LG Chem has entered the automotive smart glass film market with its first order from German automotive parts manufacturer Webasto, the world’s largest supplier of automotive sunroofs.

The South Korean company said it had developed a switchable glazing film (SGF) which controls the amount of light and heat passing through it by responding to electrical signals.

Under normal conditions, the film is opaque but becomes transparent when voltage is applied.

LG Chem said it expected its SGF film business to generate “hundreds of billions of won” in revenue over the next few years.

Webasto planned to apply LG Chem’s SGF to high tech glass used in its sunroof systems to be supplied to European vehicle manufacturers.

LG Chem said in a statement: “Applying SGF to the sunroof makes it possible to differentiate the interior design. Drivers can divide the sunroof into different zones, choosing between transparent and opaque, and can freely customise specific areas to be transparent according to their preferences. With SGF it´s possible to offer a privacy on demand function to the end customer”.

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The company added: “With customised segmentation designs we offer different entertainment effects based on customer requirements”, focusing on the “increasing adoption of premium vehicles and electric cars”.

LG Chem said it expected SGF to grow into a multi trillion won global market within the next few years.

It had filed 200 SGF-related patents globally as part of its R&D activities linked to liquid crystals, adhesive materials, precision coating and pattern formation technology for its existing electronics materials business.

LG Chem said it had SGF manufacturing facilities with capacity to produce film for up to 3m vehicle sunroofs annually. In future, it aimed to develop future products with clear black and faster response speeds and planned to expand SGF applications to also include windscreens and side windows.

The company also planned to continue exploring various high value added materials such as transparent antenna films and adhesives for the automotive industry.

LG Chem CEO Hak Cheol Shin said in a statement: “Based on our technological expertise in electronics materials such as OLED displays and semiconductors, we will foster the mobility materials business, a future growth area, and create new customer value.”