Although it may often be ignored, the windshield or windscreen of a vehicle is actually designed in order to ensure the safety of the passengers inside and to protect them from insects, dust and debris on the road as well. In the earlier days, these windshields used to be made of ordinary window glass but proved to be a safety hazard during car crashes and collisions thus leading the passengers to suffer from serious injuries.
Such injuries led to the filing of several lawsuits and it was because of these reasons that the windshield had to be made tougher in order to withstand certain conditions. Today, the windshield glass may be made of laminated glass or tempered glass. It had been started out, perhaps by Henry Ford in 1919, when he used the new French technology called glass laminating on all his manufactured vehicles in order to solve the problem on flying debris.
Windscreens Made of Laminated Glass
The use of laminated glass as windshields began in 1927 when the automobile industry started to use two curved sheets of this type of treated glass and glued them together on to window frame. For safety purposes, a plastic layer called a polyvinyl butyral (PVB) is infused between the two sheets through heat and extreme pressure.
Most windscreens are made of laminated glass because of the fact that it undergoes a process that prevents it from shattering apart during collisions, crashes and other car accidents. In the earlier days, many passengers actually suffer severe injuries not because of the impact of the car crash but because of the pieces of shattered glass that fall on to them. Even if the passenger failed to wear their safety belt and hit the windshield, the plastic layer between the glass sheets acts as a cushion.
Laminated glass usually does not shatter instead its damage appears in a spider web-like appearance as the pieces of broken glass adhere to the plastic layer and is what still keeps them together, except, of course, if the glass was pierced through. Before the process of laminating was introduced, however, windshield glasses could break when it simply has a small stone chip.
While the other glasses in a vehicle – back and side windows – may also be made of laminated glass, vehicle manufacturers commonly use the tempered glasses. They are similar to the ones used in telephone booths and cell phone screens. They are also just like regular glass except that it undergoes a certain process of rapid cooling and heating making it tougher and stronger when compared to regular ones of the same thickness.
Unlike the laminated glass, however, tempered glass cannot be repaired and the entire will have to be replaced. This is because the tempered glass could shatter but unlike other types of glasses, it breaks into hundreds of tiny fragments that are like tiny pebble-like pieces. What is good about these tiny pieces is that they are often dull and could not cut one like ordinary shattered glass.