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Laminated Glass vs Tempered Glass: How to Choose

Most people are familiar with the term “safety glass.”  When safety glass is broken, it will break into many relatively small fragments, which are less likely to cause serious injury. Your home and car likely contain a variety of different kinds of safety glass, from your windows to your shower door to even your pool side patio furniture.

Laminated and tempered glass are both referred to as safety glass because they meet the requirements of various code organizations. Laminated glass and tempered glass are both strong, but they work in different ways and are best used in different situations. So how do you know if you need laminated or tempered glass? What’s the difference?

Laminated Glass

Laminated glass is basically a glass sandwich. It is produced by bonding layers of glass together under pressure and heat, with a resin called PVB (polyvinyl butyral). This technique is used to create single sheets of glass with multiple layers. The PVB keeps the glass from breaking apart easily and provides high sound insulation. Also, laminated glass blocks nearly 99% of ultraviolet light transmission.

Laminated glass is considered extremely safe because it doesn’t shatter easily. It also doesn’t break apart into large pieces, which could be potentially fatal.   Broken pieces of laminated glass stick to the internal tear-resistant plastic layer so they stay in one large sheet. It has become the industry standard that laminated glass is used for vehicle windshields for this very reason. The use for laminated glass also includes entrance doors, windows, aquariums and even display cases.

Laminated glass is strong but not as strong as tempered glass. One of the positives is that it can be cut and its edges can be polished after laminating. Certain types of laminated glass can even qualify as burglar and bullet-resistant glass.

Tempered Glass
Tempered glass is created by heating the glass to over 1,000 degrees F, then rapidly cooling to lock the glass surfaces in a state of compression and the core in a state of tension. Tempered glass is typically 4-5 times stronger than annealed glass and it has more tensile strength (the ability to bend without breaking). It’s often used in big windows or skyscrapers, since it’s more wind resistant because it can bend without breaking. If tempered glass breaks, it shatters into rounded cubes rather than shards.

Tempered glass is relatively less expensive than laminated glass. In office buildings tempered flat glass is used in glass doors, room dividers, elevator glazing, or stairway landings. Tempered glass is used to make phone booths, glass bus stops, escalators, stairways, and even solar panels. Around your home, you’ll find tempered glass used in computer monitor screens, microwaves, kitchen utensils (think measuring cups) and some mobile phones!

So which is right for your project?  For strength and breakage-resistance, tempered glass often is the first consideration. For flexibility, UV-resistance, security and sound considerations, laminated glass is often the product of choice.

Wakefield Equipment
Wakefield Equipment offers a variety of glass handling equipment designed to improve efficiency and to help achieve an overall goal of maximum speed to manufacture any type of glass. Call our sales department for your customized quote!

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