Glass Holds the Key to Revolutionary Improvement in Automobiles | The Glass Age | Innovation |

Design & Application

Design & Application

Design & Application

Glass Holds the Key to Revolutionary Improvement in Automobiles

Glass Holds the Key to Revolutionary Improvement

Jot down a few things you wish were different about your car.

It’s a safe bet that better gas mileage, faster acceleration, and a more pleasant riding experience are part of the list.

New innovations in glass are making those wishes a reality for tomorrow’s drivers.

This transformation in auto design stem from the triple crown of advanced glass properties: Brilliant clarity, toughness, and a profile so thin and lightweight that improved fuel efficiency and lower emissions are a natural result.

Glass has been part of automobiles ever since the first models rolled off manufacturing lines more than a century ago. Automotive glassmaking processes improved into the 1920s with the development of laminated glass – a thin sheet of plastic sandwiched between two sheets of glass, making windows less likely to shatter. But since then – while the cars themselves have continuously evolved – the window-making processes remained basically the same.

Today’s new glass formulas and manufacturing processes are set to change all that.

Chemically strengthened glass measuring a mere half-millimeter in thickness can be formed into a laminate that reduces the weight of a car windshield by as much as a third, all without sacrificing toughness. Impact resistance can actually improve by nearly 40 percent.

Swapping traditional soda-lime glass and laminates for today’s lighter-weight glass alternatives in windshields, side windows, and sunroofs can trim up to 20 kilograms – about 45 pounds – from the overall weight of an average vehicle.

That weight reduction alone means better fuel economy and significantly lower carbon dioxide emissions – a reduction of up to 33 kilograms emissions per car, per year. Expand that number to the lifetime of cars sold in a single year – say, 100 million expected to be sold worldwide in 2020 – and the overall carbon dioxide reduction exceeds, 49 billion kilograms, the equivalent of taking 1.4 million cars off the road.

Lightweight glass brings other advantages to the driver, too.

By using thin, tough laminate in the side windows, automakers are able to use lighter-weight raising and lowering mechanisms. The new glass also makes it practical to have larger sunroofs, reducing excess metal overhead and automatically lowering the center of gravity in the vehicle – which, in turn, makes quick corner turns easier to handle.

Faster acceleration, greater damage resistance, even improved defrosting capabilities – all these benefits and more will simply be part of the package as automakers incorporate this game-changing glass into their new models.

Auto designers haven’t forgotten the creature comforts motorists and their passengers want, either.

The remarkable advancements in automotive glass are enabling improved climate control and acoustics inside the vehicle. Displays for dashboards are taking on the same vivid optical clarity found on today’s smartphones and tablets.

And you may even start seeing thin, colorful outlines around car interiors. What will be emitting that steady glow of light? Strands of glass fiber, specially designed to emit uniform illumination in bright, clear colors.

It’s a whole new road for the automotive industry – paved with the very newest developments in extraordinary, high-tech glass.