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Other Glass Applications
Flat glass is used in many applications other than the main building, transport and solar energy ones described previously. These applications are very visibile in everyday life and illustrate how glass is a vector of comfort, style, well-being, security and safety.
Thin glass has numerous applications, typically specialist and in moderate volumes and often technical. It is used for example in microscope slides, which are usually 1 mm thick, and for the corresponding cover glasses that are only a fraction of a millimetre thick. Float glass processes can produce extra-thin glass down to 0.4 mm. Thin glass is used to perform specific functions in a wide array of equipment and appliances, various kinds of mirrors such as electrochromic mirrors and cosmetic mirrors, touchscreens and filters, glass masters and data storage glass discs, displays, and telecom equipment.
Flat glass is used extensively for household appliances, office equipment, and similar applications. Oven doors are made of tempered glass and engineered to resist very high temperatures. Stove tops and control panels are made from drilled, silk-screen printed and tempered glass in order to provide high thermal and mechanical safety as well as to create an aesthetic look. Fridges are equipped with silk-screened, tempered, edged and clipped glass for their shelves, so as to be capable of resisting shocks as well as being spill proof. Washing and dryer machines and dishwashers equally have tempered glass for their drums and panels. Anti-reflective glass is used to reduce the glare that reflects off televisions, computer screens, glass cases and other electronic displays. Photocopiers, scanners, and fax machines all use highly transparent glass sheets to support document imaging.
Glass offers unique aesthetic possibilities to furniture designers, and is very durable and low maintenance, as it is not harmed by moisture and is highly resistant to wear and scratching. Almost every piece of furniture in a house can be made from or incorporate glass: coffee tables, dining tables, book cases and shelves, TV units, media storage, office furniture, lighting, aquaria, and other accessories. Glass furniture is particularly ideal where the available light needs to be maximised, because it reflects and transmits light rather than absorbing it. It also adds a bright, vibrant effect, thereby increasing the light in a room subjectively as well as in real terms.
Glass is used for the roof, and often also for the walls, of greenhouses. The glass in greenhouses functions as a selective transmitter of solar energy. The effect it has is to trap energy within the greenhouse, warming plants, air, soil, water and other things inside the greenhouse. As infrared frequencies are blocked by glass, this thermal energy generated by plants is also conserved within the greenhouse, adding to the warming effect.
Glass is more prominent in the urban landscape than one might think: bus and tram stop shelters, phone booths, advertising stands, kiosks, street lighting, traffic lights, and shelter over walkways all include large glass components. Glass is easy to clean and highly resistant to different weather conditions. Moreover, damaged parts are easily replaceable and the glass can be engineered to be vandalism resistant.
There are three radiation protection principles: time, distance and shielding. Glass is a good provider of shielding against some types of radiation. X-ray facilities often use leaded glass screens to protect the operators, and radiation-protection glass is also used in PET-scan (positron emission tomography) apparatuses. There is also special nuclear radiation protection glass, which is used to make viewing windows in nuclear power installations. Within the nuclear sector, glass takes the form of large blocks used for radiation-shielding windows, with individual blocks sometimes weighing over 4 tonnes. Lead and non-lead containing glasses can be stabilised against radiation-induced browning through the addition of cerium oxide.