The History of Auto Glass Replacement and Auto Glass Repair

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The History of Auto Glass Replacement and Repair


How long has it been since you first sat behind the wheel of your first car? Certainly, that was a thrilling moment. If it wasn’t a gift from your parents, like the family’s old station wagon, then you might have been lucky enough to pick it out yourself. You may have chosen your first car because of its color, model or because it was the only thing that you could afford. But one thing is for certain: you probably didn’t give a second thought to the kind of glass used in its windows and windshield, right? Auto glass has gone through an amazing evolution since your first car.


Back Through Time: Automobile glass has never been about beauty, for the most part at least. It has, primarily, been about function and protection throughout its design history. The construction of auto glass is complex. And every passenger owes their safety to the complexity of that manufacturing process. Let’s go back to where it all began.


Edouard Benedictus: This French chemist is credited with discovering that a film-coated glass is more shatter-resistant. Did this eureka moment culminate after years of painstaking research and inventive design? Nope. The story goes he merely dropped a dirty glass flask still coated with a solution of cellulose nitrate. So, every car owner owes a bit of their safety to a scientist who was a slacker when it came to keeping his lab tidy.


Like so many wonderful discoveries, an invention came about by accident. Benedictus took what could have just been a trifling distraction and transformed the future of the automobile industry. From his broken flask moment, he moved forward to invent the first generation of bullet-proof glass and safety glass.


Roaring 20’s: Although most think the 1920’s era got the nickname “Roaring” because of the famous Flapper culture known for rowdy music and a love of dancing ’til dawn at speakeasies and nightclubs, such word association might be in error. The Roaring 20’s might be deemed so because this was the first generation of Americans who were roaring about highways and byways in automobiles, unfettered by pesky regulations like speed limits.


Laminated glass was first used in these automobiles. However, the strength of this early laminated glass design cannot compare with the quality of what is used today and often needed to be repaired or replaced. Manufacturing also was not very refined. Clumsy, rough-edged and inconsistent might be the words used to describe what was often produced. However, trial and error lead to greater, better things.


The Tempered 1930’s: It wasn’t just the lifestyle of Americans that was tempered by the economic woes of the 1930’s. Automobile glass also became tempered during the years of the Great Depression. Automobile accidents were on the rise and safety became a priority. Safer glass standards were all part of a new design perspective that wanted to protect a car’s passengers, economize the cost of manufacturing with improved reliability in production, and deliver on the ultimate goal of making more money through more sales in a booming automobile market.


1970 Standards: It would take decades before the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) would be formed. As public concern grew due to the number of fatalities and injuries caused by increasing automobile traffic, government standards and regulations became the solution. The 1970’s introduced a regulatory body that had oversight of automobile manufacturing. Testing of components and products, like safety glass, became part of that thing we call progress. Vehicles steadily became safer, and we can all say a word of thanks to the part that glass has played.


Modern Auto Glass: Today, there are quick and affordable solutions for a broken windshield or passenger window. Is your vehicle unsafe to drive? No problem. A certified installer can even come to you. Our auto glass experts are trained to perform a factory-quality installation with glass purchased directly from auto glass manufacturers.


If you are in need of an auto glass replacement or repair, Michael’s Glass Company has more than 30 years of experience. Contact us for a free estimate at (215) 338-3293 and you’ll be back on the road in no time!