Ford Motor Company is commercializing a new process that makes attaching vehicle windshields simpler, eco-friendly and less costly. Two separate patents cover this cutting-edge technology. The first patent is for the process with the edge of the windshield glass that can be cleaned and activated in less than 10 seconds. The second patent involves the application of a plasma-reacted nano-coating that helps prepare the surface for the bonding of the adhesive that holds the windshield in place.
Ford Research & Innovation Technical Expert Larry Haack says this technology provides multiple benefits. “The new patented process has the potential to reduce costs because it requires far less material to create the ultra-thin bond coating, and the fully automated process is much less labor-intensive,” explains Haack. “This new process also lessens the use of chemicals including VOCs [volatile organic compounds], which is good for the environment.”
The windshield attachment method used by automakers now releases small amounts of highly undesirable solvent emissions. The glass is first wiped with a solvent cleaner, and then primer and adhesive are applied to secure the windshield to the vehicle. The new technology eliminates the use of solvents that contain VOCs and reduces steps such as wiping the glass clean.
The automaker has signed a nonexclusive, worldwide license agreement with Plasmatreat U.S. L.P. that grants the right to use Ford’s new patents and incorporate the technology into Plasmatreat equipment and patents. Ford will also provide technical assistance to Plasmatreat and its customers. The partnership is designed to help introduce the technology to a variety of markets. According to Ford Global Technologies L.L.C. Technology Commercialization Director Chris Danowski, the heavy truck, motor home and bus industries will be among the first markets to obtain the new process.
The partnership with Plasmatreat, based in Elgin, Illinois offers exciting opportunities for Ford. Danowski feels that companies like Plasmatreat can help commercialize new technologies and make them available to the market faster. He also notes, “Such relationships are very beneficial, as we are simplifying the manufacturing process and making it more environmentally friendly, too.”
Ford’s latest technological achievement is part of a long-standing, company-wide effort to reduce waste and develop more eco-conscious practices. Advanced methods like those used in the windshield-attachment patents set the bar high for both industry competitors and even Ford itself, as it continues to develop smarter ways to build quality vehicles.