Annealed Glass Defined
Annealed glass is glass that has been slowly cooled in a controlled manner to decrease internal stress. It's also known as standard glass or float glass.
The annealing of glass is necessary because untreated glass has a disordered molecular organization, resulting in its brittle nature. The annealing process gives the glass molecules the chance to reorganize in a more stable fashion, decreasing internal stresses and developing greater glass strength.
The Benefits of Glass Annealing
Glass annealing provides several critical advantages, including:
- Increased material consistency
- Minimized stresses
- Less spontaneous breakage
- Improved resistance to thermal shocks
Annealing glass also makes the glass easier to cut, drill and shape.
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Annealed Glass Applications
Annealed glass is used in all doors, windows and skylights in North America. Because of its resistance to thermal shocks, annealed glass is also used to manufacture labware and glassware for food processing. Other uses include cabinet doors and optical glass.
To create safety glass, manufacturers will take annealed glass a step further and put it through a tempering process. Tempered glass, which is heat-strengthened, breaks into smooth pieces, while annealed glass breaks into jagged shards.
The Glass Annealing Process
The annealing temperature of glass and the specific steps required for the annealing of glass vary depending upon the thickness and composition of the glass. Still, all glass annealing follows the same general formula.
The critical point is when the glass annealing temperature is reached. This is the temperature where the glass molecules can move freely, but the glass is still stiff enough to retain its overall shape.
The glass temperature is kept steady for a specific period, then gradually lowered, giving the molecules the necessary time to gain a more stable structure. It's essential that the outside and inside of the glass cool at the same rate.
There are two types of glass annealing:
- Straight annealing, in which the temperature of the glass is lowered in a controlled manner throughout the entire process
- Reannealing, which is used in a manufacturing process like glass blowing, where the temperature of the glass drops spontaneously and the glass has to be reheated to reach the annealing temperature
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