Summary of Laminated Glass
Laminated glass is one of those products that has probably made a larger difference in your life than you realize. How many times have you put pressure on or fallen toward a glass panel without it shattering and injuring you? Chances are that you had laminated glass to thank for it.
What exactly is laminated glass and how is it used to make our world safer and more comfortable? Consider this your ultimate laminated glass guide.
What Is Laminated Glass?
When people heard the word “laminated,” they usually think of laminated paper: paper that’s coated in thin plastic. In a way, laminated glass is the exact opposite.
This specialized glass is manufactured with two or more panes of glass that are bonded together with a piece of specialized resin called PVB in the middle. This reinforces the glass to make it stronger.
Not only is laminated glass less breakable, but it’s shatter-proof as well. When either of the glass panels breaks, the broken pieces remain stuck to the interlayer rather than falling and flying apart. This leads to fewer injuries from projectile glass shards.
Everything You Need to Know About Laminated Glass
Laminated glass is one of the multiple products that are referred to as “safety glass.” There are far more benefits, varieties, and specifications involved than most people realize, though.
Types of Laminated Glass
Laminated glass is used for a wide range of applications from vehicle windshields to glass railings. How can the same product be used for so many different purposes?
In truth, it’s not exactly the same product. There are many variations among laminated glass, but most notably, there are three common types based on the interlayers: EVA, PVB, and SGP.
The difference among these types of laminated glass is the type of plastic that is used to bond the panes of glass. Each kind of plastic gives the finished product unique strengths and properties.
Let’s start with EVA glass. This stands for ethylene-vinyl acetate, and it’s the most economical type of laminated glass. It’s often used for indoor decorative fixtures because it’s amenable to engraving and other decorations, but it doesn’t withstand the weather as well as other varieties.
The next step up is PVB glass, which is made with polyvinyl butyral. It’s stronger than EVA but still retains some flexibility. It’s often used for handrails, fences, floors, canopies.
Finally, we have SGP glass which stands for laminated glass combined by Kuraray SentryGlas ionoplast interlayers. While EVA and PVB are more general materials, SGP refers to one proprietary brand of plastic. SGP is much stronger than PVB and EVA, and it also has a stunning color.
The thickness of Laminated Glass
The three types of laminated glass each have different thicknesses that correlate with their strength levels. EVA is the thinnest, starting at just 0.15mm thick. PVB starts at 0.38mm while SGP is the thickest, starting at 0.76mm.
Keep in mind that these are the thinnest measurements. Each type of glass can have as many layers of plastic and glass as you choose, so it can reach up to 30 or more millimeters thick.
Key Features of Laminated Glass
The top characteristic feature of laminated glass is its view from the edge. You generally won’t notice that glass is laminated if you look at it straight-on, but looking around the edge, you’ll be able to see distinctive layers. You’ll see flat glass layers that are uniform with a less uniform plastic layer in the middle.
Benefits of Laminated Glass
The key reason certain applications use laminated glass is for the added safety it provides. Between its durability and its shatter-proof quality, laminated glass can prevent and minimize injuries in buildings and vehicles alike.
In fact, the glass panes used in laminated glass are typically annealed glass. This glass is cooled slowly during the manufacturing process to reduce the internal tension, making it less prone to breaking.
Laminated glass is also easy to customize for many applications and needs. For example, some types of PVB are tinted to give the glass a built-in privacy tint without the need for external coatings.
Another benefit of laminated glass is its UV radiation blockage. While it doesn’t block the radiation entirely, it filters out enough of it to make a difference for your health and safety.
Finally, laminated glass has sound dampening properties as well, more than typical glass. This is why it’s a popular interior glass in offices and other rooms that want sound-blocked rooms with large windows or glass walls.
Pros and Cons of Laminated Glass
Laminated glass has a variety of fantastic benefits, but no product is perfect for all applications. These pros and cons can help you determine when it is (and isn’t) the right fit.
Pro: Added Security
Because laminated glass is harder to break, it doesn’t just reduce accidents – it reduces intentional breakage too. Many businesses choose this type of glass for example for their exterior panels to prevent break-ins.
Pro: Wide Range of Options
Laminated glass is about as customizable as you’re going to get when it comes to glass. You can choose the type of plastic you want, the thickness, the potential tinting, and more. This is what makes it one of the most versatile glass products you could find.
Pro: Multi-Tiered Safety
Laminated glass is most often used for safety, but the interesting truth is that it enhances safety in multiple ways. First, it’s less likely to break at all. Second, if it does break, the pieces will stay adhered to the plastic rather than flying away as scattered, dangerous shards.
Con: Potential Cleaning Difficulties
The manufacturing process for making laminated glass sometimes causes tiny surface imperfections. These are usually invisible to the naked eye, but when you try to clean the glass, those imperfections could become pockets for dirt and dust, making it harder to get a truly shiny, smooth finish.
Because of its added materials and manufacturing process, it should come as no surprise that laminated glass is more expensive than many other types of glass. Of course, it varies based on the type of laminated glass. For example, SGP is the most expensive, followed by PVB and finally EVA.
Con: Potential Delamination
While laminated glass is durable overall, some varieties are susceptible to one Achilles heel: humidity. In some cases, leaving laminated glass in a very humid environment for long periods of time can cause delamination: a separation between the plastic center and the glass panels.
Applications for Laminated Glass
There are many benefits of laminated glass, but its versatility is one of its best qualities. Because it’s so customizable, it can be used for such a wide range of structures and purposes.
One of the most common places you’ll find this specialized glass is in vehicle windshields. It’s even used for the windshields in airplane cockpits, which is where you’ll find some of the thickest laminated glass in the world.
Skylights typically use laminated glass too because they can adequately reduce UV radiation while letting plenty of the light shine through. Glass railings, floors, and building facades frequently use laminated glass as well.
Standards for Laminated Glass
Because laminated glass is used for such critical and structural purposes, many governments and organizations have specific standards for its quality and safety ratings.
Unsurprisingly, there are different standards in different geographic areas, and in many places, the standards also differ based on the use of the glass. In the US, for example, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has defined safety standards for architecturally used laminated glass. Other organizations do the same in the EU, Oceania, and China for example.
Because of this, it’s important to make sure that any laminated glass you buy is certified to abide by the standards of the region where it will be used.
The Future of Laminated Glass
Laminated glass has long been a fixture in many varied industries from architecture to interior decor. What about the road ahead, though?
It should come as no surprise with all its far-reaching benefits, laminated glass is expected to continue growing in the years to come. The market is expected to increase by 6% per year through 2026.
While laminated glass is popular throughout the globe, it’s currently thriving the most in the Asia Pacific region. That’s also the region that is experiencing the fastest growth in this type of glass.
Wising Up to the Benefits of Laminated Glass
Laminated glass isn’t the most noticeable product in our daily lives, but the fact is that with all the benefits and applications above, it has made the world a safer place for us all. To learn more, explore our resources regarding laminated glass and other types of safety glass.