Polycarbonate Provides Bus Drivers with New Levels of Safety

Today at NPE 2009, SABIC Innovative Plastics introduced a new, high-tech shield to enhance the protection of transit operators in Toronto. This new high-value operator protection is made of Lexan* sheet and coated with the Exatec* E900 advanced plasma technology at Exatec's facility in Wixom, Mich.

The combined high impact strength and optical clarity of Lexan sheet and the excellent abrasion resistance of the Exatec coating, led the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) to equip its fleet with new shields to help prevent assaults on TTC operators, which average one per day. The advanced Lexan sheet/Exatec E900 plasma technology shield is SABIC Innovative Plastics' latest example of how it is addressing critical customer needs with practical yet highly advanced material innovations.

Cutaway of Bus Outfitted with Protective Shield Made with Lexan* Sheet and Exatec* E900 Plasma Technology

"From the outset of this program the TTC sought a collaborative supplier to create a maximum-protection bus enclosure with exceptional impact resistance, anti-abrasion performance, durability, and excellent clarity," said Stephen Shuler, chief technology officer for Exatec, LLC, at SABIC Innovative Plastics. "Exatec's expertise in automotive glazing and application development helped to provide a next-generation, high-tech material and coating solution that not only enhances safety, but also provides drivers with a more open, spacious feel."

Making Public Transit Safer

Serious incidents involving bus drivers are on the rise. For example, Washington, DC's Metro system experienced 70 assaults on drivers in 2008, compared to 55 in 2007**. While protection of the driver was a primary objective of the TTC bus retrofit, the glazing solution also had to meet stringent regulatory requirements for optical clarity (driver visibility) as set forth in the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) ANSI Z26.1 AS-2 standard. Lexan 9034 sheet with Exatec coating is the first polycarbonate (PC) glazing certified to comply with AS-2.

This strong but lightweight solution also offers weight reductions of as much as 50 percent vs. glass, as well as superior impact strength, abrasion resistance and overall durability vs. acrylic-based panels.

Protective Enclosure Combines Durability with Visibility

The driver protection enclosure consists of a 31 by 38 inch rectangular Lexan sheet window with a lower metal door.

"Providing a durable protection shield solution for our customer was the ultimate goal," said Shuler. "Our close collaboration with the TTC and their suppliers helped us to quickly understand their requirements and develop the material and coating combination needed for the high-performance protection shield quickly and cost-effectively. The combination of Lexan sheet and Exatec E900 plasma technology was clearly the ideal solution and the potential to use this technology with other mass transit organizations is significant."

SABIC Innovative Plastics is exhibiting here at NPE 2009 in booth W123011.

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