What is Processed Glass?
Processed glass is generally glass that is flat but needs to be machined for an application and/ or to make it safe.
There a lots of specialist companies that have invested thousands of not hundred of thousands of pounds in processing equipment for making flat or plate glass useable for the household.
For instance, have you wondered how a shower screen is made or perhaps a hole in the middle of your patio table?
In a glass processing factory you will generally find the equipment listed below.
Cranes and Gantrys: Cranes and overhead gantry’s help with the movement of glass safely around the glass factory. Glass sheets can be as big as 6000mm x 3000mm at 12mm thickness and can weigh up to 540 Kgs each sheet. Nowadays the glass is lifted by using a suction lifter attached to a crane hook.
Cutting tables: Cutting tables are generally automated in a modern processing plant and a flat sheet of glass will be placed on the bed of the cutter and desired shapes are cut from the instructions that have been placed on a computer cutting plan. The cutting blade is on a 2 axis machine thats pretty impressive to watch!
CNC machines: CNC machines are then next stage of which the glass goes through. The glass is placed on a table and the CNC machine once programmed will select the right tooling and then set to work on the glass. the head of the CNC machine provides a varied operation including cutting, shaping and polishing of glass.
Drilling Machines: Drilling machines both Manual and Automated are used for Drilling holes in specified locations on the glass. If used with an experienced operator will give a precision hole drilled at the exact spot required. These machines are also fully automated if required.
Edge Polishing Machines: These machines are what will give the straight lines and beautiful edges that you will find on processed glass. Mainly called Straight line edge polishers for that very reason. The polishers are very large and can have up to 24 motors that finely polish/ grind the egdes down to a smooth finish.
Glass Cleaners and Washers: The glass washers are usually upright and are automated. The glass will go through the washer and the glass is sprayed with water and then as it passes throguh the machine is also dried. On some machines the glass also passes over an upright table that has inspection lights. The operator can give the glass an inspection before the glass ends up at its final place.
Glass tougheners. A glass toughener is the process that the annealed or soft glass is toughened. By heating the glass to a high temperature and then rapidly cooling the process makes the glass around 4-5 times as strong as opposed to its original state. Although this is an automated process the over has to be correctly set to avoid the glass bending or warping.
There are a few other machines that are used for special processing requests such as glass ovens or autoclaves that are used in the process of lamination or melting interlayers between glass.
Sandblasting machines work when the glass is passed through the machine will have small beads fired at the face of the glass at high speed. this is a common process that obscures the glass and is generally used as privacy glass.
Glass bending: Glass can be shaped or curved, This is an even more finite process and is seldom found in a regular glass processing factory. The glass is placed over required curved template and then slowly heated up until the glass is either forced over the pre defined shape or by means of gravity.