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Bent Glass in Cars

Transportation, communication and architecture all benefited from the innovations in bent glass production throughout the 20th century. Machines were developed to produce endless sheets of flat glass for windows. New processes strengthened bent glass by thermal and chemical tempering. Tints were applied to bent glass to reduce heat transmission and glare, and bent glass was coated with metal oxide films to reflect heat and/or conducted electricity.

Before 1919, windshields were made of ordinary plate glass, therefore highly dangerous when broken. The auto magnate Henry Ford created the new process of glass lamination, which eventually made laminated windshields essential as a car part. The cellulose was later replaced with polyvinyl butyral (PVB). In the 1950s, side and rear windows were replaced by tempered glass, which breaks into small, safer pebble-like pieces when shattered. Fibre-optics and the first photo-sensitive glass were invented in the 1940s. In 1959, float glass replaced flat glass as a preferred material for residential and commercial windows. The most exciting recent development was Low-E glass, which contained a low-emission coating that improved the energy efficiency of windows.

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