanical properties paving way for R&D activities.

Mass production and application of PC in glazing applications are expected to commence by the end of the decade as they require considerable level of advancements in terms of technology, production capabilities and revision of regulatory standards. Market participants across the value chain, including raw material suppliers, compounders, component manufacturers, automotive OEMs are striving to address the existing challenges in the marketplace. Rapid adoption of PC glazing for sun roofs, fixed side and rear window applications are expected to progress during the next five years while penetration into movable side windows and windscreen applications are projected to go mainstream during the next decade.

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