Volume 5, Issue 6        November/December 2003


Off the Line         oem glass manufacturing news___________
Safety's Not Just a Standard 
by Jason Wright

"In the interest of consumer safety, OEM manufacturers hold themselves to a profoundly higher level of safety and quality"

With all the discussion of safety, I see an emphasis on meeting the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 205, which includes ANSI Standard Z26.1. But in order to gain a complete understanding of what is required of a windshield to be a total safety product (in addition to meeting FMVSS 205) we need to understand where FMVSS 205 and ANSI Standard Z26.1 fall in the bigger picture of windshield safety.

Internal Standards

FMVSS 205 basically contains nine individual ANSI tests that govern windshield performance. These standards have been incorporated into law, composing only a portion of what we know as ANSI Z26.1. Any Department of Transportation-approved manufacturer must validate model numbers only once so that it is in compliance with FMVSS 205.

This is a fairly low level of compliance when considering that most OEM auto glass manufacturers validate their compliance annually and incorporate hundreds of internal standards. The reason for such extensive quality control and research usually hinges on safety and quality.

On top of our internal standards, additional standards from the automotive manufacturers are usually imposed. Once again the reasoning is safety and quality. Also, ,as global suppliers, many other countries impose additional standards to our manufacturing processes.

Here is an example of standard compliance versus safety. If we were to break a windshield and immediately perform ANSI test Number 12 (.5-pound ball drop) and ANSI test Number 26 (penetration resistance), both being part of FMVSS 205, odds are the windshield would probably pass as long as the polyvinyl butyral (PVB) is intact. 

Now, if you were to make physical contact with the inboard layer and areas of broken glass, would that be safe? Of course not.

Thatís why issues like spalling and adhesion (which worsen over time) are so crucial to windshield performance and stability, whether imposed by the nine standards of FMVSS 205, or any other of a multitude of standards we use. 

OEM standards such as frit adhesion levels, head injury criteria value testing (a value for the characteristics of skull-brain injury arising from the deceleration forces that result from a blunt perpendicular impact with the glazing) or triplex lacerative index testing (which measures the specific degree of laceration received by impact with the inboard glass) would also be important to windshield safety. 

However, these types of testing are only observed by our own imposition of OEM quality and safety performance standards and not by FMVSS 205 or ANSI Z26.1. 

OEM Standards

So, it should be known, and as identified in the point above, that complying with ANSI Z26.1 or FMVSS 205, means meeting the absolute bottom of performance requirements. In the interest of consumer safety, OEM manufacturers hold themselves to a profoundly higher level of safety and quality. And, therefore, OEM auto glass manufacturers and automotive manufacturers typically are the resource for consultation by most governing authorities on what is to be determined to be a relevant and safe standard.

These are just a few examples of the depth of manufacturing technicalities that revolve around the issue of safety. You can rest assured that there lies a profound amount of information and the process involved in the engineering and manufacturing of OEM auto glass.

Jason Wright is the technical services manager for Pilkington North America, based in Columbus, Ohio.

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