Skyscrapers shining with glass windows can be seen everywhere today. Homes with large French windows are in-trend. Glass partitions and shower walls are common to almost all homes today. Everything from cars to mobile phones utilizes glass.
History of Making Glass
The art of making glass can be traced back to 2600 BC in Mesopotamia. Egyptians practised making glass around 2500 BC. Artificial glass first appeared in the Egyptian or the Mesopotamian civilization whereas tools made out of volcanic glass obsidian were used in the Stone Age. Ancient China, however, discovered how to make glass a little later.
Glass beads are known to be one of the earliest products made out of glass. Their creation is thought to be mostly accidental. In the later Bronze Age, glassmaking came to a halt. Glass was considered a luxury material back then.
Archaeological excavations suggest the use of glass in England during the middle ages. In the 10th century, stained glass found a place in cathedrals and windows of palaces. After the Renaissance, architectural methods changed substantially, leading to a decrease in the use of stained glass as a building material. Domestic use of glass increased following the industrial revolution. Vessels, glass windows, and glass beads gained popularity in Europe during this period. During the 19th century, a lot of people preferred glass windows and doors as a decorative option. In the late 19th century, some designers brought back the tradition of using stained glass in decorative windows. It was during this period that Mr Tiffany discovered several methods to make domed glass handicrafts.
The true versatility of using glass as a building material was discovered only in the 20th century. With glassmaking technology receiving an industrial boom, several different types of glass could be produced. Toughened glass, laminated glass, bulletproof glass, and smart glass all boosted the use of glass in buildings. Today, several skyscrapers, small and big homes, and offices use glass in almost all aspects of construction and design.
How is Glass Made?
Glass is an amorphous solid made out of a mixture of opaque sands of compounds such as silica. The process of glassmaking is incredibly complex. Glass, as a finished product, is transparent. To achieve transparency, it undergoes many stages.
In 1945, during the test of an atomic bomb, the nearby sand turned into a glass on impact. This accidental discovery led to further research in the field of glass making. Today, commercial glass is produced using two methods – the float glass method and glass blowing. The float glass method produces sheet glass while glass blowing produces glass containers. Alistair Pilkington in 1952 discovered how to make glass industrially.
The raw materials for producing float glass include silica sand, sodium oxide from soda ash, feldspar, calcium oxide from lime stone, dolomite and limestone. These raw materials in powdered form are mixed, made into a batch and blown into a furnace heated to 1500 degrees.
The temperature and raw-material ratio inside the furnace are controlled strictly. A stable temperature inside the stove ensures homogeneity of the specific gravity of the glass.
The molten raw material mixture, which can be called glass at this point, is transferred to a bath of molten tin via a delivery canal and a spout lip. A weel controls the amount of molten raw material to be poured into a tin bath. Since tin has high specific gravity, it does not mix with molten glass and is cohesive. Extreme care is taken to avoid the oxidation of tin. For this, it is protected from hydrogen and nitrogen.
This molten glass forms a floating ribbon of even thickness on the surface of the tin. The temperature is then lowered to around 600 degrees to enable glass to be picked up from the surface. The speed of lifting the glass ribbon off the tin sheet is controlled carefully. This ribbon is subjected to rollers that adjust the thickness of glass. After the thickness and often, the width of the glass ribbon changes, it is transferred to annealing lehr. In the annealing lehr, the glass is cooled slowly, i.e., annealed to avoid breakage. Post-cooling, the glass is cut into desired shapes.
If a manufacturer desires to make glass reflective, he can use a method called Online Chemical Vapour Deposition. Multiple coatings can be made on the glass to make it infra-red resistant, UV resistant or reflective.
Most manufacturers ensure regular inspection of the glass ribbon. Even one tiny grain of sand or a harmless bubble trapped in the ribbon can make the glass ugly. An online upstream examination is guaranteed by manufacturers such as AIS Glass. If the glass ribbon has a fault, downstream computers steer around them.
