Plastic combination could replace glass

In a possible breakthrough for motorists, researchers at Warwick University have developed a technique that moulds two forms of plastic to create an alternative to glass.

Glass is the conventional way of providing cheap, stable durable protection for drivers whilst maintaining good visibility, but it is heavy, difficult to shape, potentially very unfriendly to passengers if it fails during a crash, and is one of the easiest points of access to a vehicle for intruders. A plastic alternative would greatly ease these problems.

Indeed, polycarbonate replacements have been experimented with but until now it has been difficult to find any reasonably durable plastic that has good scratch resistance, and weathers well while still giving good visibly.

Now, researchers in the Warwick Manufacturing Group at the University of Warwick, led by Kerry Kirwan, have solved this problem by using an injection moulding process which creates a window with a light, impact resistant polycarbonate core surrounded by a tougher plastic skin which is much more scratch resistant and weather proof.

The materials compliment each other providing durability while remaining optically clear. For a similar cost, drivers can thus now have vehicle windows which are: lighter in weight thus making vehicles more fuel efficient, more resistant to attempts by intruders to gain entry into a vehicle, easier to shape and hence opening up more design possibilities, and more easily recycled at the end of a cars life. For further details contact:Kerry Kirwan, WMG, University Of WarwickEmail: esrrh@atcmail.wmg.warwick.ac.uk