Glass is a beautiful piece of riddle – it’s so strong, yet it shatters with such ease, it’s transparent, yet it’s made from opaque sand; and though it looks solid, in actual fact, it’s a liquid in disguise – it’s said to be in an amorphous state, which is a cross between a solid and a liquid! Glass has been around since the Mesopotamian era and forms one of the world’s most versatile man-made materials.
Glass has many positive qualities to it – it’s inexpensive, easy to shape, reasonably heat-resistant, chemically inert and can be recycled umpteen times. It is available in so many forms and can be found everywhere in our homes or places of work. Apart from making jewelry and decorations, it’s also used to make light fittings, furniture, countertops, room dividers, etc, aside from their traditional role in windows and doors. However, different types of glasses are used to make different things; ranging from lacquered, to tempered, embossed, tinted and glass ceramic.
When you are looking for glass that is stronger than the regular type and can withstand more stress, think of tempered glass or glass ceramic as both have undergone additional heat treatment.
Tempered Glass – This type of glass is simply regular glass that has been heated to increase its thermal resistance to shock as well as to reduce chances of injury, by changing its breaking pattern; the process of tempering it creates compression on the surface of the glass, and tension in its interior – such that when it’s broken, it ends up in small granular chunks instead of jagged shards. Tempered glass is used in cases where hardiness to mechanical, thermal and physical stress are required. They can withstand temperatures of up to 4000F. Examples include windscreens of vehicles, fireplace guards, refrigerator trays, shower doors, table tops, cookware, mobile screen protectors, etc.
Glass ceramic – This is actually a transparent ceramic that can withstand continuous exposure to high temperatures without cracking. It’s great as a cooking top for stoves and induction cookers or even as cooking/baking utensils. As it’s a poor conductor of heat, the surrounding cooking top remains cool even when the heat source is on. They can withstand long-term temperatures of up to 13800F and are valued for having the strength of ceramics as well as the hermetic sealing properties of glass.
Some of their notable advantages include the fabrication advantage of glass, thermal shock resistance, high temperature stability, high strength and toughness, heat insulation, etc.