Windshield glass Quality
Windshield glass is a layered product where a sheet of plastic is sandwiched between two sheets of tempered glass. To manufacture, a flat sheet of glass is laid on top of a curved form designed specifically for one automobile. A flat sheet of plastic is added and then a second flat sheet of glass.
At this point the sandwich is situated above the curved form, since the sheets are still flat and rigid. Next, the entire “sandwich” is placed into a furnace and heated. The glass sheets and plastic heat and sink into the form, taking on the curvature of the form. After a period of time, the three layers bond. Then the laminated glass is gently cooled so it maintains it’s shape.
That’s how windshield glass used to be made. Today with all the new requirements of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) and Heads Up (HUD), windshield glass manufacturing has changed a lot.
Making OE and replacement windshield glass gets more complicated
Pilkington Automotive Glass Replacement (AGR) provides original equipment manufactured (OEM) quality glass products to auto glass replacement professionals throughout the United States, with markets extending into Canada and Mexico. According to Bill George, director of business planning at Pilkington North America, making windshield glass has been “a huge and dramatic change. It has required us to really stay ahead of the technology. We have an opportunity to do this as we are bidding on all the original equipment (OE) work so we are looking out five to seven years so we can see it coming forward. So much has gone on we have had a lot of retooling in the plants and tighten our performance specifications to allow for the requirements of the vehicle manufacturers such as changing optical quality—this has been signifcant. Distortion in the glass can come from the float and or quality of fabrication process—and it has to meet an ever-increasing optical specification.”
Bill goes on to add: “That requires really skilled bending techniques and advanced furnaces. In a typical highly capable furnace we may have hundreds of heating elements so we can accurately bend the glass. With the newer ADAS glass you have to almost double that. That is just the optical quality, let alone bending and shaping control. We have had to make significant adjustments and we are still changing as more technology is coming on—especially with augmented reality where the image is half the length of the windshield, etc.” — October 2019 interview with Bill George in agrrmag.com
What’s different about the new glass?
Many people try to differentiate between OE windshield glass which contains the car maker’s logo and aftermarket glass which does not. However, that’s an improper comparison. The key point between the two is whether the aftermarket glass meets the same OE glass specifications for curvature, optical clarity and infra-red transmission in the 405nm range. Either the glass matches OE or not. The fact that it either has the OE logo or not is irrelevant.
If the glass doesn’t have the exact curvature and optical clarity, it will not calibrate properly or may not perform as designed in preventing crashes. However, just as important as the glass quality is the installation. The glass must be mounted in the vehicle in the exact spot and the camera and radar system must be placed perfectly for the ADAS systems to work.
Who makes quality windshield glass?
That’s a really tough question. It’s like asking who makes quality brake pads? Do you go by brand name alone even though each brake pad manufacturer offers several different quality levels, from cheap economy brake pads, to OEM to premium?
So the question isn’t brand. Instead, it’s does it adhere to the OE specifications as well as the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 205 (or FMVSS 205 for short) windshield glazing standards for auto glass transparency and strength, plus Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 212 (or FMVSS 212 for short) which spells out how much force the windshield must be able to withstand during an accident?
In addition, is it designed specifically for not only the year, make and model of the vehicle, but the ADAS features included in that particular vehicle. Then there’s the issue of comfort features. Many car makers now use acoustic glass to reduce road noise and enhance the vehicle’s sound system.
Unfortunately, I don’t have the answer on who makes the best glass. You can ask the glass install who makes the glass and if the manufacturer is a major company like Pilkington, Saint-Gobain Sekurit (SGS), Carlite, Pilkington, PPG, Mopar, and AP Tech. But as you can see below, at least one the companies listed as aftermarket manufactures also make glass for General Motors.
Other windshield glass manufacturers
ASAHI GLASS Co. BRAND: AGC
The Asahi Glass Company was founded in 1907. AGC owns more than 50 companies in Europe and Asia. Concern is the official supplier of glass for largest Japanese automakers. ASAHI GLASS Co owns the original trademarks of their automotive glass: Splintex, Asahi, Temperlite, Lamisafe and AP Technoglass.
