Switchglass will shortly begin production of a range of custom laminated glass products. Not the least of these will be, of course, Switchable Privacy Glass. The importance of laminated glass in our environment today cannot be overstated. Today, it is far more present in our surrounds, enclosures and utilities than most would believe, and perhaps the key benefit it provides for us all is – safety.
For example, you may be familiar with Security Glass. This is a laminated glass. It has a tough interlayer of polyvinyl butyral (PVB) laminated between two sheets of glass. This becomes a barrier for those who would like to smash through it – or a protection for those who innocently fall into it – no nasty falling shards. Security glass comes under the banner of “impact glazing materials”. But, while common in residential housing and commercial buildings, there are other types of Impact Glass that are equally as common and possibly of more importance to our well-being.
Before we go any further though, it must be said that the glass is only as strong and secure as the framing holding it in place, and this is why framing systems have been developing apace with laminating technology. Hurricane-approved systems, for example, are tested and approved inclusive of the framing, along with the laminated glass.
A laminated product you will all be more familiar with is the windshield of your car. Modern windshields perform two very important functions in cars. Firstly, they allow the passenger-side air bag to deploy correctly.
Driver’s-side air bags tend to fly straight toward the driver from the steering wheel, but when the passenger air bag is deployed, it bounces off the windshield toward the passenger. An air bag deploys with incredible speed – 1/30th of a second – and can withstand 2,000 pounds (907 kilograms) of force. The windshield has to absorb both the speed and force of the air bag in order to protect the passenger in an accident. Because of its strength, laminated glass can keep occupants inside the car during an accident. In the past, occupants could be ejected through the windshield because the glass wasn’t strong enough, but today’s windshields provide more security.
Secondly, in addition to absorbing the force of deployed air bags and keeping passengers inside the vehicle, laminated windshields also provide strength to a car’s roof. Windshields keep the roof from buckling and crashing down on passengers completely during a rollover. Without the rigidity and strength of laminated glass windshields, many roofs would pose greater risks to passengers in certain kinds of accidents.
Bullet Resistant Glass is another impact-glass laminate product, with strong EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate), polycarbonate or thermoplastic interlayers laminated between multiple layers of glass. A similar construction is used for the windshields of aeroplanes and high-speed trains where impact with flying objects could be potentially disastrous. So you see, laminated glass serves multiple functions and though difficult to detect because of the clarity of the laminate films used, could be what you are gazing out through at this very moment.