Curved glass presents an innovative way to use both normal and specialty types of glass. In addition to the pleasing aesthetics, bent glass, as curved glass is also called, provides various benefits when used in different settings. Here’s more about this type of glass, from what it is and its historical roots to the manufacturing process and cost.
What is Curved Glass?
Curved glass refers to a type of special glass that’s been specially shaped, using heat and a metal mold, to assume a curved form rather than the common flat plane. It’s also called bent glass, and bears a striking appearance that makes it useful in many different industries.
Other properties that make bent glass useful include its being customizable for both strength and curvature, which can mean a lot when it comes to project flexibility. Based on the mentioned benefits, this type of glass is used in these applications.
- Building facades, windows, doors, partitions, and staircase railings
- The displays of electronic devices such TVs and smart watches
- Unique curved glass furniture such as tables and chairs
- The windshields and windows of motor vehicles
- Cases to showcase products in in retail stores
- Curved glass shelves and decorative pieces
When was Curved Glass Invented?
The use of curved glass goes way back to the ancient times when it adorned architectural masterpieces. However, it wasn’t until the 20th century when glass making and bending techniques were refined, widening the application base of curved glass to include many other industries.
Today, curved glass manufacturers produce bent glass for use in almost every sector, including automotive, architecture and even consumer goods. In the mentioned applications, it not only offers functional benefits, but also a unique visual appeal.
Common Types of Curved Glass
In order to suit the requirements of different applications, curved glass is manufactured using different types of glass. Depending on the required look or (most importantly) strength, your option for bent glass may include one of these common types:
Annealed Curved Glass
This is normal annealed glass that’s been bent to the required form. Less strong than the other types of bent glass, annealed curved glass is used its look is more important than the increased costs that come with greater strength and safety or durability. These may include display cases or decorative pieces.
Tempered Curved Glass
Tempered curved glass is strengthened using heat and in addition to being bent to the required curvature level. The result is a hard glass material that can be used in many demanding applications, including architectural doors and windows. Curved tempered glass is also popularly used for internal partitions of buildings or even staircase railings.
3D Curved Tempered Glass
Unlike normal tempered glass that is flat, 3D curved tempered glass bends on the edges. It’s essentially used to protect the screens of electronic devices with contoured ends. These include smartphones, tablets, and smart watches. The curved edges allow it to seamlessly fit the ends of these screens, offering edge-to-edge protection against scratches and breakage or other forms of damage.
Laminated Curved Glass
Laminated curved glass is made by sandwiching glass sheets between a PVB plastic interlayer to produce a strong type of glass that will not only break safely, but one that will not break easily. Common uses of the curved laminated glass include the windshields of automobiles and similar applications where safety and robustness are important requirements.
Curved Gorilla Glass
Gorilla glass, a kind of chemically-strengthened glass, can be bent for a variety of uses. Curved gorilla glass is tough, scratch resistant, and less likely to break from normal impact forces. This type of glass is often used for car windshield glass, mobile or smart watch screens, and curved television sets.
How Curved Glass is Made
The process of making curved glass involves these distinct steps: heating flat glass until softened, molding it into the required shape, and cooling it until it solidifies into the new form. These steps are further explained below.
Step 1: Place Glass on Mold
The flat glass or pane is place on the metal mold. The mold has the required shape or curvature, and this is what will shape the glass once softened.
Step 2: Heat the Glass
The glass is heated to a soft state. This usually involves placing it in an oven and ramping up the temperatures to the required level. Once softened, the process to produce curved glass pane can begin.
Step 3: Curve the Glass
The glass then bends in the mold’s shape. This can happen in two different ways: traditionally, this was left to gravity force where the weight of the heated glass causes it to slump onto the mold. Today, an external force is used to press the heated glass against the mold.
Step 4: Cooling
With the glass curved in the mold, the cooling process can begin. This happens until the glass has solidified in the desired shape. When the bent glass is needed tough, a special process that involves heating and rapid cooling is used. The curved toughened glass then becomes more robust than the normally bent glass.
Is Curved Glass Expensive?
Generally, it is. That’s majorly because it requires additional steps to make. Besides the higher curved glass cost, several factors explain the variation of prices when it comes to the different types of the product. These include thickness levels and customization features.
Cost of Curved Glass
Curved glass price depends on its type, if toughened or not. For example, bent annealed glass is less expensive than curved toughened glass. That’s because their production steps and properties are different, with one type of the material offering greater resistance to damage than the other.
Custom Curved Glass
Besides type, other factors that may influence the curved glass cost include its customization requirements. With the custom option, the manufacturer includes your specific requirements such as bespoke design for curvature, special thickness, and aesthetic features.
And while that means a better look and functionality for your bent glass pieces, it also means you end up paying more. For instance, thicker bent glass is more resistant to damage, but definitely more expensive.
That’s because custom curved glass requires the use of specialized molds and process steps. Also, a different kind of craftsmanship that is aimed at ensuring your customization features are met. Overall, this gives your project the flexibility you need despite the higher cost.
Curved glass, with its captivating look and higher strength when used in specific applications, offers unending project possibilities, especially it comes to choosing from the many different types of the glass. Therefore, despite its higher cost than most other types of glass, it offers more benefits depending on your specific application needs.