The differences between low-iron and traditional clear glass are pronounced enough that many people can’t believe what they’re seeing – or what they haven’t been – when they’re shown low-iron glass options. Traditional clear glass can be hazy and is often faintly tinted, even at its best. Color issues may arise on the edges of thicker pieces and light often isn’t allowed to truly penetrate the glass due to its chemical makeup.
Conversely, low-iron glass offers a practical solution to common problems associated with traditional clear glass. Glass that is specially manufactured to have a low iron content can shed the bulk of the color casting (tinting) that comes along with traditional glassmaking methods. This lack of color provides exceptional clarity and top-notch light transmission.
What Is Low-Iron Glass?
Low-iron glass, also known as optically clear glass, is made from silica and contains very low amounts of iron. The low iron levels serve to remove the blueish tint that’s associated with thicker traditional glass. Low-iron glass sees wide use in solar applications and is also popular in the aquarium and display industries, where clarity is valued.
Low-iron glass usually has a ferric oxide content about ten times less than ordinary plate glass. Iron is intentionally lowered through the use of special silica sand with naturally low iron levels. This low iron content is what provides the glass with exceptional color neutrality and clarity.
Low-Iron Glass vs. Standard Clear Glass
Traditional glass typically has a ferric oxide content of close to 0.1%. This oxide is one of three key iron oxides of iron.
Manufacturers have managed to get ferric oxide levels down to just 0.01% in low-iron glass.
Standard clear glass’s higher iron content means that it has a blue-green tinge. For those looking to back-paint or coat their glass, low-iron options should not be overlooked. The green hues associated with traditional clear glass can become problematic in terms of aesthetic appeal, as the edges of thicker pieces of glass can often times appear nearly black, creating both an eyesore and color problems. This can create conflicting color problems when painting.
Low-iron glass boasts virtually no color tint. It offers individuals and businesses alike the opportunity to color-match their glass and ensure that it remains aesthetically pleasing. A clearer starting point means less work with color-matching when you need to paint your glass. While even low-iron products will continue to have a hint of color to them, it has been found that smaller pieces will generally exhibit far less tint than larger ones.
Light transparency can be improved by up to 6% simply through the modification of iron content in glass. Low-iron glass provides maximum brightness and clarity with a higher visible light transmittance than traditional clear glass. Applications requiring an unrestricted view can see tremendous improvement with the use of low-iron glass over more traditional options. Low-iron glass achieves these optimum levels of clarity thanks to its iron levels; light transmission levels will virtually never dip below 90% with low-iron glass.
Light transmission is not perfect in low-iron glass, though thinner cuts of low-iron glass will boast more impressive light transmission levels than those that are thicker. One should also consider that between two cuts identical in thickness; however, low-iron glass will always win out over traditional clear glass in terms of light transmission.
Low-Iron Glass Solutions from Swift Glass
At Swift Glass, our experts will guide you through the process of selecting an appropriate low-iron glass solution for your home or your business. For a wide range of applications, low-iron options are the superior choice for those in need of clarity.
If you’re interested in incorporating low-iron glass into your personal or business endeavors, feel free to contact us for more information or to learn more about our optical display glass materials.
Understanding the behavior of light can be an important factor when determining which glass materials to use for your manufacturing process. When light passes through a substance, it decreases in velocity. This is manifested by an increase in the substance’s refractive index. Much can be learned about the optical properties of a glass material by looking at its refractive index.
Refractive index is useful for various reasons. For one thing, it can be used to calculate the focusing power of lenses and the dispersive power of prisms. It can also be used in estimating the thermophysical properties of hydrocarbons and petroleum mixtures.
What is the Refractive Index?
Also commonly referred to as the index of refraction, the refractive index, n, measures a ray of light as it travels from one medium to another. As it begins to travel through a material, the interaction between electrons and photons reduces the speed of light. As the density of the electrons increase, the velocity of light becomes slower. This is why light moves at its highest possible speed in a vacuum, where no electrons hamper its speed.
Knowing the refractive index – among other thermal, chemical and physical properties – helps ensure that the glass material you’re considering for your application is suitable for its intended use.
Determining the Refractive Index of a Material
The ratio between the speed of light in a vacuum and the lower velocity of the light as it travels through a given material enables us to determine the refractive index of a given material.
