Exatec*, a wholly owned subsidiary of SABIC Innovative Plastics, and ULVAC, a leader in mass-production vacuum technologies, today announced their collaboration to accelerate cost-effective, high-volume production of weatherable, scratch-resistant, plasma-coated Lexan* polycarbonate (PC) resin for vehicle windows. Under the agreement, ULVAC will manufacture turnkey mass production systems that leverage its' expertise in high-volume vacuum equipment and Exatec's proprietary plasma coating technology.
The combined ULVAC and Exatec technologies will help automakers and tiers replace heavier glass windows with Lexan resin glazing to meet upcoming regulations for lower CO2 emissions and also provide greater design freedom and cost reduction through parts consolidation. It also offers other industries - particularly consumer electronics - durable and abrasion-resistant coating solutions for a broad range of products. Automakers interested in expanding production of PC windows using Exatec technology will soon be able to order machinery from ULVAC.
"Pressure to reduce vehicle emissions is increasing worldwide, requiring automakers to implement weight-out solutions that can also meet rising demand for superior quality and durability," said Dominic McMahon, chief executive officer, Exatec. "Plasma-coated Lexan PC glazing has exceptionally high potential for weight-out. This technology is already validated, and now our relationship with ULVAC builds the path to large-scale production. We are confident that ULVAC's turnkey solutions combined with Exatec's coating technology will change the future of automotive glazing and make a significant contribution to improved fuel economy, reduced emissions and increased vehicle range."
"The technical cooperation between Exatec and ULVAC will no doubt accelerate the full scale production of plasma-coated polycarbonate automotive glazing," said Kyuzo Nakamura, chairman of ULVAC, Inc. "Exatec's superior technology for hard coating polycarbonate is already in production and ULVAC has been engaged in production and distribution of various types of vacuum coating equipment. We believe that this technical cooperation will bring a total solutions package to our customers in automotive and also in consumer electronics."
"SABIC Innovative Plastics recognized the need for new materials that offer automotive designers greater freedom in styling while reducing the weight of glazing components," said Greg Adams, vice president, Automotive, SABIC Innovative Plastics. "Over the past few years Exatec coatings and Lexan have been used for the glazing on many technology demonstration vehicles from innovative OEMs. This technology collaboration with ULVAC is a milestone in the broader adoption of PC glazing in the automotive industry."
More stringent vehicle emission restrictions are planned in major automotive markets. In the United States, new rules mandate that by 2016, vehicles must get an average of 35.5 miles per gallon. In Europe, mandatory reductions of CO2 emissions aim to reach 130gCO2/km (.46lbs/mile) in 2015 for the average new car fleet, and 95g/km (.35lbs/mile) by 2020.
Plasma-Coated PC Glazing Industrialization
The joint solution created by Exatec and ULVAC combines two highly advanced technologies and optimizes them for large-scale production. Exatec's plasma coatings for Lexan PC provide unmatched weatherability and abrasion resistance to ensure crystal-clear, attractive and durable glazing over the life of the vehicle. ULVAC's advanced vacuum equipment technologies enable this coating system to be scaled up for production; they feature a high deposition rate, a continuous process and the ability to coat parts with complex shapes and a wide range of sizes. Together, the companies have optimized this system for exceptional quality, consistency and throughput.