What started as a lightweight concept technology is about to become reality for Ford GT customers when the all-new supercar debuts the Corning® Gorilla® Glass© hybrid windshield – a tough, durable, scratch-resistant window that is about 30 percent lighter than traditional glass.
Developed by Ford and Corning, Gorilla Glass hybrid window will be used on both the windshield and rear engine cover of Ford GT, contributing to enhanced vehicle handling, improved fuel efficiency and reduced risk of glass damage.
“Gorilla Glass hybrid is a great example of how Ford works with suppliers to innovate in every area of our business,” said Hau Thai-Tang, Ford group vice president, Global Purchasing. “Ford GT is setting new standards for innovation through performance and light-weighting, and we’re excited about exploring other applications for this great new technology.”
When tasked with developing lightweight and advanced material vehicle applications, the Ford team approached Corning, a recognized leader in materials science that introduced light and durable Gorilla Glass to the consumer electronics market in 2007. Interested in further exploring potential automotive applications, Ford engaged Corning to help research and develop a unique formulation for exterior vehicle glass.
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.
“This successful collaboration is one of the reasons we spend R&D resources to develop new innovations and solve tough problems,” said Wendell Weeks, chief executive officer, Corning Incorporated. “Ford recognized the significant value of these innovative light-weighting technology and committed significant resources to quickly get it qualified for production applications. We worked with Ford to develop a glass that successfully withstood thousands of hours of durability testing and is now being used in a Ford production vehicle. We are excited to introduce this game changing technology to the market.”
Gorilla Glass hybrid
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.
“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.”
The new Gorilla Glass hybrid window laminate is approximately 25 percent to 50 percent thinner, and has equal to, or greater strength than traditional laminate. Traditional laminate glass ranges from four millimeters to six millimeters in thickness, where Gorilla Glass hybrid window ranges from three millimeters to four millimeters. This remarkable 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.
The new technology was tested over stone and in rough road conditions, and had to endure specific projectile, rollover and wind tunnel testing.
“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,” said Linden. “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.
Ford’s use of the new hybrid glass underscores the company’s aggressive goals for innovative engineering and light-weighting technologies that will one day benefit all Ford customers.