- – Begins operations as Air Accessories, Inc.
- – Buying and selling of war surplus aircraft supplies
1950s—Beginning of manufacturing
- Begins selling plastic sheet & rods
- Becomes producer of boat windshields
- Moves from Fort Worth to Grand Prairie, Texas
1960s—Acquisition and expansion
- Purchased by Texstar Corporation (1960)
- Produces helicopter windshields for U.S. Army/R&D expansion
- Works with GE and NASA to develop helmet & visor systems for Gemini and Apollo astronauts
- Neil Armstrong walks on the moon with Texstar-developed helmet in 1969
1970s—Expansion in capabilities and capacity
- Continues expansion of R&D, engineering capability
- Adds more technical manufacturing equipment
- Earns F-16 canopy qualification
1980s to 2004—Significant advancements and technical capabilities
- Purchased by Hillman Company (1981), BBA (early 1990s), American Capital (2001)
- Designs and builds stretched acrylic machine (mid-1980s)
- Develops thin-film coatings & invests in robotic vacuum chambers
- Develops and qualifies first 550-Knot F-16 transparency
More Detailed History
In the 1980s, Texstars’ evolution of transparency technologies continued by developing and supplying the “flash panel” for the B-2 Stealth Bomber. This laminated glass panel was designed as a safety measure that provided eye protection for the pilot and crew in the unfortunate event of a nuclear detonation. A nuclear flash would trigger our ‘windows’ to turn opaque black instantly, before the blinding, white-hot, potentially harmful light rays entered the B-2 cockpit. Texstars laminated a proprietary photo-sensitive membrane within this window.
Secondly, a ground vehicle manufacturer by the name of AM General began production of the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV), commonly known as the Humvee military ground vehicle. Texstars was selected to provide the laminated ballistic windshields and side windows for this vehicle. These windows were designed for a far lower threat level by today’s standards, but Texstars rose to prominence by becoming the original supplier of transparent armor for the Humvee.
In the 1990s, Texstars anticipated the market for stretched acrylic sheet material in order to form aircraft transparencies. In order to competitively succeed in this market, Texstars designed and built an acrylic stretching machine. This complex machine physically stretches cast billets by heating and pulling the edges of a billet multi-axially which thins the sheet material, increases the impact resistance and inherently makes the material more chemical-resistant. Still in operation and fully compliant to MIL-PRF-25690, this massively complex machine produces and is marketed as TEX-STRETCH.
As military demands for technologies continue to skyrocket, Texstars developed the capability to deposit thin-film metallic coatings onto aircraft transparencies using robotic vacuum chambers. This contributed numerous properties for aircraft, from low-observable stealth to laser-absorption.
Texstars won contracts to injection mold components for two new noteworthy program types with 30% carbon-filled Ultem thermoplastic resin. The first was the world’s first all-composite warhead for the MK-125 Standard Missile for ATK in conjunction with the Naval Surface Warfare Center, and the second, numerous parts that assembled into an extraordinary new technology night vision goggles.
When the turn of the century occurred, Texstars was already in full production of passenger railcar interior panels for Bombardier using a manufacturing method we pioneered and tailored for the mass-transit industry. Texstars developed a light RTM technique that chemically cross-links on a molecular level the decorative skin to a composite substrate. This new process set a new standard and became next-generation railcar interiors. Our panels are still in service today. They are structurally sound, met all FST (fire/smoke/toxicity) requirements and are cosmetically pristine.
Also after 2000, Texstars partnered with BAE Systems to supply transparent armor for their Transparent Armor Gun Shields (TAGS) program. We’ve supplied over 80,000 windows that have been responsible for saving the lives of many of our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. The TAGS concept has been such as success, it is now standard in the manufacturing of most all military armored vehicles used today.
Since 2010, Texstars has advanced in coatings technologies such as conductive coating composite commercial aircraft Highly-Resistive Unions (HRUs) to safeguard against lightning strike hazards. Texstars is developing a new material and associated process to replace traditional cabin window material. This development could significantly decrease the cost, decrease the weight and provide longer life cycle than currently used stretched acrylic