Volume 42, Issue 3 - March 2007

Buyer’s Block
Between the Lites: Laminated Developments You Should Know About
by Paul Bieber

When listing the world’s most useful inventions, like wheels on luggage, yellow sticky notes and anything dipped in chocolate, be sure to add laminated glass. First used only for windshields, “lami” is now the glass of the future. Why? Manufacturers have positioned it for hurricane protection; scientists have come up with exciting new graphical and color usages; and, sadly, lami’s characteristics in bomb- and ballistic-resistant glazing are needed. 

Blues, Greens and Grays
With laminated glass being used in so many different applications, buying tinted or colored laminated glass can sometimes be confusing. There are two ways to get it. The most common, and least expensive, is to request a colored interlayer. The second way is to order a configuration that includes a lite of the tinted product, a clear interlayer and a clear lite.

Suppose you’re matching a storefront that has ¼-inch bronze glass in 1-inch insulating glass (IG) units and you need a laminated door lite. The industry standard bronze lami will be a very good match. Ordering ¼-inch lami with bronze glass gives you a make-up that includes a 1⁄8-inch lite of bronze glass, a clear interlayer and a clear lite, which altogether, has a lighter shade than the units with ¼-inch bronze glass. Now, if the IG units are made with 1⁄8-inch glass, the standard lami will look dark. To ensure the tint of the glass in the storefront matches the door lite, take a small color sample of your various glass thicknesses with you to the jobsite to get the correct order. Also, check with your vendors; on special orders you can get the lighter bronze shade, or put in multiple layers to match 3⁄8-inch or ½-inch tints.

Play it Safe
Ordering heavy ballistic-resistant lami can also be challenging. Let’s say a contractor calls you and has a spec for 1½-inch lami. The first thing you need to do is ask what the make-up needs to be. This can be anywhere from six lites of ¼-inch with varying interlayers, to three lites of 3⁄8-inch with an inboard lite of 1⁄8-inch. Don’t guess on this one. If your customer doesn’t know, have him check with the specifier. 

The inboard lite, often called a glass spall shield, is usually specified as 1⁄8-inch. If this lite breaks, the pieces breaking away from the interlayer, being lighter in weight than ¼ inch, will cause less injury. This specification is correct from a personal-safety, ballistic-resistance point of view. From a glass installer’s point of view, you are putting the thinnest and most breakable lite where it has the greatest chance of being broken. Even though this sounds contrary to everything we know, don’t take it upon yourself to change this. It’s really tough to manufacture large lites of bullet-resistant glass with the 1⁄8-inch lite, so be sure to check pricing when quoting anything larger than 25 square feet. By the way, nothing is bulletproof—only bullet-resistant to varying degrees.

One thing you can suggest in heavy lami is to use an ultra-clear glass. This will improve the customer’s visibility, both in and out, and will allow you to sell-up. Also, applying an aftermarket film has become a significant part of our industry in blast-resistance. If you are leaving this to others, you are missing out on a growing trend. For more information on window film check out the website of Window Film magazine (www.windowfilmmag.com), one of USGlass magazine’s sister publications. 

Lami is available in any color or design you can imagine. So, the next time a customer asks for pink glass or bright blue glass, say yes. Then get samples and a quote from your fabricator. This is, and should be, a large mark-up item for glass shops because of all the special handling involved. 

the author: Paul Bieber has 30 years experience in the glass industry, including nine years with C.R. Laurence Co. Inc., and 21 years as the executive vice president of Floral Glass in Hauppauge, N.Y. Bieber retired from Floral Glass in 2005. Mr. Bieber’s opinions are solely his own and not necessarily those of USGlass magazine.

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No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.