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Light weight plastic can replace glass components

20 October 2016

A plastics scientist has won a new innovators award for creating a process that allows manufacturers to replace glass components with light-weight plastic.

Light-weight plastic (Image courtesy of The Lead)

Dr Colin Hall and his colleagues at the University of South Australia’s Future Industries Institute have combined micron thin layers of plastics to develop a material that can replace glass in cars, aircraft, spacecraft, and even whitegoods - making them lighter and more efficient.

For his efforts he was awarded the Australian Prime Minister’s Prize for New Innovators.


The team’s first commercial success is a plastic car wing-mirror.

The Ford Motor Company has already purchased more than 1.6 million mirror assemblies for use on their F-Series trucks.

The mirrors are made in Adelaide, South Australia, by SMR Automotive and have earned $160 million in exports to date.

The award recognises the contribution Dr Hall has made to bringing science and industry together to find practical solutions to problems that have a market value.

“Universities can transition something that has been dreamed up in the lab right through to scale up to production,” Dr Hall said.

“It shows that universities can work with industry hand in hand for commercial success.”

Dr Hall used his experience in the spectacle industry to solve a problem that was holding back the University of South Australia team’s development of the new technology.

He developed the combination of five layers of materials that will bind to plastic to create a car mirror that performs as well as glass and metal, at a fraction of the weight.

Video courtesy of the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science.

The original article can be found on The Lead website.

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