Engineering Workshop MECHANICAL THEORY

Glass:Introduction, Manufacturing, General Properties and Glass Cutting Tools

Introduction to Glass: Glass is a non-crystalline amorphous solid that is often transparent and has widespread practical, technological, and decorative usages in the industry. For example, window panes, optoelectronics, tableware etc. But, do you know that Glass is made up of liquid sand? In this article, I will be explaining the different aspects of glass i.e.Introduction, Manufacturing, General Properties and Cutting Tools of Glass in a detailed way.

Glass-Introduction,Manufacturing,General Properties and Glass Cutting Tools
Glass-Introduction, Manufacturing, General Properties, and Glass Cutting Tools

How the Glass is Made?

  • The glass is made by heating ordinary sand (which is mostly made up of silicon dioxide) until it melts and turns into a liquid. sand melts at a high temperature of 1700°C (3090°F).
  • In a glass plant, sand is mixed with waste glass, limestone (calcium carbonate) and soda ash (sodium carbonate) heated in a furnace.
  • The soda reduces the sand’s melting point, which helps to save energy and time during the manufacturing process, but it has a drawback that it produces a kind of glass that would dissolve in water and that(dissolving in water) can be eliminated by adding Limestone to the mixture.
  • The end product is called soda-lime-silica glass and it is the ordinary glass that we are using in our domestic applications.

Formation of Glass= { Waste Recycled Glass +Sand + Calcium Carbonate + Sodium Carbonate} —> Heating —>Annealing—>Finishing.

Glass Manufacturing:

Glass Manufacturing is carried out under 4 stages. They are

  1. Melting
    a. Pot furnace
    b.Tank furnace
  2. Forming and shaping
  3. Annealing
  4. Finishing

General Properties of Glass:

  • It is Amorphous in nature.
  • It is very brittle.
  • It Softens on heating
  • It can absorb, transmit and reflect light.
  • It is a Good electrical insulator.
  • These are affected by alkalis.
  • It is not affected by air, water etc. But, it is soluble in HF which converts into SiF4.
  • Possesses high compressive strength and since it doesn’t have any crystalline structure.
  • Light in weight because it has a homogeneous internal structure similar to liquids.

Glass Cutting Tools:
The Tools which are used to cut the glass are as follows.

  1. Wheel Cutting or Glass Cutter
  2. CO2 Laser Cutting

1.Wheel Cutting:
In the Middle Ages, glass was cut with a heated and sharply pointed rod of iron. The Diamond can also act as a cutting material for glass. Nowadays we used different methods to cut the glass.
A Glass Cutting Tool consists of 3 Parts
1.Wheel:
It is a small wheel attached to the glass cutter whose role is to cut the glass plate w.r.t. the dimensions easily.
The glass after cut by cutting wheel has sharp corners. So, care must be taken during an operation.
A glass cutter more commonly uses a small cutting wheel made of hardened steel or Tungsten Carbide of 4–6 mm in diameter with a V-shaped profile called a “hone angle” is used.
The greater the hone angle of the wheel, the sharper the angle of the V and the thicker the piece of glass it is designed to cut.
The hone angle on most hand-held glass cutters is 120°.
2.Notches:
After marking the glass with the cutting wheel, the glass cutter having the notches has to be inserted into the corners of glass and tilt it so that it can break w.r.t the mark made

3.Ball:

The ball attached at the end of the glass cutter is used for tapping the glass piece if any irregularities are present at the corners of glass after the cut.

This is the explanation of “wheel cutting” tool in a detailed way.


2. The Laser Cutting:

Cutting the glass with conventional methods(Wheel Cutting) as stated above uses the principle of Scribe and Break. In the sense, you need to scribe on the surface of the glass w.r.t. the dimensions and Break that particular part.

By doing so, relatively low scribing quality results in the formation of micro-cracks and that leads to the damage of glass.
In addition to that, various time-consuming processes like grinding, masking and etching are necessary to remove the damage that had been introduced by mechanical processes(Conventional Methods).

Using laser for the glass cutting process avoids all the limitations stated above.

Glass cutting-laser cutting
Glass cutting-laser cutting


By this laser cutting, the Straight, angled, curved and chamfered contours are possible.

The laser beam is used to cut different materials like metal, wood, rubber, glass, plastics etc.

Laser cutting machines are equipped with computer-controlled programming that helps to do the work more efficiently and easily. By this, a high degree of accuracy is maintained.

Advantages of Laser Cutting:

  • It can easily cut simple and complex structures.

  • Human intervention is for Inspection and repairs and thereby it is a time-consuming process.

  • Performs various Operations at a time.

Dis-Advantages of Laser Cutting:

  • Metals like copper and aluminum can’t be cut using this technology.

  • Laser cutting of plastic components can be of more expensive compared to glass because when the plastic is exposed to heat, it emits the gas. For this reason, the laser cutting service provider should have a well-ventilated room, which is quite expensive.

  • No human intervention is required in this process and thereby it affects employability.

    This is the explanation of Glass Cutting tools in a detailed manner.

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