Laminated glass is a type of safety glass that holds together when shattered. In the event of breaking, it is held in place by an interlayer, typically of polyvinyl butyral (PVB), between its two or more layers of glass. The interlayer keeps the layers of glass bonded even when broken, and its high strength prevents the glass from breaking up into large sharp pieces. This produces a characteristic "spider web" cracking pattern when the impact is not enough to completely pierce the glass.
Laminated glass is normally used when there is a possibility of human impact or where the glass could fall if shattered. Skylight glazing and automobile windshields typically use laminated glass. In geographical areas requiring hurricane-resistant construction, laminated glass is often used in exterior storefronts, curtain walls and windows.
Laminated glass is also used to increase the sound insulation rating of a window, where is significantly improves sound attenuation compared to unlaminated glass panes of the same thickness. For this purpose a special "acoustic PVB" compound is used for the interlayer. An additional property of laminated glass for windows is that a PVB interlayer blocks essentially all ultraviolet radiation.
In 1902, the French Le Carbone corporation obtained a patent for coating glass objects with celluloid in order to render them less susceptible to cracking or breaking.
Laminated glass was invented in 1903 by the French chemist Édouard Bénédictus (1878-1930), inspired by a laboratory accident. A glass flask had become coated with the plastic cellulose nitrate and when dropped shattered but did not break into pieces. However, it was not until 1909 that Benedictus filed a patent. In 1911, he formed the Société du Verre Triplex, which fabricated a glass-plastic composite to reduce injuries in car accidents. Production of Triplex glass was slow and painstaking, making it expensive. It was not immediately widely adopted by automobile manufacturers, but laminated glass was widely used in the eyepieces of gas masks during World War I. In 1912, the process was licensed to The English Triplex Safety Glass Company. Subsequently, in the United States, both Libbey Owens-Ford and Du Pont de Nemours with Pittsburg Plate Glass produced Triplex.
Meanwhile, in 1905, John Crewe Wood, a solicitor in Swindon, Wiltshire, England, patented a laminated glass for use as windscreens / windshields. The layers of glass were bonded together by Canada balsam. In 1906 he founded the Safety Motor Screen Co. to produce and sell his product.
In 1927, the Canadian chemists Howard W. Matheson and Frederick W. Skirrow invented the plastic polyvinyl butyral (PVB). By 1936, United States companies had discovered that laminated "safety glass" consisting of a layer of polyvinyl butyral between two layers of glass would not discolor and was not easily penetrated during accidents. Within five years, the new safety glass had virtually replaced its predecessor.
By 1939 some 600,000 square feet (56,000 m2) of "Indestructo" safety glass was being used every year in vehicles produced at the Ford Motor Company works in Dagenham, England. "Indestructo" safety glass was manufactured by British Indestructo Glass, Ltd. of London. This was the laminated glass used by the Ford Motor Company in 1939, chosen because "it gives the most complete protection. In addition to being splinter-proof, it is crystal clear and permanently non-discolourable." This quote hints at some of the technical issues, problems and concerns that stopped laminated glass from being widely used in automobiles immediately after it was invented.
Modern laminated glass is produced by bonding two or more layers of ordinary annealed glass together with a plastic interlayer, usually polyvinyl butyral. The PVB is sandwiched by the glass, which is either passed through a series of rollers and ovens to expel any air pockets and form the initial bond or placed under vacuum to remove bubbles, then heated to form the initial bond. These constructions are then heated under pressure in an autoclave to achieve the final product. The tint at the top of some car windshields is in the PVB.
A typical laminated makeup is 2.5 mm glass / 0.38 mm interlayer / 2.5 mm glass. This gives a final product that would be referred to as 5.38 laminated glass.
Multiple laminates and thicker glass increases the strength. Bullet-resistant glass is usually constructed using polycarbonate, thermoplastic, and layers of laminated glass. A similar glass is often used in airliners on the front windows, often three sheets of 6 mm toughened glass with thick PVB between them.
Newer developments have increased the thermoplastic family for the lamination of glass. Beside PVB, important thermoplastic glass lamination materials today are ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) and thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU). The adhesion of PVB/TPU and EVA is not only high to glass, but also to polyester (PE) interlayers. Since 2004 metallised and electroconductive polyethylene terephthalate (PET) interlayers are used as substrate for light emitting diodes and laminated to or between glass.
- Top layer: Glass
- Interlayer: Transparent thermoplastic material like TPU, PVB or EVA
- Interlayer: LED (light emitting diodes)on transparent conductive Polymer
- Interlayer: Transparent thermoplastic material like TPU, PVB or EVA
- Bottom layer: Glass
Laminated glass is also sometimes used in glass sculptures.
