At the University of South Australia’s Future Industries Institute, scientists 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.
Dr Colin Hall and his colleagues at the Future Industries institute have recieved public recognition, and been awarded the Australian Prime Minister’s Prize for New Innovators, as a result of their innovations.
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 plastics technology.
It was his expertise that led to the team's success, developing the unique combination of five layers of materials that bind to plastics to create a mirror that performs as well as glass and metal, at a fraction of the weight.
The team’s first commercial success is a car wing-mirror, which despite being made from plastic, performs equally as well as more standard glass installations while being lighter and safer.
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 New Innovators 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.”