FUYAO (Hong Kong) Co., Ltd. BRAND: Fy
Fuyao Group is a joint venture corporation founded in 1987 in Fuzhou specialized in production of automotive safety glass, and is the first company of the trade in China listed in the Shanghai Stock Exchange in 1993. Fuyao (Hong Kong) Co., Ltd. established in Hong Kong in December 1994, the company is responsible for import and export business of the Fuyao Group. Fuyao Group is the largest, most advanced manufacturer, and the biggest exporter of the automotive glass in China. Today, FUYAO automotive glass are successfully exported to Asia, America, Australia, Europe, including Ukraine and Russia.
Splintex Distribution BRAND: Glaverbel
Splintex Distribution belongs to the group of companies Glaverbel. It is a supplier for many European Auto Giants. Manufactured glass out of polished glass sheets (clear glass with planar parallel surfaces, with a natural glossy surface and undistorting visibility).
Guardian BRAND: Guardian
The Guardian Company was founded in 1932 with a headquarters in Michigan, USA. Company has 19 automotive glass factories. Volume of produced products is 1 000 000 glasses per year. Guardian supplies General Motors.
Nippon Glass BRAND: NIPPPON SHEET GLASS
Nippon Glass Company was founded in 1918. Nippon Glass supplies glass only on conveyors of Japanese automobile plants and almost doesn’t produce products for secondary market. Since 2006 Nippon Sheet Glass company holds the block of shares of Pilkington company.
JAAN BRAND: JAAN
JAAN was founded in June 1991 in Koszalin (Poland). The company manufactures windshields branded Nordglass. Nowadays JAAN has 29 branches in the country.
Olimpia AutoGlass BRAND: Olimpia
Olimpai Auto Glass is one of the oldest rooted and leading companies of glass industry in Turkey, manufacturing automotive, industrial, architectural glass, and side windows with sliding glass for all marks of buses, minibuses, tractor cabs, etc. Olimpia carries out production activities under DOT-739 (USA), ECE Regulation 43 (Belgium), ISO-EN-9002 (TSE), TS-917 (TSE), TS-11502 (TSE) standards.
Pilkington BRAND: Pilkington
Pilkington is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of glass and glazing products. Founded in 1826, Pilkington is a leader in the global Flat Glass industry.
PPG BRAND: PPG
Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company (PPG) was founded in 1883. Pittsburgh-based PPG is a global supplier of paints, coatings, optical products, specialty materials, chemicals, glass and fiber glass. The company has more than 100 manufacturing facilities in North and South America, Asia. PPG had developed network in Europe, but it recently has been owned by Japan’s Asahi Glass.
Sekurit Saint-Gobain BRAND: Saint-Gobain SEKURIT
Sekurit Saint-Gobain was founded in 1665 in Paris to make glass for the Hall of Mirrors in the Palace at Versailles. Today Saint-Gobain Sekurit has 55 glassworks in all parts of the world and supplies its products to every second car in Europe and one in five – in the world. Saint-Gobain Sekurit operates in all continents, with 37% of products sold in Europe, 43% – in America, 16% – in Asia, 2% – in Africa, 2% – in Australia and New Zealand.
Shatterprufe BRAND: Shatterprufe
Establishment in 1935, Shatterprufe has grown to become the leading manufacturer of laminated and toughened automotive safety glass in Southern Africa. The company is a major exporter of automotive replacement glass to Africa, Europe, the USA, the Middle East and the Far East, and has been named “Exporter of the Year” on numerous occasions.
Soliver BRAND: S
The Soliver Group is an independent group of companies with private capital. Started in 1937 as a glass wholesale business in Roeselare (West-Flanders). Today, the total production capacity of automotive glass is more than six million units per year.
XYNIY Automobile Glass Co, LTD BRAND: xyg
Safelite and Guardian are widely-used aftermarket brands. But notice that Guardian also makes OEM windshields so you can’t automatically assume their products aren’t OE quality.
Heshan Zhengda, Dongguan Brightpower and Shiyan Huachao are Chinese makers of aftermarket windshields. However, they make aftermarket windshields as far as Europeans and Americans are concerned. But in China and other Far-Eastern countries they are actually OEM.
Posted on by Rick Muscoplat