For its initial thrust into the marketplace, Donnelly Optics Corp. is producing the first polycarbonate parking and turn-signal lens on a vehicle.
The Tucson, Ariz., company is making the PC front park and turn lens for an unspecified 1998 domestically built luxury vehicle, said Donnelly Optics acting general manager Dan Joseph. The firm plans to make 200,000 lenses annually for the vehicle, amounting to two lenses on every car.
With the model expected in showrooms by December, the supplier will have made its first successful venture into PC lens production. The company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Holland, Mich.-based glass and window maker Donnelly Corp., has developed a patented, advanced optical system that improves light transmission through plastic lenses via injection molding.
``It's the first application of its kind,'' Joseph said. ``The lens itself replicates what was previously only manufacturable on a high-volume basis from glass. It opens the door for more-advanced lighting systems.''
The product is the first commercial step for the start-up company, which became a Donnelly subsidiary in January.
The company has opened a $15 million, 47,000-square-foot manufacturing center, which includes 18 Cincinnati Roboshot electric injection presses with clamping forces of 55-250 tons.
The projector-type lenses will be part of the vehicle's front lighting system, Joseph said.
Also known as elliptical lenses, the parts provide similar clarity at a lower tooling and piece price than ground glass, according to Joseph.
The firm also has gone through a leadership change. Its former president, George Ebel, left the company in July and was replaced by Joseph, who had worked in management positions for the past two years with Donnelly.