For the past 25 years the standard glazing constructions for automotive vehicles have been laminated glass for the windshield and toughened glass for the side and rear glazings. Over the next ten years it is expected that as new car models are introduced, the type of glazings used in the side windows (sidelights) of cars will move from toughened glass to laminated glass. The trend to fit laminated sidelights started in Europe but there is now global interest with US and Japanese vehicle manufacturers launching models fitted with side laminates. The move to laminated side and rear glazings represents a turning point for advanced vehicle design opportunities and is more significant than the volume change from toughened to laminated windshields in 1970.
Extensive consumer market research has confirmed that consumers are very interested in laminated sidelights and willing to pay a premium to have them fitted to the vehicle.
The consumer sees benefits in two areas:
- Reduction in theft from cars
- Personal Security
- Solar control improvement
- Reduction in extraneous noise
- 95 per cent reduction in UV entering vehicle through the side glazings
Laminated sidelights have a similar construction to laminated windshields, namely a PVB interlayer sandwiched between two glass plies. In order to meet door slam tests, both glass plies need to be semitoughened with a minimum of 35 Mpa compression around the edge and over the surface. Current products are a 2.1/0.76/2.1 mm construction or thicker but Pilkington will enter volume production with a 1.6/0.76/1.8 mm construction this year. The trend to lighter weight glazing means that an overall 4 mm make up is becoming a higher priority. At this thickness, stress levels and optics become far more difficult to achieve in tandem. NSG Group researchers are already testing these future new constructions.
The recently launched New UK Car Security Rating Scheme (NCSR) awards up to five stars to all new car models sold in the UK to depict how secure new vehicles are. The scheme is split to cover both theft of and theft from cars. When it comes to preventing break-ins, only vehicles fitted with laminated side glazing as standard will be eligible for the prestigious five stars in the theft from rating.
Besides its intrinsic benefits identified above, laminated glazing also offers an opportunity to create advanced glazings with additional features, such as coatings or wire heating for de-misting, or modified interlayers (e.g. shade bands, colours).
The additional cost penalty of laminated side glazings is offset by the above opportunities which can enable the car manufacturer to customise the vehicle and make it more attractive and desirable to the car buyer.