The challenge of designing safe, unique and energy-efficient cars is key for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). Indeed, OEMs are in an ongoing race to distinguish their brands and products while adapting to stricter regulations. Consumers are also increasingly seeking ways to reduce their carbon footprint while enjoying more comfort and convenience in the cars and trucks they drive. This all means that glass manufacturers – a critical component in the vehicle value chain – must stay ahead of safety and sustainability trends. One of the many positive contributions of glass manufacturers in the vehicle space is the development of infrared (IR) reflective windshields that enable fuel savings and enhance the driving experience, especially in hot weather.

The emergence of IR reflective windshields

In response to the call for greener mobility, the automotive industry has embraced IR reflective windshields as an innovative solution to improve energy efficiency, enhance passenger comfort and comply with environmental regulations. These windshields are designed to reflect a substantial portion of IR radiation from the sun, significantly reducing the amount of heat entering the vehicle’s interior. As a result, the cabin remains cooler, reducing the need for air conditioning during hot summer days, and ultimately leading to fuel savings and lower carbon emissions.

“Our team draws on decades of experience producing silver pastes and additional high-performing products used to enhance automotive applications,” said Andre Noppe, vice president, glass coatings. “We work hand-in-hand with glass manufacturers to provide innovative solutions that help OEM’s achieve design, safety and sustainability goals.”

Innovation drives environmentally friendly transportation

IR reflective windshields offer many energy-efficient transportation benefits.

  • Energy savings: By reducing the need for air conditioning, IR reflective windshields contribute to improved fuel efficiency, making vehicles more economical to run.
  • Environmental sustainability: Lower fuel consumption results in reduced greenhouse gas emissions, helping combat climate change and promote a greener future.
  • Enhanced comfort: IR reflective windshields maintain a cooler interior temperature, offering a more enjoyable driving experience, especially during scorching summers.

Silver pastes play a crucial role

At the heart of IR reflective windshields lies a critical component – silver pastes. Renowned for its exceptional electrical conductivity and high reflectivity in the IR spectrum, silver is the ideal choice for these specialized coatings. Silver pastes are formulated with silver particles suspended in a liquid medium, ensuring optimal adhesion to the windshield’s glass surface.

During the manufacturing process, the silver paste is applied to the windshield using a screen-printing technique. Once applied, the windshield undergoes a drying and firing process in a high-temperature furnace. This process fuses the silver particles, creating a continuous, conductive metallic layer that connects with the coating of the windshield (called bus bars). The coating is then connected to the vehicle’s electric system through the support of the silver bus bars.

High-performing products with multifaceted benefits

Vibrantz has been instrumental in the development of conductive silver pastes for automotive glass, driven by evolving market demands like modern car designs, complex glass shapes, light-weighting for fuel efficiency and end-of-life vehicle regulations.

Compared to alternative materials like metal copper stripes, printed silver is gaining popularity due to its lighter weight and increased durability. Silver pastes can be applied in thin, uniform layers and are generally more resistant to corrosion, which can be an essential consideration for long-term windshield durability.

Additionally, printed silver pastes enhance sensors for track control, rain detection, distance control and other significant safety features. They enable defogging and defrosting in this crucial area for passengers to see clearly.

While energy-efficient transportation will continue to be a top priority for both manufacturers and consumers, more and more vehicles will be equipped with energy-saving technologies that help mitigate environmental impact while lowering the operating costs for drivers.

Learn more about our standard lead-free automotive glass enamels and silver pastes.

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Andre Noppe

Vice President, Glass Coatings

Andre Noppe

Vice President, Glass Coatings

Noppe leads the glass coatings group of our Performance Coatings unit at Vibrantz. Prior to serving as vice president at Vibrantz, he spent 21 years at Ferro where he served in various roles including business director, European sales manager for electronic materials and key account manager. Noppe spent four years as an engineer at Shell Solar before his tenure at Ferro. He holds his Master of Business Administration from Purdue University and a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from The Hague University of Applied Sciences.