Laminated glass

Laminated glass

Laminated glass is a type of safety glass that holds together when shattered. In the event of breaking, it is held in place by an interlayer, typically of polyvinyl butyral (PVB), between its two or more layers of glass. The interlayer keeps the layers of glass bonded even when broken, and its high strength prevents the glass from breaking up into large sharp pieces. This produces a characteristic "spider web" cracking pattern when the impact is not enough to completely pierce the glass.

Laminated glass is normally used when there is a possibility of human impact or where the glass could fall if shattered. Skylight glazing and automobile windshields typically use laminated glass. In geographical areas requiring hurricane-resistant construction, laminated glass is often used in exterior storefronts, curtainwalls and windows. The PVB interlayer also gives the glass a much higher sound insulation rating, due to the damping effect, and also blocks 99% of transmitted UV light.

Laminated glass was invented in 1903 by the French chemist Edouard Benedictus, inspired by a laboratory accident. A glass flask had become coated with the plastic cellulose nitrate and when dropped shattered but did not break into pieces. Benedictus fabricated a glass-plastic composite to reduce injuries in car accidents. However, it was not immediately adopted by automobile manufacturers, and the first widespread use of laminated glass was in the eyepieces of gas masks during World War I.

Today, laminated glass is produced by bonding two or more layers of ordinary annealed glass together with a plastic interlayer, usually Polyvinyl Butyral (PVB). The PVB is sandwiched by the glass which is passed through rollers to expel any air pockets and form the initial bond then heated to around 70 °C in a pressurized oil bath. The tint at the top of some car windshields is in the PVB.

A typical laminated makeup would be 3 mm glass / 0.38 mm interlayer / 3 mm glass. This gives a final product that would be referred to as 6.38 laminated glass.

Multiple laminates and thicker glass increases the strength. Bulletproof glass is often made of several float glass, toughened glass and Perspex panels, and can be as thick as 100 mm. A similar glass is often used in airliners on the front windows, often three sheets of 6 mm toughened glass with thick PVB between them.

Laminated glass is also sometimes used in glass sculptures.

Methods of cutting laminated glass

Plastic interlayers in laminated glass make its cutting difficult. There have been an unsafe practice to cut both sides separately, pour an inflammable liquid (methylated spirits) into the crack and ignite it to melt the interlayer in order to separate the pieces. The following safer methods are recommended.

  • Special purpose laminated cutting tables
  • Vertically-inclined saw frames
  • A blowlamp or hot air blower.

References

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