Glasses as engineering materials. A review

Date: 27 January 2011
Source: Materials & Design 32(2011) pp.1717-1732
Glass products have applications in design engineering and they can solve many special problems. This materials can work in situations in which plastics and metals would fail and need to be part of designer’s repertoire.

In some situations, by using of these materials, some difficult problems would be solved. This paper contains a number of chapters as it follows: a brief about ceramics family, a short history of glass, a brief about physics and the technology of glass fabrication, recently developed glasses with special destinations, testing methods and news about glass parts processing (grinding, waterjet processing, laser cutting, Nano-imprint lithography, etc). The last chapter of this review paper contain some strategic lines of glass usage in industry and estimations about the future of glass development.

Article highlights

1. The ceramics family

Cermets and ceramics are becoming the tool materials for the present and future, by using the cemented carbides at wood working tools (as saw blades ,cutting wheels ) the wear was reduced significant. Coated  cemented carbides displaced the high speed steel for cutting tools and also high production press dies use the cemented carbide tooling. Ceramics are taking a lot of high temperature machine tasks, are substrates for computer chips and are used for prosthetic devices. Glasses and carbon products have applications in design engineering and they can solve many special problems.

2. Brief history of glass. Past and present of glass

Is not exactly known when, where, or how humans first learned to make glass. The legends tells us that a Phoenician sailor (by other historians, a Roman sailor), cooking the evening meal on a beach, set the pots on top of stones of natron (a naturally mixture of sodium carbonate decahydrate, sodium bicarbonate along with small quantities of household salt). As the cooking fire heated both these stones and the sand below, a unknown liquid began to flow and that was the origin of manmade glass.

3. Brief about physics of glass. How is made

The mechanical and physical properties of glasses are essentially determined by their composition, but a general view can be done:

  1. glasses are harder than metals;
  2. glasses have tensile strength in range 24 to 69 MPa;
  3. glasses are brittle and have low ductility;
  4. glasses have a low coefficient of thermal expansion;
  5. glasses have a low coefficient of thermal conductivity;
  6. glasses are good electrical insulators;
  7. glasses are resistant to acids, solvents, chemicals, water and saline water and alkaline solutions;
  8. some glasses can be used at high temperatures (700 oC –soda lime for windows; 1580 oC –fused quartz-silica).

4. Advances in glass family development

The glasses family is huge and is in continuous enrichment. Year after year, new types of glass with new properties extend their utilisation domain. The utilisation domain of glass in engineering design have a lot of facets: from banal windows or bottles to antinuclear radiations containers; from architectural and structural glasses to photosensitive glass devices used in machine controls; from food preparation tanks to newest optical fibres. The  enormous variety of existent glass types, rapid development of new and innovative glasses, developments in glass fabrication and development of glass manufacturing processes make that the classification of glasses become extremely hard to do. After the product types, a first classification can be done for the main glass industries, as in table 5. (based on  description-in section Directory )

4.1. Advances in glass and glass ceramics design and manufacture

4.2 Advances in bulk metallic glasses ( BMG) design and manufacture

4.3 Advanced techniques of manufacturing  for glass and glass ceramics

5. Conclusions and strategic lines in glass development

Glass as a material will always exist, but many new applications and manufacturing processes will involve glass in combination with other materials. Optical fibres are currently manufactured with one or more different coating, which are often plastics. With the increasing sophistication of optoelectronic devices, there is an increasing need to combine optical and electronic devices for many applications such as transmission of audio, video and data information. Glasses and ceramics (stand alone or composite with other materials) will find increasing application in biological and medical areas. Materials such as photochromic, electrochromic and thermochromic glasses, which respond to external stimuli, are being developed with various, sometimes unusual, applications. Revolutionary materials, as the flexible ceramic heat shield material (ZircoFlex) are recently developed and fabricated by using a new technology in which the ceramic material is sprayed in the form of thousands of individual 'platelets' onto the surface of the aluminum backing foil (see figure 20). Early applications for ZircoFlexTM foil are coming from the automotive industry, where the foil can be used to protect sensitive components from heat in increasingly crowded engine bays.

