What is borosilicate glass? Is it a common type of glass? Does it naturally occur? Where does it come from? If you’re new in the glassmaking industry, then borosilicate glass units may be new to you. Worry not, though, because in this article, we will be going over everything you need to know about borosilicate glass.
We’ll not only find out what it’s made from, how it’s made, how much it is, etc., but you will also get a better idea on which borosilicate glass manufacturer to work with.
What is Borosilicate Glass?
Borosilicate glass is a special type of glass. It’s made from silica and boron trioxide. What’s cool about it is that it doesn’t crack easily when the temperature changes. This makes it super tough.
It’s used in labs, fancy restaurants, construction, and even for storing nuclear waste. So, if you’ve got a hot dish in the oven, you can take it out and put it in the fridge without worrying about the dish cracking. That’s because borosilicate glass can handle temperature changes.
We’ll dive deep into knowing borosilicate glass more in the latter part of this article.
What is Borosilicate Glass Made Of?
Figure 2: Raw borosilicate glass unit
Borosilicate glass is made of a few different categories and types of materials, just like how standard soda-lime glass is made. What makes borosilicate glass rare and unique would be its other materials, such as:
- Boric Oxide
- Silica Sand
- Soda Ash
- Alumina (Aluminum Oxide)
Due to this composition, borosilicate glass is made up of at least 15 percent boron trioxide, the compound responsible for transforming a regular piece of glass into something that is extremely thermal shock resistant.
Is Borosilicate Glass Safe?
Figure 3: Borosilicate glass unit for glassware for food
There are two directions with this question–is it safe for use in whatever application applicable, or is it a safe material to work with? For the sake of this guide, we’ll answer both of them!
In terms of safety for usage and application, yes, borosilicate glass is safe and non-toxic for being used as glassware. Thanks to its chemical resistance and resistance to acid-degradation, it can be used for residential and commercial purposes.
On the other end of the spectrum, it’s also considered a safe material for machining. It’s just like any other glass type–the only difference would be that of its mechanical and chemical properties.
Are Borosilicate Glass Products Toxic?
One of the most common misconceptions that people have with borosilicate glass products is that they’re toxic–but are they really? The short and simple answer is no, they are not.
Both borosilicate and standard glass share the same testament of being safe and non-toxic. However, you may have noticed the fact that food and beverage from glass containers taste better compared to other materials, and this is due to the fact that the ingredients don’t leach into the glass, absorbing any odors or stains.
Nevertheless, it’s safe to use and is completely non-toxic.
Is Borosilicate Glass Breakable?
Figure 4: Broken or cracked borosilicate glass
Just because borosilicate glass is labeled and known as strong, doesn’t mean it’s already unbreakable. So, to answer the question, yes, borosilicate glass can break, but it’s tough. It’s made to handle heat and cold better than the typical glass we know.
This simply means that it doesn’t crack easily when the temperature changes, even at the extremes. But, like any other glass material, if you drop it hard, it can still break. Moreover, if it gets subjected to too much pressure, it can crack, starting its degradation process.
Borosilicate Glass vs. Glass: Is it the Same?
Figure 5: Borosilicate glass bowl
Borosilicate glass and regular glass are not the same. They’re both types of glass, but they’re made differently and have different properties. Let’s take a closer look at each of them and see how they compare with one another and see how different they are.
Borosilicate glass is a distinct variety of glass renowned for its strength and thermal resistance. It is composed primarily of silica (SiO2), boric oxide (B2O3), sodium oxide (Na2O) or potassium oxide (K2O), and aluminum oxide (Al2O3).
These components are heated to over 1,000 degrees Celsius, forming a uniform, viscous liquid. The molten glass is shaped as desired and cooled slowly in a process known as annealing, enhancing its durability and thermal shock resistance.
This type of glass has a low thermal expansion, enabling it to withstand high temperatures without deformation or breakage. It is robust, resistant to breakage, and ideal for applications requiring longevity. It also exhibits high resistance to water, neutral and acid solutions, strong acids, and mixtures.
