The global glass market is a huge market and one that is stable and growing. There are many driving forces behind this market and many different ways in which glass is sold. To learn a little more, read on!
Glass is a very important part of our lives and is something that we encounter on a daily basis in a vast range of different scenarios. Our windows and doors are glass. We have glass in the devices that we use for texting and browsing the web (often hardened ‘gorilla glass’), our cars have glass windows and we decorate our homes with glass objects.
Glass allows an element of security while still providing us with light and an easy way to see what is going on in the world outside. It is attractive, it serves an important purpose and there is no real substitute for it.
Therefore, it can be expected that the glass market will continue to grow. The global glass market can refer either to the market for glass itself, or it can refer to the construction glass market. The construction glass market in particular refers to construction jobs that involve the use of glass: whether that means the construction of a high rise block of offices, or the construction of a conservatory.
When you think of the glass market, you may think that this is a rather straightforward industry. Glass only comes in one form, right?
Actually though, glass can be designed in a number of different ways and include a variety of features in order to offer the most functionality in a range of circumstances. Take auto glass as an example…
The windshield, which is also called a windscreen (or in Japanese English 'front glass') is the glass screen that goes at the front end of most vehicles (almost all vehicles have a windshield or windscreen from cars to motorbikes to military aircraft (tanks being one of the few exceptions)) and serves the purpose of shielding the driver or pilot from wind, debris and other environmental hazards, while still allowing them to see what's ahead of them and so steer accordingly and avoid accidents. They also have the added benefits of improving the internal temperature and aiding the structural integrity and strength of the vehicle. They even improve the drag coefficient of the vehicle – the curvature and the sloped design helping to make vehicles even more streamlined and aerodynamic so enabling them to travel faster. On a motor bike this is the main purpose of the much smaller windshield which ‘redirects’ the wind over the hunched over rider.
There is more to them than meets the eye however and their design allows for more safety, features and protection than would a simple sheet of glass (which many people mistake windshields to be). It may surprise you for example that the windshield is actually made from one sheet of glass at all - but two identical sheets pressed together with a middle layer of laminated plastic running between them.
This design was implemented by Henry Ford for his early Ford cars (around 1914) after experimenting with several failed types of glass – both hardened safety glass and ordinary glass that you would use in a home which either broke too easily or broke into large dangerous shards that lead to injury and lawsuits respectively.
This system had the benefits of both durability *and* safety - requiring anything that broke the glass to come through two separate layers and then holding the broken parts in place with the laminated plastic. The strength of this auto glass is then improved further through the use of a powerful adhesive that glues the windows into place by bonding the glass with the metal at a molecular level to provide the best possible hold. This then means that should the car turn over on its roof, the window can support some of the weight and prevent the body from crumpling and crushing the trapped passengers and driver.
The design also allows for additional features where appropriate – such as the thing wire mesh that many cars use to heat up the glass and remove ice which is situated between the two identical sheets. Other features range from enforced glass, to tinting, to UV protection to one-way transparency. This can help improve visibility for the driver by preventing sun glare, can increase privacy in the case of limos etc, or can increase safety for important individuals. With UV protection they can even deflect the sun’s harmful rays and so protect the passengers against cancer and other conditions that this can cause. In other words, there is definitely more to the humble windshield than meets the eye.
As mentioned, the glass market and construction market are closely linked. But glass is not just used externally around the home: it can also be found internally.
Glass doors, or doors with glass door inserts for example, are becoming more and more popular around the home as a way to improve the aesthetics as well as the practical uses of doors. The question for many though is of course why use these glass doors when you could just use regular wooden or plastic ones?
There are many reasons why glass doors and glass door inserts are popular, and many applications for them that are perfectly suited.
For instance, you should always have glass doors for your shower enclosures. These are the kinds of walk in showers where you can stand and get showered without climbing in the bath and ducking under the shower head which is pinned against the wall. Shower enclosures allow you to feel like you're in the middle of the room and to look around and enjoy getting showered as though you were in the middle of the room but without having to climb out of the shower. The reason you use glass shower enclosures is simple – as otherwise this would be very dark and very claustrophobic.
Glass door inserts are used around the rest of the home however to divide rooms – so what are the benefits of this? Well essentially by using glass door inserts, what you are able to do is to achieve a half-way house (pun unintended) between having an open plan home layout and a regular one. Open plan means that all the rooms lead into each other with no division and this is great if you want to be sociable and as a way to make a house look lighter and more spacious, but it unfortunately also means that there is no privacy and that noise pollution becomes a problem – if someone is watching television in the next room and you have a fully open plan design then you're going to hear it.
In short, the glass market is a large and varied one and one that is plays a very important role in many different industries. With this in mind, it is highly likely that this market will continue to grow.