The History of Car Window Tinting

history of car window tinting

Car tinting has come a long way from its roots. Since more and more car owners are realizing its importance and the benefits it can provide to the safety, security, comfort, and health protection of its passengers, countless tinting companies have been put up and are being put up as the years pass by. Not only that, the technology of car window tinting is being innovated and developed today more than ever. From the simple logic of adding extra layers of dark tint to a vehicle’s windows sprung the idea of self-tinting glass, violation scanners, and a booming tinting industry in the next few years.

But, in order to appreciate this form of art and science, it is important that you learn its history and the narrative of how it came to be. While many would think that car window tinting is a relatively new feature and a product of innovation and technology, you’d be surprised to know that its foundations actually were weaved from different time periods throughout centuries of development.

The earliest known tinted glass originated in ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian cultures, which developed processes for tinting and colouring glass for beads and decorative pots. In around 100 A.D., the Romans began using clear glass for windows, while the Medieval Period in Europe and the Middle East has debuted the process for colouring glass by adding metallic oxide powders. This was applied through the creation and popularity of making stained glass windows and art placed in palaces, churches, and mosques.

As more people included cars in their daily life during these years, more people began to notice how temperature and glare from the sun were magnified through glass. It was only a matter of time before EZ Eye, one of the first tinting manufacturers in the US, introduced factory window tint in a few car models, including the popular ’58 Chevy Impala. Tinting was only done by auto manufacturers, which made it not very accessible for the masses.

Because of this, a small industry of DIY window tinting started to crop up. They have started the trend of spray on tints, which was considered one of the best alternatives from the pricey tinting. However, the result was a dark and often uneven shading that was difficult to install and prone to streaking. This lead to the dismay of many car owners who thought tinted cars are not really efficient and good to look at.

Simultaneously, rudimentary dye-based window films were also introduced, but, they fade and turn purple at a faster rate and tend to form bubbles and air pockets under the sun. Contrary to tint’s purpose of blocking UV rays and heat, these types absorb heat into the car instead of reflecting it away.

Adhesives and laminates giant 3M has innovated tints as the world know it. They introduced a sun control film in 1966 which boasted of metallic coatings to clear polyester for a flexible film that blocked much of the sun’s harmful UV rays and heat. Three years later, in response to terrorist bombings in Europe, 3M introduced clear security window films that held broken glass in place—a standard feature of window film today.

During the energy crisis of the 70s prompted further innovation in heat reflection, and low emissivity films. This brand new innovation started to become more popular in commercial building windows, as well as for cars. In the late 1970s, tinted car windows became the top option for those who want privacy, especially for limousines all over the U.S., which started utilizing dark tints, some with shading of 80% or more.

Darker tints were greatly popular during this decade, however, accidents here and there further proved that it does nothing good for drivers’ visibility while driving. By the early 1980s, most U.S. states developed their own laws regulating the tint level allowed on car windows to reduce accidents. The UK also enacted their Tinting Law which regularizes the level or percentage of tint darkness in cars.

In the early 1990s, a second generation of window film was introduced: a “hybrid” film using metal, which reflected the sun’s rays, and dyes, which absorbed heat. Together, the film components reduced heat by about 50%.

Presently, the development of other technologies posed a problem for metallic tints: they often interfered with electronic devices like radios and, later, GPS systems. To solve this problem, the window tinting industry developed the latest in window films, which use ceramics instead of metals. Ceramic-based window tint lasts longer, rejects heat and UV rays better, and doesn’t interfere with electronics at all.

Self-tinting or automated glass can also be considered the most recent development when it comes to tinting. Today, people can have the choice of having tints whenever they want it, and have it ‘removed’ if they no longer need it. As the technology further advances, people should only anticipate how much tinting can be improved, which in the long run benefits them as well when it comes to their driving, safety, protection, and health.