Once upon a time, virtually all glass was created by the same process and had roughly the same performance and strength qualities. Today, however, glass has more roles than ever. As a result, the one-size-fits-all mentality no longer applies. Instead, different types of glass fit different needs, and each type offers unique performance characteristics.
Unfortunately, many people outside of the glass industry fail to appreciate the wealth of options currently available. If you would like to improve your knowledge of the glass being produced today, keep reading. This article outlines four key advantages of the type of glass known as tempered glass.
Manufacturers create tempered glass in much the same way as regular glass, commonly known as annealed, untreated, or float glass. The first step involves melting down the raw ingredients in a furnace, creating molten glass. The glass then cools off inside of a special kiln known as an annealing lehr. For float glass, the cooling process happens at a slow, natural pace.
When creating tempered glass, manufacturers accelerate the cooling process inside of the annealing lehr. This creates a greater amount of surface compression, resulting in more tightly packed molecules. This compression gives tempered glass four to five times the strength of float glass, making it far more durable and damage-resistant.
The unique physical properties imparted to tempered glass also give it distinct benefits in the event of breakage. When tempered glass shatters, it does not break into jagged shards like float glass. Instead, the glass naturally breaks into tiny cubical particles. The blunted edges of these particles do not produce lacerations like regular glass shards.
This attribute makes tempered glass far safer in the event of breakage, especially if somebody happens to fall into or through the glass. For this reason, contractors often refer to tempered glass (along with laminated glass) as safety glass. Of course, even safety glass can lead to injuries if not treated with due caution.
3. Thermal Resistance
The strength of tempered glass also gives it marked benefits in terms of thermal resistance. Regular glass can shatter as the result of uneven temperature gains. When one part of a sheet of glass expands at a faster rate than another part, the stress created can cause cracks to form. Tempered glass has the strength necessary to resist such thermal stress.
As a result, tempered glass is a wise choice for parts of a building with direct afternoon sun exposure. Bathrooms also place high levels of thermal stress on glass, thanks to the heat of showers and baths. In fact, bathrooms must only contain some form of safety glass to reduce the risk of injury.
4. Scratch Resistance
The high rates of compression achieved during tempered glass production do not just improve its strength. That compression also creates a tougher, more uniform surface. As a result, tempered glass better resists scratching than float glass, allowing it to retain a clean and fresh appearance even when used for heavy-duty applications.
The scratch resistant nature of tempered glass makes it a great choice for table-tops, doors, display cabinet panels, and windows. In recognition of its excellent performance attributes, smartphone manufacturers commonly use tempered glass for their screens.
Just don't make the mistake of assuming that tempered glass won't scratch at all. Sharp and/or hard-edged objects may still create imperfections on the surface of the glass. For best results, treat your tempered glass surfaces as gently as you would regular glass.
Tempered glass offers the same clarity and versatility as float glass, yet with a multitude of further advantages. For more information about whether tempered glass would make a good choice for your needs, please contact our glass experts at Martin Glass Co.