Tempered glass is used far more extensively than most people realize. Did you know that every window in your car (except for the windshield) is made of tempered glass?
Tempered glass is used in many industries including car manufacturing, cookware, residential housing, and industrial buildings. Did you know that the use of tempered glass was so widespread? There are two reasons that tempered glass is used as extensively as it is. The first reason: tempered glass is the safest glass to use whenever there is a risk a person could get cut from broken glass. The second reason: tempered glass is extremely strong and can withstand several thousand pounds of force pushed against it.
In the early days of the automobile industry, death and maiming were common occurrences as a result of auto accidents. What may come as a surprise to most people is the accidents were usually minor traffic accidents that today would otherwise be referred to as "fender benders". The reason why auto accidents were so dangerous during that era was because the car windows would shatter and splinter into extremely dangerous, razor sharp pieces of glass. Thanks to tempered glass, car windows no longer pose a serious to threat to people involved in auto accidents.
Tempered glass can be found in every kitchen in America. Coffee pots, oven doors, glass baking pans, and even measuring cups are often created with tempered glass. You can also find tempered glass in bathrooms - clear shower doors are almost universally manufactured using tempered glass. Tempered glass is also used extensively in commercial buildings; practically every external window of a commercial office building is constructed of tempered glass. Have you ever pulled open an all-glass front door to a department building? Those heavy glass doors are made entirely from tempered glass.
The earliest historical mentioning of tempered glass was called Prince Rupert's Tears. Molten glass was dripped into ice cold buckets of water. The glass hardened immediately, forming teardrop shaped pieces of glass. At the time, nobody knew they were creating what is now known as tempered glass. The tears were exceptionally hard pieces of glass that could withstand enormous amounts of pressure. However, they would shatter into tiny pieces if directly struck with a hammer or other metal object.
Tempered glass is created by heating glass to extreme temperatures and then rapidly cooling the glass by either dipping it into a cold liquid or cooling the surface area of the glass with cold-air jets. Glass can be heated and cooled multiple times. The more tempering is performed, the stronger the glass becomes while still maintaining its ability to shatter into thousands of tiny pieces of harmless glass. Tempered glass is often referred to as "toughened glass" or "safety glass".
Tempered glass is never used for automobile windshields! Today's car manufacturer's use two different types of glass when building a car: the windshield is constructed of laminated glass while every other window in the car is tempered glass. Fire departments and rescue crews would not be able to save many lives if automobiles did not use tempered glass; it would be much more difficult for them to rescue victims trapped inside cars if they could not easily shatter the windows.
Tempered glass is used in locations where the general public is exposed to large sheets of glass. The next time you open that glass door to your favorite department store, you can be certain that if that glass door were to break, it would shatter into thousands of tiny pieces of glass that would pose very little risk to your safety.
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