DETROIT – Magna International’s new hole-in-glass manufacturing technique used to create the sliding rear window of the new ’15 Ford F-150 has captured the interest of other automakers and likely will be used for other future products, says Troy Tooker, manager-Design Engineering, Magna International.

“(Since) Ford presented this at 2014 North American International Auto Show our phone has been ringing off the hook,” he tells WardsAuto during a media event here. “We had been courting people and nobody really bit, and then it was like, ‘Wow, there’s a lot of interest.’ I’m sure in the future you might see more of these.”

On the F-150 the hole-in-glass process was used to streamline the look of the sliding rear window by reducing the amount of glass panes. Typically sliding rear-glass windows contain three pieces of glass – left and right panes that don’t move plus the sliding portion of the middle, which are held together by a support structure that requires numerous components.

By using water jets to blast a hole in the center of one piece of glass, Magna was able to develop a window that uses only two panes, reducing complexity and cutting weight 4.5% compared with the outgoing window setup.

“We had a design competition with a number of suppliers to talk about trying to get weight out, as well as improve function, sealing and quietness,” Noah Mass, manager-Body Mechanisms for Ford. “Magna blew us away when they came back with the hole-in-glass technology, which gives us a flush, seamless look.”

The window’s 2-piece design also enables continuous defrosting capability even when the window is open, and incorporates a new, smaller electric motor, Tooker says.

“In the past, (automakers) would say, ‘Just take the side motors from the doors, because we buy them in volume and get a discount,’” he says. “There is a smaller motor and drive system on the new unit.”

The sliding rear window is a $350 option on XL and XLT trim levels and standard on Lariat and higher versions of the F-150.

Tooker says the new manufacturing technique was made possible due to the F-150’s large volumes. If it had been a different, low-volume vehicle line, the technology would not have been financially feasible.

“It was the perfect storm, with us, glass manufacturers and Ford all coming together,” he says. “The glass manufacturers that were quoting on this said, ‘We’re not going to buy that (technology) if it’s not a big business. So it all fell into place.”

Tooker declines to reveal what other automakers have contacted Magna regarding the technology, noting there are limitations on its application. Other than the F-150, the hole-in-glass technique is used only for pop-out windows of the new fullsize Ford Transit commercial van.

“Right now it has to be a bigger piece of glass,” he says. “But as the technology progresses it may be used in smaller applications.”

bpope@wardsauto.com