In the glass business we tend to talk up all of the wonderful things that glass can do for you. What we don’t like to think about is just how wickedly dangerous glass can be. Even so, when do you need to use safety glass?
When to Use Safety Glass
Automotive glass not only lets us see where we are going, but it is an important structural component of the vehicle. Home owners enjoy having a glass shower door that is bright and easy to clean.
The shower would be a lot less relaxing if we though that the glass shower door could shatter, well, like glass! The edge of a piece of broken glass is potentially sharper than the sharpest metal blade could ever be. Glass edges are so sharp that there are surgical techniques that call for the use of glass scalpels.
How could we allow our children, let along our own naked bodies in the shower, any where near something so dangerous?
The answer, of course, is the technological miracle of safety glass. Most of the secrets of making glass have been around since ancient Mesopotamia. In its simplest form, glass is just silica, beach sand, that has been heated beyond its melting point and then cooled quickly enough that crystals are not allowed to develop. It is the lack of crystalline structure, also called an amorphous structure, that gives glass its unique and useful properties. The amorphous structure is also why broken glass can be so incredibly sharp.
The most common form of safety glass is toughened or tempered glass. Tempered glass is much stronger than ordinary glass, but it will shatter. However when it does break, it breaks into small, cubicle chunks that lack the cutting edge of a normal glass shard.
Tempered glass is required by law for use in automobiles. Because of its strength and thermal properties, it can be used for glass shelving and for cookware. Thermal glass is made but controlling the thermal characteristics of glass while cooling. This process is expensive, more so because thermal glass must be cut and shaped before it is heat treated.
The distinguishing characteristic laminated glass is that if it should break, the shattered pieces will stay together. We recognize laminated glass when it has been broken by the spider-web pattern of the break. Laminated glass is held together by a layer of clear vinyl, usually between uniform layers of glass. So-called bullet proof glass is made by layering sheets of laminated glass.
Laminated glass is usually called for in situations where there is a danger of human impact with the glass, such as a car windshield in an accident, of if there is a great danger of broken glass falling on persons. This is why laminated glass is used for the windows of tall buildings and skylights.
It seems like a good idea to use safety glass in all applications, but the reality is that it would be a prohibitive and needless expense. For many applications, regular glass is perfectly adequate. If you have any questions or concerns about the best way to use glass for your home, or if the glass in you car needs to be serviced, we hope that you will consider the services of a full service glass business, like Associated Glass.