Al Gore (former US Vice- president) became the publicly recognizable face of the environmental issue after his Oscar-winning documentary movie An Inconvenient Truth ( 2006). This documentary helped enormous to make the issue of global warming a recognized problem worldwide. The Nobel Peace Prize  (won by Al Gore in 2007) make that  the problem of global warming is once again brought to the forefront. The first impact on glass industry was produced by switching on large scale to compact fluorescent light bulbs (by the replacing of incandescent bulbs 4200+ tons of carbon were offset). Glass industry has successfully reacted to environmental issues by offering a variety of applications to make buildings more energy efficient and ecologically friendly. Today's glass can be practically custom-made to fit into any environmental conditions and offer specific appearances and performance. The latest development in the industry has been the introduction of self-cleaning glass. While progress in the glass industry continues, we can expect glass in the near future that will react to external stimuli, the so-called "smart glasses", offering maximum comfort and excellent energy efficiency inside buildings. Some glass applications also use alternative natural resources to preserve the environment in which we live. The modern glass industry have a huge contribution  through development and the introduction of new energy-efficient glass products and applications, some issues in glass manufacturing and processing still must be addressed in the future. A great  challenge for  the actually and the future  glass industry is to increasingly the contribution for environment preservation. The challenge for researchers and glass industry  is to act for significant decreasing of embedded energy in glass mass unit . There are two possible way for solve this desiderate: a continuously developing of high efficiency furnaces b, continuously developing of new glass compositions, with lower glass  transition temperatures. The synergetic effect of simultaneous applying of both ways could offer a good future for glass industry. Most recent tendencies are to use the green energy (wind and solar) in producing and manufacturing of glasses. The modern glass industry  must increase contribution  through development and the introduction of new energy-efficient glass products and applications, some issues in glass manufacturing and processing still must be addressed in the future.

Article References :

[1] Budinski G.K. & Budinski M.K. – Engineering Materials –Properties and selection, Eight Edition- Pearson International Edition , Pearson-Prentice Hall , New Jersey, US, 2005

[2] Dussubieux L. , Gratuze B. Blet-Lemarquand M.  Mineral soda alumina glass: occurrence and meaning; Journal of Archaeological Science 37 (2010) 1646–1655

[3] Fluegel, A . Glass viscosity calculation based on a global statistical modelling approach. Glass Technol.:Eur. J. Glass Sci. Technol. A, February 2007, 48(1), 13–30

[4] Hampshire, St. Oxynitride glasses. Journal of the European Ceramic Society 28 (2008) 1475–1483

[5] Royer-Carfagni, G & Silvestri M. Fail-safe point fixing of structural glass. New advances. Engineering Structures no. 31 (2009) 1661_1676

[6] Fujimoto Y. New Infrared Luminescence from Bi-doped Glasses, Advances in Solid State Lasers Development and Applications in Mikhail Grishin (Editor.), Advances in Solid State Lasers Development and Applications, ,  ISBN: 978-953-7619-80-0, INTECH, February 2010  Available from:

[ 7] Young-Seok Seo & Yasushi Fujimoto  Bismuth-doped Silica Fiber Amplifier, Frontiers in Guided Wave Optics and Optoelectronics in Bishnu Pal (Editor.) Frontiers in Guided Wave Optics and Optoelectronics , ISBN: 978-953-7619-82-4, INTECH February 2010, Available from:

[8]. ElBatal F. H . ,  Azooz M. A & Hamdy Y. M . Preparation and characterization of some multicomponent silicate glasses and their glass–ceramics derivatives for dental applications Ceramics International 35 (2009) 1211–1218

[9] Fluegel A.,  Earl D.A., Varshneya A. K. &. Seward T.P. III. Density and thermal expansion calculation of silicate glass melts from 1000°C to 1400°C. Phys. Chem. Glasses: Eur. J. Glass Sci. Technol. B, October 2008, 49(5), 245–257

[10] Bernardo, E.  Micro- and macro-cellular sintered glass-ceramics from wastes. Journal of the European Ceramic Society 27 (2007) 2415–2422

[11] Shi C. & Zheng K. A review on the use of waste glasses in the production of cement and concrete Resources, Conservation and Recycling 52 (2007) 234–247

[12] Brow R. K. & Schmitt M.L. A survey of energy and environmental applications of glass Journal of the European Ceramic Society 29 (2009) 1193–1201

[13] Zhu F. , Hu  J. , Matulionis I. , Deutsch T. , Gaillard N. , Kunrath  A. , Miller E. and Madan, A. (2009) Amorphous silicon carbide photoelectrode for hydrogen production directly from water using sunlight , Philosophical Magazine, 89: 28, 2723 — 2739, First published on: 11 October 2010 (iFirst)

[14] Walling M.A., Novak J.A. &  Shepard J. R. E.  Quantum Dots for Live Cell and In Vivo Imaging, Int J Mol Sci. 2009 February; 10(2): 441–491.

[15] Wei B., Cao H. Song S. Tensile behavior contrast of basalt and glass fibers after chemical treatment, Materials and Design 31 (2010) 4244–4250

[16] Davoodi M.M., Sapuan S.M., Ahmad D., Aidy A., Khalina A., Jonoobi M. Mechanical Properties of Hybrid Kenaf/Glass Reinforced Epoxy Composite for Passenger Car Bumper Beam- Technical report ,Materials and Design 31 (2010) 4927–4932

[ 17] . accesed 29.08.2010

[18] International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA)  - A Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management- third review meeting ,Vienna –Austria , 2009 .