In addition, the amounts of transmitted and reflected light will determine not only the refractive index of a glass material, but also its angle of refraction. This is because light gets transmitted and reflected as light rays pass through the surface of a glass material.
The light’s transmission angle can be calculated using Snell’s law:
The discrepancy between the light’s transmission and the incidence angle becomes bigger as the index of refraction becomes larger. When this occurs, there is a change in the existing refractive index between the glass and the surrounding medium.
When Θi = 0°, the amount of reflected light can be determined using the following formula:
Lastly, the intensity of light is reduced by an average of 4% due to lost reflection from the surface of most glass materials with a 1.5 refractive index.
A change in the index of refraction due to changes in wavelength is known as chromatic dispersion.
Swift Glass has been providing custom glass manufacturing services for nearly a century, and providing high-quality solutions to OEMs is one of our core principles. Our experience and dedication to customer service enables us to understand the intricate needs of our customers, and to exceed their basic needs.
An ITAR registered, ISO 9001:2015 certified company, Swift Glass is a privately-owned global leader in the quality fabricated glass parts. Swift Glass offers assistance in craftsmanship, material selection, and manufacturing of custom solutions, and design, while guaranteeing high quality and precision.
Swift Glass is excited to announce that we’ll once again be attending the annual SPIE Photonics West Conference and Exhibition, at the Moscone Center in San Francisco from January 28 to February 2.
Hosted by the International Society for Optical Engineering (SPIE), Photonics West has been the world’s largest multidisciplinary event for biomedical and medical photonic technologies for over two decades. Attended by over 20,000 people, this exhibition draws industry leaders from across the country to view new technologies, hear educational speakers, and network with others in the field.
State-of-the-art medical devices and systems, the Internet of things, smart manufacturing and “Industry 4.0” autonomous vehicles, communications equipment, new scientific research, and various displays will all be on view at the photonics exhibition. Attendees will have the chance to go to technical and networking events, as well as professional development seminars and student events. Various workshops will also be offered, with topics including laser applications, optomechanics, semiconductor lasers and LEDs, and biomedical spectroscopy, miscopy, and imaging.
We’ll be set up in Booth #608, displaying various types of display glass, as well as large chemically strengthened rectangular glass and other samples of our chemically strengthened glass. We’re looking forward to speaking with other optics conference attendees and showcasing our unique product line. We hope to see you there!
As an ISO-certified and ITAR-registered company, Swift Glass is committed to quality in everything we do. Our custom glass manufacturing capabilities include chemical strengthening, waterjet cutting, edge grinding, thermal tempering, surface lapping, CNC machining, polishing, drilling, and optical glass fabrication.
To learn more about this exciting glass manufacturing conference, reach out to us today. And, for more information about our diverse service offerings, visit our website.
Glass is among the world’s most sophisticated materials. Specialty glass can withstand high pressure, extreme heat, and extraordinary environments.
There are two primary methods for strengthening glass: chemical strengthening and thermal tempering. Both of these processes alter the outer surface of the glass, causing it to have a higher compression than the interior glass, which is in a state of tension. Depending upon the specific application, each process offers unique advantages for a material’s final makeup.
Also known as ion exchange, chemical strengthening treats glass by submerging it in a molten potassium salt bath, causing sodium ions in the glass to be replaced by potassium ions from the bath. The potassium ions, which are larger than the sodium ions, squeeze themselves into the gaps left by the smaller sodium ions when migrating to the potassium solution. The surface of the glass is then in a state of compression while the core is in compensating tension.
The chemical composition of the bath can vary widely, allowing this process to be tailored to the material’s final application.
Chemical strengthening can create a high-performance glass with no notable distortion and a very shallow surface layer of strengthened, alkali-rich material. The added strength of this specialized glass makes it ideal not only for harsh environments but also for high-performance applications in conductors, semiconductors, energy, medicine, and more. Chemical Strengthening can be performed on much thinner glass than heat tempering.
Tempered glass undergoes an intense heating process immediately followed by rapid cooling. This extreme temperature shift causes the glass surface and edges to compress, creating an extremely tough outer surface with a tensioned glass core.
