Laminated glass is composed of two or more sheets of glass bonded together by an interlayer material such as PVB (polyvinyl butyral). This lamination process greatly enhances the strength and safety properties of the glass. With its growing use in automotive, architectural and consumer applications, laminated glass is becoming increasingly popular due to the hazards it mitigates.
What is laminated glass?
Laminated glass consists of an inner layer of plastic interlayer sandwiched between two or more sheets of glass. The plastic interlayer is usually made of PVB but can also be composed of ionoplast polymers, cast resins or heat-strengthened thermoplastic. This laminating process bonds the glass tightly together. When broken, laminated glass holds the shattered fragments together rather than scattering them, significantly reducing injury risk compared to ordinary annealed or tempered glass.
The plastic interlayer serves several purposes in laminated glass. It absorbs impact energy and distributes stress across the entire glass assembly when broken. This prevents the glass from completely shattering into sharp dangerous pieces. The interlayer also adds structural integrity, making laminated glass up to 10 times stronger than standard annealed glass. Finally, the plastic improves acoustic performance by dampening sound transmission.
Applications for enhanced safety and security
Due to its excellent safety properties, laminated glass sees wide usage wherever glass poses a risk of injury or damage. automotive glass are nearly always laminated for occupant protection in case of accidents or break-ins. Laminated glass is commonly specified for applications such as shower and bath enclosures to avoid dangerous glass fragmentation if broken. It provides an added layer of security in glass doors, windows and skylights against break-ins and glass spray.
Laminated glass is an essential component in bullet-resistant and bomb blast applications such as bulletproof vehicle glass or glass security partitions. The multiple glass layers and rigid interlayer create a more energy-absorbent barrier against projectiles or explosions compared to monolithic glass. When hit, laminated glass resists full penetration and prevents dangerous glass spall rather than completely shattering. This offers vital protection for high-security applications in government, financial and military installations.
Sustainability and energy efficiency benefits
Beyond safety and security advantages, laminated glass provides sustainability benefits. The two or more bonded glass sheets create a highly insulating glass unit with excellent thermal properties for energy efficiency. This reduces building heating and cooling costs. Properly specified low-emissivity (low-E) coatings between the glass panes boost insulation performance even further.
The plastic PVB interlayer layer also improves sound insulation, blocking noise transmission between glass panes. This provides quieter indoor spaces withoutdistractions from outdoor noise pollution. Laminated glass walls conserve energy by blocking heat transfer between interior and exterior environments. With their durability and longevity, laminated units contribute to sustainable construction practices through material reuse and reduced waste over the building lifecycle.
Legislation and codes for mandatory laminated glass
Due to the significant risks posed by glass, several countries have mandatory codes requiring Laminated Glass usage in certain hazardous applications. In the U.S., the 2016 revision of ANSI Z97.1 standard made laminated glass compulsory for newly glazed hazardous locations such as shower and bath enclosures. Similarly, the 2015 International Residential Code mandates laminated glass or impact-resistant glass for glazing adjacent to doors and other walkable areas.
The Australian Building Codes Board also stipulates laminated or toughened safety glass for any glass installation within pedestrian traffic areas or any glass under 2m above floor level that could cause injury if broken. Many other countries’ building codes now reference compliance to laminated glass standards to uphold construction safety. With more research proving its life-saving benefits, laminated glass regulations will likely become even more strict worldwide in the future.
1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
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