Saturday, 16 December 2017

Types of Glass

Glass Types by manufacturing method

There are several ways of categorising glass and this overview of glass types looks at the way the glass is manufactured.

Crown Glass
Crown glass is the oldest method of producing sheet glass and continued to be used until the 19th century.  This method consisted of blowing a very large bubble of glass.  It was then spun rapidly over a pit until the bubble collapsed into a disc that ranged from 1500mm to 1800mm diameter.  

This gave the thinnest and least marked glass at the outer portion of the disc.  The centre was the thickest and became known as the bullseye.  The glass was cut to provide the best use of the disc.  This limited the size of panes to what could be cut from the disc.  Diamond shapes were often cut from the remainder and the central bullseye was used in less expensive glazing.

Corning Museum of Glass

Cylinder Glass

Cylinder Glass is a handmade process that includes broad sheet glass. It was widely used from the 17th to the 19th century, and now is limited to a few manufacturers.  

"Among the Glass Workers" Harry Fenn, 1871

An elongated bubble was blown.  The top and bottom of the bubble are broken off and annealed.  Later the cylinder is placed in the lehr for reheating.  It is scored and when it breaks open along the score, the glass is flattened. Characteristically, it has a gradation of thickness with thicker edges where the top and bottom of the cylinder were cut off.

From IdoStuff

Flashed Glass
A development in cylinder glass was to make the bubble of two colours, with the dark colour gathered first and then encased in clear (or sometimes other pale colours) and blown into a cylinder.  This made dense colours more transparent and enabled more detail through abrading and etching.

Drawn Glass
Industrialisation of glass production began with the development of drawn glass.  This method of mass production of window glass was invented and developed by Emile Fourcault in Belgium. Full scale production began in the early 1900’s.  

The glass is drawn upwards from a vat of molten glass until it cools enough to be cut into sheets at the top of the tower.  The process is subject to slight variations in thickness due to uneven cooling and gravity. It enabled much larger panes of glass without the astragals that are common in Georgian and later houses.  It was the most common method of producing window glass until the 1950’s.

Table Glass
Table glass is the process of putting molten glass onto a flat surface (the table) and rolling the glass flat.  This has been used from the latter part of the 19th century to the present.  It enables textures to be pressed into the glass from the rolling cylinder.  It is easier to produce streaky and wispy glass by combining different colours on the table. 

Kokomo Glass Co.

This can be done as single sheets or further mechanised to roll out long ribbons of glass.  This is now mostly referred to as machine or hand rolled glass depending on the amount of mechanisation.

Float Glass

The glass that we now rely on for large clear windows began with the development of experiments by Alastair Pilkington and the company named after him.  This consisted of floating near molten glass on molten tin, hence the name, float glass.  This has been the standard method of glass for windows since the 1950’s.