July 21, 2024

From Glass to Machines: A Brief History of the Windshield and Where it’s Going

auto glassThe glass in front of our faces as we drive our cars down the road isn’t something we typically think about going through many changes. After all, it just seems to be a sheet of glass fitted in a frame to keep the wind and bugs out of our hair. In fact, the windshield has and continues to go through an incredible amount of change over the years. Here is a brief history of windshields.

In the early 1990s, windshields were little more than typical glass sheets. The auto glass was proven to shatter on impact and cause even more problems if they hit the driver of the vehicle. There was no option for auto glass repair, as a whole new sheet of glass would need to be refitted back into the car. The first windshield wiper was created in 1903, by Mary Anderson. In 1904, a man by the name of Edouard Benedictus noticed that applying a coat of resin to the inside of glass caused it to break, but not shatter. They stayed in their shape, rather than flying all over the place and causing more harm. This was the early beginnings of laminated glass.

If you could believe it, it wasn’t until 1915 that windshields became standard, meaning every car had to have one, as proclaimed by Oldsmobile. Even more strange, Benedictus’ method of using resin glass wasn’t widely used until 1919.

1930s – Present Day
Tempered glass began to replace Benedictus’ resin glass sometime in the 1930s. In the 1940s, car companies began to stop making the glass in windshield’s flat. In the present day, windshields and windshield replacement options have come a long way. It is estimated that in 2015, the automotive glass industry was around $15.79 billion around the world. All windshields are not laminated, usually with polyvinyl butyral film between two sheets of glass. We are now also able to repair cracks in windshields, rather than needing to replace the whole sheet. Windshield repair services have grown along with the development of newer and better windshields.

The Future
Currently, all kinds of developments are being done in the auto glass industry. Photosensitive materials that can lighten or darken a windshield are being perfected by engineers. Windshields with head up displays are in the works, making it so drivers don’t have to take their eyes off the road. These may even provide pedestrian signals, and weather and traffic updates. Soon, wipers might become extinct, as there is a project to make self-cleaning and water-repellent windshields using nanotechnology.

No many of us think windshields have this long and complicated history surrounding them. It is a business that has continued growing over the years. More importantly, it will continue to grow, adjusting to new needs and supplying new features for drivers for years to come.

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