Windshield – It All Began By Accident

The invention of shatter-resistant glass has brought numerous positive changes to the automobile industry. The history of shatterproof/safety glass is one that started with a revolutionary discovery. It all began by accident. No really – the creation of shatter-proof glass happened by accident.

French Chemist Edouard Benedictus had an assistant who had failed to remove the residual cellulose nitrate solution from a glass flask that had previously been filled with it. When the chemist accidentally dropped his glass flask, the broken glass adhered to a thin layer of plastic that had formed inside the container from cellulose nitrate. This same chemist went on to create the life-saving buffer found in the bullet-proof glass.

The Timeline

  • The 20s – the placement of laminated glass in stylish vehicles like the famous Hudson Roadster and the classic Oldsmobile. Still, laminate windshield inclusion played a pivotal role in the popularity found in vehicle safety features.
  • The 30s – tempered glass became another available option. Laminate windshields had made their way into the standard features of many vehicles and were quickly gaining interest. In 1937, federal regulations required the use of safety glass in automobiles.
  • The 50’s – laminate windshields increase. The bubbles that formed in the laminate during the heating process had become a safety concern instead of a safety feature. In 1959, the emergence of float glass created a durable safety barrier.
  • The 60’s was revolutionized by something called the Pilkington Process. This process involves floating, heating, and molding molten mixtures of silica, water and other ingredients in controlled chambers and is still used today.
  • The 70’s – safety became a huge consideration for vehicle makers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) was created to regulate on-the-road vehicles.
  • Today – Our current auto-glass windshields are made of three layers of materials. Two layers of tempered glass and one sheet of Polyvinyl butyral are fused seamlessly together to create flexible, durable windshields. We continue to improve on auto-glass window safety.

Did you know?

The word “Windshield” is used in North America while “Windscreen” is used in Australia and the British Isles to describe the auto glass in the front of an automobile..