The credit for discovering a way to repair windshields goes to Dr. Frank Werner, a renowned scientist from Wyoming. He had 77 patents for various applications and products such as the ski-boot bindings. He had replaced three windshields in rapid succession due to the rough Wyoming terrain and decided there had to be some way to repair windshields rather than requiring a complete windshield replacement each time a windshield was dinged or cracked. He worked with a chemical engineer by the name of Bill Wiele who developed a clear adhesive resin that matched the windshield glass optically and together they developed a windshield repair system.
Tacna, Tonopah and Waddell residents: At what size does a chip have to be before the entire windshield must be replaced? Answer: The chip must be larger than a quarter.
The credit for distributing the windshield repair process to the public goes to Gerald Keinath who in 1972 bought the patent rights for the windshield repair system from Dr. Werner. Gerald Keinath incorporated a company called Novus and designed a business plan in order to bring windshield repair to the public for the first time. Initially, the original equipment was too heavy for one person to carry. During the years since, others have perfected the windshield repair equipment and the resin used for the windshield repair process. Now the windshield repair equipment could almost fit in your pocket.
Before the early 1970’s, an oil based resin was used for cosmetic purposes only. The resin was poured onto the damaged area allowing the chip on the windshield to absorb the oil-based resin thus hiding the damage. In 1971, the 3M Company became the first to produce equipment to repair windshields and named it ‘ScotchWeld’. The windshield repair process used ultra sound vibrations and a syringe to inject resin or other adhesives into the damaged area. The windshield repair equipment was expensive to manufacture and was so large the bed of a pick-up truck had to be used to transport the windshield repair equipment. This made it difficult for them to lease or to sell the product because it was so cumbersome. Though 3M introduced windshield repair to the insurance companies, they eventually decided to focus on other products.
Mort Gallub, the owner of a company called Glass Medic, which was the largest auto reconditioning operation along the east coast, had been following the burgeoning windshield repair process as it was being developed and improved, because replacing damaged windshields cut into his profit margins. After experimenting with existing windshield repair systems, he hired a research engineer and together they developed a ‘vacuum pump’ process which he began marketing and using in his business.
The number of windshield repair companies continued to grow during the next few years. Companies such as Harmon Glass, Auto Glass Specialists, and Delta Kits had their start during this period. By the mid 1980s, the number of windshield repair companies had greatly expanded with the formation of Glass Technology, Liquid Resins International, Tri-Glass, Glass Mechanics, and Ultra Bond to name a few. The focus varied among these companies with some focusing on improving the equipment, some companies focused on creating quality resins and others set their sites on marketing the windshield repair system.
Tacna, Tonopah and Waddell Drivers: How long does a crack have to be before the entire windshield has to be replaced? Answer: 6 inches or larger than a dollar bill.
Over the next decade, the windshield repair process continued to grow. In 1998, Safelite Auto Glass, the largest glass replacement retailer in the United States, began focusing on windshield repair and created a new unit that specialized just in auto glass repair. Today, they are one of the largest auto glass repair companies.
It is expected by industry insiders that the windshield repair process will continue to grow and improvements will continue to be discovered, not only in the United States and in Europe, but in many other parts of the world as well. We can be confident that windshield repair will continue its odyssey of discovery and to the benefit of everyone that owns a vehicle. Still, it is always possible that if not for Wyoming’s rough terrain and Dr. Werner, we would still be required to replace damaged windshields rather than repair them.
By Paul Ryans | Find us on Google