The use of glass as a building material has become more and more prevalent over the past years, with its transparent qualities not just being utilized in doors and windows but in all kinds of furniture, decoration and also integral features. However one of the common qualities associated with glass in general is its frail nature, with one of the first lessons you learn as a child being, don’t touched smashed glass, how can this material be used inside my home yet still be safe?
Glass used in products, such as staircases, cars and even mobile phones is toughed glass, which is a form of glass that is both stronger and in-fact safer than ordinary glass, should breakage occur. this is down to the manufacturing process, which involves rapidly heating the glass to 620°, then rapidly cooling one side whilst leaving the other to cool at a slower pace. This causes one side of the glass to contract and the other to expand, comprehensive stress to occur, giving the glass it strength and also forcing it shatter into smaller pieces, as opposed to creating dangerous shards.
At Edwards & Hampson we use toughed glass in all of our embedded and clamped glass staircases, this gives our customers the piece of mind, that when they are using staircases provided by us, they know they are going to be safe.
When we are providing a staircase that has free standing glass we use something a bit stronger, to give them the piece of mind that they need. This strength comes in the form of 17.5mm laminated glass. Made using two pieces of exterior glass, which are then bonded to an internal piece of polyvinyl butyral, with the three pieces giving the glass added strength. with these three pieces laminated together, the glass will not shatter when cracked, instead it will ‘spider web’ as the exterior glass is still attached to the internal plastic.
The safety and strength found in laminated glass gives us the freedom to create some amazing pieces of architecture, as it allows us to use glass as the main material, fully fleshing out the areas that would otherwise be left in the dark.