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Fiat 500L using SABIC polycarbonate glazing materials in rear fixed side windows; lighter weight than glass

19 December 2012

Saudi Basic Industries Corporation’s (SABIC) Innovative Plastics business is marking continued progress in the adoption of its polycarbonate (PC) glazing materials for automotive window applications with Fiat’s new 500L multi-purpose vehicle (MPV), which features rear fixed side windows molded from SABIC’s clear LEXAN GLX resin and black CYCOLOY resin. These high-performance SABIC materials help reduce weight by about 35 percent, improve aerodynamic efficiency and achieve the desired styling vs. glass.

The Fiat 500L has already launched in Europe and is set to roll out in the United States in early 2013. The rear fixed side windows of the vehicle will be the first in the United States to use two-shot injection compression molding, which allows for the seamless integration of an aerodynamic spoiler. SABIC suggests that the 500L windows demonstrate the enabling power of SABIC’s PC glazing materials, the practical application of PC glazing in today’s mass production vehicles and the continued traction of PC glazing in the automotive industry.

SABIC’s glazing materials enabled Fiat to overcome the key challenges involved in designing a rear fixed side window adjacent to an aerodynamic spoiler, including gaps between the two parts, different color tones and assembly issues. Integration of the rear fixed side window with the spoiler, made possible with SABIC’s PC glazing materials, addressed each of these challenges.

The window uses two-shot injection compression molding to create a seamless part. The crystal clarity of LEXAN GLX resin provides optimal visibility. The black CYCOLOY XCM resin serves as a fade-out band, presents uniform color across the window and spoiler, provides structural functions and contributes to superior dimensional stability in combination with LEXAN GLX resin.

To help create this part, SABIC collaborated with Fiat and provided a range of technical expertise, including predictive engineering.

The LEXAN GLX grade, a specialty PC resin, was developed with automotive glazing applications in mind. It delivers high cleanliness, weatherability, easy processing and compatibility with protective coatings. The CYCOLOY grade, a blend of PC and acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) resin, provides superior dimensional stability and excellent aesthetics for this application.

SABIC’s polycarbonate glazing materials and expertise enabled us to achieve all of our goals for the rear fixed side windows of the 500L, including weight-out, sleek aerodynamics and cutting-edge styling.

Compared to glass, SABIC’s glazing materials gave us greater freedom to create the distinctive and desired window shape and promote the aerodynamic efficiency and fuel economy of the vehicle. It is all about maximum style at a minimum cost per mile for our customers, and we will continue to explore the opportunities presented by polycarbonate glazing materials to make further progress.

—Carlo Torreggiani with Fiat’s Group Materials Labs, Polymers & Glasses department

SABIC’s glazing materials help reduce the weight of Fiat’s rear fixed side windows by about 35% compared to glass, helping the automaker advance its fuel efficiency and emissions reduction goals for the new model.

Polycarbonate glazing is a cutting-edge technology that is viable and available now for automakers. They can use these materials today on their mass-market vehicles to cut weight by up to 50 percent for some parts and, as we see with the Fiat 500L, add value in the flexibility of design and help improve aerodynamics as well. SABIC continues to build upon our already strong know-how in automotive glazing and further invest in developing LEXAN resin and our advanced EXATEC coating systems to support our customers’ present and future needs.

—V. Umamaheswaran (UV), director of marketing, Automotive, Innovative Plastics

Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) is among the world’s market leaders in the production of polyethylene, polypropylene and other advanced thermoplastics, glycols, methanol and fertilizers. Headquartered in Riyadh, SABIC was founded in 1976 when the Saudi Arabian Government decided to use the hydrocarbon gases associated with its oil production as the principal feedstock for production of chemicals, polymers and fertilizers. The Saudi Arabian Government owns 70% of SABIC shares with the remaining 30% held by private investors in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Cooperation Council countries.

Innovative Plastics is a wholly owned subsidiary of Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC).

December 19, 2012 in Plastics, Weight reduction | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)

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Comments

PC should be cheaper, lighter and safer, but the rap on it was always that it scratches easier. They mention here protective coatings but do not mention the specifics. Alternatively one could imagine a PC/plastic refurbishment process as we see with a number of car parts now (you know, the lense clearing and restoring products). Anyway, PC has been around for decades and yet not really used much by car companies.

It makes me wonder if it's possible to blow-mold a piece of glass the thickness of a microscope slide cover slip to fit one side of a mold, then inject polymer under vacuum to bond to it as the scratch- and craze-resistant outer coat.

I am sure that if they actually intend to put PC on the Fiat then they will surely come up with a polymer coating that will be enough scratch resistant so that it does not compromise the utility of PC as an auto-window option for car companies.

all you need is a buffing wheel and some fine polishing compound.. and hopefully lots of cheap replacement panels.

PC (even with scratch resistant coatings) has always lacked the scratch resistance of glass - and still does.

It also is typically significantly poorer (and inferior to the more expensive acrylic) in flatness and uniform thickness.

However it IS much lighter and lower cost, and almost unbreakable.

But it will take more than a press release, that repeats the same thing three time over, to make me want it for a car window.

A car window is MUCH more difficult to restore than a headlight lens (which restores poorly by the way).

If done properly then it comes out ok, but hopefully you can replace the parts every 10 years or so if cheap enough.. meanwhile you enjoyed the weight advantages.

Replacing the parts every 10 years might work

But it will likely be blended in - maybe replaceable only if you get body work and a new paint job also.

Who'll be making replacements ten years on?

More likely the car will be owned by someone who either doesn't care about appearance or can't afford to.

Light weight 'gorila' type glass could given similar results?

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