Regular or Standard Glass
Regular glass, alternatively, is produced from sand, soda ash, and limestone. It is a translucent, solid, brittle material that can be molded into any shape. Unlike borosilicate glass, it is not highly resistant to temperature changes, and may crack or break if subjected to sudden temperature fluctuations.
This material is hard and can easily withstand high impact against applied weight. However, it is also brittle and breaks instantly under pressure. It is weather-resistant and can survive the effects of rain, sun, and wind. Plus, it has excellent dimensional stability due to its low thermal expansion value.
Even if they’re the same, regular or standard glass doesn’t go up against borosilicate glass in certain crucial applications.
What Are the Applications of Borosilicate Glass?
Borosilicate glass is made to be resistant to temperature and chemical reactions for a reason. Among the many reasons why, the following are the most common applications of borosilicate glass:
- Glassware for labs
- Optical components for scientific applications
- Heat-resistant kitchenware
- Materials for thermal insulation
- High-powered lighting equipment
- Observation windows
- Exterior lenses for aircraft
- Heaters for fish tanks
- Electronic devices
- Quick model creation
- Solar energy equipment
- Fire-resistant glazing
- Microwave and oven doors
- Pharma packaging
- And many more
NOTE: There are still a ton of applications for borosilicate glass, and it’s definitely something you need to look into.
How is Borosilicate Glass Made?
Figure 6: Different shapes, forms, and sizes of borosilicate glass
Since borosilicate glass is a special kind of glass, made through the combination of boron trioxide and silica, many are wondering about its overall manufacturing process. So, let us now dive deep and discuss the process on how borosilicate glass products are made.
Step #1: Material Sourcing
The first step is to gather and source the materials needed to create the borosilicate glass. The primary components include: boric oxide, silica sand, soda ash, and alumina (aluminum oxide). Some manufacturers even add broken fragments and shards of glass in it, too.
They need to be in the correct ratio for the product to turn out to be exactly how the company wants it to be.
NOTE: The ratio and the division need to be accurate and precise, otherwise the mechanical properties of the borosilicate glass could be different.
Step #2: Ingredient Combination
When the materials are gathered, the next step would be to combine all of them. Most manufacturers combine these solid materials in a crucible, which is pre-heated.
Manufacturers would often combine them in large batches and quantities for mass production.
Step #3: High-Temperature Melting
After combining all the ingredients, the next step would be to melt all the ingredients. The purpose of melting all of them is for them to be mixed and combined properly.
All these ingredients are going to be subjected to 268 °C, turning them into molten material and readying them for mixture. After transforming into molten material, the next step would be to continuously put them in motion to properly mix and combine them.
Step #4: Shaping and Forming
Then, using heavy-duty industrial machines, the combined materials are now shaped and formed into rectangular blocks. Operators and workers will check the weight, quality, and the purity of the molten glass.
After which, another machine would shape it into a cone, preparing it for cooling and for it to take an initial shape.
Step #5: Inspection
When cooled down, operators and inspectors would check on the newly-manufactured borosilicate glass units and see if it fits the desired shape, form, size, and quality.
NOTE: This step is manual and not done by a machine. A team of operators and inspection officers would take a look at each of the products and will assess if it passes or not. If it’s good, it goes on to the next step, otherwise, it’s inspected further to see what can be made of it.
Step #6: Polishing
For the last step, the newly-manufactured and formed borosilicate glass units will be polished. It will be subjected to high heat once again to rid it off impurities such as ragged edges, uneven weight distribution, etc.
It usually goes through a series of high-temperature blowers to smoothen rough edges out.
Once done, it will undergo a series of multiple assessments, checks, and inspections to see if it came out in the desired result the client needs.
There you have it! That is how borosilicate glass units are made! Do note that this isn’t the process followed by ALL borosilicate glass manufacturers, instead, it is just the general way of how it’s made and done.
How Much is Borosilicate Glass?
The price point of borosilicate glass is dependent on certain factors. For one, the region where it was manufactured would vary the prices greatly because of the availability of suppliers and raw resources. Second is labor, there are countries with cheap labor, while there are some that are extremely lucrative. Lastly, quality – not all borosilicate glass units are made equally.
