To be honest, my exposure to glass and glazing industry is brief, and the same was my knowledge about glass. Glass never had more than a decorative value in my mind, as it had to be for me since I was from a decorative product segment (paints). It was just after I got inducted into this industry that I had to invent this statement- “A Glass is a Glass is not just a Glass!!!”.
At first, I realized that there are different types of glasses being manufactured, each with different chemical properties and functions. But I could superficially assimilate the knowledge and as a new comer, it was enough for me to classify them as Soda-lime glass, lead glass, borosilicate glass and glass fibre. Since I’m only concerned with glass as a building material, I would be writing only about flat glass. Flat glass industry includes both float glass and sheet glass manufacturers. Basic difference between these two are the process by which they are made. Sheet glass is made by using iron rolling pins to flatten the molten glass and to get it into desired shape, and further grind and polish it to make it clear. Float glass on the other hand is flattened by making the molten glass to float over molten tin. I also learned that the float glass manufacturing process was invented by Alastair Pilkington and Kenneth Bickerstaff in 1957.
Further, my knowledge on glass started to expand, I learned about various applications of float glass. The first of these, obviously, automobiles. Then there came the application of glass as a building material and as a decorative product. Finally, the effective usage of glass in Green buildings (honestly, I couldn’t digest this info in the beginning!).
Then I learned that for all the above applications, float glass cannot be used as such, it has to be processed in many ways depending on the respective applications. Some of these process were tempering or toughening, heat strengthening, lamination, double glazing, etc.
After all these I was introduced to the concept of heat reduction and energy saving using glass, during which I came to know about heat absorbing glasses, heat reflective or solar control glasses, solar control thermal insulating glasses, and various combinations of glasses and processing used for this purpose.
With all these information injected into my mind, initially it was suffocating and very difficult to decode them at the right time. But as I got exposed to the market, and to more real life situations, I’m now able to relate all my knowledge (what ever learned so far) and use them at application level. But there is more to learn and it keeps on increasing as the industry grows (would be agreed by my bosses and their counterparts in other glass manufacturing companies !).
This blog is nothing but my journal on whatever I’ve learned so far about float glass and a note book for glass and glazing enthusiasts to read, scribble and share.