Industrial Glass

Glass Manufacturing and the Industrial Aspect of the Production

In our previous blog, we talked about how glass manufacturing is one of the top industries in India and how it has been a constant cog in the developmental wheel of the nation. It is not just a great cog in the developmental wheel, but also a valuable part of arguably the most important industry not just in India, but all across the globe, the medicine industry. It is also a very important part of the hotel and restaurant business which has grown by leaps and bounds over the last ten years or so. There is so much that glass or rather, varieties of glass comes in handy for, that it becomes extremely difficult to put them all under one roof.

That being the case, today we will be looking at a few types of glass, talking about their uses, advantages and where they are beneficial. One of those types that we will be looking at is borosilicate glass. Before talking about it, here’s exactly what borosilicate glass is. Borosilicate glass is a type of glass that contains boron trioxide which allows for a very low coefficient of thermal expansion. This means it will not crack under extreme temperature changes like regular glass. Its durability has made it the glass of choice for high-end restaurants, laboratories and wineries. Borosilicate glass is made up of about 15% boron trioxide, which is that magical ingredient that completely changes the behavior of glass and makes it thermal shock resistant. This allows the glass to resist extreme changes in temperature thanks to which, borosilicate glass has the ability to go straight from a freezer to an oven rack without cracking. 

In simpler terms, you can pour boiling hot water into borosilicate glass if you wanted to say, steep tea or coffee, without worrying about shattering or cracking the glass. Because of its durability and resistance to chemical changes, borosilicate glass has traditionally been used in chemistry labs and industrial settings, as well as for kitchenware and premium wine glasses. Because of its superior quality, it is often priced higher than soda-lime glass.

The benefits and uses borosilicate glass has:

Helpful from the environment’s perspective: Plastic water bottles are terrible for the environment. They are made from petroleum, and they almost always end up in either a landfill, lake or ocean. Only 9% of all plastic gets recycled. Even then, oftentimes the process of breaking down and reusing plastics leaves a heavy carbon footprint. Since borosilicate glass is made from naturally abundant materials that are more easily acquired than oil, the environmental impact is also smaller. If handled with care, borosilicate glass will last a lifetime.

Wide usage in optics: Many astronomical reflecting telescopes use glass mirror components made of borosilicate glass because of its low coefficient of thermal expansion. This makes very precise optical surfaces possible that change very little with temperature, and matched glass mirror components that “track” across temperature changes and retain the optical system’s characteristics. 

It’s better for you: Since borosilicate glass resists chemicals and acid degradation, you don’t need to worry about stuff seeping into your water. It’s always safe to drink from. You can put it in the dishwasher, put it in the microwave, use it to store hot liquids or leave it out in the sun. You won’t have to concern yourself with the bottle heating up and releasing harmful toxins into the liquid you are drinking, something very common in plastic water bottles or less expensive stainless steel alternatives.

This is what borosilicate glass is all about. It is one of the many varieties of glass available in the market with some of the others being lead, high silica, soda-lime glass to name a few. From borosilicate glass we move on to glass fabrication.

Glass fabrication: Glass fabrication services are the manufacturing of glass parts and assemblies using blowing, casting, extrusion, drawing, pressing, heat shrinking, or other fabrication processes. The capabilities of providers of glass fabrication services are important to consider when searching for these services. Services include design assistance, glass blowing or assembly, glass part fabrication, glass cutting or profiling, glass repair, lampworking, materials development or research and development, material selection, photomask fabrication, inspection or testing, recycling or cullet processing, supplies, and training. There are multiple types of glass fabrication usually seen across processes. 

If colored glass is being fabricated, a metallic oxide is added to the batch. Iron colors glass green, copper turns it light blue, cobalt a dark blue, gold a deep red. Low-iron glass is recommended when coloring glass any color besides green. In small amounts, manganese dioxide is used to decolorize glass, but in large amounts, it colors glass purple, or with a higher amount, black. After it is melted,  the viscous glass is then poured into a bath of molten tin, then formed into a ribbon and cooled. The slow and even cooling process is called annealing. Glass must be cooled evenly, because if one area stays hotter longer it becomes thicker, and the different levels of thickness results in stress on the piece of glass. An improperly-annealed piece of glass is more likely to crack.

Processes used by providers of glass fabrication services include, encapsulation, extrusion or drawing, grinding or beveling, heat shrinking, machine forming or bending, machining, pressing or molding, and off hand forming. In encapsulation of components, chemicals or materials using a glass ampule or vessel, typically the glass vessel is evacuated or filled with a protective gas. Extrusion or drawing of a molten or plastic glass mixture is used to form fibers or stock with a specific diameter or cross-sectional profile.

Grinding capability can provide very smooth and precise material finishes, and can be used to finish high-hardness wear surfaces. Machine forming or bending is the fabrication of a glass shape using a process where the glass is actually heated to a plastic state and then formed or bent through mechanical means. Machining can include the capability of very precise machining operations such as turning, milling, boring, etc.

There is a lot of in-depth knowledge to be gained before dwelling deep into other topics of glass types and glass fabrication. A wide source of knowledge to help you know more about this wonderful product, useful in more ways than one.