To give you an average price, though, borosilicate glass in China costs anywhere between $1 and $5 for plain and generic shapes and forms, while those that are manufactured for a specific purpose can cost upwards oof $1,000.
You can check out the price points via Made-In-China here!
Advantages and Drawbacks of Borosilicate Glass
Among the most important things to note about borosilicate glass would be their pros and cons. Like any other glass type – or literally anything, for that matter, borosilicate glass has a long and winding list of pros and cons, which we’ll get to below.
Advantages of Borosilicate Glass
Borosilicate glass has a ton of advantages and pros, some of which include:
High and Low Temperature Range
Because of its high temperature tolerance, borosilicate glass is used in chemical and pharmaceutical procedures. Another advantage of temperature allowance is the capacity of borosilicate glass to be exposed to two different temperatures at the same time (albeit for safety reasons, temperature differences should not exceed 100 K).
Its chemical resistance outperforms that of most metals and other materials, even when exposed for extended periods of time and at temperatures exceeding 100 °C.
Only a few substances, such as hydrofluoric acid, concentrated phosphoric acid, and strong caustic solutions at high temperatures, may produce visible corrosion of the glass surface.
In comparison to the various plastics, metals, and other building materials, glass provides a smooth surface that enables an unimpeded view of what is going on within the equipment, increasing the amount of observation in any operation.
With the addition of different types of coating, an extra covering to the glass surface added for its protective capabilities against scratches, impacts, and splintering, there is a minor loss in transparency.
Low Thermal Expansion
Because borosilicate glass does not expand like the standard glass type that we know of, it has a smoother transition between temperatures and the capacity to tolerate many temperatures at once.
Thanks to its low thermal expansion, borosilicate glass has an extraordinarily low coefficient of linear expansion (3.3 x 10-6 K-1).
Cheap and Affordable
Of course, its price and affordability. Glass is very inexpensive to make when compared to other building materials that have similar features such as corrosion resistance.
When compared to alternative options such as quartz, glass is a very cost-effective solution.
Disadvantages of Borosilicate Glass
If there are pros, you should expect for it to have cons. These are the cons and disadvantages of borosilicate glass:
Price – Compared to Other Glasses
Yes, it’s similar to glass but not exactly how it is – the same with pricing. Compared to standard soda-lime glass, borosilicate glass, because it requires more steps and processes, cost more and are processed typically longer than the usual.
Susceptible to Damage
Don’t confuse me, it’s strong and durable. It can withstand pressure and force better than your regular glass, but, it’s not unbreakable. It can be scratched, cracked, and even blown into millions of pieces if mishandled.
More Challenging to Shape and Mold
Unlike glass which melts at average temperatures, borosilicate glass requires high fluctuating temperatures for it to turn into its molten shape. In molding and shaping borosilicate glass, special pieces of equipment are required.
Not Temperature Resistant Enough
And lastly, it’s temperature resistant, but is not resistant at highly fluctuating temperatures like aluminosilicate and other types of glass. It’s only good for consistent temperatures under 40 to 50 °C on a hot summer day.
Borosilicate glass has been one of the most-sought-after pieces of glass unit in the industry. It brought a lot of suppliers and manufacturers into business, and took out some, too. So, if you ever need to work with a borosilicate glass manufacturer that you can trust, get it with us here at GLASHern.
For more almost 20 years in the glassmaking industry, we’ve proven our skills, expertise, and experience through dedication, hard work, and premium quality glass projects. Our experience brought us to work with countless names in the industry, and we’re more than happy to be part of their journey.
- We have worked with 50+ countries across all continents
- We’re equipped with high-quality engineers and glassmaking experts
- We’ve been on the market longer than most of our competitors
- Our production here at GLASHern was able to produce 200+ products in variety
Whether you’re looking for borosilicate glass, quartz glass, UV-blocking glass, Gorilla Glass, or if you need whatever glass processing done, you can count on us and our team of experts to complete it for you.
Don’t worry about pricing, we’ll take care of you. We treat all our clients’ businesses as ours, and we’ll do the same for you. Contact us and we’ll be more than happy to help you by giving you a free quote of whatever your order is!
Get world-class quality borosilicate glass partnered with world-class quality service with us here at GLASHern!