Ford and Corning have developed Gorilla Glass hybrid windshield technology—a light-weighting innovation set to debut on the all-new Ford GT. The Gorilla Glass hybrid is thinner and about 30% lighter than traditional laminate glass, and will improve Ford GT handling by lowering the vehicle’s center of gravity and positively impact acceleration, fuel economy and braking performance. The Gorilla Glass hybrid window will be used on both the windshield and rear engine cover of Ford GT.
When tasked with developing lightweight and advanced material vehicle applications, the Ford team approached Corning, a recognized leader in materials science that introduced light and durable Gorilla Glass to the consumer electronics market in 2007. Interested in further exploring potential automotive applications, Ford engaged Corning to help research and develop a unique formulation for exterior vehicle glass.
This announcement proves that technical glass will play a new and important role in the future of automobiles. Gorilla Glass toughness enables robust reliability and reduced weight in ways that cannot be obtained from conventional glass, but still meets or exceeds regulations and consumer expectations for comfort and aesthetics. It is also a transformational material for lightweight glazing.—Doug Harshbarger, business director, Auto Glass Solutions, Corning
|The Gorilla Glass hybrid window will be used on both the windshield and rear engine cover of Ford GT. Click to enlarge.|
Once the technology was studied for Ford’s supercar concept, the team realized there were real-world applications for the new hybrid glass. A small, dedicated group comprising purchasing and engineering employees from Ford and Corning fast-tracked the technology toward rapid introduction. Within four months, they were seeking program approval.
A traditional automotive laminated windshield consists of two layers of annealed glass sandwiched around a clear, thermoplastic interlayer binding agent. Originally introduced in America by Henry Ford, the technology has been used in the auto industry for nearly a century.
The new hybrid glass uses a multilayer approach—a pane of toughened automotive-grade Gorilla Glass for Automotive formed hybrid acts as the strengthened inner layer, an advanced noise-absorbing thermoplastic interlayer is in the center, and an annealed soda lime glass serves as the outer layer. The result is a windshield and rear engine cover approximately 32% lighter than competitive vehicles.
Unlike conventional float glass, Gorilla Glass for Automotive has no optical draw lines, making it ideal for steep windshield applications such as in the GT. (Float glass is produced by pouring molten glass atop a molten metallic substrate—typically tin. The thickness of the glass is controlled by the speed at which the solidifying glass ribbon is drawn off from the bath. Resulting imperfections (draw lines) can cause optical distortion. In automotive applications in which the windshield is to be installed at a relatively low angle with respect to the horizontal, this can prove problematic.)
During development, we tried different glass variations before we found a combination that provided both weight savings and the durability needed for exterior automotive glass. We learned, somewhat counterintuitively, that the strengthened interior layer of the windshield is key to the success of the hybrid window.—Paul Linden, Ford body exteriors engineer
The new Gorilla Glass hybrid window laminate is approximately 25% to 50% thinner, and has equal to, or greater strength than traditional laminate. Traditional laminate glass ranges from four millimeters to six millimeters in thickness, where Gorilla Glass hybrid window ranges from three millimeters to four millimeters. This remarkable reduction in thickness greatly reduces the weight of each panel. Plus, the glass is more robust due to advanced processes for contaminant reduction, chemical strengthening, unique edge treatment and laminate construction.
The new technology was tested over stone and in rough road conditions, and had to endure specific projectile, rollover and wind tunnel testing.
In addition to the new hybrid technology for the exterior glass of Ford GT, we’re using a unique glass combination for the bulkhead panel between passenger cell and engine bay. We’re excited that we can use tailored glass applications to meet specific needs and provide maximum weight savings.—Paul Linden
Last year, Ford and Corning collaborated on the Multi-Material Lightweight Vehicle (MMLV) Concept Car. (Earlier post.) This concept car used Gorilla Glass for Automotive in the windshield and side windows and enabled more than 30 percent reduction in glazing weight which, along with other new light weighting materials, reduced the car’s weight by 700 pounds.
In addition, Gorilla Glass for Automotive was designed into the BMW i8 as an acoustic glass partition to shield sound from the rear engine. In 2014, Corning received BMW’s Supplier Innovation Award in the lightweight construction category as a result of this partnership.