The Windshield as a Backboard
Within thousandths of a second after a car is involved in a head-on crash, tiny sensors detect the impact and immediately activate the airbag in an attempt to protect the vehicle’s occupant(s). After full deployment, the airbag can absorb a significant amount of force as the full weight of an unbelted occupant makes impact. To operate efficiently, the airbag needs to be supported by the rest of the car body and in particular, the bonded windshield. If the windshield is not bonded correctly or proper SDATs were not followed, the glass has the potential to detach from the vehicle body, putting the occupants at great physical risk.
The Windshield as a Structural Member
Many of today’s vehicles have been specifically designed to depend on the windshield to act as a structural member of the body by providing increased torsional stiffness. Knowledgeable vehicle manufacturers are careful to select special, high-modulus polyurethane (PUR) adhesives to adhere the windshield to these specific vehicles. When driving, this high-modulus PUR allows for the efficient transfer of dynamic forces from the road, to the car body and finally to the windshield, which ultimately results in increased vehicle stiffness and optimized handling. Relying on the windshield as a structural member, the high-modulus adhesive also allows the OEM to minimize the thickness of the steel used to build the car, thus reducing weight and costs.
The Windshield as the Last Line of Defence
Obviously one of the most important functions of the windscreen is to prevent the ejection of occupants in case of an accident. Incorrect installation processes and unrealistic SDATs can put occupants at enormous risk during a crash. Real world studies have shown that 17% of vehicle occupants do not wear their seatbelts in the USA, placing even more emphasis on a properly installed windshield. So the question remains, are you comfortable that one out of every six of your customers may be driving their vehicle without a seatbelt?