Pilkington recently launched Pilkington Sundym™ Select, which the company states is the latest glazing innovation from its automotive division. According to Bill George, Pilkington’s business planning director, there was an industry need for this type of technology.
By using suspended particle device (SPD) technology, Pilkington Sundym™ Select laminated glazing gives the driver complete control of light levels in their vehicle. According to the company, a switch controls the light transmission between near total darkness (<1%) to almost clear glass (~50%) in seconds.
“There was a need and it started with Mercedes,” says George. “Sundym was originally for roof lights and the issue with roof lights is that a lot of solar radiation comes through and it heats vehicles up.”
George states that Sundym is a product that controls how much light comes in. A driver can choose to open up the slider and see the sky without having all of the heat come through. Consumers now have a way to darken their vehicles significantly, according to George.
“And that’s the goal,” says George. “We want the sunroof and sometimes we’re going to want it really dark and other times we want it super light and this development was customer driven on the original equipment (OE) side.”
Currently Sundym is only available for OE vehicle manufacturers, which George says is for two main reasons: the cost and the electrical hookup needed. “The issue with sourcing it for the aftermarket is for one, it’s really expensive and two, you have to have an electrical hookup that’s a little bit sophisticated,” says George. “But it’s not that it couldn’t be done, but we just need to apply the voltage across the conductive layers in the laminate construction and it’ll do its thing. So it’s possible but it hasn’t been done yet.”
Its key benefits include:
- User control of light transmission;
- Optimizes the feeling of light and space in the vehicle whilst offering protection from solar glare;
- Fast switching capabilities from dark to clear in a matter of seconds;
- Behaves the same as normal glazing without the need for special cleaning or handling; and it
- Reduces solar heat inside the passenger cabin and provides enhanced UV protection.
“There’s a lot going on in that field [for the future] all the way from being able to black out the windows in your vehicle, for example, if you go to a shopping plaza and you don’t want everyone to be able to see into your car or you don’t want all of the infrared radiation from the sun going into your car you can flip the switch when you get out and it blacks out all of your windows,” George explains.
He also mentions that the company is adding LCD displays in the laminate.
“With the LCD screens so you can see all sorts of scenarios where in the back passenger seat there could be displays on the glass for people riding and vice versa,” he says. “The future is very interesting when it comes to that and that’s a few years out.”