Future Developments in Automotive Glass
Because of its strength and solid safety record, some car manufacturers are considering the implementation of laminated glass into all areas of their cars. It's already in use in some larger vehicles: General Motors has installed it in the back windows of their passenger vans to keep occupants inside the vehicle during major accidents. Some manufacturers, like BMW, have already placed laminated glass in the sidelites of some of their models as an extra protection from theft. In addition to the safety boost it provides, laminated glass also acts as a good sound dampener because of the PVB inside it [source: Allen].
However, there's one problem with implementing laminated glass throughout a vehicle: In an emergency, an occupant needing to exit the vehicle quickly couldn't break the laminated glass without help. Due to its strength, laminated glass can take 10 times longer to break than tempered glass, which can make escape difficult for a weakened and injured passenger [source: Allen]. This dilemma hasn't stopped automotive designers from devising new ways to get more laminated glass into our cars. For example, cielo roofs (the name comes from the Spanish word for "sky") have been popping up all over the concept car circuit. Cielo roofs extend a car's windshield behind the driver's head, converting the entire roof into a single piece of laminated glass [source: Allen].
Automotive glass isn't only being designed for safety and comfort. Glass makers and car manufacturers are also trying to find avenues for recycling the glass. Although some excess glass produced during the making of automotive glass does get recycled, once the automotive glass is fitted for a car, it becomes harder to recycle because of additions like coatings and heating elements.
Despite these dilemmas, glass manufacturers continue to explore new ideas for making glass stronger, safer and adaptable for new vehicles. You might not think about it much, but our vehicles wouldn't be as safe as they are without modern tempered and laminated glass.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
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