by Breana Cronk, IQS Editor
This morning, much like any other morning, the first thing I did was look at my clock, groan and push the snooze button. After the second alarm I got up, put on my glasses and took a look out the window to try and guess at the weather for the day. Once I got myself around, I had a glass of water, took one final look in the mirror and headed out to my car. The windshield needed washing, but soon enough I was arriving at my desk here at IQS and looking at my computer screen wondering what to write about this morning. While I realize that my weekday routine may be of little to no interest to most, what I hope to point out is that already this morning I’ve used or encountered glass seven times, eight if you count the glass door I used to enter the building. While environmental concerns often point out the pervasiveness of plastics, glass is one of the most commonly encountered and still overlooked materials. While this, like my routine may seem an insignificant fact, the glass cutting industry is crucial not only to our daily lives, but to our daily safety as well.
Most of the glass products I encountered this morning were made of specialized materials known as safety glass. As the name would suggest, this particular type of glass is designed and constructed with the sole purpose of reducing the likelihood of injuries resulting from broken or mechanically insufficient glass. While my glasses, windows and windshield are all made of this material, it is far more diverse than this. Industrial, commercial and residential applications abound with safety products being used in laboratories, hospitals, office buildings and manufacturing plants alike. Glass fabricators can create everything from heat resistant glass for use in laboratories to bullet proof glass used to protect the President and other dignitaries. Additionally, nearly every motor vehicle in use today is required to use some form of safety glass and architectural glass, such as doors and windows is equally regulated.
Photo courtesy of Pegasus Glass.
Two of the most common types of glass allowed by law to protect consumers are laminated glass and tempered glass. Laminated glass has several internal and external layers of polymer films inserted in between and over the glass. This improves strength and flexibility under regular circumstances. Under extreme circumstances the film keeps the carefully cut sheet from imploding or exploding as shards cohere to the polymer even when shattered. Tempered glass is likewise designed to protect consumers under both normal and abnormal circumstances. The special heating and cooling that the glass undergoes renders it four to five times stronger than float glass of equal thickness. When shattered, the heat treatment causes the glass to crumble into small rounded pieces rather than jagged and potentially deadly shards. While this makes glass cutting a delicate matter, it provides the reassurance that in the event of catastrophe be it an auto crash, earthquake or fire, glass will not be a contributing factor to injury or loss of life.
Photos courtesy of S & S Optical Company, Inc.
Specially cut and configured glass is used to protect people from more than just impending disaster, but everyday threats as well. Newly developed Enhanced Protective Glass (EPG), for example, combines tempering and laminating to protect people from cuts as well as ultraviolet lights, harmful glare and high decibel noises. With that thought, I return to my daily routine and consider the many ways that glass cutting manufacturers see me through my average day to day. From the glare free first morning look out the window to the quiet ride into work, I can also take comfort in knowing that should my average day take a turn for the worst, the same glass that makes my day comfortable will be there to make my day safe.
Photo courtesy of Pegasus Glass.