TRAVERSE CITY, MICH. — Donnelly Corp. and a joint venture partner have developed what they call the first plastic window system that can be assembled at a supplier's plant.
The new product uses a special urethane-based adhesive that can be activated on demand at a carmaker's assembly plant. Trials were completed last month, and the company has started shopping the idea to auto companies.
The freshly developed window systems eliminate the space-consuming stockpile of glass and plastic window trim pieces that automakers must inventory, said Dwane Baumgardner, chairman of the Holland, Mich., glass and mirror manufacturer.
It also allows automakers to bypass putting emissions-heavy adhesives on windows — which in turn lets them avoid stacking unwanted chemical drums at carmaking facilities, Baumgardner said.
``Visit just about any auto assembly plant and you can find people who'll tell you that installation of vehicle window glass is a pain in the neck,'' Baumgardner said Aug. 5 during the University of Michigan Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City. ``It puts a messy job into our hands instead of our customers'.''
The project's secret ingredient: a newly developed adhesive sealant that can be activated using heat and proprietary methods whenever the window is ready for mounting on the chassis. The hush-hush material was developed by Donnelly's joint venture partner, Essex Specialty Products Inc., an Auburn Hills, Mich., subsidiary of Dow Chemical Co.
Donnelly and Essex, a producer of adhesives and sealants, formed the Donnex joint venture a year ago.
The new adhesive, developed by Essex, can be activated by an energy source such as infrared light or production curing equipment in an assembly plant, said Terry Sammon, general manager of Essex's glass-bonding business.
The companies plan to produce an entire window system that includes plastic interior trim and encapsulation pieces, Sammon said. ``This gets the chemistry [for adhesives] out of the assembly plant,'' he said.``It gives us flexibility to supply a whole module.''
Currently, window systems are shipped in pieces and assembled by a carmaker, Baumgardner said. With conventional windows, the adhesive must be applied within 5 or 10 minutes of assembly to remain effective, Sammon added.
The newly minted adhesives can be applied at Donnelly plants long before just-in-time shipment.