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3M Automotive

Solar Reflecting Film

3M’s SRF (solar reflecting film) is a member of a family of multi-layer optical films developed and manufactured by 3M for a wide variety of applications, including, significantly, automotive ones.

Solar reflecting glass surfaces are becoming an increasingly important factor in improving vehicle passenger comfort, as well as in adding to fuel economy in air conditioner-equipped vehicles. 3M has introduced solar reflecting film (SRF) as a component of the glass laminate to replace metal-based material that has been in use for several years for this purpose. Reflective systems significantly reduce solar (infrared) load from entering and building up in a vehicle through glass surfaces, and can reduce passenger compartment cool-down time by up to a fifth, and interior temperatures by 5-10° centigrade.

Glass laminate reflective systems are becoming more prevalent in Europe, where fuel costs are high, as air-conditioning becomes more popular while emphasis on fuel efficiency become more important. This pressure is felt equally strongly both from an economic and from an environmental point of view. Prior to the development and marketing of 3M’s SRF, the reflective shields or barriers used in glass have been metal-based, with the inherent disadvantages of coloring and corrosion issues, limited glass design capabilities, as well as likely interference with in-vehicle communications systems, e.g. radios, phones, etc. The metal-based materials that have been standard are being replaced by SRF at no price premium, nor is any capital investment required by glass manufacturers’ facilities.

The 3M solar reflecting film is being utilized on BMW 7-series backlights, and is contracted for several other European vehicle programs already. Because existing European market demand for this product’s technology is greatest, Europe will be 3M’s lead market for this feature. The Japanese market is being pursued as well, to be followed by the United States. Further automotive applications, such as side glass, represent significant continuing growth opportunities for this innovative product, as well as many proprietary, commercial, non-automotive ones.