Today, almost all flat glass is manufactured by means of the float process in plants which operate continuously 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for uninterrupted periods of over 15 years. These plants are gigantic since mass-scale production is necessary to reduce costs and the environmental footprint. On average, a float glass plant produces 650 tonnes of glass a day!
Flat glass is primarily made of raw materials like sand and soda ash, but also from recycled glass i.e. 'cullet'. These raw materials are heated to very high temperature (around 1600°C) to generate a process of physical transformation which results in molten glass being formed. A continuous ribbon of molten glass is fed out of the melting furnace and goes through various processes depending on the type of flat glass produced (float glass, rolled glass, patterned glass, etc.) before being cooled down under controlled systems.
The vast majority of flat glass produced in glass melting plants will be further processed and transformed to increase some of its properties before being installed onto a final product. These glass processing and transformation activities take place on other industrial sites operated by either Glass for Europe member companies as well as thousands of SMEs all across Europe. Depending on the end-product and application for which it is destined, processing activities will include tempering, laminating, coating, cutting, bending, mirroring, etc. This will enhance specific properties of glass to meet customers’ needs as well as societal and technological expectations.
About Glass for Europe
Glass for Europe is the trade association for Europe’s flat glass sector. Flat glass is the material that goes into a variety of end products, primarily in windows and facades for buildings, windscreens and windows for automotive and transport as well as solar energy equipment, furniture and appliances. Glass for Europe brings together multinational firms and thousands of SMEs across Europe, to represent the whole building glass value-chain. It is composed of flat glass manufacturers, AGC Glass Europe, Guardian, NSG-Group, Saint-Gobain Glass and Şişecam-Trakya Cam, and works in association with national partners gathering thousands of building glass processors and transformers all over Europe.
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