Glass is a brittle and often transparent material that is widely used in a number of commercial and industrial applications. Examples include windows for buildings and automobiles, dishes and containers for residential and medical fields, barriers and containments in food processing applications, and decorative features in architecture. Glass is also combined with other materials to expand its use such as glass-reinforced plastic.
Due to the delicate physical properties of glass, manufacturers have to use specific processes and methods to ensure a quality final product. Finished parts must be inspected for faults, blisters and cracks which could cause physical and property damage if not corrected. Glass cutting is a major manufacturing process of glass fabrication and is achieved by man methods such as diamond saw cutting, thermal or hot cutting, score and break cutting and laser cutting.
Glass is a brittle material and specialized skills and machinery are required to be able to cleanly cut through a piece of glass without resulting in forming of shards and uneven edges. Laser cutting is one of the most popular methods of glass cutting because it is less likely to cause scratches or abrasions, and is able to achieve high tolerances.
Depending on the intended application of glass, there are different types that can be specifically manufactured. For example, safety glass and tempered glass are likely to be used in automobiles and other vehicles. Heat resistant glass such as borosilicate glass is used for domestic purposes and medical purposes especially when sanitation will require high temperatures to be used for cleaning purposes.
Laminated glass is used in the windows of many public areas for its characteristic of staying together even after it has been shattered. The predicted amount of stress and tension that a piece of glass will be expected to undergo in its intended application will help the manufacturer determine the best type to use, and how to fabricate the object. Fabricators of glass and glass products also need to be aware of the environmental impact of their manufacturing processes.
Due to the high thermal temperatures required to mold and manufacture glass, a high number of fossil fuels are burned, releasing CO2 into the atmosphere in great quantities. It is important for manufacturers to also practice responsible manufacturing in their industries, and encourage recycling and minimal wastage of glass products.