Safety glass absorbs force and fractures without producing long or sharp edges. It is not fiberglass, which is made with interwoven strands and is designed to withstand forceful impact. Safety glass is not intended as a resistant barrier so much as a way to reduce injury. It is used in everything from car windshields to windows in office buildings. Depending on the application, it might be preferred by Do It Yourself builders.
Safety glass has a major disadvantage: It cannot be fractured regularly, so it cannot be cut as easily by a home crafter. Regular glass can be marked with a diamond point and then fractured evenly along a straight edge. Safety glass tends to break into chunks, so it must be cut with heat, a grinding implement, or its cast dimensions must be accepted. This can be a barrier to original windows and to saving money.
Safety glass is somewhat stronger than regular glass, but will still fracture. Tempered glass is standard in laboratory equipment, and any glass that is not properly tempered will shatter when heated unevenly. Any substance that might explode should have a safety glass container, which is both chemical and heat resistant and will not produce sharp shards if there is a combustion.
Safety glass is best for large stretches of glass, such as store fronts. This is a good material for greenhouses, because there is little risk of sharp shards falling from a high place. Safety glass is chosen for appliances and doors that must withstand heat. If it safety glass does fracture due to heat exposure, it will not crack into dangerous sickles.
Any place that is in the way of flying objects, such as a laboratory, benefits from safety glass. All glass is inert and so there is no added benefit in safety glass when it comes to containing corrosive materials. Safety glass has less reliability when attempting to shape it with heat, such as for glass blowing. This is because the manufacturing process creates imperfections that allow granular fracturing, and because tempering is lost when safety glass is reheated.
Building a compound pane for a window is better off using plain glass. Smooth glass can be broken into a variety of geometric shapes and is an inexpensive material for a skilled carpenter. Compound panes do not produce large shards if each segment is small. Often a single small pane will be broken at a time, and the larger structure is protected from compression by the wood dividers.
Before safety glass was invented, compound windows with wood dividers were the norm. They allowed for large display windows without creating a significant hazard. This is still beneficial for a home builder who wants an original work with easily accessed materials. The alternative is to order panes be produced in specific dimensions. This is an expensive custom service.
Safety glass comes with different properties, and some are better able to reduce heat or impact by small objects. Thicker safety glass can absorb gun shots without entirely fracturing. Rather than the entire glass shattering, granules break away and disperse the energy at the impact site. Cars used by highly exposed persons use thick glass that most bullets cannot penetrate. The result is a crater in the glass, something that is harder for plain glass to accomplish.
This article was contributed by Luminous Glass Distributors, a Miami wholesale glass company. Visit them at www.lgdglass.com.