Monday 21st October, 2019
This month, plans were unveiled to install a 226ft tall glass observation cabin in the centre of Bristol. The glass cabin will hold up to 42 people, that’s 17 more than the capacity of a London Eye capsule. It is staggering to think that glass can be strong enough for such a purpose, or indeed can withstand the wear and tear of everyday use in the home or workplace. That’s where glass manufacturing plays a vital role.
Most toughened glass is created through tempering, a process that relies on glass being much stronger under compression than it is under tension. In this process, untreated glass is passed through a furnace and heated to approximately 600°C. This temperature is sustained for a while before jets of cold air are employed to rapidly cool the outside of the glass. This creates compressive strain on the exterior of the glass and tension on the interior and materially alters the physical properties of the glass. In fact, it makes the glass five times stronger than normal glass. Ergo, toughened glass.
As the name suggests, toughened glass is difficult to break, which is why it is known as safety glass. In the unlikely event that a forceful impact does cause it to shatter, toughened glass crumbles into small rounded pieces which minimise the risk of injury. Toughened glass can be coloured, frosted or printed - whatever finish is required. It can be cut to size, provided this occurs prior to the tempering process. Toughened glass is durable, making it a cost-effective choice.
The versatility of toughened glass makes it ideal for use in both commercial and domestic settings. In the home it is typically used in:
Glass shower screens, where safety is paramount;
Kitchen glass splashbacks, providing a hygienic and thermally-resistant surface; and
Glass furniture, eg a glass tabletop which brings style and class to a living space.
In the office it can be found in:
Glass doors, which let in more natural light and boosts staff productivity;
Glass partitions, creating open-place offices which can improve collaboration and communication;
Glass balustrades, adding a contemporary, yet timeless sense of style to the workplace.
The uses for toughened glass do not stop there. Toughened glass is favoured by the catering and healthcare industries, where its durability and versatility can be put to bespoke use. When it comes to toughened glass, the sky’s the limit.