History of Automobile Windshields
Early cars and other automobiles used to have an open design and there were no windshields. The drivers had to wear shades or goggles to protect their eyes from any dust or other in the air, such as insects. This became very uncomfortable and impractical with the passage of time, until the windshield was invented circa 1904.
It was a major shift for vehicles – going from being an open-air vehicle to a more covered one. It was also one of the best things that could ever happen to cars.
However, since the early stages, the windshield glass used to shatter easily upon impact. This was somewhat counterproductive because it caused more injuries as compared to just wearing goggles.
Evolution of the windshield
After many cases of windshield glasses shattering, new alternatives were made. Windshield manufacturers started experimenting with tempered glass. They finally perfected the windshield by making it with tempered glass because it was safer and more durable. Tempering is a process of heating the glass to harden and strengthen it.
Tempered glass windshields were the standard in the industry until the 1950s-60s, that’s when multi-layered laminated glasses started to replace them. These are similar to tempered glass but with one key difference; they bend a little if there is any pressure. That’s why they are safer than tempered glass windshields.
Laminated glass windshields are now the industry standard and have come a long way from the regular glass versions which were used in the last century. They are now required to be installed by law in the majority of the countries and that includes USA as well.
The size of the windshield depends on the size of the automobile/vehicle, so it varies in sizes accordingly. That is one of the main reasons why a windshield cannot easily be replaced with any other windshield. They are specifically designed for a certain car and model.
Additional aspects of the windshield
Many windshield manufacturers add extra accessories to the windshield such as sensors or the glass getting darker to protect from the sun and acting as a shade. Although much progress has been made into making the windshield as safe as possible, however, there are still things that can cause them to shatter. Windshields are also often designed with different regions in mind – cars being made for Canada, for example, will have windshields designed to survive hail storms and freezing weathers, while cars being made for the Middle East will have windshields that can survive scorching heats.
The Future of Windshields
There is a lot of interesting work being done for windshields. The windshields of the future will be transparent screens, and will show data that helps drivers navigate and drive better. The technology of transparent screens is still being perfected (the screens exist, but they aren’t durable enough to be used as windshields right now). However, as soon as scientists are able to create screens that are durable and transparent, we will enter the next era of windshields.