The Evolution of the Windshield

Windshields are an essential part of every automobile. They protect us from the elements, while providing visibility of the road ahead. These windows are something we’ve learned to appreciate, but what do you really know about them? Here are some facts about windshields that may make you see them through a clearer lens.

A History

Before 1904 – In the early days of automobiles, cars had an open-air design. Drivers simply wore goggles to protect themselves from outside elements.

1904 – Windshields began being placed in cars, and were originally made of plate glass, similar to what you’ll find in a home window. These first windshields were designed with a horizontal division down the middle so the driver could fold the windshield down if it got too dirty to see out of. This standard glass, however, didn’t adequately protect against debris and posed a risk if something were to hit the glass.

1903 – The secret to shatter-resistant glass was discovered using dried collodion film.

1920s – The shatter-resistant laminated glass started becoming common in automobiles, but it was still a premium addition.

1937 – The use of safety glass was mandated for all car models.

1938 – Tempered glass, which is considerably more shatter-resistant than laminated, becomes available.

1966 – Cars came equipped with new and improved laminated windshields which were about 3x more shatter-resistant.

Windshields Today

Today’s windshields are much stronger than the first plated glass windows. Unlike in the past where a windshield was just for keeping elements out and eyes on the road, today they also offer structural support. This glass is made to retain its clarity for a very long time. The windshield also provides structural support to the room, and needs to be tough enough to resist damage in the event of collisions. These days, there is also the need for shatterproof so glass doesn’t go flying everywhere in the event of a major accident. A seldom considered importance is that windshields absorb UV rays, protecting your skin.

Today, we are used to seeing laminated safety glass on vehicles. This consists of 2 curved sheets of glass with a plastic layer laminated between them to stop shattering. Windshield glass mainly composed of silica sand, soda ash, dolomite, limestone, and cullet. These ingredients are mixed with water and heated at a high temperature, and a chemical fusion fuses these ingredients into glass.

While there have been many advancements in the windshield, they are by no means completely unbreakable. It’s important to have your vehicle serviced regularly to ensure it keeps running smoothly. Come into Performance Auto today for your full car checkup!

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