There are several laminated glass manufacturing processes:
- using two or more pieces of glass bonded between one or more pieces of plasticized polyvinyl butyric resin using heat and pressure.
- using two or more pieces of glass and polycarbonate, bonded together with aliphatic urethane interlayers under heat and pressure.
- interlaid with a cured resin.
Each manufacturing process may include glass lites of equal or unequal thickness.
Plastic interlayers in laminated glass make its cutting difficult. There is an unsafe practice of cutting both sides separately, pouring a flammable liquid such as denatured alcohol into the crack, and igniting it to melt the interlayer to separate the pieces. The following safer methods were recommended by the UK Government's Health and Safety Executive in 2005:
- Special purpose laminated cutting tables
- Vertically-inclined saw frames
- A blowlamp or hot air blower.
According to the United States National Windshield Repair Association, laminated glass repair is possible for minor impact damage using a process that involves drilling into the fractured glass to reach the lamination layer. Special clear adhesive resin is injected under pressure and then cured with ultraviolet light. When done properly, the strength and clarity is sufficiently restored for most safety related purposes. The process is widely used to repair large industrial automotive windshields where the damage does not interfere with the view of the driver.
Waste disposal of laminated glass is no longer permitted in landfill in most European countries as the End of Life Vehicles Directive (ELV) is implemented. A study by University of Surrey and Pilkington Glass proposes that waste laminated glass be placed into a separating device such as a rolling mill where the glass is fragmented and the larger cullet is mechanically detached from the inner film. The application of heat then melts the laminating plastic, usually polyvinyl butyral (PVB), enabling both the glass and the interior film to be recycled. The PVB recycling process is a simple procedure of melting and reshaping it.
- Schimmelpenningh, Julia (2012). "Acoustic Interlayers for Laminated Glass – What makes them different and how to estimate performance". Glass Performance Days South America - 2012.
- Le Carbon, S.A., French patent no. 321,651 (registered: May 31, 1902). See also: Jean-Marie Michel (April 27, 2012) Contribution à l'Histoire Industrielle des Polymères en France, (Société Chimique de France, 2012), Chapter A3: Le verre renforcé Triplex, page 1 (in French).
- Édouard Bénédictus (October 1930), Glaces et verres; revue technique, artistique, pratique, 3 (18): 9. The relevant quote is reprinted (in French) in: Jean-Marie Michel (April 27, 2012) Contribution à l'Histoire Industrielle des Polymères en France, published on-line by the Société Chimique de France, see Chapter A3: Le verre renforcé Triplex, page 7.
- French patent 405,881 (registered November 25, 1909).
- Michel (2012), pp. 1,2.
- Michel (2012), p. 2.
- John Crewe Wood, "Transparent screen," U.S. Patent 830,398 (filed: March 12, 1906 ; issued: Sept. 4, 1906).
- David Burgess-Wise, "A good idea at the time: Safety Motor Screen," The Telegraph (U.K.), December 1, 2001. Available on-line at: The Telegraph
- Howard W. Matheson and Frederick W. Skirrow, "Vinyl ester resins and process of making same," U.S. Patent 1,725,362 (filed: August 15, 1927 ; issued: August 20,Edouard Benedictus 1929).
- Earl L. Fix, "Safety glass," U.S. Patent 2,045,130 (filed: February 25, 1936 ; issued: June 23, 1936)
- Fred Aftalion, A History of the International Chemical Industry, 2nd ed. (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Chemical Heritage Foundation, 2001), p. 153.
- Alan Irwin, Risk and the Control of Technology: Public Policies for Road Traffic Safety in Britain and the United States (Manchester, England: Manchester University Press, 1985), p. 197.
- The Autocar: p53. May 12, 1939.
- Bridgestone Inc., DE4308885(B4) "Laminated glass with thermoset film of (meth)acrylate or hydrocarbon resin, containing EVA and organic peroxide for high impact strength, penetration resistance and transparency."
- Bayer Inc., US2006135728 "Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) having good adhesion to glass "
- "Cutting of laminated glass". Health and Safety Executive / Local Authorities Enforcement Liaison Committee. August 2000. Archived from the original on 24 November 2007. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
- "Repair of Laminated Auto Glass Standard 02.13.2007 (Second Draft of Proposed Standard)". Retrieved February 2014.
- Laminated Car Windscreen Recycling Archived 2008-10-31, retrieved 2014-07-23