Glass Types for Building Envelope Products

There are typically four different glass types used in glazing products: From weakest to strongest they are: Annealed, Heat Strengthened, Tempered and Laminated.

1. Annealed glass is your basic non-impact glass type. It is used in applications where the required wind load is not so high and safety requirements are not a concern. When annealed glass breaks, it breaks in sharp chards.

2. Heat Strengthened glass is also a non-impact glass. It undergoes a “heat treatment” that increases it’s strength to twice that of annealed glass. It is used in similar applications to annealed glass but where the required wind loads are much higher. When heat strengthened glass breaks, it also breaks in chards.

3. Tempered glass is your basic impact glass. It undergoes a more aggressive “treatment” that increases it’s strength to four times that of annealed glass. It is used in “small missile” impact applications typically installed 30 feet or higher above ground and in safeguard applications. When tempered glass breaks, it breaks into very small cubes.

4. Laminated glass is your typical impact glass. It is a combination of two (usually) of the three previously mentioned glass types that are “laminated” together with an interlayer between them. It is typically used in “large missile” impact applications installed up to 30 feet above ground. When laminated glass breaks, it breaks based on it’s glass type make-up but is held in place by the interlayer…similar to a car’s windshield.

Rick DLG

Chemically Strengthened Glasses

Here’s an interesting find from This article claims about a new type of glass tempering, called Chemical Strengthening. It is also claimed in the article that these glasses are 6 to 8 times stronger than annealed glass, where as toughened glass is only 4 to 5 times strong. Most amazing fact is that these glasses could be cut after tempering unlike toughened glasses. However, the breakage pattern for these glasses remain almost the same as annealed glass, which obviously affects its acceptance in terms of safety.

Read the full article here.

Soft Coat Glass

Soft Coat Glass, otherwise known as vacuum coated or off-line coated glasses, are manufactured by a process which is entirely different from hard coat glass (discussed in last post). The name soft coat is given because of the susceptible nature of the coating to get peeled off (in single glazing/ monolithic application) when compared to hard coat. However, soft coat glasses can offer a very low solar factor when compared to hard coat glasses.

Manufacturing process involves metal particles being deposited on the glass surface inside a vacuum chamber. The process, otherwise known as Magnetron Sputtering Vapor Deposition (MSVD) is sometimes referred to as Cathodic Vapor Deposition. Some glass manufacturers mention it as CVD coating, just to create a confusion with actual Atmospheric Pressure Chemical Vapor Deposition, mis-interpret it and mis-sell it as hard coat.

During the process, the material to be sputtered is loaded in a high voltage electric circuit, which is followed by the feeding of process gas into vacuum chamber, where plasma is formed. An ion discharge takes place inside the chamber, these positive charged ions gets attracted and collide with the material to be sputtered. This process happens at a very high speed and atoms of the material sputtered gets ejected, which gets accumulated on the glass below. Most widely used metals for sputtering are Silver and Titanium.

Soft coat glasses are generally used in double glazed units, with the coated surface at position 2 or 3, so that the coating is kept protected from peeling off. With the advance in technology, soft coat glasses are now made which can also be used in monolithic form (single glazed) with much improved life for the coating, but still the life of the coating cannot match with that of hard coat glass in monolithic applications.

Soft coat glass also has problems while tempering when compared to hard coat glass. It tends to show up a problem called lensing, which happens because the coated surface of the glass reflects Infra Red radiation and heats up differently than the lower surface (which is heated).



Optical Distortion in Tempered or Toughened Glass

In my previous post on Glass Tempering or Toughening Process, I had mentioned how the process is executed and the physics involved (Refer Back). Also a brief mention how the toughened glass quality is assessed after it breaks, this is very important because safety is the reason for we spend on tempering. There are also other issues in terms of quality when glass is tempered. These are mainly optical distortion, roller marks, waviness and bend, edge strength, coating burns, fragmenting, burns, spontaneous breakage, etc.

High Optical Distortion

Quality of tempered glass mainly depends on the quality of equipments used and the quality control procedures adopted.¬†Optical Distortion¬†, is mainly a blurred appearance in images when seen through the glass, as well as on the reflection on the glass. This quality issue in tempered glass is common to all types of glasses. Even though minor levels of optical distortion is present in most of the tempered glasses, but it gets magnified when the quality is that poor and the glass is applied on high rise building facades. The minor level optical distortion is inherent on tempered glass, considering the fact that glass nearly reaches it’s softening point as it is heated up to a temperature of 726 degrees, and also the fact that this glass moves in rollers, therefore it is also called roller wave distortions. Such distortions could be easily identified in reflective and low-e coated glasses. Roller wave distortions could be easily controlled by adopting suitable technology and quality control procedures (use of forced convection furnaces instead of radiation furnaces). Continue reading

Glass Tempering or Toughening Process


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Annealed float glass when breaks is a safety hazard, just because it breaks into sharp pieces and can injure. Imagine, if an annealed glass applied to a window in the 6th floor of a building, and if it breaks by … Continue reading