Glass and related products

Homes with full walls of glass are a relatively new concept. One hundred years ago, most glass was still handmade, and windows usually consisted of small panes separated by mullions. With the advent of modern glassmaking techniques and larger panes of glass, great expanses of glazing in homes have become commonplace and expected. With this also comes the challenge of managing heat gain and loss and the problems of glare and privacy. Double glazing two pieces of glass separated by a vacuum, a response to the first energy crises of the early 1970s, signaled a new interest in developing ways to use glass while conserving resources and preserving privacy. As with many new innovations, double glazing was a relatively cumbersome process and was considered by some to be an inelegant solution to the problem of conservation.

The exploration of the world of reactive glass has brought a new and sleek look to windowpanes. used at first in commercial settings for signage and displays, reactive glass quickly became a favorite of architects and professional interior designers, enhancing both exteriors and interiors across the country. The manufacturing process is generally the same for most types of glass, with small changes affecting the way the glass reacts to light or is able to manipulate light for the interior. Glare reduction and energy conservation are the most obvious applications for this type of glass, which can be expensive compared to standard glass; however, the energy savings will eventually compensate for the larger up-front cost. Although maintenance is usually the same as standard glass, installation of reactive glass requires the services of a trained professional for optimum performance.

Liquid Crystal Glazing

The value of glass has always been its transparency. but while we love bringing the outdoors in, there are times when privacy and shading are important. The use of liquid crystal glass, which becomes translucent on demand, is a solution used by architects and professional interior designers for both commercial and residential settings.

The glass is composed of layers laminated together to form a solid pane, which can be single or double glazed. The inner core is a layer of liquid crystals whose inner faces have been covered with a transparent electrically conductive coating and a layer of film.

This sandwich of material is then coated with glass on either side to produce the pane. The electrical coating is connected to a power source via a thin metal film on one edge of the glass. When the power is turned on the glass is clear because the crystals align to allow light through. When there is no power, the crystals are randomly spaced and create an opaque pane of glass, thus creating privacy.

SPD Glazing

Suspended particle device (SPD) glazing is a variation on the theme of liquid crystal glazing, constructed in the same general manner, which precisely controls of the amount of light allowed to pass through the glass. When the power is applied, the particles align and allow light to pass through. When the power is off, the particles diffuse, absorb the light, and the glass turns dark. With this precise control of light, the glass can play an integral part in reducing the amount of energy used to heat or cool a room. This type of glass has the potential to reduce power consumption by as much as 20 to 30 percent.

Electro chromic Glazing

This glass is, like the others, a sandwich product that uses low voltage to create the desired effect. unlike the other two, it uses the voltage to activate a tungsten-bearing electro-chromic layer that causes the color to change from clear to a darker color like blue or green. Primarily used on exterior applications, the darkening of the glass reduces glare and reflection, which helps avoid overheating. The glass also removes the need for awnings or shades.

The coating helps keep the heat in during winter and can reduce the energy needed for air conditioning by at least half. When power is applied, the change slowly spreads from the outer edge to the whole pane of glass, and once the desired level is reached, no more power is required.

Holographic Glass

Using the same principle that creates the shimmering colors on hummingbirds and butterflies, holographic glass uses a microscopic grid to split ambient white light into its full spectrum. As you move around the glass, you will see clear glass in a rainbow of different colors or shades. The grid is sandwiched between laminated foil and clear-glass layers. One of the great benefits is energy conservation. On south-facing walls or roofs, holographic glass can redirect light away from the surface or redirect the light into interior rooms that might otherwise be dark.

The glass also presents decorative appeal, with a wash of rainbow shades visible as you move about the space. It is a wonderful energy saver and sends natural daylight to poorly lit areas. It can be used in all applications, including curved and shaped glass panels.

Self-Cleaning Glass

As extraordinary as it may sound, self-cleaning glass is just what the name implies. The process by which the glass becomes self-cleaning requires a specialty company and technical expertise for proper installation. Many different types of glass can be made self-cleaning. Double-pane, laminated, and thermal glass can all be coated with a thin outer layer of titanium dioxide, which will destroy organic dirt and allow it to be rinsed away in rainwater. The coating also requires daylight to activate the properties that loosen and break down organic dirt into carbon dioxide and water vapor. The coating also reduces surface tension, which allows water to simply run off the glass and not create droplets.

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