While the need for cleaning and disinfectant increases significantly with Covid-19 pandemic, ethanol-based hand disinfectants that are effective against the virus can cause wear and bad images in the vehicle. Acting against this situation, Ford engineers are trying to increase their durability by subjecting the materials inside the vehicle to the toughest tests.
Increasing disinfectant and hygiene needs together with pandemics in our daily lives can cause wear and tear on the surfaces we contact during the day. Due to Covid-19, the driver and passengers disinfect their hands much more after they finish their work outside and return to their vehicles. While this is good for the health of vehicle owners and passengers, it causes problems such as wear and tear for the vehicle interiors and parts. Especially chemicals such as ethanol in hand disinfectants can react with surfaces and cause premature wear and bad appearance on the interior surfaces of cars.
Ford engineers who have taken action to solve the problem have long been testing new products on materials used in vehicles. As a result of the tests, it has been seen that the chemical structure of the protective coatings can be reformulated so that the interior surfaces of the automobile continue to look good regardless of what they are exposed to. Ford's tests also include by-products such as storage and in-vehicle plastic accessories.
Samples are tested at temperatures up to 74 ° C.
Ford teams in Cologne, England Dunton, Germany test material samples at temperatures equivalent to the interior temperature of a car parked on the beach on a hot day, in some cases up to 74 ° C. In the simulation of long exposure to the sun, these samples are subjected to UV purple light test for up to 1.152 hours (48 days). In addition, plastics are tested for strength (stress and strain) at temperatures down to -30 ° C, making sure that the plastic does not crack by various methods.
Mark Montgomery, senior material engineer at the Materials Technology Center, at Dunton Technical Center, Ford Europe, said: “The hand sanitizer is a product that has been increasingly used recently, so it has long been part of our tests. Even the most harmless chemical-based products can cause problems such as wear and tear when they come in contact with the interior surfaces, but products such as hand disinfectants, sun lotion and insect repellents can do much more damage to the interior surfaces of the automobile. ”
Hand disinfectants, whose sales increased by 18 times compared to last year, are in high demand all over the world and it is predicted that the hand sanitizer market will increase by two and a half times compared to 2020 in the world. Although hand disinfectants help kill germs in the user's hands, microbes may still be inside the vehicle, especially if the vehicle is used in partnership with other people. “Attention should be paid to frequently touched areas such as steering wheel, gearshift lever, door handles, any button or touch screen, wiper and signal handles,” said Jenny Dodman, chief medical officer of Ford England. In addition, seat belts should also take precedence over every driver's cleanliness checklist. "The seat belt touches us and is exposed to microbes during sneezing and coughing."