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  • Glass-Technology International 2/1998 103


    Automotive glazing

    Glazing perspectives at the Frankfurt

    Motor Show 1997 (second part)

    The second part of the report on the main demands on automotive glazing from designers and car makers

    at the Frankfurt Motor Show 1997 assesses the consequences of increasingly complex shape and all round visibility

    for sunroofs and transparent roofs. The author also reports on glazing solutions for mirrors, plastic lenses and

    navigation display systems. The first part, published in issue 1/98, looked at the implications of the above trends

    for rear and side windows and windscreens. The consequent safety and comfort requirements

    for IR absorbing glass, IR reflecting glass, as well as stronger impact and break resistance, were also examined, together with the implications of the increased use

    of ergonomic colour inside the car.

    Giovanni Manfré*


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    I ntroductionAs shown in thefirst part of the report, the need, apparent in all market segments, to satisfy the desire for personalization of the cars, as well as for a feeling of driving in the open air, were a strong leitmotif of the Frankfurt Motor Show 1997. One of the main contributions to this multi- functional need is certainly the transparent roof, which has nearly reached industrial production in the different niches, while the sunroof has reached mass production in all segments of car production, even the most popular. This second part of the report will try to describe the result of co- design among designers, car and sunroof manufacturers and glassmakers.

    Transparent roofs The whole roof, conceived also as a sunroof,

    might be realized in several ways, as seen in those exhibited at the Frankfurt Motor Show 1997.

    Fixed With this solution, the roof is composed of

    one monolithic pane of glass, as in the new SL320 (see Figure 1) by Mercedes. It is like a pavillon which wraps the windscreen and rear window in different ways, though the best example is the detailed glass to glass joints at the front and back in the SL320. Other examples of these kinds of joints are on the Smart City car at the front (see Figure 2a) and back (see Figure 2b).

    In three parts In this case the back of the roof is fixed, the

    front tilts as a wind panel, while the middle panel is movable, underlying the fixed back panel when open. This is already the classic solution for the Porsche Targa, where the three parts are closed. The glass to glass joints are shown in Figure 3.

    Pavillon This type of roof is composed of several

    moving lamella panels and can be considered the most advanced solution at present. It is a very innovative concept for glassmakers, on a level with the opaque lamellae solution in the Mercedes Class A. The best example of this solution is that of the five louvered glass panels on the MC2 concept car by Ford. The idea of a

    Fig. 1 Monolithic roof of the Mercedes


    Fig. 2a & b Glass to glass joints on the Smart City

    Fig. 2b

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    roof made up of lamellae is based on the Multivent prototype, developed by Webasto as a new roof system for the Mercedes Class A (see Figure 4a) in five opaque twin-shell steel lamellae. The system seems to satisfy the following points: • greatly enhanced ratio of roof area to roof


    • low noise and draught levels despite large opening;

    • ventilator setting which can also be used in poor weather;

    • no rattling or vibration with the roof open; • security against break-in at least as good as

    existing sunroofs made of steel (as in the Class A) or glass (as in the MC2);

    • electrical operation. When the roof is opened (see Figure 4b), the

    deflector props up first, followed by the other lamellae, which slide out parallel to the roof skin, moving along the same lines as the folding roof one after the other right to the rear (see Figure 4c). In the ventilator setting, the deflector is fully open, while the fifth lamella is

    Fig. 3a, b & c Three-part roof of the Porsche Targa

    Fig. 4a, b & c Opening opaque roof of the Mercedes Class A

    Fig. 3a

    Fig. 3b

    Fig. 3c

    Fig. 4a

    Fig. 4b

    Fig. 4c

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    only slightly ajar. Figure 5, showing the internal frame, gives an indication of the assembly production of the flushing roof. In order to understand the real evolution of the lamella concept, it is interesting to note the previous design of the roof, with a single, flexible, opaque fabric, used for example in the Ford Fiesta (see Figure 6), or in many cabriolet cars.

