The evolution of Firman Glass

Firman Glass has evolved over the previous 40 years from a replacement glazing business in the early ‘70s to one of the leading independent glass processors, tougheners and structural glazing operations in the country.

Gallery

Company at a glance:

Product areas:

All forms of processed toughened glass, from laminated glass and anti-slip glass, to fire-rated glass and heated glass

Sectors:

All market sectors including architectural, retail, leisure and domestic

Contacts:
Website –

www.firmanglass.com

Phone –

01708 374534

Operating from Harold Wood in Essex and with a current turnover in excess of £6m, glass is produced 24-hours a day and six days a week.

Stocking a comprehensive range of glasses from 4-19mm of clear float and low-iron, tinted glasses, fire resistant glass, mirrors and being able to process these using modern CNC cutting and edgework equipment, offers clients a one-stop shop for all their glass requirements.

Float glass is made by combining several components – sand, soda ash, dolomite, limestone, salt cake and cullet. This mix is heated by gas burners to approximately 2900°F, and then allowed to cool slowly for delivery to the float furnace. The molten glass forms a continuous ribbon that floats on the molten tin with the thickness being regulated by the speed that the glass is drawn through.

After the annealing process, the glass appears as the finished product and is cut into stock sizes. This is a very brief description of a complex manufacturing and quality controlled series of processes ending with the stock glass product.

Firman Glass takes this stock glass in mainly 6000 x 3210mm sheets and produces a wide range of processed toughened glass products for the architectural glass sector, including back painted glass for the kitchen and bathroom fit-out market, also supplying fire resistant glass products from most of the major European manufacturers.

Processed glass takes on many forms, from simple single panels of float glass with polished edges, to intricately-shaped heavy gauged glass processed on Intermac CNC machines.

Glass is toughened using the new North Glass tempering furnace also based at Harold Wood, to maximum sizes of 2750 x 4950mm. This new furnace, includes two bending chambers producing toughened glass bends to varying sizes and radii.

Glass is inherently strong and can be used structurally to provide light and space in many situations, combined with the toughening and laminating processes the options for its use are almost limitless. Glass conservatories, bolted glass structures, balustrades, floors, bridges, stair treads and full-height glazed partitions can all be designed using glass as the focus with minimal visible framing.

Firman Glass has manufactured high-specification products for projects in the Middle East, Europe and for Apple stores in England.

Glass bending excellence

Firman Glass’ new toughening plant includes two bending chambers which work alongside the standard flatbed.

The smaller chamber will bend glass from 5-12mm thick to a maximum size of 2850 x 1000mm bent and with the following minimum radii:

  • 5mm, 6mm = 450mm
  • 8mm, 10mm = 1000mm
  • 12mm = 1200mm

The large chamber will bend glass from 6-19mm thick to a maximum size of 2850 x 3600mm bent and with the following minimum radii:

  • 6mm = 1500mm
  • 8mm, 10mm = 1800mm
  • 12mm, 15mm = 2000mm
  • 19mm = 2500mm

Working in conjunction with the flat toughening facility to a maximum flat size of 2850mm wide x 5000mm long, Firman Glass can now offer the architect, designer and contractor a complete service for multiple uses such as balustrades, partitions, shower screens, revolving door enclosures, full-height barriers, partitions and shopfronts.

Curved glass can be processed as with flat glass and can be decorated by sandblasting and back painting.

Flexible to change

One New Change is a major office and retail development in London near St. Paul’s Cathedral. It is the only large shopping centre in the City of London comprising 560,000ft² of floor space, rivalling other London shopping hot-spots.

Despite a towering reputation on the global architectural scene, One New Change is Architect Jean Nouvel’s first building in London. As a result of his strikingly diverse and plentiful body of work, Jean Nouvel’s buildings have no easily identifiable signature.

His approach is characterised by a conceptual rigour as opposed to an overarching aesthetic. If he does have a signature, it’s one of space and light, not form. The most common material in his buildings is glass: he is fascinated by the effects that can be achieved with it. The Modernist building has 6500 floor-to-ceiling glass panes in varying shades of red, grey and beige, flooding the floors with natural light. 4300 of which are unique pieces.

In 2014, Firman Glass was approached by architectural glazing specialist OAG to price for the supply of four replacement walk-on glass floor panels in the One New Change Shopping Centre. At first sight, the sheer size and weight of the panels, the largest in excess of 700kg, was daunting and in fact one panel was over the size limit of the toughening plant at 5911mm long.

