Inside Ford’s New Factory Windshield Installation Process
November 30, 2011

Ford Motor Co. announced recently that the company has invented a new method for preparing vehicle windshields for factory installation in its vehicles. Larry Haack, technical expert with Ford Research and Innovation, says that the direction in which Ford has moved is actually where the aftermarket has already been.

“It takes time for new methods to be accepted, but I see great potential for this technology to be adopted in the future,” says Haack. “The reason is that, unlike current auto-manufacturing processes, primerless glass bonding is already being practiced in the aftermarket … Ford’s new technology puts down a nano-coating that commonizes the surface of the enamel frit. In this way the adhesive always sees the same chemistry. This makes the process more robust. So I could see this technology being used to coat all glass frits to commonize the surface and allow for a better bond, especially when bonding directly without the use of solvent-based primers as is done in the aftermarket.”

Haack says Ford has been working on this technology since 2003.

“A considerable amount of work went into testing this out using different frits, adhesives and processing conditions,” he adds. “The drive for this work is a directive within Ford Motor Company to reduce its environmental footprint, and this technology eliminates the use of solvent-based primers that omit VOCs that must be mitigated from the manufacturing environment.”

Ford has touted the new installation process as a greener option than what it used previously.

“Ford’s new process emits no VOCs,” says Haack. “A plasma stream first cleans the glass and removes adventitious carbon contaminants. Then a pure chemical is injected into a plasma stream that hits the surface and polymerizes immediately upon contact. Very little chemical is needed, as the surface is modified by an ultra-thin nano-coating. Since so little chemical is needed, the process is less expensive than the existing process, and there is no solvent waste to deal with.”

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