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What is glass and how it is made?
Glass is a solid-like and transparent material that is used in numerous applications in our daily lives. Glass is made using some of the most abundant raw materials found on the earth’s surface like silica sand, limestone, soda ash, dolomite, and glass cullet. These raw materials are mixed and charged in a furnace where they are melted at around 1600°C to form molten glass. At high temperatures, glass is structurally similar to liquids. The molten glass is then taken out of the furnace to be shaped and cooled down afterwards.
When molten glass is spread out in sheets, it makes flat glass. The most common use of flat glass is in windows, doors, automotive glass, mirrors and in solar panels.
For many applications, the glass obtained may be further processed to have specific properties such as increased mechanic strength and higher resistance to breakage.
Glass emergency
A glass emergency occurs when the exterior glass in your home or business unexpectedly breaks leaving your premises exposed to elements such as rain or snow, leaves free access to your valuables, or exposes your loved ones, customers, or employees to injury, if not attended to promptly. An emergency can also occur when the breakage of the glass can cause further damage to the property if left alone.
Most common glass breakages
Impact breakages
These occur when a projectile comes into contact with the surface of the glass. These types of breakages are commonly caused by sports balls, rocks spitting from lawnmowers, or other debris that is hurled through the air and directly hitting the glass. Impact breakages are the most common type and are easily identified by the starburst pattern that radiates from the point of collision.
Stress cracks
As the outdoor temperature fluctuates, the building settles etc., the frame holding the home’s windows in place will expand and contract. This expansion and contraction process places stress on the glass panes themselves, often resulting in stress fractures. Stress cracks typically originate near the edges of windows and spread out slowly toward the center of the glass.
Pressure cracks
Most homes are equipped with insulated windows that help regulate the transfer of the heat between the interior and outdoor environment. Special gases are sandwiched between the two panes that make up an insulated window. These gases are pressurized to maintain an airtight seal. If the pressure of the gases increases due to a sudden temperature change, the gases can push against the panes of glass and cause them to crack.
Main glass types
Annealed glass (standard glass)
This is a softer glass that has been thermally treated and then slowly cooled to relieve any internal stresses. This kind of glass is the least durable and most breakable glass type, and it tends to break into longer, jagged shards which can cause significant injury. Annealed glass is generally used when strength or safety are not a concern, but the cost is.
Annealed glass is used as a base product to form more advanced glass types.
Tempered glass
It is manufactured through a process of extreme heating and rapid cooling which makes the glass four to five times stronger and safer than annealed. When tempered glass does break, it produces small, regular, typically square fragments rather than long, dangerous shards that are far more likely to lead to injuries.
Another benefit of tempered glass is the ability to stand up to moderate heat.
Laminated glass
This type of glass is crafted by adhering two pieces of annealed glass together by a vinyl layer. Laminated glass offers many advantages. Safety and security are the best known of these, so rather than shattering on impact, laminated glass is held together by the interlayer. This reduces the safety hazard associated with shattered glass fragments, as well as, to some degree, the security risks associated with easy penetration.
If a glass panel breaks or shatters it is highly unlikely that both laminated panels will break at the same time, which means that the remaining panel and interlayer will support the broken glass and keep it in place as edge protection until it is replaced or secured suitably.
Transom window
A transom window is a rectangular, angled or fan-shaped horizontal accent window above or below another window or door.
It is a window or piece of glass that is placed to the left side or to the right side (or both) of the frame of a door. This window is designed to allow more natural sunlight into the home but also provides a more enhanced look of importance to an entry way.
Door glass insert or door lite
It is a glass panel or multiple glass panels that is built into the door.
Low-E glass
Glass with a thin, transparent coating that reflects heat. Low-e coatings are proven to minimize the amount of UV and IR light that passes through glass without compromising the amount of visible light that is transmitted. This means that the window works hard to keep the homeowners comfortable and protects the interior, without compromising your view.
Tinted glass
It is made by adding metal oxides to rolled glass to shade the coloring. While tinted or coated glass can be aesthetically pleasing by adding tints of bronze, green, blue, or gray, the tint does not usually impact the functionality of the window.
Decorative / designer glass
The product can serve a variety of functions. First and foremost, it is used to enhance the aesthetics of a space. It can also provide privacy, depending on the application. Decorative glass can come in many different forms and can go through various production methods. Types of decorative glass includes frosted glass, stained glass, patterned glass, etc.
Muntin bar
Muntin bars are the grilles that separate a windowpane into smaller sections. Muntin bars are primarily used for decoration purposes as opposed to structural support.
Double of triple glazed / sealed unit
It is the glass or glazing part of a window that sits inside the frame. The sealed unit usually consists of two or three sheets of glass sealed together with a small amount of space in between them. The space between the two or three glass layers is often filled with argon or krypton gas to provide energy-efficient insulating properties.
Single glazed / single pane
Windows and doors that are only one layer of glass. Usually, 3mm or 6mm in thickness and can be annealed, tempered, and/or laminated. Typically found in commercial store fronts and older homes.
Failed sealed unit
The fogging in between glass panes is a sign that the outside air’s moisture has infiltrated the space between the glass, thereby causing condensation. The main cause of condensation is the wearing down of the seal around the edges of the glass. Causes of the failure may also include damage to the glass pane, such as a crack, or from expansion and contraction.