All glazing units of toughened and laminated glass start their life as a standard float glass panel. The term ‘Float Glass’ comes from the way that these panels are manufactured. The processed is used to create panels of flat glass to eventually be used in construction and windows.
Molten Glass typically consisting of sand and other carbonates and sulphates is poured into a ‘tin bath’ and floats above a stream of molten tin forming a floating ribbon with perfectly smooth surfaces on both sides and an even thickness
As the molten glass flows along the tin bath, the temperature is slowly reduced from 1100 °C to around 600 °C when the sheet can be lifted from the tin onto rollers. The glass ribbon is pulled off the bath by rollers at a controlled speed. Variations in the flow speed and roller speed gives glass sheets of varying thickness. In certain circumstances top rollers positioned above the molten tin are be used to control the thickness and the width of the glass ribbon.
The float glass manufacturing process is also known as the Pilkington Process, named after the British glass manufacturer Pilkington, who pioneered the technique) in the 1950s.
Float Glass should not be used in its manufactured state on any projects in the UK due to the lack of impact and safety resistance these glass panels have. To ensure float glass has the required safety and impact resistance needed for structural glazing then two float panels would have to be laminated together to create a laminated, safety element of glass. This approach is a cheap and old fashioned alternative to glazing solutions and IQ Glass would never recommend it.
Float glass panels is toughened to produce a safety glass element that can be used on external and structural elements as well as single glazed internal applications. Toughened (or tempered glass) is eight times stronger than the float glass alternate. Float glass is also much more susceptible to cracks, vents and thermal shock.
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