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What is Glass?

Glass, an inorganic solid material that is usually transparent or translucent as well as hard, brittle, and impervious to the natural elements. Glass has been made into practical and decorative objects since ancient times, and it is still very important in applications as disparate as building construction, housewares, and telecommunications. It is made by cooling molten ingredients such as silica sand with sufficient rapidity to prevent the formation of visible crystals.

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A brief treatment of glass follows. Glass is treated in detail in a number of articles. Stained glass and the aesthetic aspects of glass design are described in stained glass and glassware. The composition, properties, and industrial production of glass are covered in industrial glass. The physical and atomic characteristics of glass are treated in amorphous solid.




Types of glass

The varieties of glass differ widely in chemical composition and in physical qualities. They differ in terms of their chemical composition, the method used to produce them or their processing behaviour. Generally, they are categorised according to their chemical composition. A differentiation is made between


Most glass is made with silicon dioxide as the primary ingredient. This is a category of glass known as silicate glass. As sand is mostly made of silicon dioxide, it is somewhat accurate to say that glass is made of sand. In fact, glass can occur naturally due to processes that superheat sand such as lightning strikes and meteorite impacts.

Soda-lime glass

The most common type of glass is known as soda-lime glass. It is made of silicon dioxide with other substances such as sodium oxide, sodium carbonate, lime, magnesia and alumina. 

Glazing/double glazed glass

Glazing is another word for a window or wall of glass. At its most basic, glazing is a single pane soda-lime glass. Double glazed glass is any product that includes two separate panes of glass with a layer of air or gas in-between. This increases the thermal and acoustic insulation of products such as windows. It is also common for products to be triple or quadruple glazed.

Tempered glass

also known as toughened glass, is a type of safety glass  that has been treated with heat and chemicals. Outer surfaces of tempered glass are in a state of compression and the interior of the glass is in a state of tension. This makes the glass stronger and when it breaks it crumbles into small chunks that are less dangerous than large shards of glass. there are also coloured, borosilicate, crystal, lead glass which are used in different industries.

But mostly what we see is window glass which refers to windows for buildings, infrastructure and transport. Regular window glass is a basic soda-lime glass. Transport and some buildings have windows that have been specially engineered for safety and other properties such as thermal insulation.

1. Float Glass

The molten glass is poured into a tin, which allows it to take the shape of large glass panels. This float glass is then used to create different types of glass for windows, because by itself float glass is weak and may easily break into large dangerous shards.

2. Laminated Glass

Your car’s windshield is made from laminated glass, because this type of glass is strong enough to add structural integrity. Laminated glass is made with two pieces of float glass with a thin layer of PVB resin pressed between the glass panes.

3. Obscured Glass

Obscured glass uses certain designs and features, such as etched or beveled glass that is impossible to actually see through. Light still penetrates the glass, and you can see shadows through the window, but no one can actually see you or the inside of your home.

4. Tempered Glass

Tempered glass is too strong to be cut, but it can still break if it is hit hard enough. If the window does break, however, the pieces are smaller and less dangerous than they would be with float glass or another weak type glass. Tempered glass may be necessary if your windows are low, big or near a busy area.

5. Insulated Glass

Insulated glass is used in double-pane and triple-pane windows. The panes of glass are separated by a space bar. This space is perfect for adding argon or krypton gasses, which offer insulation between the glass panes.These are two indicators that measure the windows’ ability to block heat rays from the sun.

6. Low-E Glass

Low-e glass or low emissivity glass is designed to block certain waves of light from the sun. In particular, they block the UV rays that cause damage to skin and fade materials like furniture and clothing. At the same time, during the winter, the low-E glass will help keep the heat inside your home.

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Invention of Float Glass

On the 20th January 1959, the Float Glass technique was revealed to the glass-making industry which drastically transformed the future for glassmaking and the Pilkington firm. This technique was created by Sir Alastair Pilkington and his R&D team after seven years of exploring and investing in the process.

It is generally reported that Sir Alastair created the notion of float glass while helping wash the dishes after supper. He apparently watched how the oil floated on the surface and pondered “what if glass is floated on liquid?”. This beautiful concept of a lightbulb lighting up is in fact a myth and Alastair rejected the idea loudly. It is a truth though that Alastair pondered about the notion while conducting a meaningless activity and his mind was roaming.

He began experimenting in December 1952 and albeit unsatisfactory, he manufactured a flat piece of glass fairly early in the experimental stage. However, for this process to realise its full potential and be a success it would have to provide a continual supply of high-quality glass 24/7. Creating beyond-industry standard glass 24/7 would offer Pilkington a considerable edge over any rival at the time. All pieces of glass which were manufactured by the procedure between 1952 and 1959 were not flawless, which made the sharpening of this process so arduous and laborious.

In 1955, Pilkington formally chose to create float process machines and after seven years of work and £28 million (about £150 million in today’s money*) in R&D costs, a sheet of glass manufactured wholly by the float process was produced in July 1958.

In 1959 Pilkington introduced this cutting-edge technology to the glass-making industry and licenced out the rights to utilise this process. This decision has been highly debated and, in many perspectives, considered problematic owing to Pilkington handing away a prime location in the market and not taking advantage of a monopolistic situation.

There are presently over 500 glass float lines in the globe and the float process is regarded the international standard for high quality glass manufacturing.

Industry Overview

Glass manufacturing market size was USD 228.7 billion in 2020 and will showcase a growth rate of around 4.1% CAGR from 2021 to 2027. The growing demand for glass in various end user industries including automotive and construction will propel the industry growth throughout the assessment period.

Glass Market Report Coverage

Report CoverageDetails
Base Year:2020
Market Size in 2020:USD 228.7 Billion
Forecast Period:2021 to 2027
Forecast Period 2021 to 2027 CAGR:4.1%
2027 Value Projection:329.4 Billion
Historical Data for:2017 to 2020
No. of Pages:233
Tables, Charts & Figures:203
Segments covered:Product, End-user, Region
Growth Drivers:Positive outlook from food & beverage and housing industryIncreasing industrial production and presence of major industriesIncreasing demand for consumer electronics and large scale investments in infrastructure developmentImproving economic & political stability coupled with rising automobile salesIncreasing construction activities & foreign investmentsPositive outlook from food & beverage and housing industryIncreasing industrial production and presence of major industriesIncreasing demand for consumer electronics and large scale investments in infrastructure developmentImproving economic & political stability coupled with rising automobile salesIncreasing construction activities & foreign investments
Pitfalls & Challenges:Capital intensive in initial stages & requires long investment cyclesThreat from potential alternatives

Market value of flat glass worldwide in 2020 and 2021, with a forecast for 2030

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