Glass that is Lighter and More Hail Resistant
Some glass is quite fragile, but car makers have discovered that using the same type of glass that protects your cell phone can also work for your windshield. This type of chemically strengthened glass has been used with mobile devices and computers for years now, but some car companies are now using the same technology in the automotive industry.
Sometimes it seems like your windshield is a magnet for flying objects and every hazard possible seems to zero in. Because a clear field of vision is critical, especially for the driver, making stronger glass that can resist rocks thrown back at you from other vehicles and monster hailstones like we have in Texas only makes sense.
History of Automotive Glass
The history of the glass windshield is interesting, starting with horseless carriages in the early 20th century using them to protect drivers from the wind and debris. Then in 1903, a chemist from France discovered a shatter-resistant glass by accident. The following post offers more about the discovery of laminated glass:
He found that the glass coated with the film cracked, but kept its original shape. However, this laminated glass wouldn’t be implemented in automobiles until the 1920s [source: Time].
Automakers used laminated glass in their windshields to optimize occupant safety during accidents and to protect passengers from projectiles during normal driving conditions. For all its benefits, though, the first types of laminated glass offered limited puncture resistance. Today’s laminated glass consists of a thin layer of polyvinyl butyral (PVB) inserted between two layers of solid glass.
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What is Gorilla Glass?
In 2016, Ford Motor Company decided to try using a type of glass known as Gorilla Glass in the front and rear windshields of their Ford GT sports car. The BMW AG used Gorilla Glass the previous year in an interior panel, but Ford was the first to use it for the windshield.
As mentioned above, this glass is similar to the thin, lightweight glass used in mobile devices to protect the screen. This video discusses the more on this chemically treated glass:
There is a push in the automotive industry to make vehicles more lightweight, which helps with fuel economy. So, not only is it safer to the passengers, it is also good for the environment.
It also allows for better handling, easier braking, and faster acceleration…attributes that sports car owners are excited about. Watching them shoot golfball-sized ice balls at the glass and having it hold up is exciting for every car owner.
Cost of Hail Resistant Windshield Glass
Corning Inc., the makers of Gorilla Glass, came out with a concept car in 2017 that has an all-glass touchscreen dash, which sounds somewhat unsafe. But, Corning claimed that because it doesn’t shatter and there would also be an airbag between the passengers and the dash in the case of an accident, that it was completely safe and much easier to see all the screens in daylight.
The cost is higher than regular glass, though, as mentioned in this post:
Like many other lightweighting technologies, Gorilla Glass involves a trade-off: It costs more than the traditional glass it would partially replace. It could help with a tough problem in weight reduction. But because glass is an inexpensive commodity, carmakers have to balance the weight savings against the extra expense.
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It’s a pretty good bet that future cars will incorporate more of this flexible glass in an effort to meet weight reduction for safety and fuel economy, but the cost to the consumer is always an issue. If you have any questions about this and other automotive repairs, contact your favorite San Antonio repair shop.