    In two parts An example of a two-part transparent roof is

    the Technas SUV by Mitsubishi. This kind of roof is composed of a glass wind

    deflector which can prop up, together with the

    fixed or moving large part. The fixed part can be in glass, as in a particular Smart model, which has a wind deflector, a fixed glass panel in the middle and a fixed rear panel also in glass.

    Among other two-part roofs we can also mention the Megane Scenic (designed by Inalfa), with the wind flap in Venus glass and the second part (see Figure 7) in a flexible opaque fabric. Two examples, both by Webasto, and which belong to the category of sunroof equipment, are the three glass panels on the Peugeot 806 and the two twin moving glass panels in the Megane family by Renault.

    Sunroofs The variety of sunroofs, fixed-tilting, in one,

    two or three parts, with or without shading device and electrically sliding underneath, was one of the leitmotifs of the Frankfurt Motor Show 1997. This result can be taken as the first spin-off of the increasing interest of designers in the last five years.

    Flushing encapsulation The flushing encapsulation achieved with

    PU-RIM technology now gives full integration between the sunroof and the body roof. The best examples shown at Frankfurt 1997 were: • the Opel Corsa Advantage (see Figure 8); • the recent VW Passat;

    Fig. 5 Internal frame of the Class A

    Fig. 6 Opaque roof

    of the Ford Fiesta with

    folding fabric

    Fig. 7 The Megane Scenic by Renault

    Fig. 8 The Opel Corsa Advantage with flushing sunroof

    Fig. 5 Fig. 6

    Fig. 7

    Fig. 8

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    • the new VW Golf with OM flushing sunroof;

    • the Mercedes Coupé Sport and E55 AMG Avant-garde. Two examples, the sunroof on the Mercedes

    E320 and on the Nissan Micra (see Figure 9), illustrate the difference between the flushing encapsulated sunroof mentioned above and previous, non-flushing encapsulated panels.

    Rockwell and Webasto also seem to have produced flushing encapsulated technology.

    Moving devices Competition on the moving device on

    sunroofs seems to be between sliding systems composed of either one or two parts, as in the Mercedes S500 (see Figure 10), or in the Mercedes Pullman (see Figure 11). In evolution with the sliding device, there are two new concepts of a tilting or winding up system. The latter has already been developed by Webasto, as well as a new concept (see Figure 12), designed by students of the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, USA, an overall winner in a competition organized by Webasto for ideas on sunroof designs for MPV and SUV vehicles.

    The concept of a tilting sunroof was presented by Inalfa. Another interesting tilting device for large sunroofs has been produced by the VW Karman Ghia designer in a MPV Opel View II vehicle.

    Solar control and privacy glasses As seen in the first part of this report, there is

    increasing interest among car and sunroof

    Fig. 9 The Nissan Micra - an example of non-flushing sunroofs

    Fig. 10 Sunroof of the Mercedes S500

    Fig. 11 Sunroof of the Mercedes Pullman

    Fig. 12 A new concept for tilting sunroofs

    Fig. 9 Fig. 10

    Fig. 11

    Fig. 12

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    makers in using more solar control or privacy glasses in the sunroof. Evidence of this is Saint-Gobain’s new Venus privacy glass, the moving part of the transparent roof on the Porsche Targa, shown at the Webasto stand, and the Inalfa sunroofs on the F1000, Farmont F1000 Plus and F1000 Compact, as well as the Volvo C70 (see Figure 13).

    Increased transparent surface The increased transparent surface is well

    represented by the Land Rover Freelander. The Station Wagon has one sunroof and the XE Hardback model has two transparent glass panels in the front area (see Figure 14).

    Photo-voltaic sunroofs Rockwell and Webasto have presented a

    feasible industrial solution for a photo-voltaic sunroof which decreases the internal air temperature of a car in full sun by nearly 25°C.

    Mirrors No real innovation seems to have been

    developed at p


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