If you’re a frequent driver, there is a high chance you look out your car windshield more than the windows of your own home. The only time we tend to consider our windshield is when something happens to it, like a scratch or crack. We often do not even think about how they are made. Since they serve a myriad of purposes, let’s learn a bit more about windshields.
Without windshields, driving would be far more dicey than it already is. Aside from having to keep an eye on other drivers, we would find ourselves getting pelted with rocks, bugs, and other road debris. Not to mention the wind rushing into our eyes would make operating a motor vehicle extremely problematic. In order to protect passengers as much as possible, windshields are comprised of safety glass. If the worst happens, and the windshield breaks, there is lamination within the glass that keeps the windshield from shattering outright. This lamination is composed of two types of glass, and a small layer of vinyl is placed between the two types to separate them. Due to this, if the wheels of a truck spit a rock at your windshield, only a small piece of the outer layer of glass is impacted.
The way a windshield cracks ultimately depends on what the windshield was struck with. Most cracks your windshield sustains will be from driving, but weather can also play a huge part in the condition of your windshield. Most of the time, cracks will continue to spread in the same direction they began. To prevent weather related damage, try to park your vehicle in a garage or protected environment. It is also important to note that a windshield becomes increasingly more fragile when it is exposed to heat or cold for extended periods of time.
In regards to how windshields are actually built, they are made using a process called the “Float Method”. Just like the name suggests, the “Float Method” is when glass floats inside of a chamber. After glass is constructed through the floating process, the sheet is molded into the exact shape desired. The molded sheet is then quickly cooled with blasts of cold air. Two sheets of tempered glass are then placed on either side of a vinyl layer, heated, and pressed between two rollers. The last step of the process is to bond the newly constructed windshield into a metal frame to fit the vehicle it was made for.
It can be easy to dismiss your windshield as just a piece of glass, but in reality it is so much more than that. It protects you from the elements as you drive, and is meant to withstand a decent amount of punishment before becoming damaged. However, you are also a factor in how resilient your windshield is. The next time you find yourself behind the wheel, think about the process that went into constructing the windshield of your vehicle. After all, it is the glass you likely look through the most.