In the history of all human building, nothing has quite captured the imagination or stoked the ego quite like glass. Even in buildings where the main draw is its height, glass is the natural companion within the architectural design. This is due in no small part to the ability for glass to be strong, yet delicate; inviting, yet a barrier; a shining portal of prosperity for those on the outside, yet a view of one’s real-world for those on the inside. In short, glass has often been the easiest way to discern status in life, either by looking through it or seeing it reflected. Even in ancient civilizations where glass wasn’t readily available, building techniques were used to mimic its effects; in Egypt, people were able to achieve the luster of glass shining in the sun by sanding the sides of stones, whereas in the Orient extremely thin paper was used as a translucent barrier to shield the indoors from the elements.
Whereas glass was often very crude (the making of which became a heavily-guarded secret among masters), we were eventually able to create glass that had a more uniform appearance, namely being transparent, smooth, malleable (when raised to a high enough temperature), clear, and resistant to most liquids in its hardened state.
Glass in the Modern Era
Thanks to modern techniques, glass is used today in virtually every building on Earth and we have been able to perfect the construction of numerous types of glass in order to produce a certain aesthetic or effect.
Glass in Architecture
Likely the most common occurrence of glass in history, mankind has come a long way from the crude panes that were created by melting saltpeter into sand. Now we have different types of glass to perform different functions.
- Annealed Glass: Also known as “float glass,” this type of glass is slowly cooled to room temperature in order to strengthen it against most external stimuli, like changes in temperature, or forces that don’t exceed certain pounds per square inch. Annealed glass is the most common type of architectural glass, and can be manipulated to create products like those found in the shower enclosures we install in Utah:
- Frosted Glass
- Tinted Glass
- Clear Glass
- Coated Glass: Coated glass is the most famous application of annealed glass, often being the glass that we look through the most on a daily basis. By using specific formulae of chemicals, applied in numerous coats, we are able to create the typical reflective surface that one naturally associates with glass. Coated glass has broad usage inside and out of a building, like:
- Solar controlled glass
- Lacquered glass
Glass in Cars
Much like the glass found in shower enclosures, many of these types of glass are used in automobile construction as well. Taking annealed glass and varying the temperatures it is raised to (usually many hundreds of degrees Celcius), as well as varying how quickly it is cooled, we have discovered that many other ways to make glass car appropriate.
- Tempered Glass: This type of glass increases significantly in strength thanks to the heating and cooling process it undergoes while it’s being formed. This type of glass is preferable for cars because of the way it shatters upon impact﹘typically into tiny blunt shards instead of anything that could cause serious lacerations.
- Laminated Glass: Laminated glass is actually two panes of glass, albeit with a shatter-resistant layer of plastic between them. Upon impact, if the window breaks the pieces get caught in the insulated plastic, instead of flying about and hurting someone. This type of glass is most popularly found in car windshields, though it has been seen in basic window installations as well.
Glass in Science
Up till now each of these aforementioned types of glass has been the result of science, (both ancient and modern), and the enterprising individuals brave enough to attempt the extremely tedious and hot work it takes to create it. The glass used in science today is still an engineering marvel, but not for the express purpose of putting cars or buildings into space (though astronauts will always appreciate the installation of a nice window). Now glass appears in all sorts of our products, meant for the stars as well as our living rooms.
- Solar Glass: As the name suggests, this type of glass is made for the express purpose of interacting with the sun’s energy. It could be that as we move away from a greater reliance on fossil fuels, we’ll see much more of this glass in our daily lives. Solar glass is used to create products like:
- Solar panels
- Solar mirrors
- Solar cells
- Cell Phone and TV Glass: In some circles, this is the most important type of glass. Glass used in phones and TVs has specific characteristics that must be achieved or else the product will suffer greatly; characteristics like being scratch and shatterproof. As such, this requires a specific type of tempered glass that is currently being made competitively by companies around the world,
No matter the application of the glass, whether it is installing a window, or using it in the bathroom for a mirror or shower enclosure, glass should always be handled by experts who know how to transport and install it. That is the benefit of hiring a professional team like Smitty’s Quality Glass so that your home or business can enjoy the benefits of glass mankind has been chasing for eons.