With the automotive industry focused on hitting future fuel economy and emission targets, the Ford Motor Company has revealed a drivable multi-material lightweight vehicle (MMLV) with an advanced polycarbonate (PC) glazing solution from SABIC’s Innovative Plastics business that makes possible a 35 percent weight reduction compared to the same window on a 2013 model year Ford Fusion production vehicle. The weight savings total 7.4 pounds, even though the rear window is over one millimeter thicker than the production glass window it replaces.
The lightweight concept vehicle was developed with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Vehicle Technologies Program, together with Cosma International - a subsidiary of Magna International - to illustrate long-term potential light-weighting solutions. SABIC contributed PC glazing materials, advanced coatings technology and engineering design expertise to support the rear window’s development and production.
The advanced PC solution used in the concept’s rear window combines LEXAN™ resin, a PC material characterized by its light weight, high optical clarity and impact resistance, with EXATEC™ E900 plasma coating for glass-like scratch and UV resistance. The E900 coating, an offering unique to SABIC, is designed to deliver a high level of weatherability and abrasion resistance over the life of the vehicle and enable automakers to meet homologation requirements for driver visibility - including U.S. standards such as the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 205 regulations, as governed by the NHTSA AS2 specification, and the American National Standards Institute Z26.1, which covers the visibility, strength and abrasion resistance of glazing materials.
“SABIC is committed to spread the adoption of PC glazing technology, which offers styling and weight saving benefits to help increase fuel efficiency and lower emissions,” said Scott Fallon, general manager, Automotive, SABIC’s Innovative Plastics business. “To date, several OEMs have validated the technology for use on rear quarter windows and roofs on production vehicles. At the same time, real-world demonstration programs like Ford’s drivable multi-material lightweight vehicle concept are valuable to further highlight the performance gains that can come from an advanced approach like PC glazing and to ultimately help validate and speed up its wide-scale adoption.”
The potential for big weight-savings led Ford to produce the window out of PC material, which is half the density of glass. With this PC-based rear window, Ford now has another platform upon which to test the overall performance of this lightweight technology, which is consistent with its continued efforts to determine the right mix of materials and applications for future vehicles.
Additional Weight Reduction Benefits
SABIC has determined that weight reduction benefits from the use of PC glazing can contribute to the sustainability of a vehicle by improving energy efficiency and reducing emissions.
This boost in energy efficiency can come not only from weight reduction, but also from improved thermal insulation of the passenger cabin, a result of PC’s five-fold lower thermal conductivity relative to glass. SABIC’s advanced computer analyses have quantified LEXAN resin’s potential to reduce the load on HVAC (heating, ventilating and air conditioning) systems: emissions can be cut by as much as three grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre, and the range of electric and hybrid vehicles can be extended by two to three percent.
The rear window of Ford’s MMLV is identical in geometry to the part used in the Fusion production vehicle. This design approach allows Ford to test the two parts and compare the performance differences between them based strictly on the change in materials.
The material’s ability to be injection molded means windows can be designed to reduce even more weight, increase aerodynamic performance and enhance styling. Designs can go beyond the shape and complexity limitations of glass to glazing with geometric effects that can make possible relatively thin PC surfaces, potentially adding to the weight-out total. Also, 3D styling possibilities and aerodynamic features enabled by PC glazing can minimize drag and contribute to fuel efficiency.
Integration opportunities, enabled by PC glazing, can also contribute to enhanced efficiency - and cost savings - by reducing the number of parts and materials associated with joining otherwise discrete components.
Large Scale Plasma Coating Production for PC Glazing Components
Another consideration for automotive OEMs and suppliers is the maturity of PC glazing technology and its suitability for mass production. In collaboration with ULVAC, a leading global supplier of mass production systems, SABIC has helped develop an advanced vacuum equipment technology for the automotive industry to develop lightweight, plasma-coated PC glazing components cost-effectively and efficiently on a broad scale.
In addition to PC glazing, SABIC offers thermoplastic solutions for almost every major application space on a vehicle. In the 2013 model year Ford Fusion, for example, about 20 kilograms of SABIC resins are used to reduce weight and meet diverse performance requirements for chassis, forward lighting, interior and structural, exterior, electrical and underhood applications.
More information about SABIC’s Innovative Plastics business and the range of solutions it offers for the automotive industry can be found on the website (www.sabic-ip.com. For technical product inquiries, please contact us at www.sabic-ip.com/prtechinquiry.
Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) ranks among the world’s top petrochemical companies. The company is among the world’s market leaders in the production of polyethylene, polypropylene and other advanced thermoplastics, glycols, methanol and fertilizers.
SABIC recorded a net profit of SR 25.3 billion (US$ 6.7 billion) in 2013. Sales revenues for 2013 totaled SR 189 billion (US$ 50.4 billion). Total assets stood at SR 339.1 billion (US$ 90.4 billion) at the end of 2013.
SABIC’s businesses are grouped into Chemicals, Polymers, Performance Chemicals, Fertilizers, Metals and Innovative Plastics. SABIC has significant research resources with 19 dedicated Technology Innovation facilities in Saudi Arabia, the USA, the Netherlands, Spain, Japan, India, China and South Korea. The company operates in more than 40 countries across the world with around 40,000 employees worldwide. SABIC manufactures on a global scale in Saudi Arabia, the Americas, Europe and Asia Pacific.
Headquartered in Riyadh, SABIC was founded in 1976 when the Saudi Arabian Government decided to use the hydrocarbon gases associated with its oil production as the principal feedstock for production of chemicals, polymers and fertilizers. The Saudi Arabian Government owns 70 percent of SABIC shares with the remaining 30 percent held by private investors in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Cooperation Council countries.
ABOUT INNOVATIVE PLASTICS
SABIC’s Innovative Plastics business is a leading, global supplier of engineering thermoplastics with an 80-year history of breakthrough solutions that solve its customers’ most pressing challenges. Today, Innovative Plastics is a multi-billion-dollar company with operations in more than 35 countries and approximately 9,000 employees worldwide. The company continues to lead the plastics industry with customer collaboration and continued investments in new polymer technologies, global application development, process technologies, and environmentally responsible solutions that serve diverse markets such as Healthcare, Transportation, Automotive, Electrical, Lighting and Consumer Electronics. The company’s extensive product portfolio includes thermoplastic resins, coatings, specialty compounds, film, and sheet. Innovative Plastics (www.sabic-ip.com) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC).
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