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Fire-resistant Glass

Fire-resistant Glass

Date posted: September 14, 2016 // Glass

From the polished mirrors that we rely upon to check that we are looking our best and the windows through which we can enjoy a view of a garden or a distant mountain range, to the ornately fashioned vessels from which we may savour a fine wine, the transparent amorphous material derived from silica, in its many forms, is all around us. Despite its extraordinary properties, however, we tend to take it for granted, understanding little of how it is made and often unaware of the many other purposes to which it has now been adapted.

In our homes and offices, apart from admitting ambient light, windows also serve as a protection against the weather, excluding the wind and rain from the spaces we occupy. This, however, is just one example of the protective properties of the material we know as glass. In addition to its basic properties, it can be rendered fire-resistant, impervious to X-rays and gamma rays or ultra-violet radiation and even bullet-proof.

Of these, it is the variety that protects us from excessive heat, however, that is now among the vitreous fittings that tend to feature most prominently in our homes and the offices in which we work. Who among the previous generation would have thought that, one day, it would be possible to sit as close as you like to a roaring fire and enjoy its warmth but remain protected from flying sparks – the protection provided, not by a conventional wire mesh fireguard, but by a sheet of completely transparent, fire-resistant glass-ceramic? And this at temperatures reaching 700 degrees Celsius!

Both in terms of their energy-efficiency and their undeniable aesthetic appeal, these modern guards are a valuable addition to any public or private space where heating may sometimes become necessary. Perhaps even more importantly, though, these 6-12 mm-thick sheets provide an effective barrier with which to assure both the protection of the premises and the safety of the people who occupy them.

Both physically and thermally stronger than the panes generally used to provide windows in homes or offices, yet still crystal-clear, its properties are the result of a process known as tempering. Together with only a slightly different raw material mix, this treatment results in a fire-resistant glass and is similar to that used to manufacture the side and rear windows for cars. The tempering process leaves its outer surfaces compressed while the inner layer of material is left under tension. This effect serves to reduce the risk of fractures due to excessive heat or impact.

The same thermal characteristics also make this an ideal material from which to manufacture the transparent bowls and dishes that are widely used for cooking and baking. Used also for the see-through oven doors that help us to keep a close eye on the cooking process and, in a modified form, for the opaque glass-ceramic surfaces commonly fitted on electric hobs, fire-resistant glass and glass-ceramic now feature prominently in many areas of our modern lifestyles. One secondary but equally valuable benefit is that this material has also been providing plenty of creative possibilities for the more innovative interior designers and architects.

Regarded as the industry leaders, Schott manufactures glass and glass-ceramic suitable for every imaginable application and is represented in South Africa by Labotec Industrial Technologies. Always consult us first about world-class fire-resistant glazing.