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Fixed Glass Removal Using Braided Filament - Friend or Foe?

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The aftermarket glass replacement industry is in a state of change. Glass removal has always been a labor- intensive job and the tools used during this process ranged from simple curved knife blades to 36-volt sawsalls with 4” wide blades.

Long ago (1985) a gentleman in Europe developed a tool that tensions a wire and pulls it through the adhesive. OEM in Europe adopted this tool as the method recommended for glass removal. This process is less labor intensive and is less likely to create damage to the part or the vehicle. This method has slowly been working its way to the USA market and is now used by the majority of technicians nationally.

Recently it was found that new man-made synthetic materials that have 10 times the strength of steel could be used in winders. As this material is very soft, less damage to the paint verses what was seen using wire was accomplished, plus unlike wire, this material can be reused multiple times offering a very good value as well.

What those using this material have found is that it lives up to its specifications and is indeed, “10 times stronger than steel”. While that specification is related to material of the same dimension, thin body panels are no match for filaments.

VIN plates have always been a concern with wire and the filament but unknown to most; the filament will cut through the thin metal or exotic materials used in today’s vehicles. Damage to the body can lead to a salvage title on the customer’s car and the need for the shop owner to speak with their insurance carrier.

Some may think that the metal below the windshield is not visible once the replacement has been performed and “out of sight, out of mind” but those that are aware realize the crush zone of the vehicle is designed into this piece of metal. Compromising this one area can render the designed safety features of the vehicle “non-conforming”. The eggshell has a crack.

With the market now using filaments well north of 300 lbs breaking strength, we can only surmise that the damage will continue and indeed get worse. Wire would break under these conditions and those that expect the same from filament with very high breaking strength can get into trouble thinking they are just cutting some tough adhesive when in fact they are cutting metal. Vehicles with hidden pinchwelds (bottom of glass extends past the edge of the cowl area) are of critical concern as it is difficult to visualize the placement of the filament. This is the most important step in using a winding tool; you have to visualize the placement of your cutting element prior to tensioning. Taking the time to ensure all is good prior to putting the power on will save the shop owner a considerable amount of anguish. Once in place the filament is your friend again but remember, on the next job it can turn on you if you don’t pay attention to details.

I have just added a Smart Phone Bore Scope to our product offering that allows you to view tight areas using your phone.

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