When a cracked windshield necessitates a replacement, you can't replace it with just any type of glass. It has to be safety glass and, more specifically, it must be laminated glass. But why are the requirements so specific? Here are four reasons why vehicle windshields must come with laminated glass windshield replacements must use the same.
The top reason that laminated glass is the glass of choice for windshields is because of this one characteristic: it won't shatter into pieces when it breaks. In the past, windshields with non-laminated glass tended to shatter into very small and sometimes jagged pieces that could cause serious lacerations and even death. Laminated glass, on the other hand, has a plastic interlayer bonded between two sheets of glass. This plastic layer is often PVB or polyvinyl butyral. This means that when the glass is broken, it stays mostly intact in its sheet form. This provides safety to the driver and passenger, especially in accidents.
It's the thickness of laminated glass that provides a lot of the strength that makes it ideal as a material for vehicle windshields. Because it consists of two panes of safety glass and an interlayer between the glass, there is more material between the road and the driver. In addition to its ability to resist shattering upon impact, the PVB interlayer also provides a lot of tensile strength to help the window resist any breaks or cracks at all. It sometimes doesn't feel that way when you're driving down the road and a small rock smashes into the glass causing a chip, but imagine how much more dangerous that little projectile would be if it weren't for the laminated glass.
Another helpful quality of laminated replacement windshield glass that results from its thickness, and PVB interlayer is additional sound insulation. It helps keep the noises of the road to a minimum. This is especially helpful for professional drivers and those who are on the road constantly and subjected to road noise for hours.
Another reason that autos are manufactured with laminated glass is because of the affordability of producing laminated glass. Although there are other materials that provide shatter resistance and tensile strength (for example, some plastic materials), laminated glass is more affordable to manufacture. In fact, several decades ago, General Motors manufactured a line of vehicles with plastic windshields but discontinued the use of plastic because of the high cost and the wear on the windshield.