Monday 30th May, 2022
Once used principally for windows and doors, glass has become a mainstay of modern architecture. Many iconic modern buildings incorporate glass as a major construction material, with glass being used in ways that are both ingenious and logic defying. Take, for example, curved glass.
At the outset of glass manufacturing, it would have been unthinkable that glass – once thought of as a fragile material – could be bent. Yet today there are four glass bending technologies in use, the most common of which is glass bending and tempering.
Glass bending and tempering involves heating the glass to over 630°C and then bending the glass to the required radius. The glass may be twisted in the direction in which if flows – known as lengthwise bending; or bent across the glass flow, which is called crosswise bending. The bent glass is tempered – that is, rapidly cooled by high-pressure blasts of air which cause the outer surfaces of the glass to cool and contract faster than the interior.
The result of this bent glass tempering process is a product that is up to five times stronger than annealed glass and more resistant to temperature variations. It is these qualities that afford tempered curved glass the status of safety glass – a glass that is less likely to break or less likely to cause harm to people if broken. The arching evident in curved glass also allows for the glass to become highly load resistant.
Its status as a safety glass means that curved glass is a practical choice where there is a high degree of safety required, for example, in glass balustrades, skylights and glass walls. Its strength and durability allow for curved glass to have countless structural glazing applications, including building facades; and architectural uses including solariums or aquariums. Internally, curved glass can be used in glass shower doors and glass partitions.