[19] Kim C. W. & Day D. E.Iron phosphate glasses for vitrifying :DOE high priority nuclear wastes, Environmental and waste management: advancements through the environmental management science program, Symposia Papers Presented Before the Division of Environmental Chemistry American Chemical Society Anaheim, CA March 28 – April 1, 2004

[20] Goel A.,  Pascual M.J. , Ferreira J.M.F. Stable glass-ceramic sealants for solid oxide fuel cells: Influence of Bi2O3 doping , International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, Volume 35, Issue 13, July 2010, Pages 6911-6923

[21] Hu Anmin ,  Ming Li , Dali Mao Controlled crystallization of glass–ceramics with two

nucleating agents, Materials Characterization 60 (2009) ,1529-1533

[22] Bernardo E.,  Doyle J.,  Hampshire St.  Sintered feldspar glass–ceramics and glass–ceramic matrix composites , Ceramics International 34 (2008) 2037–2042

[23] Milhans J. , Ahzi S., Garmestani H. , Khaleel M.A. , Sun X., Koeppel B.J.  Modeling of the effective elastic and thermal properties of glass-ceramic solid oxide fuel cell seal materials Materials and Design 30 (2009) 1667–1673

[24] Kumar G., Tang H. X. & Schroers, J.   Nanomoulding with amorphous metals-Letter.  Nature 457, 868-872 (12 February 2009)

[25] L.ewis Brindley Fixing bones with dissolvable glass, Oct 1, 2009, available on

[26] Ming-xu Xia , Shu-guang Zhang,  Hao-wei Wang , Jian-guo Li  The effect of Cu on the properties of Nd-based bulk metallic glasses, Materials and Design 30 (2009) 1236–1239

[27] Qin W. , Li J., Kou H.,  Gu X., Xue X. & Zhou L. Effects of alloy addition on the improvement of glass forming ability and plasticity of Mg–Cu–Tb bulk metallic glass, Intermetallics 17 (2009) 253–255

[28] Latuch J. , Krzesniak P., Kulik T. Formation and properties of the Zr75−xAlxNi10Cu10Ti5 bulk metallic glasses, Journal of Alloys and Compounds 483 (2009) 47–49

[29] Yang Bing , DU Yong, Liu Yong Recent progress in criterions for glass forming ability, Trans. Nonferrous Met. Soc. China 19(2009),78-84

[ 30 ].Axinte D.A., Stepanian J.P., Kong  M.C., McGourlay J. Abrasive waterjet turning—An efficient method to profile and dress grinding wheels, International Journal of Machine Tools & Manufacture 49 (2009) 351–356

[31] - accessed sept .2010

[32]Axinte, E. A possibility for machining of industrial ceramics in Scientific Open Acces Archive ( Publisher The Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics, Trieste , Italy , 2006

[33] Agarwal , S. &  Venkateswara R. P. Grinding characteristics, material removal and damage formation mechanisms in high removal rate grinding of silicon carbide, International Journal of Machine Tools and Manufacture, Volume 50, Issue 12, December 2010, Pages 1077-1087

 [34] Glinsner T. & Kreindl G. Nanoimprint Lithography, Lithography, Michael Wang (Editor), ISBN: 978-953-307-064-3, INTECH,  February 2010, Available from:

[ 35] Viheriälä J. , Niemi, T. Kontio J. &  Pessa M.  Nanoimprint Lithography - Next Generation Nanopatterning Methods for Nanophotonics Fabrication in  Recent Optical and Photonic Technologies, Ki Young Kim (Editor), ISBN: 978-953-7619-71-8, INTECH February 2010 , Available from:

[36]   The Glass Industry and Global Warming accessed on September 06-2010

[37]Negoescu, F., Axinte E., Nagit G. & IosubA. Innovative solutions creates environmental advantages , Environmental Engineering and Management Journal, September/October 2009, Vol.8, No.5 , pp 1191-1199

600450 Glasses as engineering materials. A review
Date: 27 January 2011
Source: Materials & Design 32(2011) pp.1717-1732

See more news about:

Others also read

DALLAS, Texas, December 22, 2011 /PRNewswire/ --ReportsnReports adds new market research report 'Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Power - Global Market Size, Installation Prices, Module Market Shares, Market Segmentation, Regulations and Key Country Analysis to 2020' to its store.
Proprietary laminate windows collect, store energy; convert it to electricityRIVIERA BEACH, FL – An innovative new patented technology transforms office building windows into "solar farms" and allows these structures to reuse collected energy and become self-sufficient in the event of a power outage.
The University of Minnesota's historic Folwell Hall completed three years of extensive renovation, just time for the 2011 academic year.
The renewal process for AAMA Corporate Members is now open. AAMA Corporate Membership is available to businesses involved in the manufacture, sale or service of fenestration products and is renewed on an annual basis.
Today designers and architects are looking to the hotel bathroom as the new frontier of the guestroom, turning what has long been a mostly functional space into a haven and means of escape.
Glassman as one of the largest glass processing machine manufactures in the world presented ZAK Glass Technology Exhibition during 8-11 December 2011, in Mumbai, India.

Add new comment