Tempered glass is also known as toughened glass mainly due to an increase in its toughness af a result of subjecting it to the tempering process. The controlled chemical treatment or thermal process increases the strength of the tempered glass in comparison to the ordinary glass by balancing the internal stresses. As a result of tempering, the glass now crumbles into granular chips when stress is applied to it. Granular chunks minimise the chances of injury to the people in its immediate neighbourhood. When the applications are demanding as far as safety issues are concerned, tempered glass is preferred over the rest. For example, take the case of architectural glass doors, passenger vehicle windows, components in bulletproof glass, shower doors, diving masks etc.
The tempering process leads to a somewhat greater contraction in the inner layers that tends to balance out the tensile stresses in the glass body with the compressive stresses. In fact, this compressive stress is the reason behind the increased strength of the tempered glass. If a comparison is to be drawn between annealed glass and tempered glass, tempered glass can get scratched really easily.
The tempered glass comes in two categories. One is the fully tempered glass while the second is the heat strengthened glass. The fully tempered glass is approximately three times stronger than a typical heat treated glass and is hence used in making the doors of the microwave oven.
But there is another side of the story as well. Tempered glass comes with its own set of inherent limitations. The tempered glass must be cut to the required size or must be pressed into the desired shape before the tempering procedure is initiated. Once the glass is tempered, re-working on it is not possible. If you require holes to be drilled into the edges, make sure you do this before the tempering procedure is performed. Although. The strength of the glass is drastically improved after the tempering process, it is easily shattered if a sharp edged weapon or object is thrust with great force somewhere in the middle of the glass. Tempered glass is extremely susceptible to damage at the edges as the tensile stress is maximum in those locations. In some situations it would not really be advisable to make use of toughened or tempered glass as tempered glass shatters completely when the impact is significant. There are glasses which d not shatter completely but leave shards in the window frames. Such kinds of glasses might be more suitable in certain kinds of applications. Also, the tempered glass does not have a very smooth surface. It has certain waves or a wavy surface appearance as a result of contact with the rollers. So tempered glass poses great challenges in the construction of solar cells where the surface appearance and smoothness are of paramount importance.
Every coin has a flip side as well. Thus it is important to make an informed decision in order to avoid regretting later.
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