When broken, tempered glass breaks into small particles along circular edges, eliminating the risk of dangerous shards. This makes tempered glass an ideal choice for a wide range of applications, including:
Safety glass (windshields, windows, and situations with exposure to projectiles)
High-temperature environments and thermal stresses
From aviation and aerospace to laboratories and industry to household items and fire safety, both chemically strengthened and thermally tempered glass offer countless solutions to daily safety and environmental challenges.
Glass Solutions from Swift Glass
No matter the size or demands of your project, Swift Glass can help. Our specialists offer ultra-high pressure cold cutting, CNC machining, polishing, drilling, printing, and a host of other manufacturing capabilities to support both our chemical strengthening and thermal tempering services.
When choosing between glass and plastic for an application, many people with cost-conscious applications expect plastics to be the cost-effective choice. But you just may have more options than you think.
In the long term, plastic can actually accrue higher costs in maintenance, replacements, and repair work. Both materials offer specialized benefits in a wide range of applications, but the perks of glass offer long-term benefits and unexpected savings.
Low Maintenance, High Performance
Glass promises superior overall performance when compared to plastic: better transmittance, improved insulation, and high scratch resistance are just the beginning. Customers choose glass for its high-end aesthetics, weather and chemical resistance, and low expansion and contraction in extreme temperatures.
But it’s more than just a higher level of performance — glass offers durability, meaning lower costs for maintenance. Less frequent repairs and replacements also mean less cost in the long-term, not to mention less stress.
Versatility Without Compromise
The resilience of glass, as well as its wide variety of treatments and formulations, allows it to outperform plastic in countless cost-effective applications across industries, including:
The Swift Glass team stands ready to help every customer find the best glass material fit — and still save money. We focus on procuring the ideal material investment for a project, and we’re proud to maintain a vast inventory of glass variations to suit any project, performance challenge, or price point.
A waterjet’s small stream size and controlled pressure makes it the ideal choice for cutting many materials. From shaped mirrors to cell phone panels to very thick materials, waterjet cutting is the go-to method for a variety of industry applications.
Here are three reasons why manufacturers choose waterjet cutting for their projects
A water jet cutter’s highly pressurized stream of water — sometimes cut with garnet or aluminum oxide as the abrasive — provides an exceptionally smooth and controllable tool. Controlling the speed of cutting allows thin or thick glass or ceramic to be smoothly cut very economically.
Etched, taped, and coated surfaces are safe for waterjet cutting, too.
Regardless of the shape, size or specific glass material, our omni-directional jet stream can cut almost all shapes down to 0.1mm in thickness. The high pressure generated from the machine’s water pump creates pinpoint accuracy to smoothly cut holes, notches and details without distortion.
This kind of precision makes waterjet cutting optimal for applications in all types of industries — automotive, lighting, architecture, energy, marine, medical, aviation, and more.
High Performance for Thick Materials
A wide variety of glass products benefit from water jet cutting, from ultra-thin smartphone panels to thick multi-layered bullet-proof vehicle and building panels to delicate stained glass windows. As the thickness of glass increases, waterjet cutting offers superior speed and accuracy, even for materials like explosion-proof glass.
The Swift Glass Team offers precision cutting for glass and ceramic up to several inches thick. Some other applications for waterjet-cut glass, both thick and thin, include:
Wood burning stoves
With more than twenty years of experience in water jet cutting, the Swift Glass team can confidently recommend its versatility and precision for your next project. We work with the latest cutting technology to accommodate even the most complicated projects.
Find more information and specifications on water jet glass cutting and other services at Swift including our capabilities at swiftglass.com, or contact The Team with questions about your project today.
Eighty years of business adds up to a lot of projects, and that means a lot of questions. Our team is experienced, available, and happy to help — but do you know what to ask them?
Over time, we’ve paid attention to the most common questions that come up in glass manufacturing, and thought we’d give you a head start on your next project. We’ve found that these are the most important points to consider in order to ensure every client selects exactly what is needed.
What temperature and pressure ranges can your materials handle?
It’s important to consider every facet of your design’s projected performance and exposure before selecting a material. Manufacturers like Swift Glass keep an immense inventory, with both raw materials and ready-made products available. This wide range of choices means that it’s more likely we’ll have the perfect glass in stock to meet your desired temperature and pressure ranges.
