Mike Lee
by on May 8, 2019

Glass is a widely used and appreciated material used in new and old construction as well as renovations. It is a material that can be applied to interior and exterior walls, roofs, windows, doors, and even partitions. The type of glass used affords aesthetic, security and environmental benefits. At the same time, obscure glass film can be added during post-construction to enhance many of these benefits. A visit to downtowns of most cities will reveal large skyscrapers with more glass than steel. There is an expansive feature of glass that reflects modernity and openness. However, these benefits bring special challenges especially in the age of terrorism and cyber espionage.

Clear glass can be considered as the white canvas of construction. It evokes cleanliness and transparency. Standing outside a glass covered building and looking up impresses the viewer at any time of the day. When sunlight reflects off the glass, the viewer fields a sense of wonder. This feeling is not diminished at night when moonlight or artificial lighting creates different tones and themes on the building. Yet the magical look of clear glass presents definite security and environmental challenges. Tinted glass can help to solve the privacy issue. This type of glass makes it more difficult for prying eyes to see through from outside or through office glass partitions and doors. If original construction contained clear glass, then it is much cheaper to install obscure glass film than change all-glass structures. Glass film has many shades. It can be customized for the outside walls and variations of tint tones can be applied on different walls in the building. For example, office glass partitions may have a different shade than office doors and conference room walls. These shades of obscure glass film are much cheaper and offer greater variations than changing original clear glass installations. Frosted glass blurs out images but lets in light. This provides greater privacy but at a greater cost compared to clear glass. Why invest in such huge costs at the point of new construction or renovation when obscure glass film can be darkened to achieve similar results at a fraction of the cost? Electrified, switchable and smart glass films put the occupant in control of the shade. Just a touch of a switch can change the glass from clear to frosted privacy. Polarized or ‘cloaking’ film hides LED displays and computer monitors from individuals outside the room. Even customized images such as company logos, artwork and slogan can be installed on some walls.

Reflective glass has a mirror-like coating that reflects heat and radiation from sunlight. At the same time, it allows natural light to enter the building. Reflective glass can present savings in electric costs because it reduces heat entering the building and so reduces cooling costs. This is particularly helpful during the summer months. Sun rays are divided into 3 categories, infrared light, visible light, and ultraviolet rays. Extremely effective energy film reduces the thermal bounce off the wall and keeps out unwanted heat. This results in air conditioners working less hard because there is less heat to cool. These benefits can be duplicated and even be made more efficient with the application of window tint. Technological advances in window tint allow the use of clear film or various shades to create a more pronounced impact than reflective glass. Tinted ‘nanoceramic’ solar controlled tints can soften glare without the reflective shine. Clear film with same effectiveness is particularly convenient in cases where the homeowner’s association prohibit or require permission to change colors of the outdoor visible area like windows and doors. Skylights can be enjoyed because tint allows natural light but keeps out harmful and costly rays. Tint allows a greater degree of customization because the clear film can be adjusted to different locations in the building based on the exposure to sunlight during certain times of the day and need for privacy should it be needed. Obviously, common areas such as lounges and cafeterias may not need privacy effects as much as corporate meeting rooms and executive offices. Another added benefit is solar fade. Direct sunlight on carpet, paint, and artwork causes fading of materials. Valuable art pieces can be irretrievably damaged. This is not a problem only for art galleries museums and retail stores. Homes can be impacted too. Glass film can be a major line of defense in solar fading.

Toughened or tempered glass is a popular choice especially for exterior walls but it is also desirable for internal walls. It can be up to 4 or 5 times tougher than regular glass. One of the primary benefits is its increased safety features in case the glass is shattered and glass shards become airborne. Toughened glass is engineered to break into small pieces with edges that are not sharp. This feature results in the potential for less damage to life and limb. Again, commercial building developers and homeowners must pay a premium for toughened or tempered glass. The cost for new construction or retrofit becomes prohibitive in larger structures such as skyscrapers. Significant savings can be realized by applying security window tint. Municipal permits, cranes, custom manufactured glass, specialized glass installers, and hardware costs do not need to be incurred if glass film is used. Several decades of research has contributed to security film that mitigates terrorists’ blast, forced entry, smash and grabs burglary and glass shrapnel injury. The film is adhered to the glass and holds the glass together when breached by an explosion or blunt weapon that tries to pierce its surface. Burglars can become discouraged after multiple attacks on tinted glass only result is shattered glass service but no source of entry. Greater force is needed to breach a tinted glass surface which produces more noise and draws attention to the burglar. The latter is more likely to try a residence with no tinted glass because it is an easier ‘mark’.

Many glass filled structures were built before the digital age. Computers, servers, handheld wireless devices, and smartphones are all vulnerable to eavesdropping. Glass film can be outfitted with materials that block wireless signals. Cybersecurity enhanced window film allows organizations to operate almost free of RF, IR and UV energy from outside sources. Corporate secrets at the office and personal information at home can be protected with advanced glass film products.

Posted in: Interior Design
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