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What is Auto Glass Made of?

Auto Glass Explained

Windshields and vehicle windows protect us from so many outdoor elements. What exactly is auto glass made of? There are two main types of auto glass: tempered glass and laminated safety glass. Tempered glass, which typically is used on the rear and side windows, goes through a special process where it is heated and then quickly cooled. Laminated safety glass, which is typically used on modern windshields, is composed of two pieces of glass  (usually curved) with a thin layer of vinyl. It’s then heated and pressed together in an oven called an autoclave. Both types of glass are stronger and more impact resistant than regular glass.

Laminated vs Tempered Glass

Laminated glass can be repaired as long as it does not go through the vinyl layer. This is called a chip repair. When tempered glass receives a strong hit, it will shatter, but it will shatter and fall to the ground into small pieces that do not have sharp edges like regular glass. When laminated safety glass receives a strong impact, it will also shatter but, generally, the pieces will adhere to the vinyl and not fall to the ground. The auto glass is then bonded to the window frame with a primer and a sealant.

In the event of a head-on collision or a vehicle rollover, laminated glass windshields are required so that the windshield does not explode. Tempered glass is easier to cut through in the event you are trapped inside the vehicle, that is why the back glass and door glasses are tempered. In automobile accidents, auto glass is often damaged and needs to be replaced, but this isn’t the only instance where replacement is required. Gravel and road debris kicked up from the highway can result in a chip or small vein in the windshield. Over time vibration and temperature fluctuations can cause the vein to grow and crack throughout the windshield. In some states driving with damaged auto glass is a ticket-able offense. In Alaska, the DMV requires a non-damaged windshield to take any driving test.

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