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New JV Promotes PC Auto Glazing in Japan

New JV Promotes PC Auto Glazing in Japan

Bayer MaterialScience is joining forces with two Japanese companies to promote use of polycarbonate as an automotive glazing material in Japan.

The Bayer unit brings its expertise in materials technology while Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Plastic Technology Co. and Kyowa Industrial Co. will provide firepower in molding machines and molds, respectively.

"We see excellent growth opportunities worldwide for polycarbonate automotive glazing, particularly given the increasingly strict emissions regulations in all leading industrial nations," says Volkhard Krause, head of the global Automotive Glazing team at Bayer MaterialScience. "Materials such as our polycarbonate Makrolon are much lighter than glass a euro " this enables us to cut the weight of panorama roofs, for example, by up to 50 percent, resulting in a significant reduction in fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions. Additional functions such as defogging, antennae and infrared protection can easily be integrated when manufacturing roof modules, rear windows and other glazing applications. Polycarbonate also offers superb design freedom."

Polycarbonate has dominated auto headlamp glazing for more than 15 years, but the far bigger goal of replacing window glass has proven a more elusive goal. Some engineers in Detroit avoid more ambitious applications of polycarbonate for glazing because of perceived issues with weatherability and scratch resistance despite specialized coating systems.

The new JV partners will use an electric two-component injection molding machine with reversing plate from Mitsubishi's emR series with a locking force of 1,450 metric tons for customer trials in Mitsubishi's new technical service center at its headquarters in Nagoya City.

Glazing center

The collaboration with the two Japanese partners forms Bayer MaterialScience's second large technology cell for developments in the polycarbonate glazing sector. The first features a new two-component injection molding machine with a locking force of 2,300 metric tons at the company's own global Glazing Center in Leverkusen, which went into operation in summer 2009. This machine can manufacture parts up to 1.2 sq m in size.

Bayer says injection molding is the process of choice for large, three-dimensional glazing components such as panorama roofs. Reduced injection pressure delivers low-stress and low-distortion components exhibiting excellent surface quality that work well with wet coats. The German center can coat three-dimensional molded polycarbonate components measuring up to 1.4 sq m using flow coating.

In 1997, Bayer and GE Plastics (now Sabic Innovative Plastics), signed a letter of intent for the founding of a joint venture in the field of abrasion-resistant coated polycarbonate automobile windows. That JV, called Exatec, is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Sabic Innovative Plastics, and operates an Advanced Technology Development Center in Wixom, MI.

At last summer's National Plastics Exposition in Chicago, Sabic Innovative Plastics introduced a new, high-tech shield to enhance the protection of transit operators in Toronto. The shield is made of Lexan PC sheet and coated with the Exatec E900 advanced plasma technology for abrasion resistance.

A component is removed by a 6-axis robot in a swivel-plate injection molding machine at Bayer MaterialScience's technical center in Germany.
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