Adhesives Magazine

Innovations in Glass Bonding

March 1, 2005
This article details Dow Automotive's role as a manufacturer of adhesives and sealants for the automotive and commercial transportation industries.

Urethane glass bonding adhesives from Dow Automotive can be dispensed robotically using industry standard equipment.


In the fledgling days of the automotive industry, "eat my dust" was the most likely wisecrack uttered by the early car enthusiast when competing for road space with a fellow motorist. It didn't take long to discover that dusters, hats, gloves and goggles were more of an encumbrance than a deterrent to dirt, dust, moisture, bugs, and fumes. This realization sparked the evolution of the glass-enclosed passenger compartment and modern front and rear windshields.

From the early 20th century through the 1950s, windshields were installed as a feature that enhanced passenger comfort by keeping external elements out of the passenger compartment. For OEMs, installation of these large pieces of stationary glass was a cumbersome process that consisted of manually wrangling not only the glass but also a series of gaskets, metal trim, mechanical fasteners, stops, and spacers.

The introduction of polysulfide windshield sealant in 1960 began to change all that. Since then, Dow Automotive* has been at the forefront of innovation in glass bonding technology and systems for the global transportation industry. Within 10 years, Dow Automotive advanced the chemistry to a system of cleaners, primers and polyurethane adhesives that paved the way for today's automated glass installation processes.

In-house crash testing ensures glass-bonding performance meets FMVSS and other global safety requirements.
Perhaps even more important than gaining assembly efficiencies, glass bonding systems from Dow Automotive have made the windshield an integral part of a vehicle's structural integrity. The urethane adhesive applied to the periphery of the glass forms a continuous bond between the windshield and the vehicle body. This makes the glass a structural component of the vehicle and helps the vehicle body protect occupants in the event of an accident. The adhesive bond also retains the windshield during impact, transmitting stress to the glass that allows it to "spiderweb" instead of shattering into the passenger compartment.

All glass bonding systems from Dow Automotive meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) and other globally mandated safety requirements for barrier/frontal impact and rollover/roof crush. In addition, we sell our glass bonding products into the automotive and commercial vehicle aftermarkets to ensure that vehicles undergoing glass replacement can have windshields and other stationary glass re-installed with OE quality bonding materials.

Quick Fix adhesives are formulated for faster cure rates to speed assembly.
Today, Dow Automotive is the world's leading manufacturer of adhesives and sealers for the automotive and commercial transportation industry - including passenger vehicles; light-, medium- and heavy-duty trucks; rail cars; recreational vehicles; and farming and other industrial equipment - and produces a range of specialty glass bonding adhesive systems to accommodate different assembly needs and practices. This product range include the following.

  • QUICK FIX adhesives are developed with a higher rate of green strength for better assembly efficiencies through reduced need for glass fixture hardware at the OE.
  • High-modulus formulations are stiffer than standard polyurethane adhesives and help make the vehicle body more rigid. In addition to strengthening vehicle structure, these adhesives help eliminate vibrational noise, squeaks and rattles to ensure a quieter ride.


High-modulus adhesives show superior performance over standard polyurethane adhesives when testing overall body stiffness.
  • Non-conductive adhesives are available for those vehicles that have antennas integrated into front or rear windshields. The formulation reduces contact corrosion and radio signal attenuation to ensure that audio system performance is not compromised.
  • Primerless-to-paint adhesives are specially formulated to eliminate the need for a body primer prior to glass installation. This reduces assembly steps and associated costs, as well as VOC emissions from the assembly environment.


The glass bonding process typically involves a number of products and assembly steps that must be strictly followed to ensure a successful bond. Traditional adhesive formulations require glass to be cleaned, activated and then primed prior to adhesive application, and to prime the body opening as well. Our primerless-to-paint formulations, introduced in 1997, were a first step toward gaining efficiencies by eliminating assembly steps.

Traditional glass bonding requires cleaning, activating and priming steps for glass before adhesive is applied. Body priming is also required.
As a technology company, we are always looking for ways to improve our offerings. In 2004, Dow Automotive introduced the new Uni-wipe glass bonding system. This technology not only eliminates the need for body priming, but combines glass cleaning and priming steps in a single clear wipe, followed by the application of a specially formulated adhesive. In addition, a fluorescing agent is present in the clear wipe to help customers verify its correct application. Uni-wipe adhesive is designed to bond to a wide range of clearcoat technologies and has enhanced UV resistance compared to existing adhesives. The short flash time of the clear wipe and the reduction of priming steps also combine to reduce preparation cycle time by 75%.

Primerless-to-paint adhesives formulations eliminate the need for body primer.
Dow Automotive is positioned to continue to provide innovation to the automotive industry. Being a part of Dow Chemical gives us access to a wealth of R&D resources and emerging technologies that can be applied to help us continually develop new and advantageous bonding systems. Our own expertise in polymer material development, specification and application provides our customers with the benefit of experience, support, and service that differentiates us from our competitors and extends across all vehicle bonding and sealing technologies - not just glass bonding. In addition, in-house testing facilities and highly trained personnel produce optimum solutions by testing substrates, formulations, and equipment to ensure that our products perform in simulated and actual driving conditions. Dow Automotive labs are equipped with the latest CAE/CAD design tools, environmental testing chambers and factory-standard robotics that can replicate most manufacturing conditions.

New Uni-wipe systems eliminate body primers and use a single clear wipe to replace the traditional two-step glass cleaning and priming process.
As a further commitment to the automotive industry, Dow Auto-motive, along with Dow Chemical, announced in January its intention to build a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Midland, MI. The new facility, which will be fully operational in early 2007, will consolidate all glass-bonding system products and body sealers to one location that will serve customers throughout North America.

Henry Ford, Walter Chrysler and the Dodge brothers would probably never have envisioned that adhesives and sealants could become so integral to the manufacture of automobiles. However, they did possess the vision and imagination to know that anything is possible. Dow Automotive is proud of its heritage of innovation and looks forward to introducing more great ideas, new materials, and technology solutions throughout the 21st century.

For more information on Dow Automotive, visit http://www.dowautomotive.com.