Types of glass – Application and advantages

Types of glass and their applications and advantages is what described in this article. Glass is one of the most innovative human inventions having unique properties. The flexibility of usage of glass in architectural applications like doors, windows, facades, etc. makes it one of the popularly used products in the construction sector. This article is about the manufacturing process of glass, and major glass types used in construction and architecture applications.

Glass – Manufacturing process and properties

Glass manufacturing follows the fusion process method which involves fusing sand with grounded lime, soda, and other admixtures etc., and cooled to form glass. Glasses are transparent, translucent, or brittle. Following are the basic properties of glass that make it one of the most preferred and popular architectural choices.

  • Transparency: Glass is transparent from both sides or one side.
  • Strength of glass: Enhanced to any level by adding admixtures and laminates.
  • Workability of glass: Glass is flexible and possible to mold to any shape or even blown in the molten stage.
  • Transmittance end U value: Can control temperatures and extreme climatic conditions.
  • Glass is 100% recyclable
glass façade
glass façade

Types of glass and applications

There are mainly three types of glass

  • Annealed glass
  • Heat-strengthened glass
  • Toughened glass.

Types of glass – Annealed Glass

Annealed glass is popularly known as float glass or conventional glass. Ingredients like sand, grounded lime, admixtures are mixed and cooled for manufacturing annealed glass. Float glass has a perfectly flat, brilliant surface with optical clarity.
Different types of float glasses popularly used in the construction sector are as follows.

Clear glass/Float glass

Clear glass is a clear and transparent annealed glass. They got a natural greenish color. Clear glass is extensively used for architectural applications involving doors, windows, solar applications, shelves, etc. Other glass types use clear glass in their manufacturing process.

Tinted glass

Tinted glass is manufactured by adding small amounts of metal oxide to the glass ingredients. These ingredients regulate the transmission of solar energy and modify the color without changing the basic properties of the glass.

Frosted glass

Frosted glass is a translucent annealed glass type manufactured using sandblasting or acid etching techniques. This gives a pitted and rough surface with foggy appearance.

Applications of annealed glass

  • Annealed glass uses include application as table-tops. They infuse your room with an elegant and spacious look.
  • Used for external facades due to crystal clear vision.  It can provide you with natural daylight and improve ventilation
  • Used for external walls and can absorb 30-45% of the sun’s heat to enable greater comfort.
  • Doors, windows and shower screens

Types of glass – Heat Strengthened glass

Heat strengthened glass follows heating of annealed glass to a temperature of around 650-700 degree. The cooling process is much slower than the process used in the manufacturing process of tempered/toughened glass.

Heat-strengthened glass is a semi-tempered glass. It retains the normal properties of ordinary float glass. Heat strengthening adds strength to the glass by inducing surface compression and limiting the breakage chances. For heat strengthened glass the compression induced is in the range of 6000 to 9000 psi. However compression induced is around 11000 to 20000 psi in the case of fully tempered/toughened glasses.

  • Heat strengthened glass provides necessary resistance to heat build up during external applications.
  • Heat-strengthened glass differs from tempered glass in surface compression and possess mechanical strength of about 1.6-2 times that of annealed glass.
  • These glass got excellent thermal stability, whereas its flatness and light transmission is equal to that of annealed glass and much better than that of tempered glass.
  • Three times more resistant to thermal stress in comparison to normal annealed glass.
  • It can withstand temperature difference of 100°C (in range of 50°C to 150°C) when compared to ordinary annealed glass which can withstand up to 40°C.
  • Heat strengthened glass is less susceptible to spontaneous breakage.

Toughened glass

Tempered or toughened glass is a type of safety glass processed by controlled thermal or chemical treatments to increase its strength compared with normal glass. Tempering puts the outer surfaces into compression and the interior into tension. Such stresses cause the glass, when broken, to shatter into small granular chunks instead of splintering into jagged shards as ordinary annealed glass does. The granular chunks are less likely to cause injury.

Toughening does not alter the basic characteristics of normal glass like light transmission and solar radiant heat. They possesses high thermal strength, and can withstand high temperature changes up to 250°C.

toughened glass
toughened glass

Advantages of toughened glass

Let us have a look into the advantages of toughened glass that makes its superior to ordinary glass.

  • Strength and safety : Toughened glass is extremely strong and can counter any temperatures and climatic changes and are less likely to break.
  • Scratch proof : Toughened glass is scratch proof and capable of maintaining the sheen and elegance of structures for years.
  • Heat resistance : Normal glass may crack in high temperatures where as the toughened glass manufacturing process involves heat tempering and hence capable of resisting high temperatures.
  • Design flexibility : Toughened glass got several design options like frosted, translucent, coloured, laminated options.

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