Porsche has been dedicated to pioneering modern components and exotic materials for decades, employing new technology well before other manufacturers in many instances. Innovative materials like high-strength steel, deep-drawn sheet steel, light alloys like aluminum and magnesium, and featherweight plastics have been put into production by Porsche. In order to make its products more efficient and still provide that Porsche-ness that we all desire so, the company is continually pressing forward in this arena. For this newest innovation, however, Porsche has looked outside of the world of automobiles and reached across the aisle to the tech world.
Porsche has been on a mission to develop lighter window glass for years, occasionally making use of plastic rear and quarter windows for their Rennsport models. The problem with plastic, however, is that it scratches easily, and has less than optimal visual characteristics. It’s not practical for mass-produced Porsches, it’s fair to say. So, when thinner film glass started becoming the de riguer mode of creating screens for televisions, smart phones, and tablets, Porsche sat up and took notice. The material, colloquially known as Gorilla Glass is incredibly clear and without distortion, it is very low weight, and it is very strong. Despite the fact that your smartphone screen shattered the last time you dropped it, Gorilla Glass is actually quite good at remaining intact. A similar type of laminated glass was used on a test basis for the rear window of the 918 Spyder Weissach. The only major downside is the increased production cost. Porsche folks will pay for quality and lightweight, however. Gorilla Glass is also too thin and flexible to be useful for roll-down side window glass as of yet.
While also available on McLaren’s 720S, Porsche lays claim to the title of first automotive manufacturer to use Gorilla Glass in mass production applications, as the current GT3 RS uses the space age material for the rear and rear quarter windows as does the GT2 RS. Porsche is currently experimenting with the possibility of building windshields out of the material, because testing has proven that it would be substantially more resistant to hail and stone chipping, while also being more scratch resistant. An interior layer of 2.1mm standard glass with a layer of PVB safety film and a 0.55mm layer of Gorilla Glass has proven to be more flexible and shatter resistant in crash testing, up to 200% stronger than conventional glass windshields. Perhaps most important to Porsche fans, however, is weight. The current 911 back light weighs in at 5.8 kilograms of conventional glass, but the current glazing on the rear of the new GT3 RS (and 911 Carrera T) weighs a scant 3.7 kilograms. That’s a 2.1 kilo drop or nearly 5 lbs.
Thus is the ever forward march of progress.