Tempered glass, also known as toughened glass, could save your life! Before I get all geeky on you, the main reason why tempered glass is much safer and stronger than standard glass is that it's made using a slower cooling process. A slower cooling process helps the glass break in a "safe way" by shattering into many small pieces vs the large jagged chunk of regular glass. In this article we will demonstrate how standard glass and tempered glass differ from each other, the manufacturing process of glass, and the evolution in glass construction.
How is Glass Processed & Manufactured?
Glass consists of a few main components - soda ash, lime and sand. To actually make glass, these ingredients are mixed and melted at very high temperatures. Once the result of this process is shaped formed, and cooled, a process called annealing reheats the glass and cools it once again for restoring strength. For those of you what don’t know what annealing means, it is when materials (metal or glass) are allowed to cool slowly, in order to remove internal stresses while toughening it. The annealing process is what differentiates tempered and standard glass. Both types of glass can both vary in many sizes and colors.
Standard glass uses an annealing process that forces the glass to cool very rapidly, allowing a company to manufacture more glass in a small amount of time. Standard glass is also popular because it can be reworked. Cutting, reshaping, polishing edges and drilled holes are some customizations that can be done without breaking or shattering regular glass. The downside to the faster annealing process is that the glass is much more fragile. Standard glass breaks apart into larger, hazardous and sharper pieces. This can be dangerous for a structure with windows closer to the floor where someone could fall through the window or even a front windshield for a vehicle.
Tempered glass, on the other hand, is known for its safety. Today, automobiles, buildings, food service furnishings, and cell phone screens all used tempered glass. Also known as safety glass, tempered glass breaks down into smaller pieces that have less sharp edges. This is possible because during the annealing process the glass is cooled down slowly, which makes the glass much stronger, & impact / scratch resistant compared to non-treated glass. When broken, tempered glass not only breaks down in smaller pieces but also breaks evenly throughout the entire sheeting to further prevent injury. One important downside to using tempered glass is that it cannot be reworked at all. Reworking the glass will create breaks and cracks. Remember safety glass really is tougher, but still requires caring when handling.