Used in a huge range of applications, tempered and annealed glass offer unique features and benefits for different types of jobs. Annealed glass, or standard glass, is the softer of the two. Tempered glass, also called toughened glass, is one of the hardest types of glass available. In fact, it’s up to five times harder than most others, including annealed glass.
Annealed glass is often used in items such as tabletops, cabinet doors, and basement windows. Its tempered counterpart is typically found in balcony doors, athletic facilities, swimming pools, facades, shower doors and bathroom areas, exhibition spaces and displays, and computer towers and cases.
There are several key considerations to keep in mind when deciding between annealed and tempered glass for your next project.
Annealed Glass: Key Features and Benefits
During the annealing process, glass is thermally treated and then cooled to relieve internal stresses introduced during the manufacturing process. For most glass products, the annealing temperature falls between 850 °F and 900 °F, which is the stress-relief point of the glass. Then, the pieces heat-soak until the temperature is consistent throughout and the stress relaxation is adequate.
After the annealing process is complete, the glass can be cut, drilled, or polished without the risk of inducing internal stresses that could cause it to shatter. If annealed glass breaks for any other reason, however, it results in long, jagged shards. As a result, it’s used for jobs in which high strength and safety are not key concerns.
Since it doesn’t have to go through as many processes, annealed glass is cheaper than tempered glass. Annealed glass also offers optimal versatility and flexibility, allowing it to be crafted in numerous styles and designs. This type of glass can be customized in countless ways, and can even be curved to allow for stylish, sleek aesthetics in various commercial settings.
Tempered Glass: Key Features and Benefits
To create tempered glass, the material is first cut to size. Next, an abrasive, such as sandpaper, is used to smooth sharp edges. The glass then goes through a tempering oven heated to over 1,100 °F. After heating, the material undergoes a few seconds of a high-pressure cooling procedure called quenching, in which air hits the surface of the glass from multiple nozzles in multiple positions.
Tempered glass can also be created through the exchange of ions by various chemicals on the glass surface, causing compression. This process is more expensive, however, and therefore not used very often. When tempered glass shatters, it breaks into small, square pieces, making it much less likely to cause injury than annealed glass.
Tempered glass offers several other benefits aside from its high durability and safety features. First, tempered glass resists smudges and allows for easy removal of fingerprint grease. This glass cleans very easily, and even handkerchiefs or T-shirts can effectively remove dirt and grease. Also, if installed properly, tempered glass won’t augment glare of any sort. And finally, tempered glass will not affect colors, image quality, or sharpness.
While annealed glass is cheaper and serves as a reliable solution for interior designs, it’s not as strong as tempered glass, and can splinter into jagged pieces if broken. Tempered glass, on the other hand, is more durable but also more costly.
No matter what your specific project needs, M3 Glass Technologies is here to guide you through the selection process, ensuring you get the best fit for your unique application. Request a quote today to learn more.