While every automaker includes noise-reducing structures and packages in the production phase of the vehicle, a pervasive weak link in noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) solutions for vehicles is the glass, more specifically the windshield, writes Matthew Beecham.

While laminated glass has been in use for some 60 years, it is only recently that interlayer manufacturers have been able to go beyond its use in windshields.  In fact, improvements in the interlayer material have improved the ability of automotive glass to absorb sound, both for side windows and windshields.
Automotive Components Holdings' (ACH) Carlite Glass has developed a new acoustic windshield, dubbed SoundScreen, that helps soften cabin noise levels by as much as 6dB. "A windshield is a laminate of two pieces of glass with an interlayer," explained Robin Pannecouk, spokesperson for ACH.  "The acoustic windshields produced at ACH plant in Nashville are different because of some unique properties of the vinyl interlayer."

Pannecouk says there are a number of factors driving the auto industry into the use of acoustic glass/windshields, among them are quietness and weight.  "Today's automakers are continually looking for ways to reduce weight and make the interior quieter.  The use of acoustic glass can deliver both qualities." 

SoundScreen acoustic windshield is currently available on the Ford Escape, Expedition and Focus and the Lincoln Navigator, and as replacement glass for those and other models. ACH expects a blossoming market for acoustic windshields.  "As consumers expect more value and quieter ride becomes synonymous with quality, we expect the market for acoustic glass and SoundScreen windshields to increase," added Pannecouk.

ACH is a temporary company, managed and established by Ford Motor Co in October 2005 to ensure the smooth flow of parts to the automaker while ACH prepared its component operations for sale or idling.