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Information: Toughened Glass

Special process of solidification of a glass sheet in order to make it particularly resistant to breakages. The process may be physical (thermal) or chemical. In the former, the glass sheet is heated to a temperature just below its softening point and then immediately cooled by special jets of cold-air. These harden the surface of the glass, giving the inside more time to cool. This allows the external layer to crystallize into a wider lattice while the inside solidifies with greater compression than in the crystal lattice. The result is a sheet of glass which is two or three times stronger than untempered glass and which, upon breakage, shatters into tiny pieces with blunt edges (the most common applications are for automotive glass).

The chemical process, on the other hand, is based on the so-called ion-stuffing technique. Different chemical elements possess different ionic radii and therefore different densities. Hence, if glass containing sodium is cooled slowly in a salt bath of molten potassium, the sodium ions will migrate from the glass to the salt, while the potassium ions will move to the surface of the glass where, due to their wider radium, they create a denser and therefore stronger surface layer (of no less than 0.1 mm).

Glass sheets which have been chemically tempered are five to eight times stronger than those which have not undergone any tempering process.

See also: Laminated Glass

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