Glass block is an architectural element made out of glass. It is also referred to as glass brick. Glass blocks allow for light to enter but also provide visual obscuration. Clear glass blocks let almost 80% of natural light to pass through. They may be used for wall as well as floor applications. Those used for floors are usually made as one solid piece. —
Alternatively, they are in the form of a hollow glass brick having thicker side walls. Blocks meant for wall purposes should not be used for floors.
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An important safety feature of glass blocks is that if broken, they implode rather than explode. Moreover, they break into large pieces, much like safety glass. Glass blocks are very versatile. Common uses include for shower screens, windows, interior and exterior walls, paving, stairwells, etc. This has led to high demand for glass blocks in most parts of the world.
The Europe glass block industry is expected to witness steady growth in 2016. Regional manufacturers need to abide by the European standard EN1052-2. All glass blocks fall into one of the three classes – Class 1/Class 2/Class3. Class 1 is the best quality product. It has a maximum permissible digression from actual size and rectangularity of 1mm.
There is a growing trend of producing specialty glass blocks that offer bullet, vandal, and fire resistance. Bullet and vandal proof blocks are either solid glass or have thick side walls like those of pavement blocks.
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Market players have also come up with gas insulated blocks. Such glass blocks have argon gas within their hollow centre. This innovative technique enhances their thermal insulation properties. Demand also exists for colored glass wall blocks. Such blocks facilitate architecture with vibrant colors, something that is not possible by using colored glass.
However, windows having glass blocks have certain disadvantages. Glass blocks condense water vapor. If installed in areas of high humidity like bathrooms, the condensed moisture leads to mold. It could also damage the window’s frame. Also, glass block windows block escape routes as they cannot be opened and are difficult to break.
Leading players in the Europe glass block industry include Pittsburgh Corning, Bangkok Crystal, Electric Glass Building Materials, and Seves Group. Other famed manufacturers are SAINT-GOBAIN, La Rochere, Dezhou Zhenhua, and Foshan Lihai Decoration Glass.
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