Tech In Plain Sight: Windshield Frit

You probably see a frit every day and don’t even notice it. What is it? You know the black band around your car’s windshield? That’s a frit (which, by the way, can also mean ingredients used in making glass) or, sometimes, a frit band. What’s more, it probably fades out using a series of dots like a halftone image, right? Think that’s just for aesthetics? Think again.

Older windshields were not always attached firmly, leading to them popping out in accidents. At some point, though, the industry moved to polyurethane adhesives, which are superior when applied correctly. However, they often degrade from exposure to UV. That’s a problem with a windshield, which usually gets plenty of sunlight.

The answer is the frit, a ceramic-based baked-on enamel applied to both sides of the windshield’s edges, usually using silk screening. The inner part serves as a bonding point for the adhesive. However, the outer part blocks UV radiation from reaching the adhesive. Of course, it also hides the adhesive and any edges or wiring beneath it, too.

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No Windshield? No Problem, Says McLaren

All the best sports cars look like they’re moving when they’re just sitting there, and the lines on McLaren’s newest limited-edition plaything redefine that look of speed standing still. Maybe it’s the sneering headlights or the streamlined, reverse-1966 Batmobile styling. Whatever it is, the 804-horsepower two-seater project Elva looks like it’s leaping off the line into the future.

But this future is free from the last thing we’d expect to see removed from any vehicle, especially a $1.7 million supercar — the windshield. Now that the headphone jack has been deemed expendable, it seems that nothing is sacred. The Elva is already a permanent convertible with no windows.

Though McLaren didn’t start this weird and windowless fire, the Elva is meant to fan the flames of futurism. She joins the ranks of a few windshield-free models from Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, and Aston Martin. In the other guy’s cars, you’ll need a helmet above 30MPH unless you love the thunderous sounds of air buffeting and blown-out hair. It’s a young idea with a few bugs to work out.

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Red Bull Creation: I3 Detroit

If there’s one thing I learned about Detroit last weekend, it’s that it is freaking huge. It’s an unbelievably large city, and looking at the population numbers, you can really start to see the problem of providing city services to such a large area. With such a sparse population, it’s the ideal environment for experimentations in urban farming, after a few seasons of planting crops that will leech everything out of the soil of course.

If you have a farm, you’re going to need some means of irrigation, and you might as well throw a scarecrow in there as well, giving i3 Detroit the idea for RoboCrop, the perfect project for an urban farm or anyone who is putting on a production of The Wizard Of Oz but is a little shorthanded for a full cast.

RoboCrop is an all-in-one irrigation and bird and small mammal scaring device, controllable with webcam video streamed right to the remote. It’s a fun project, and fits right into the apparent unofficial “urban gardening” theme of this year’s Red Bull Creation.

i3 is also the largest and arguably the best equipped hackerspace in the Detroit region. They were kind enough to let us throw a little get together there last weekend where we gave away a 3D printer for The Hackaday Prize. Good times all around. We’ll have a video tour of i3 up a little bit later.