laminated glass stairs

Laminated Glass Could Be Perfect for Your Next Project

What makes laminated glass such a popular choice for commercial and domestic spaces? Put simply, it comes down to two core features: safety and style.

In this article, we explore what makes laminated glass so robust, and why designers and architects trust it for a wide range of safety applications. We’ll also look at how to add a decorative touch to laminated glass to ensure your interior or exterior space excels on a stylistic level.

Why is laminated glass used for safety applications?

You sometimes hear laminated glass referred to as “safety glass”. The safety aspect comes from the laminating process used to give the glass structural integrity. When a laminated panel breaks, the glass keeps its shape – whereas standard glass may shatter into hundreds of shards. All laminated glass sold in the UK must meet these requirements, labelled the EN 14449 safety standard.

To understand why laminated glass is so robust, look at its structure. Laminated glass consists of three or more bonded layers, the most important of which is a plastic interlayer. This is usually made from polyvinyl butyl (PVB) or ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) layer. At abc Glass, we stock float glass in 4mm to 19mm sizes and this allows us to produce laminated glass in thicknesses to suit projects ranging from internal glazing to laminated glass floors.

What other benefits does laminated glass offer?

Aside from safety, laminated glass offers several key benefits for both domestic and commercial use. The first is protection from solar and UV rays – up to 99%, in fact, compared to just 65% for tempered glass. Second, laminated glass is better at blocking out noise, so much so that it’s used on professional recording studios.

Third, there’s the fire-proof aspect of laminated glass. While not quite as high performing as fire rated glass (which uses a gel interlayer instead of plastic), laminated glass is nonetheless recommended by engineers as “effective… for  architects and building occupants.” The fourth advantage is one that will hopefully never be needed: laminated glass is bullet-proof.

Last, but not least, is decorative laminated glass. Our glass technicians can create beautiful patterns of almost any texture and hue, all using modern digital printing methods. We can also add a sandblasted effect to your laminated glass, as well as custom back painting in any RAL colour.

What are the best uses for laminated glass?

Examples of laminated glass products

  • Balustrades and balconies – We’ve supplied laminated glass panels for dozens of clients’ balconies and balustrades. Many opt for frosted or decorative glass for a touch of privacy. No matter the style, laminated glass ensures safety while you enjoy the views.
  • Internal glass balustrades – It’s not just balconies where laminated safety glass is needed. Internal balustrades, such as those used in staircases and landings, call for robust safety glass.
  • Glass floors and stairs – Designers can liven up the most mundane floor or staircase area with laminated glass. From spiral glass stair treads to glass balcony floors, glass can be used to bring a wow-facture – so long as you’re not scared of heights.
  • Interior glass partitions and doors – Last month we explored why glass office partitions are going nowhere after the pandemic ends. Laminated glass partitions and doors offer extraordinary strength as well as style – ideal for workspaces as well as the home.
  • Glass shelves and table tops – These sleek units are commonplace in shopping malls, hotels, and other luxury spaces. But with recent trends towards home bars, glass bathroom counters, and glass table tops, designers of home interiors are starting to jump on the bandwagon. Glass shelving and tops can also be produced from thick toughened safety glass.

 

To find out more about our laminated glass products, or to see how abc Glass can help with your next project, please contact us. Our friendly team is on hand to answer any questions about glass, laminated or otherwise.

Waste cullet glass ready for collection and recycling at abc Glass Processing

How We’ve Reduced Glass Waste by Investing in Technology

At abc Glass’s Portsmouth HQ, we process thousands of square metres of float glass every year. But like any manufacturer operating on this scale, we’ve had to solve some practical and environmental challenges along the way.

Waste cullet glass ready for collection and recycling at abc Glass Processing

The first challenge relates to our manufacturing methods: How can we use the most efficient technology and processes to reduce consumption and waste? The second challenge is simpler: What to do with the waste glass?

In this article, we’ll show how abc Glass has invested in better glass processing tech to boost efficiency and reduce waste. We’ll also explore how several of our partner companies are leading the charge in glass recycling schemes to help reduce the glass industry’s carbon footprint.

More efficiency = less waste

Most of our glass processing relies on sophisticated glass-cutting machines. Over the last 20 years, we have invested heavily in cutting-edge digital machinery to reduce waste, increase accuracy, and perfect the quality and tolerance of our glass products.

