The light-weighting trend has found the already lightweight Ford GT. The updated super car will include a Corning Gorilla Glass hybrid windshield, a more durable, scratch-resistant window that is about 30 percent lighter than traditional glass, according to the car maker.
When tasked with developing lightweight and advanced material vehicle applications, the Ford team approached Corning, which introduced light and durable Gorilla Glass to the consumer electronics market in 2007.
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 comprised of purchasing and engineering employees from Ford and Corning fast-tracked the technology toward rapid introduction. Within four months, they were seeking program approval.
“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,” said Paul Linden, Ford body exteriors engineer. “We learned, somewhat counterintuitively, that the strengthened interior layer of the windshield is key to the success of the hybrid window.”
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 formed hybrid acts as the strengthened inner layer, an advanced noise-absorbing thermoplastic interlayer is in the center, and an annealed glass serves as the outer layer. The result is a windshield and rear engine cover approximately 32-percent lighter than competitive vehicles.
The new Gorilla Glass hybrid window laminate is approximately 25- to 50-percent thinner, and has equal to, or greater strength than traditional laminate. Traditional laminate glass ranges from 4 to 6 millimeters in thickness, while Gorilla Glass hybrid window ranges from 3 to 4 millimeters. This 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, according to Ford.
The new technology was tested over stone and in rough road conditions, and had to endure specific projectile, rollover and wind tunnel testing, according to Ford.
“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,” Linden said. “We’re excited that we can use tailored glass applications to meet specific needs and provide maximum weight savings.”
The reduced weight of the windshield, engine cover and bulkhead glass on Ford GT positively impacts acceleration, fuel economy and braking performance. Perhaps most important is the benefit on handling-removing the weight of glass high in the construction of the vehicle lowers the center of gravity and contributes to the car’s outstanding agility, according to Ford.
Pittsburgh Glass Works also pitched in on Ford’s light-weighting initiatives for the Ford GT Supercar. The package represents a unique application of ultra-lightweight glazing solutions using Aluminosilicate and Soda-Lime laminated hybrid glass constructions, as well as thin, lightweight tempered solutions.
PGW was chosen by Ford to be the Tier I supplier for the GT after more than a year of advanced development efforts that included the installation of unique capabilities to fabricate Aluminosilicate and Soda-Lime laminated hybrid constructions at our Berea, Ky. manufacturing facility.
“PGW’s depth and breadth of both product and process technology allows us to provide a broad range of high-quality, cost-effective and emerging technology solutions to meet Ford’s current and future requirements,” said Joe Stas, COO and president of Pittsburgh Glass Works. “We are committed to continuing this level of dedication and innovation in our advanced product portfolio in order to provide high-performance solutions that address safety, fuel economy, emissions, comfort and convenience for our customers.”