Having these materials at the ready means a product’s turnaround time is far more efficient. However, this isn’t a place to rush! Carefully evaluate the qualities you need, including:
Normal Service Temperatures
Extreme Service Temperatures
Maximum Temperature, Thermal Shock
Maximum Temperature, Thermal Gradient
In/In/ oF Coefficient of Thermal Expansion
We carry Float, Pyrex®, Borofloat®, Quartz and Vycor®, covering nearly any high temperature or pressure application. Once you’ve determined your project’s range, check out our website, eBook resources, or call the team for material-specific details and reference charts.
What is the difference between tempered and non-tempered glass?
Once glass is machined to final size, it may stay as annealed or it can be tempered in a heat treatment process. This process heats the glass above the strain point; then rapidly cools the glass- putting the surfaces in compression. Doing this operation increases the resistance to thermal shock as well as making the glass able to withstand up to 4 times the amount of pressure compared to un-tempered glass.
With so many advances in modern technology over the years, Swift Glass is proud to announce our own revolutionary development: a newly redesigned website.
We have taken extreme care in providing an updated interface, with streamlined information about our products and the industries that we serve.
Whether you are an engineer, designer, or procurement manager, you will be excited to learn that we have increased our site’s user-friendliness to better improve your overall experience, and offer solutions that cater to your projects and applications.
With nearly 100 years of expertise in custom glass fabrication, Swift Glass is no stranger to transformation. We’ve evolved with the times and understand that today’s fast paced, digital business climate requires the ability to access information and resources anytime and anywhere.
Whether you are using our website on your computer, tablet, or mobile phone, Swift Glass’s newly redesigned platform allows you easier access to products, resources and industry information, such as:
Product specification data;
Information on the materials we use, as well as their benefits and applications;
Insight into our manufacturing capabilities and inspection process, and;
Free, downloadable reference guides and videos available in our resource library.
Swift Glass Makes Your Fabrication Project Easy
We are here to do the hard work so that you don’t have to. Our goal is to help you find what you need at the click of a button. If you are having trouble determining the perfect glass solution for your project, fear not. Our site now includes in-depth profiles for materials such as: Borosilicate; Patterned Glass; Gauge Glass; Optical Display Glass; Sight Glass; and; Quartz/Fused Silica.
In addition, we offer a new portfolio feature that visually showcases our state-of-the-art work. We believe that jumpstarting a new fabrication task should be simple and comprehensive. Our updated website is an investment in our commitment to providing the best solutions for our customers.
Visit our site today and start learning what Swift Glass can do for you.
Borofloat® glass is one of the world’s most influential specialty glass materials, able to meet a huge range of the most technologically challenging applications.
Borofloat’s® unique characteristics make it ideal for:
Jobs that require extreme temperature and fluctuation in that operating temperature. Because of its low coefficientof thermal expansion, Borofloat® is the best choice for such applications. Our glass can even operate in conditions where temperature is very different from the center of the glass to the outside edges.
Photonics, optics and opto-electronics. Borofloat® glass also has extremely high transparency in the near-infrared and ultraviolet ranges. In addition, our glass does not distort light as it passes through the lens.
Equipment in the biomedical and analytical industries. High resistance to acids and alkalis, not to mention organic substances is another great feature of Borofloat® glass. Without resistance to these substances, damage to a lens could result in faulty readings from the equipment.
Inspection panels for high pressure or heavy load applications. A lens made of Borofloat® glass is resistant to scratches and abrasions. When an application requires heavy loads, or high pressure, this becomes critical. In addition, the strength of Borofloat® means that you don’t have to worry about damage to a critical component. This strength allows it to be used as an inspection panel without concerns of breakage during use.
Applications for Borofloat®
All of the properties that make Borofloat® glass special allow it to be used in a wide range of applications and markets, including:
High- Performance Lamps –Borofloat® has been used in cinema projectors and theater lights, not to mention other powerful types of lighting equipment.
Oven Windows – Capable of handling temperatures up to 450 degrees Celsius, Borofloat® can be used in ovens without fear that the glass will be damaged by the high heat.
Laser Optics – Borofloat® lenses are ideal for applications such as lasers, allowing as much of the light spectrum to pass through it as possible.
Whatever heavy-duty applications you need glass to work with, Swift Glass can provide you with exactly what you need. To learn more about Borofloat®, watch the video below.