- Certain quarter windows in cars are now exempted from ECE R43.
- Owing to its scratch resistance and design options, this makes PLEXIGLAS® a highly attractive material under the new regulations.
- Clear advantages over glass and other transparent materials.
The most recent modification/amendment of ECE R43 offers designers exciting new creative scope. As of June 2015, some quarter windows made of plastic are exempted from the previous regulation. That means the stringent requirements in terms of scratch resistance that called for subsequent coating no longer apply to the small quarter windows explicitly described in the addendum to ECE R43.
PLEXIGLAS® is therefore the ideal material for these panels for a number of reasons, because the highly transparent PMMA brand from Evonik offers the highest surface hardness of all thermoplastics, even without coating. At the same time, the little quarter windows offer a host of design options for curved lines and striking edges that cannot be realized with glass: “PLEXIGLAS® can be injection molded into almost any imaginable 3D shape,” says Uwe Löffler, director Business Development Automotive at Acrylic Polymers in the Evonik Performance Materials Segment. “Panels can be produced with built-in wind deflectors and sharp angles. And the panels can be wraparound,” Löffler adds.
The new exceptions relate to all windows made of plastic that do not affect the driver’s view and whose surface area must be so small that a circle of max. 150mm diameter does not fit in them. The overall panel size must not exceed 200 cm2. So we are talking about a small panel that lets in light but that the driver does not have to look through. One example is the small quarter window behind the C pillar that is being used as a design element by a growing number of manufacturers. In principle, other small quarter windows are also conceivable as long as they meet the given criteria.
Plastics are the shape of things to come in automotive construction
The reason for the new specifications is an amendment to regulation ECE R 43, which sets out the requirements for safety glazing in automobiles. ECE constitutes a set of internationally agreed regulations for motor vehicles that are adopted by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe.
The trend towards using plastics in automotive construction is nothing new. Low weight and huge creative scope are benefits that have established the use of plastics in many areas, such as vehicle lighting and non-transparent car body parts. Meanwhile there is also great potential for automotive glazing. That comes as no surprise, given that highly transparent PMMA is not only half the weight of glass, but also offers high impact strength, very good weather resistance and pleasant acoustic properties. PLEXIGLAS® gives designers a wealth of options for special aerodynamic features and an unusual look, as well as the possibility to integrate a variety of functions.
Lower system costs because no coating is needed
Although PMMA has the highest surface hardness of all thermoplastics, it does require additional scratch-resistant coating for safety-relevant rear and side windows. “But the new exceptions to the regulation make PLEXIGLAS® the material of choice especially for these small quarter windows,” Löffler says. Added to the design benefits, there are the favorable costs. Based on the new regulation, PLEXIGLAS® requires no additional coating for manufacturing a small panel. This is because, unlike other transparent thermoplastics, the material is inherently resistant to UV light and weathering, and the panels can therefore be manufactured in a single step.
Evonik is a worldwide manufacturer of PMMA products sold under the PLEXIGLAS® trademark on the European, Asian, African and Australian continents and under the ACRYLITE® trademark in the Americas.
About Performance Materials
The Performance Materials Segment is managed by Evonik Performance Materials GmbH. The segment focuses its global activities on developing and manufacturing polymer materials and intermediates, especially for use in agriculture and in the rubber and plastics industry. In 2014, the segment’s roughly 4,400 employees generated sales of €3.83 billion.
Evonik, the creative industrial group from Germany, is one of the world leaders in specialty chemicals. In its business activities, which are spread across three segments—Nutrition & Care, Resource Efficiency, and Performance Materials—Evonik’s greatest resources are its innovative prowess and integrated technology platforms. In 2014, over 33,000 employees generated sales of around €12.9 billion and an operating profit (adjusted EBITDA) of about €1.9 Billion.
In so far as forecasts or expectations are expressed in this press release or where our statements concern the future, these forecasts, expectations or statements may involve known or unknown risks and uncertainties. Actual results or developments may vary, depending on changes in the operating environment. Neither Evonik Industries AG nor its group companies assume an obligation to update the forecasts, expectations or statements contained in this release.