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Acoustic Laminates Market Continues to Grow in Automotive Industry

Acoustic glass is now available in a wide range of vehicle manufacturers and models regardless of price point and, as a result, consumers are becoming aware of and learning more about this technology.

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Carlex announced that the market for automotive acoustic laminates continues to grow.

“Automotive engineers for all companies are on an unending quest to make vehicle interiors quieter and more comfortable,” says Ken Pew, Carlite technical services manager, Carlex Aftermarket Distribution Center. “The auto industry refers to quietness as reductions in ‘NVH’ or noise, vibration and harshness. Recently, increased attention is focused on sound transmission through the vehicle’s glazing.”

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By now, the glass industry is well acquainted with windshield and door glass laminates that have acoustic sound damping features to reduce interior cabin noise. Noise is transmitted through the glass to the vehicle occupants through air turbulence against the windshield at highway speeds, air hitting the edge of body panel, other vehicles in traffic, external environmental sources and road noise. The unit of measurement of sound intensity (or noise) is the decibel. Below are just a few examples of decibel measurements:

  • Near total silence – 0 dB
  • A whisper – 15 dB
  • Normal conversation – 60 dB
  • A lawnmower – 90 dB

When an acoustic windshield is compared to a windshield with standard vinyl, Eastman Chemical states it “will greatly improve overall sound transmission by up to 3dB and up to 9dB in the critical windnoise region, which falls within the range of sound that the human ear detects. Humans are most sensitive (i.e. able to discern at low intensity) frequencies between 2000 and 5000 Hz.”

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This was considered significant by vehicle manufacturers and, as a result, they successfully implemented acoustic products in vehicle glazing which has now become a viable solution for improving customer satisfaction. Furthermore, with the increased use of premium sound systems, voice activated integrated cell phones, dashboard maps and other high-tech features available in new cars and trucks, the need to obtain a quieter interior has increased the use of acoustic products.

Since its introduction, acoustic glass is now available in a wide range of vehicle manufacturers and models regardless of price point. As a result, consumers are becoming aware of and learning more about this technology.

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Carlex states it has been contacted by consumers who recently had their windshield replaced, described hearing a difference and asked for help confirming if the original part was used in the replacement. There have been occasions where it was determined that a generic part was used, degrading the performance of the part, and the consumer returned to the original installer to have the OEM acoustic part reinstalled.

In addition to improved cabin environments, Carlex states that manufacturers are quickly adding other improvements to benefit their customers. These are coming to glass products and the glass replacement market in the form of additional hardware attachments that are properly applied and accurately located per OEM specifications ready for the mounting of Rain or Humidity Sensors, GPS and possibly cameras. Other available features may be Lane Departure and Auto High Beam Control and, depending on the vehicle manufacturer, these will involve hardware or a clear area in the black paint border so the glass is ready to accept whichever option the customers select. Also growing in popularity are Heated Wiper Park Areas. All or some of these features are integrated into the vehicle’s electronic systems in order to assist or help owners improve their driving experience.

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In late 2006, early 2007, Ford introduced their brand of acoustic products called Soundscreen and, from launch until current day, its take rate has grown to encompass almost all of their vehicle models. This includes windshields and front doors, and the trend, Carlex says, looks as though it will continue.

“From the installer or body shop point of view with regard to glass, it is important to respect the integrity of the original engineering design,” said Pew. “In order to preserve the original product’s intent, it is important the vehicle owner receive a replacement product consistent with the original application and would be best to use the OEM part for replacement.”

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For more information, visit www.carlite.com.

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