SABIC’s Innovative Plastics business, a world leader in engineering thermoplastics and advanced material solutions, and ULVAC Inc., a leader in mass-production vacuum technologies, today announced the commercial availability of the new, state-of-the-art ULGLAZE system for high-volume production of plasma-coated polycarbonate (PC) components for automotive glazing applications.
The ULGLAZE machine is manufactured at ULVAC’s facility in Chiagasaki, Japan and was developed as part of a two-year collaboration between SABIC and ULVAC. Optimized for LEXAN™ resin and EXATEC™ plasma coatings from SABIC, this unique solution now enables automotive OEMs and tiers to mass produce lightweight, durable and aerodynamic glazing components – like rear quarter and side windows, backlite windows, rear spoilers and sunroofs – that deliver exceptional performance and aesthetics over the life of the vehicle. The availability of this technology marks a significant milestone in enabling automakers to take full advantage of PC glazing to create lighter vehicles for improved fuel efficiency and performance. In addition, this achievement demonstrates the power of proactive collaboration between two technology leaders on behalf of the automotive industry, which now has the tools to adopt PC glazing cost-effectively and on a broad scale.
“ULVAC studied EXATEC plasma coating technology and found that it offers significant advantages in the processing time and performance it gave us,” said Hisaharu Obinata, chief executive officer, ULVAC. “In fact, we found that the EXATEC plasma coating process is at least 30 times faster than other plasma coating technologies used for PC glazing. We then validated the process and plasma coating through the creation of the ULGLAZE machine. SABIC’s coating technology, together with ULVAC’s extensive experience in developing automotive equipment for a broad range of applications enabled our team to develop a system that promotes high productivity and reliability.”
“With the availability of this high-volume coating technology, PC glazing is now ready to play a much larger role in automotive design and make a greater contribution to improved fuel economy, reduced emissions and increased vehicle range,” said Amanda Roble, lead executive, SABIC’s automotive PC glazing unit. “With this machinery, automakers can take full advantage of PC glazing technology and integrate it into their vehicles. To help accelerate this momentum, SABIC and ULVAC will continue to collaborate and invest in R&D to further improve the machinery and process technology to produce plasma-coated LEXAN resin parts for vehicle windows.”
Efficient, Large-scale Production
This new high-volume production capability is based on the benefits of three advanced technologies: the efficiencies of the ULGLAZE coating equipment, featuring a high deposition rate with low temperature, continuous process and ability to coat parts of various sizes and shapes; the legendary performance of impact-resistant LEXAN resin; and the unmatched weatherability and abrasion resistance of EXATEC plasma coatings. Together, the companies have optimized this system for exceptional quality, consistency and throughput. In particular, customers may realize cost efficiencies through a more rapid process and high yields.
ULVAC has a long history of designing, building and supplying equipment used in the manufacture of automotive applications. ULVAC has sold more than 1,000 similar inline systems capable of coating large parts with both high reliability and productivity.
In addition to automotive glazing, the ULGLAZE system is a candidate for use in consumer electronics display applications (touchscreens, monitors) and electrical components, semiconductors and solar cells.