What Are Different Types of Glass?
Since glass has a wide variety of applications, it is of different types. Each of these varies in strength and design. In homes and offices, glass is used in everything from large windows to partitions and shower walls. New technology has enabled manufacturers to overcome the typical weaknesses associated with glass – brittleness, constant transparency and complete lack of sound control.
Based on the raw materials used, glass can be classified in the following types.
1. Fused Quartz or fused silica glass
This type of glass is extremely resistant to weathering. Its molecules are arranged randomly. This type of glass is used in tube lights and furnaces.
2. Soda-lime silica glass
This type of glass is commonly used in windows and is one of the most prevalent types of glass made anywhere in the world.
3. Sodium Borosilicate glass
In this type of glass, boron oxide is added. It makes the glass less prone to cracking. It is primarily used to make lab equipment and kitchenware.
4. Lead Oxide Glass
Lead oxide glass has high reflective properties, making it a favourite of jewellery makers. Its crystals reflect light brilliantly.
5. Clear Glass
Also popular as float glass, clear glass offers extreme clarity and transparency for unobstructed views, making it the go-to choice for panoramic windows.
6. Tinted Glass
Commonly known as annealed glass, tinted glass is manufactured with a coating or a film to impart its colour and reduce light transmission.
Types of value-added Glass:
Apart from these, ordinary glass has been updated to accommodate various design choices to add value basis your glass needs. Some of the most unique and beneficial value-added glasses include the following. 1. Smart Glass
Smart glass, essentially a privacy solution, is a type of glass that can change its opacity at the click of a button. This type of glass is generally made using ions sandwiched between different glass layers. On the application of electric current, these ions shift positions to change the opacity of glass. Smart glass is widely used in both residential and commercial buildings. Smart glass, like AIS Swytchglass, is also considered to be ecologically efficient due to its ability to prevent/allow lighting and heat in a room.
2. Acoustic Glass
Like the name suggests, acoustic glass is used to control sound inside a room; thus, taking care of appropriate decibel-needs or sound-control needs. It is the trendiest method to soundproof a living space or a commercial office. Acoustic glass is widely used in homes, recording studios and private offices. This type of glass is optimum for people who do not wish for bulky soundproofing.
3. Frosted Glass
Frosted glass is a privacy-solution value-added glass. It is not entirely transparent which means it gives the benefit of privacy as well as partial visibility. It can be used in windows and partitions. Shower screens, doors, cabinet shelves and false ceilings also employ frosted glass. Frosted glass is used primarily by people desiring privacy, but it can also be a design choice. AIS Krystal Frosted Glass is the perfect way to ensure privacy while also adding an aesthetic appeal to your living space.
4. Energy Efficient Glass
Energy-efficient glass is used in eco-friendly buildings to maintain a balance between aesthetics and eco-consciousness. It focusses on saving energy. Energy-efficient glass works by preventing or allowing solar radiation inside a room. AIS Ecosense is an energy-efficient glass curated, especially for Indian customers. AIS Ecosense enables a place to stay bright and fresh by limiting the solar energy entering a room. It comes in different varieties and can be used in both exterior and interior architecture.
Apart from these, several other glass types are used frequently in various industries. These include automotive glass, decorative glass, back-painted glass and laminated glass. Regardless of the type, glass is a true blessing to humankind.
AIS Glass is India’s leading integrated glass manufacturing company. AIS serves the automotive glass, the architectural glass and consumer glass industry. We have over 13 glass sub-assembly units and pride ourselves in being a top-class glass. Our products are made with finesse and are customized according to the needs of our customers. Our innovative glass solutions include acoustic glass, AIS Swytchglass, AIS Securityglass, and AIS Décor. Our experts manufacture, shop and install your desired glass types and observe perfect standards in doing so. With AIS Glass, you can venture into a world of glass solutions meant to transform your lifestyle.