The History of Window Tinting

At Carworx and Trucks, our window tinting service is always on-point. Here, we can go into all the benefits of window tinting, and the sleek aesthetic it brings to your vehicle’s appearance, but how many car fanatics actually know the history of window tinting?

If auto detailing is your hobby, you might know all about the history of window tinting. You might also be aware that car window tinting isn’t exactly a new feature. In fact, the window tinting process has taken centuries to develop

Dating back to 3000 B.C., glass tinting was originally used in ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian cultures—mostly used for coloring glass beads, pots, and other decorations. Around 100 A.D., ancient Roman, Middle Eastern, and other European cultures applied the process of adding metallic oxide powders to make stained glass windows for palaces, churches, and mosques.

When automobiles were invented in the early 20th century, and starting to play a bigger role in peoples’ everyday lives, drivers noticed how the sun affected the temperature inside the automobile, and the glare that magnified through the glass. Eventually, factory window tint was introduced in the US, and applied to some of the most popular car models produced in the US.

In the early-mid 1960’s, window tinting was a service only provided by auto manufacturers. This kicked off a small DIY window tinting industry to emerge, providing spray-on tinting as the most popular alternative to “professional” window tinting. But the results weren’t always the best—spray-on tinting would leave dark and uneven shading, showing that it was not easy to install, and would often streak, turn purple, or bubble in the sun—also absorb heat into the car, instead of deflecting it.

In 1966, the key to full sun-controlled film was discovered by 3M, the adhesive and laminate manufacturer. They used metallic coatings that blocked most of the sun’s UV rays and heat. In 1969, as a response to terrorist bombings in Europe, 3M introduced clear, non-tinted films that when broken, the glass is held in place—now a standard feature of window film today.

The energy crisis of the 1970’s prompted further innovation in heat reflection, resulting in low-emissive films gaining popularity, particularly in commercial building windows and automobiles. Limousines all over the U.S. started utilizing darker tints, some with shading of 80% or more, as the top choice for automobile privacy.

In the 1980’s, as great as dark tints were for privacy, they weren’t so great for visibility—as most U.S. states developed laws regulating the tint level an automobile was allowed, in hopes to reduce accidents. The early 1990’s introduced a second generation of window film. This “hybrid” film using metal reflected the sun’s rays and dyes, which absorbed heat. Together, the film components reduced heat by about 50%.

These days, as much as hybrid window films revolutionized UV-blocking capabilities in automobiles, the development of other technologies created competition for metallic tints, as they would often interfere with radios and GPS systems. To solve this problem, the window tinting industry switched to ceramics instead of metals. Ceramic-based window tint last longer, rejects heat and UV rays better, and doesn’t interrupt electronics.

The future of automobile window tinting is almost here, as innovators are approaching 100% UV and heat blocking technology. We already have glass that holds glass together, maybe film in the future will prevent glass from breaking in the first place.

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