Mechanical Functions of Glass
Glass can be used for its mechanical strength in a number of situations.
In architecture it can be designed to withstand the varied loads that the world's weather systems can throw at it. You cannot say that the glass will never break but the probability of it breaking can be minimized. Glass can also be designed so that if it does break the results are not necessarily catastrophic.
In addition to wind and snow loads glass can be used as a floor, roof or barrier to protect people. It can be designed to increase safety for building users, provide security or act as a structural member.
The properties and applications for glass are detailed in the following sections:
- Glass and Thermal Stress
Thermal Stress is created when one area of a glass pane gets hotter than an adjacent area. If the stress is too great then the glass will crack. The stress level at which the glass will break is governed by several factors.
- Glass and Human Impact
Glass in its annealed form, framed and in tact is not an immediate threat but when it is broken the long shards turn into effective cutting devices with sharp edges and momentum. Fortunately glass can be modified to change these properties and reduce the risk of injury dramatically.
- Glass Strength
Glass is clear, fairly rigid providing a lot of strength but can be brittle as well. At an atomic level glass is a network of silicon and oxygen bonds modified randomly by sodium.
Unless broken by excessive loads glass will remain for very long periods. The glass may be pitted by the weather but still it provides service through the centuries of use.