[Updated] The 2019 Porsche 911 GT3 RS Will Use Gorilla Glass Windows
On the search for lightweight materials, Porsche engineers took inspiration from their smartphones.
Porsche announced Monday that its 911 GT3 RS will use panes of 'Gorilla Glass' to separate the interiors and the great outdoors.
"Gorilla Glass" is a common name for thin-film glass, which is a composite found commonly on mobile devices and televisions. It's made with a thin pane of glass, chemically treated so that its fine imperfections—visible only under an electron microscope—are partially filled in, boosting compressive strength, flexibility, and resistance to scratches and chips. Porsche's engineers used a similar material in the rear pane of the 918 Spyder Weissach, but Ford was the first to apply the Gorilla Glass brand name to automotive glass in the Ford GT. The GT3 RS will be the first mass-produced Porsche to use thin-film glass to cut weight from its rear and rear side windows.
How much weight? Porsche says the rear safety glass window on a base 911 weighs 5.8 kilograms (12.8 pounds), but that of the GT3 RS with the same dimensions comes in at just 3.7 kilograms (8.2 pounds).
Thin-film glass conveys other benefits, too. Traditional safety glass blocks about 70 percent of ultraviolet radiation, while thin-film glass can block 99 percent. Likewise, the thinner panes mean less optical distortion, which is especially important with how steep the windows in some 911s can be.
Porsche is also in pursuit of how to add better infrared insulation to thin-film glass and wishes to evaluate its uses for interior touch displays. The automaker does admit some ways in which the material falls short of traditional safety glass, namely its high cost due to limited demand in the automotive market for thin-film glass. An additional problem is that thin-film glass can at times be too flexible—windows you roll down can't be made of the stuff because they could flex at high speeds, and not seal correctly when rolled up.
But with Porsche announcing its exploration of thin-film glass for automotive applications, it may be only a matter of time before its competitors adopt the technology, maybe even rolling it out for use in mass-production or economy vehicles. Weight reduction is the final frontier of automotive engineering, and everyone should be pleased by its advancement.
Updated 08/14 @ 9:45 a.m. EST: H/T Ford Performance for pointing out an error in a former version of this article which cited Porsche as the first automaker to use Gorilla Glass in its production models. Ford, in fact, used the material in its GT road car which debuted for the 2017 model year.