Although there are many types of glass used in architecture, the main types used today are Tempered, Annealed, Laminated, mirror, and Insulated Glass units (IGU). Each type and their different characteristics will be briefly covered in the following sections.
Tempered glass is one of 2 kinds of safety glass commonly used in architecture where standard glass would pose a potential danger. Tempered glass is four to five times stronger than standard glass and does not break into sharp shards when it fails. It is manufactured through a process of extreme heating and rapid cooling, giving it stronger resistance to breaking than normal glass. Up to 5 times harder than normal glass! All tempered glass has an acid etched mark usually located in the corner of the pane. To the glass worker, this is known as the “bug”.
Annealed glass is the most common glass that is used for multiple purposes. Annealed glass is used as standard window glass, picture frame glass, tabletops, mirrors and in many other places. Annealing glass is done by heating the glass to a certain transition temperature; which makes the glass tougher to break (keep in mind that annealed glass is still fragile of course). Annealed glass breaks in long “runs” which can produce large pointed and very sharp edges when broken or cut. Handle all broken glass and cut glass edges with care, as these fresh edges are razor sharp.
Laminated glass is composed of 2 or more sheets of glass with an inner layer of transparent plastic called Polyvinyl Butyral (PVB) to which the glass adheres if broken. Used for safety glazing and sound reduction. Laminated glass is usually made using one of 3 different kind of glass: Tempered, Annealed, or Heat-strengthened glass.
A mirror is an object with at least one polished and therefore reflective surface. The most familiar type of mirror is the plane mirror, which has a flat surface. Curved mirrors are also used to produce magnified or diminished images or to focus light or simply distort the reflected image.
Insulated Glass Units
Insulated Glass Units (IGU) or Double-glazed unit refers to a hermetically sealed unit, which comprises two or more panels of glass separated by a specified air space. It is the air space between each of the glass panels that reduces thermal conduction, preventing heat loss in the winter and heat gain during the summer. Consequently IGU’s have superior insulation ratings (or U-Values) when compared with single panel glazing. they also reduce internal condensation in colder climates.
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