We Need to Talk About Glazing

With current challenges in the supply chain for construction materials, there has never been a better time to explore the new possibilities that modern glass processing can provide. Susan Sinden, Commercial Manager of ESG Group, advises to tap into the know-how and expertise of your glass processor’s technical design team before specifying.

When designing a property, or specifying the products that will make the architect’s concept a reality, it is well worth consulting your glass processor. Their technical design team may be able to suggest ways in which many construction challenges can be met, especially with the use of laminated glass, which is made using a range of highly technical specialist interlayers.

In the lamination process, two or more panes of glass are bonded together using one or more of a range of specialist PVB (polyvinyl butyrall) interlayers. Lamination itself brings benefits, as the added strength that it gives has allowed us to increase panel sizes, to offer glass panels of several metres in height and width. These panels can be joined unobtrusively to produce large expanses of seemingly uninterrupted glass, allowing even more scope for architects to innovate.

The choice of interlayers allows us to bestow a number of useful properties, such as switchable privacy, sound attenuation and fire resistance. During the lamination process, we can also add high-security properties, such as resilience against intruders, ballistic resistance and even blast resistance. The glass processor can add any number of these properties to solve your challenges, so it pays to talk to our technical experts before specifying.

One invaluable technical approach to larger expanses of glazing is structural bonding. Glass panels can be structurally bonded to framework using a silicone bonding agent. This is a highly specialised skill that we outsource to a dedicated expert, but access to the knowledge of how best to use structural bonding can still be obtained by talking to the glass processor’s technical design team.

The structural bonding process creates a permanent structural bond between a glass panel and its framework, which is just as strong and hard wearing as if a frame and fixings had been used. Structural bonding is suitable for almost any area and is increasingly popular for bespoke shapes and sizes which do not fit standard frame systems.

Your glass processor’s technical design team should be able to advise you on the use of glass as a structural element. Although you will still need the advice of a structural engineer for any load-bearing items, there is a wealth of ways that we can recommend overcoming construction challenges using advanced glazing products.

Glass products composed of laminated sheets of varying thicknesses now offer great strength and versatility and can be used as structural elements in construction. Robust glass products can be used for floors, particularly mezzanines and walkways, allowing light to flood through. This added strength has also made glass lift shafts, and scenic lifts a possibility. By laminating sheets of varying thicknesses, or more than two glass panels together, we can now create extremely robust products which can be used as structural elements such as stair treads.

If you haven’t yet got to know your glass processor’s technical design team, there has never been a better time. Glass processing technology has advanced enormously, so it is likely to be able to provide a tailored solution for far more challenges than you ever realised.

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