Fire rated glass in an office environment

What is Fire Rated Glass?

When designing a building, architects must always plan for the worst. An out-of-control fire can destroy buildings and put lives at risk – which makes fire rated glass a great solution both inside and outside a building.

Fire rated glass

Fire rated glass (also known as fire-resistant glass) is a specialist product that offers a robust barrier against heat, flames, and smoke. Unlike regular or toughened glass, its fire resistance is determined by a controlled test. But what else separates fire rated glass from its cheaper, but less safe, cousins? Let’s explore.

A place of greater safety

Fire rated glass in an office environment

With its ingenious design (see next section), fire rated glass can withstand heat in excess of 800°C whilst keeping flames and smoke at bay. A matter of life and death, in other words.

Building regulations are strict when it comes to fire safety-specific glass. As a legal requirement, all fire rated glass must pass a Fire Resistance Test to be considered usable. This test is used to measure the performance of a glass panel at different levels of fire intensity.

Fire Resistance Tests look for two kinds of performance. These are:

  1. Integrity – The length of time that the glass remains intact whilst keeping out flames and smoke. This is indicated in the rating itself – E30 means the glass keeps its integrity for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Insulation – The level of heat protection offered by the glass. The non-fire side of the glass should stay at a safe temperature for the length of time indicated in the rating.

Layer upon layer

Fire rated glass comes in two types: laminated and non-laminated. The secret to laminated fire rated glass is found in its intumescent layer. This baffling word has a rather simple meaning: a substance that expands when it heats up.

Laminated fire rated glass uses multiple layers of toughened glass sheets with an intumescent gel layer in between. (Non-laminated versions use just a single sheet, which is toughened after the process.) When a fire breaks out, the first glass sheet will shatter, activating the first intumescent layer. This causes the gel to expand, creating a more effective barrier against flames and smoke.

These individual layers are extraordinarily thin. Indeed, abc Glass’s stock fire rated glass boasts a thickness of only 7mm. But for the glass to work, it must be installed within a fire-resistant frame or surround. This not only secures the glass but prevents the intumescent gel from leaking out at the perimeter. Manufacturers install a spacer around the edge of the glass to prevent such a mishap.

What fire rated glass do we offer?

At abc Glass, our expertise lies in cutting and shaping laminated fire rated glass. We do not manufacture the glass itself, nor the framing system. However, the extent to which we can process fire safety glass for your specific requirements is nearly unlimited. Our technicians can drill, polish, bevel, and paint your fire rated glass, as well as shape it to precise measurements using our state-of-the-art CNC machinery.

Water jet glass cutting at abc Glass Processing

Our go-to fire rated glass is Pyrobelite 7, a popular product that meets the European standard (BS EN 13501-2). This popular glass is kept in stock all year round and is by far our best-selling fire-resistant glass. We can also order in other types of fire rated glass at a 2-3 week lead time. These include thicker glass sheets better suited to internal partitions and balustrades.

If you’re interested in our fire rated glass services, feel free to contact our friendly and knowledgeable team. We look forward to answering any questions you may have about fire-resistant glass and to discuss your next project.

Electronic windows for the home of the future

Is Smart Glass the Future of Home Design?

With bad news arriving each day, it’s easy to forget that we live in an age of innovation. From driverless cars to robots that deliver food, dozens of exciting products are poised to enter the market in the coming years. The home design world is no different, with new glass technology posed to transform our homes.

So, what are these technological wonders that await? In this article, we pick out the most exciting glass products set to enter our homes over the next 10 to 20 years. What’s more, many of these innovations promise to save us money while reducing our carbon footprint.

 

“Chameleon” glass

Colour changing glass

Colour-changing glass is set to revolutionise how we think about interior colour schemes. Scientists in the US have made astonishing breakthroughs in this particular field, with early samples yielding amazing results. The idea is simple: by flicking a switch, molecules bounce around in the glass to turn into a new colour.

Does this new tech require lot of electricity to make work? Quite the opposite. The amount of energy used to switch from colour to colour is minuscule. Indeed, 100 panes of colour-changing glass uses the same energy of an  incandescent lamp for this simple task.

 

Smart glass for your appliances

Kitchen of the future with appliance touch screen

Smart glass is coming soon to a fridge near you. Soon enough, current features such ice dispensers and digital clock faces will look rather quaint by comparison. Future fridges will instead boast a plethora of integrated gadgets to make life that much easier. Chief among them is a tablet-style smart glass screen built into the face – great for flicking through recipes, checking the family calendar or playing music.

 

Windows, but not as we know it

Electronic windows for the home of the future

Glass windows aren’t supposed to do anything complicated. For most homeowners, letting in light whilst keeping out noise and foul weather is all that’s needed. Researchers, however, have spotted a potential new benefit for glass windows: helping to saving the planet. Solar panel collecting windows use the sun’s energy to charge nearby devices, such as smart speakers and TVs.

By 2040, most homes will have obscure glass that deflects up to 98% of outside light. A great substitute for blinds, obscure glass also removes the need for expensive air-conditioning costs. Homeowners will have smart-home systems installed to adjust their window’s light-to-dark settings, whether at home or out and about. Smart glass apps will soon be commonplace, just as modern gadgets like Hive and Ring let us remotely change our home settings.

 

A frosty reception

Frosted glass shower screen with smart technology

Frosted glass is an always-popular choice, especially in the bathroom. However, users are currently restricted to a binary choice: frosted or clear? This is all set to change with smart glass. With the flick of a switch, you’ll be able to enter “privacy mode” by changing your clear glass shower screen to frosted – and back again. Shower areas will also boast waterproof touch screens to adjust the controls, from water flow and timings to temperature.

Unfortunately, at least some of these exciting glass innovations are still very much in the future. In the meantime, abc Glass offers a market-leading range of services to create inspirational glass doors, splashbacks, mirrors, and much more. Get in touch to discuss your requirements with our team, who are working remotely until the Covid-19 restrictions are relaxed.