Although many people have heard of safety glass, few people realize that it is typically constructed of a material called laminated glass. Laminated glass consists of two or more layers of glass held together by an interlayer of polyvinyl butyral. Because of this interlayer, safety glass does not break into large shards of glass with sharp edges. Instead, the interlayer typically holds the glass in place, producing a spider-web like appearance across its surface.
Laminated glass was invented in 1903 by a French chemist named Edouard Benedictus. Benedictus accidentally coated a glass flask with a plastic. This flask failed to break when dropped, inspiring the scientist to produce a plastic-coated glass to be used in car windshields, thus reducing damage from car accidents. The first use of laminated glass was in the eyepieces of gas masks used during World War I. Around 1939, Ford manufacturing company began using safety glass in their windshields, as Benedictus originally intended. Now, this glass is used in nearly all car windshields. For those who are concerned about their windshields, it is possible to laminate tinted glass. Most car windshields have at least some tinted glass, and this tinted glass is typically laminated.
Laminated glass may also be referred to as construction glass as it is frequently used in construction, particularly when there is danger of hurricanes. Hurricane-resistant construction glass is typically used in windows and storefronts in areas where this is a risk. In addition to protecting those in the store, the interlayer within the glass produces a much higher sound insulation rating and is more effective at blocking UV rays. As such, there are a number of reasons for business owners to use safety glass in construction.
Because this type of glass is different than what many are used to, some care needs to be taken when cutting laminated glass. Although it is popular to cut both sides of the glass and then pour a flammable liquid over the glass so as to burn through the laminate interlayer, this method of cutting is not safe. Instead, specialized cutting tables, vertically-inclined saw blades, or hot air blowers can be used to cut laminate glass safely.
Whether you want tinted laminate glass for your car or construction glass for your storefront, glass lamination can produce what you need. Safety glass, which is now used in many places, is effective protection against damage from shattered glass.