In search of a method to eliminate in-plant VOCs from the glass bonding process, researches Ann Straccia and Larry Haack of Ford Motor Company’s Research and Innovation Center (RIC) in Dearborn, MI have developed a revolutionary green alternative to the traditional chemical pre-treatment process in automotive windshield bonding.
Glass bonding in the automotive sector is a complex process. The ceramic frit coated edges of the glass have to be bonded to a powder-coated metal surface. In order to obtain a permanent adhesion of the glue it is essential to clean and activate the ceramic frit which - besides its optical function - serves as a shield layer against UV-radiation and accelerated aging of the adhesive.
Up until now the pre-treatment of the ceramic coating has been done worldwide by means of chemical primers and activators which are highly solvated, and promote a high emission of VOC’s that must be mitigated from the manufacturing environment. Additionally, the primer is generally applied by a piece of felt, manually wiped or handled by a robotic arm - an interference-prone and sensitive method.
With the new Ford process the whole wet-chemical pretreatment will be substituted by Plasmatreat’s Openair-PlasmaPlus® polymerisation system. Plasma rotation jets will first do the microfine cleaning and high activation of the ceramic frit, followed by the application of a PlasmaPlus® nanofine coating. Finally, the adhesive can be applied to finish the process.
“The new patented process has the potential to reduce costs because it requires far less material to create the ultra-thin bond-coating and the fully automated process is much less labor intensive,” said Haack. “Plus, anything we can do to lessen the dependency on the use of chemicals including VOCs is a good thing.”
Ford Global Technologies, LLC
a Subsidiary of Ford Motor Company