Outsourcing panels

Firman Glass is a national glass processor and toughener capable of toughening glass to 3000mm wide x 5000mm long and laminating glass to 2800mm wide x 6000mm long making it one of the UK’s largest manufacturing companies, in terms of size capabilities. It stocks all float and low glasses to a thickness of 19mm and holds a collection of processing machinery including four CNC processing stations, water-jet cutting and straight line edging.

The construction of these panels was 50.5mm-thick overall comprising three leaves of 12mm low-iron glass and one leaf of 10mm low-iron glass, all laminated together with three 1.52mm-thick clear PVB interlayers. To complicate things further, the top glass surface had a bespoke anti-slip treatment that was needed to match the remaining panels on site as closely as possible.

Not to be put off by the one oversized panel, Firman Glass looked at outsourcing the largest single-leaf toughened glass panels whilst ensuring that the low-iron glass brought in would match as closely as possible to Firman’s own stock of low-iron glass for the smaller panels.

A sample panel was produced for approval by the client, and following its approval the order was placed with Firman for the manufacture of the four replacement panels.

Over the next three weeks, the oversized, single toughened glass panels were procured and, for the three other panels, the glass was cut, processed, and laminated in Firman’s Romford-based factories. Then, the last process, the sandblast anti-slip treatment was applied to the top surface, these panels needed three passes through the machine with panels taking almost a day for each piece.

This project was delivered on time to a high standard of finish and showed Firman Glass’ comprehensive manufacturing capabilities and ability to be flexible when faced with difficult projects.

Firman Glass installs a new glass laminating production line

Firman Glass has recently installed a new glass laminating production line capable of producing glass panels to a maximum size of 6000 x 2800mm. Whilst the company manufactures high-quality safety and structural glass products it also can achieve any bespoke decorative design requested by the architect using specialist printed or coloured interlays.The main benefits of toughened laminated glass are its strength and performance under impact and post-fracture. It is capable of withstanding very large loads and, in the unlikely event of being broken, the resulting fragments will be retained by the interlayer. Firman Glass stocks all clear and Vanceva-coloured interlays. The Vanceva colour interlayer system offers architects and designers unparalleled creative freedom to incorporate colour into glass and glazing systems. Producing a broad spectrum of colours and moods that are unachievable using stock selections of glass, Vanceva is the creative freedom architects and interior designers desire. A palette of 16 colours can be combined in up to four layers to produce more than 3000 custom, transparent, translucent and opaque glass colours.

Superior strength, lasting beauty

The SentryGlas interlayer is five times stronger and up to 100 times stiffer than conventional laminating materials. With this kind of strength, the glass can be a more active structural element in the building envelope, opening up design possibilities that didn’t exist before. Besides its strength, SentryGlas ionoplast interlayer retains its clarity – even after years of service. Unlike other interlayers, SentryGlas ionoplast interlayer is much less vulnerable to moisture exposure or yellowing over time. Some of the many SentryGlas interlayer applications include minimally supported and open-edged railings, facades and canopies, structural glass flooring, stairs, walkways and pedestrian bridges, hurricane-resistant windows, doors and skylights and bomb-blast resistant windows, doors and facades. As well as improved strength and stiffness, in the event of breakage, glass fragments remain firmly bonded to the interlayer, reducing the chance of injury and SentryGlas is extremely durable and resistant to clouding, even after years of exposure. SentryGlas can be used in glass manufactured flat or curved, including annealed, toughened, heat-stregthened, spandrel, wired, patterned and colour-tinted glass and is available with or without UV transmittance.

AMIRAN anti-reflective glass

AMIRAN anti-reflective glass is unique due to its unrivalled mechanical and chemical strength and robustness. It’s an established and strong premium brand in the market and is outstanding due to its overall performance combined with superior services. AMIRAN also has the best anti-reflective glass for bent applications. SCHOTT AMIRAN anti-reflective glass for showcases offers crystal clear transparency, even with a significant difference in the amount of light in front of and behind the pane. It reduces reflections to just a fraction of those seen with conventional glass. This makes AMIRAN anti-reflective glass the material of choice for showcases. The invisible glass has extremely high transmission meaning no visible reflection (1%, instead of 8% with float glass). There is a reduction of unwanted reflection to provide a perfect view through glass especially in complex lighting conditions, high Colour Rendering Index for crystal clear transparency and the ability to photograph through it.

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