How is Windshield Glass Different From Regular Glass?
Windshield glass seems pretty straightforward visually. It looks like ordinary glass. To the untrained eye, windshield glass looks like any other piece of glass unless you know the industry differences! We encounter hundreds of glass articles daily — kitchenware, tables and furniture, auto glass, tall glass buildings, windows, and more. They may all look similar on the outside, save for some designs or textures here and there, but each piece of glass is made uniquely to hold up for its purpose. Autoglass goes through a special process that makes it more robust than your everyday glass!
Let’s talk about what makes windshield glass so different than regular glass.
Glass is Made Through a Chemical Process
Glass first hit the ancient markets over 3500 years ago and has been used to make jewelry, vessels, windows, mirrors, and more. The process of making glass is relatively simple. Sand, quartz, or other stones were melted down, poured, and pressed. Now, that process is very sophisticated, based on studies, and tested to ensure that the glass is sturdy enough for its purpose.
Now, glass is made from materials like silica or sand, sodium carbonate, lime or calcium oxide, potassium oxide, and cullet. These materials are heated to a specific temperature, depending on what this glass is purposed for.
What Makes Windshield Glass Different?
After the materials are combined and heated to their appropriate melting point, it forms a glass ribbon that floats in a molten tin bed. The first step of making windshield glass is called floating glass. The floating glass is then transformed through another heating process and pressed to make laminated glass. Laminated glass contains two floating glass pieces with a plastic layer between them. This process is used to make windshields, sidelites (the glass on the sides of the car), and back windshields.
Specialized factories exist that pump out this glass 24/7 and provide it to manufacturers. Some factories are dedicated to providing the correct mirror for certain car brands, creating only OEM parts.
Other pieces of auto glass are made from tempered glass. Side windows and mirrors go through a slightly different process called tempering. Its structure is very similar to the layers in laminated glass, but this glass is heated to over 1000 degrees Fahrenheit and then cooled to room temperature rapidly. Tempering makes auto glass at least four times stronger than regular glass products.
The other significant point in making auto glass is that the processes change the composition of the sheets, making them break differently. If you break a standard piece of glass, it often shatters into sharp, dangerous pieces. Auto glass, and other tempered glass, is made so that when it breaks, it shatters into tiny, dull pieces. This makes all the difference if you’re ever in an accident.
If you’re looking for reliable auto glass replacement, call Smiley’s Glass at 804-320-7172. We’ve served thousands of Richmond, VA, residents over the last 60 years! We take pride in offering the best techniques for auto glass installation and providing vehicle owners with top-quality products. Get a free quote online and see how quick and easy it is to repair or replace your windshield.