Computerised automated glass cutting line at abc Glass Processing

One such machine is our computer-controlled and -automated glass cutting lines (seen here in this factory tour video). This extraordinary kit calculates the most efficient use of glass by digitally laying out separate glass orders across a single 4-metre sheet of float glass. The aim is to minimise waste by intelligently maximising the amount of glass used on every sheet. We simply couldn’t achieve this level of waste-reduction without help from automation.

One of our cnc machines processing glass at abc in Portsmouth

Several other computer-controlled machines help to reduce our glass waste. These include three high-tech CNC (Computerised Numerical Cutting) machines, which we rely on daily to create extremely complex and accurate glass shapes. CNC machines can be programmed by our technicians. Such easy-to-use technology drives accuracy and reduces waste as we process glass for customers.

How is our waste glass recycled?

In a perfect world, improved efficiencies in the manufacturing process would result in no glass waste at all. However, despite all our progress, abc Glass still ends up with a small amount of waste each day. Rather than consign this glass to landfill, we have launched several partnerships with outside companies who specialise in recycling glass waste.

One of these companies, Saint-Gobain, recycles around 55,000 tonnes of glass waste each year. A small fraction of this glass consists of waste from the abc Glass factory – we collect the off-cuts (or “cullets”) from our glass processing machines and store them in large bags for collection. Once delivered to recycling plants, the cullets are sorted using smart digital machines before being processed into brand-new float glass.

Last year we recycled over 300 tonnes of waste glass through various Cullet Return Schemes. This works out to 25 tonnes a month – a figure we are proud of. The vast majority of this glass waste comes from off-cuts of float, coated, and mirror glass sheets used to process our wide range of glass products.

If you have any questions about glass recycling, or want to know more about how we’re improving our carbon footprint through efficient processes, please get in touch. Our glass processing experts will also be happy to lend advice on your next project and explain how our range of services could help.

Decorative laminated glass shower door

What is Decorative Laminated Glass?

We hear this question a lot from our clients. And no wonder: decorative laminated glass is growing in popularity year-on-year. By combining the toughness of laminated glass with the beauty of customised patterns, textures and colours, decorated laminated glass offers a robust yet stylish solution for livening up a home or commercial interior.

 

Decorative laminated glass shower door

 

In this article, we’ll show you how decorative laminated glass is actually made in our Portsmouth factory. We’ll also explore the glass’s unique properties and reveal how laminated glass can be decorated with a choice of hundreds of artistic features. Finally, we’ll run through some of the best uses for decorative glass both indoors and outdoors.

How is decorative laminated glass made?

At abc Glass, our process of making decorative laminated glass differs only slightly from that of standard laminated glass. The key thing to remember is the extra mesh or fabric “interlayer” sheet added during the laminating process. This sheet, made from either polyvinyl butyl (PVB) or ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA), can be decorated in a myriad of ways, as we’ll explore later.

The step-by-step process is simple. First, our technicians insert the decorative interlayer between two toughened or untoughened glass sheets. Our state of the art glass laminating machine bonds the three layers together to form the final product. And bingo: your decorative laminated glass is ready.

Tougher stuff

 

example of shattered laminated glass

 

To the untrained eye, decorative laminated glass may seem a purely stylistic choice. But as we’ve seen, it’s also an extremely robust product. In the UK, all decorative laminated glass must meet EN 14449 safety standards to be considered legal. This ensures that, when shattered, the glass sheet keeps its original form, displaying a trademark “spiderweb” crack pattern. Contrast this with untreated regular glass, which breaks into a handful of unsafe sharp shards – disastrous in the event of breakage or a fire.

Further benefits of decorative laminated glass include better sound insulation as well as blocking out harmful UV rays. What’s not to like?

A layer of personality

 

Decorative laminated glass examples

 

The most exciting aspect of decorative glass is, of course, the decoration. You can add an incredible array of patterns and colours to your mesh or fabric interlayer. Our website showcases just a few of the patterns we offer, from cool metallic to sandy textures.

Putting decorative glass to use

 

Shower screen by Drench with decorative laminated glass

 

In theory, anywhere that normal laminated glass is found can be kitted out with decorative glass. Popular uses include for glass balconies, glass partitions, glass balustrades, glass table tops and shelves, glass staircases, glass flooring, frameless glass shower enclosures, and much more.

Bear in mind, however, that certain spaces may not lend themselves to added decoration. In some cases a simple clear or frosted laminated glass sheet will work better – far be it from us to judge!

Before ordering any decorative laminated glass, we recommend speaking to one of our in-house glass experts. We’ll explain the process for processing and supplying glass for your specifications and show you the many patterns and colour options available.

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.