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Annealed glass is the basic flat glass product that is the first result of the float process. It is common glass that tends to break into large jagged shards. It is used in some end products and often in double-glazed windows. It is also the starting material used to produce more advanced products through further processing such as laminating, toughening/tempering, coating, etc.
Toughened glass (Tempered glass) is treated to be far more resistant to breakage than simple annealed glass. Toughened glass breaks in a more predictable way. Thus providing a major safety advantage in almost all of its applications. Toughened glass is made from annealed glass treated with a thermal tempering process. A sheet of annealed glass is heated to above its "annealing point" of 600°C; its surfaces are then rapidly cooled while the inner portion of the glass remains hotter. The different cooling rates between the surface and the inside of the glass produces different physical properties, resulting in compressive stresses in the surface balanced by tensile stresses in the body of the glass. These counteracting stresses give toughened glass its increased mechanical resistance to breakage. When tempered/toughened glass does break, it produces small, typically square fragments, rather than long dangerous shards that are far more likely to lead to injuries.
Toughened glass also has an increased resistance to breakage as a result of stresses caused by different temperatures within a pane. Toughened glass has extremely broad applications for buildings, automobiles, transport, windows, building facades, sliding doors, partitions, glass furniture as well as other areas.
Laminated glass is made of two or more layers of glass with one or more "interlayers" of polymeric material bonded between the glass layers. Laminated glass is produced using one of two methods. 1. Poly Vinyl Butyral (PVB) Laminated glass is produced using heat and pressure to sandwich a thin layer of PVB between layers of glass. On occasion, other polymers such as Ethyl Vinyl Acetate (EVA) or Polyurethane (PU) are used. This is the most common method. 2. For special applications, Cast in Place (CIP) laminated glass is made by pouring a resin into the space between two sheets of glass that are held parallel and very close to each other. Laminated glass offers many advantages. Safety and security are the best known of these, so rather than shattering on impact, laminated glass is held together by the interlayer. This reduces the safety hazard associated with shattered glass fragments, as well as the security risks associated with easy penetration. The interlayer additionally provides a way to apply several other technologies and benefits, such as coloring, acoustics, resistance to fire, ultraviolet filtering, and other technologies that can be embedded in the interlayer. Laminated glass is used extensively in the building, housing, automotive, and transit industries. Most building facades and car windshields are made with laminated glass, generally with other technologies also incorporated.
Surface coatings can be applied to glass to modify its appearance and give it many of the advanced characteristics and functions available in today's flat glass products. Benefits include low maintenance, special reflection/transmission/absorption properties, scratch resistance, corrosion resistance, etc. Coatings are usually applied by controlled exposure of the glass surface to vapors, which bind to the glass forming a permanent coating. The coating process can be applied while the glass is still in the float line with the glass still warm, producing what is known as "hard-coated" glass. Alternatively, in the "off-line" or "vacuum" coating process, the vapor is applied to the cold glass surface in a vacuum vessel.
Mirrored glass is produced by applying a metal coating to one side of the glass. The coating is generally made of silver, aluminum, gold or chrome. For simple mirrored glass, a fully reflective metal coating is applied and then sealed with a protective layer. To produce "one-way" mirrors, a much thinner metal coating is used, with no additional sealing or otherwise opaque layer. Mirrored glass is gaining a more prominent place in architecture, for important functional and aesthetic effects.
Patterned glass is flat glass that displays a surface pattern. Patterned glass is mostly used in internal decoration and internal architecture. Today, it is typically used for functional reasons, where light but not transparency is desired. Patterned glass has also, at times, been fashionable as a design feature in itself, in such cases often displaying more prominent patterns.
Low Iron glass is not the result of processing annealed or flat glass, but instead a specific type of glass. Low Iron glass differs from other types of glass because of its basic raw material composition. In particular, this glass is made with a very low iron content in order to minimize the green hue. Low iron glass allows occupants to appreciate the true colors glass can offer. It is commonly used for back painted glass and solar energy applications, where it is important that the glass lets light through to reach the thermal tubes or photovoltaic cells. It can also be used in windows or facades.