The History of Window Film

For residents of Albuquerque and all of New Mexico, a life without window tint seems unbearable. Window tint — otherwise known as “window film” — protects you and your complexion from the often-unbearable sunshine and heat that penetrates the state. However, window didn’t wasn’t always around. When was it developed, and by whom?

The Introduction of Window Tinting Technology

Believe it or not, but window tinting technology was developed long before the first motor vehicle graced this planet. The earliest known tinted glass appeared in ancient Mesopotamian and Egyptian cultures. Researchers date the glass to as far back as 3000 B.C. Evidence suggests that around 100 A.D., Romans began to use clear glass for windows. Further digging shows that by the medieval period, the Middle East and Europe were adding metallic oxide powders to color glass for the windows of churches, mosques and palaces.

The Beginning of Automobile Window Tinting

The first window tinted vehicle showed up between 1940 and 1958 and was the innovation of EZ Eye factory tint. Individuals would commonly see this tint on the ’40 Mercury Romango and the ’58 Chevy Impala.

Initially, window tinting was only available through the auto manufacturers. This made it difficult for the average consumer to enjoy the reprieve from the sun. However, it did not stop many from trying. DIY window tinting eventually cropped up. The results, though, were often dark and splotchy. DIY spray-on tinting was also difficult to apply and prone to streaking.

At around the same time that spray-on tinting became a thing, dye-based films were introduced. These films tended to turn purple in the sun and to bubble in intense heat.

Despite the challenges that came with DIY tinting, the demand for more affordable and accessible film was there.

3M Steps In

In the late 1960s, 3M — a manufacturer best known for its development of Scotch Tape — finally unlocked the key to affordable and effective sun control. Its innovation involved adding metallic coatings to clear polyester film to create a sunblock that blocked a majority of the sun’s UV rays and heat. Three years later, in 1969, it introduced clear security film that was designed to hold broken shards of glass in place. This feature is still a standard of window films today.

The 1980s Ushers in Privacy Film

The energy crisis of the 1970s prompted window tint manufacturers to develop darker tints for office buildings and homes. However, by the latter end of the decade, automobile owners were beginning to see the appeal of super-tinted windows. Those who desired ample privacy began to opt for dark tints with shading of 80% or greater. This shading is the shading you will find on limos across the globe today.

States Begin To Regulate Automobile Tint

Though dark tint proved to be great for privacy, it wasn’t so great for visibility. By the early 1980s, this became clear, and so states began to implement their own laws regarding to what degree automobile windows could be tinted. In response to this, window film manufacturers began to think of ways they could continue to block the UV rays and heat without interfering with a driver’s visibility. Eventually, one innovative manufacturer came up with a “hybrid” film that used a combination of both metals and dyes. The metal served to reflect the sun’s rays while the dyes absorbed the heat.

The hybrid film proved to be the answer vehicle owners sought. That is, until smartphones, GPS systems and other forms of technology became ever-present. The metal in the film often interfered with electronic devices, and so manufactures had to go back to the drawing board. What they came up with was a ceramic/dye hybrid. This combination lasts far longer than the mental/dye combination, rejects UV rays and heat better and does not interfere with electronics. It’s the combination today’s window tinting companies still use today.

Though window tinting is much more common than it was in the 1950s and 1960s, manufacturers still recommend against the DIY approach. If you want window film on your vehicle, let a professional install it. Contact Astro Auto Glass about our window tinting services today.