By Rebecca J. Barnabi
As the need for calibration becomes more apparent in windshield replacement, the value of windshield repair is increasing. Repair provides a less expensive alternative to replacement, but can tools keep up with the technology? The future may be here sooner rather than later.
NOVUS Glass Inc. is awaiting a patent of a resin specifically designed for use on windshields in cars with ADAS. “We have a resin that’s patent-pending,” says Ted Andersen, vice president of operations for NOVUS Glass Inc.
In development for the last six years by chemist Penny Chatterton, the resin will be available to NOVUS franchisees exclusively. “It allows us to fix a break in front of the camera. It has such clarity that the camera sees right through it,” Andersen says.
He explains that it’s a two-process patent. The first part covers the composition of the resin. The second covers the process in which it was made—the chemistry.
“Companies are testing it,” Korey Gobin, sales manager with Delta Kits Inc. in Ore., says of resin that is used in conjunction with calibration. Advancements in resin will continue to happen in the future, but they will not change the fact that any damage to glass leaves a remnant of damage still visible after the repair is completed.
Gobin says the moral of repair is that there is no way to return it to its pre-damaged condition once the glass is damaged. “A repair isn’t ever going to go away, regardless of what resin you use,” he says. “It’s always going to be a cosmetic blemish.”
Shiloh Spoo, president of GlasWeld in Bend, Ore., says a new ROLAGS 2 standard may comment on repairs done in view of the ADAS camera. “The technology is going to have to get to the point where we can prove repairing in the camera view is worth it,” he says.
Calibration and Repair
Chatterton says NOVUS’s ADAS resin is still in the proving stage. “The idea—if damage could be repaired in that camera view and not be seen, it would be good not to have to perform a calibration,” Chatterton says. However, more testing is necessary to prove that calibration is unnecessary when NOVUS’s ADAS resin is used in the repair. “If the camera can’t see a repair, you shouldn’t have to do any calibrations,” she says. From NOVUS’s training department’s perspective, the ADAS resin is the best option for making a repair in a windshield seemingly disappear. Chatterton says only a tiny blemish might be detected in the auto glass.
Gobin agrees. When damage happens in the direct sightline of an ADAS camera, the vehicle must be calibrated after the repair. “Damage happens because of impact,” Gobin says. “But every rock chip isn’t in the direct line of the camera.”
Gobin also believes the windshield repair resins will improve in the future. Delta Kits resin match the optical clarity of the glass and they minimize light refraction. Delta Kits already has tinted resin to help with the refraction of light. Delta Kits sells resins of different colors. Gobin says the most popular colors are green and amber. “When light hits the windshield break, it has a light to it,” he says.
“If it was working before you did the repair, it’s going to be working when you finish the repair,” Gobin says of a vehicle’s ADAS.
Spoo says the repair industry is experiencing a period of renaissance. He sees more pride in quality repair work for customers, and technicians who strive for high-quality work also want to work with high-quality tools. This puts positive pressure on the repair industry “to do really great work.” For GlasWeld to create high-quality tools, Spoo says, a driving and motivating factor is for technicians to provide high-quality repair work. “I think that’s a good thing for the industry as a whole.”
“The trends in calibration are making repair far more valuable,” Spoo says. When the cost of replacing a windshield is higher, plus the cost of calibration, paying lower amounts for repair is of increased value for customers. “What we’re seeing is that people in the industry are charging more [for repair work],” he says.
Spoo says customers save by opting for a repair versus a replacement when calibration is not necessary with the repair. “I can’t imagine why a calibration would be necessary if a repair is not in the camera’s view,” Spoo says.
He sees windshield repair gaining appreciation among customers. “As people become more aware of the fact that their windshield is not just a piece of glass but a component of safety—I think that the consumer trend is going to drive toward the quality of repair,” Spoo says.
Too Good to be True?
Skeptics of the NOVUS patent-pending product say the OEs will never approve it, to which Andersen doesn’t disagree. “The OEs [car makers] don’t approve of repair in general,” he says. “We have been at this for 50 years, so are pretty good at what we do.”
Others in the industry are always going to advocate for replacement, as opposed to repair, and Andersen himself admits this is a game-changer. “This is disruptive technology,” he says. “We were the inventor of the windshield repair process and the best at what we do.”
Rebecca Barnabi is special projects manager for AGGR magazine. Connect with her on LinkedIn or email her at email@example.com.
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