Written By: Brad Campbell | September 9, 2021
You’d be right to think transparent aluminum sounds like something straight out of science fiction. However, with modern technology, it has become possible to make aluminum transparent. Or rather, to make transparent materials out of the same compounds as the metal.
Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about transparent aluminum and how it fits into the world of security glass and glass-like alternatives.
The more technical name for transparent aluminum is aluminum oxynitride. What you know as aluminum is metal in its natural elemental form — you most commonly see it used to make beverage cans and other types of food packaging.
Aluminum oxynitride, on the other hand, is actually more similar to a ceramic. It is a mixture of aluminum, oxygen, and other elements.
In order to make transparent aluminum, this mixture is pressed into molds and baked at extremely high temperatures to form it into slabs, bricks, or panels, resulting in a sort of aluminum glass.
The resulting aluminum glass is as clear as regular glass, but is much stronger than any type of traditional safety glass or security glass on the market.
Because of this, companies are starting to find applications for transparent aluminum in aerospace manufacturing and bulletproof glass manufacturing.
In the future, as the technology continues to improve, we might see things like smartphone screens being made out of clear metal instead of tempered glass.
However, for the time being, creating aluminum oxynitride is still far too expensive to make it viable for anything other than the most niche applications.
Aluminum Glass Facts:
Commercial aluminum glass costs somewhere in the range of $10 to $15 per square inch. So, a 1-square-foot panel would cost between $1,440 and $2,160.
Though this price is likely to come down over the next decade or so, for now it makes using transparent aluminum for common security glass applications prohibitively expensive.
That being said, there are other types of transparent armor available to you that can provide extremely high levels of glass security. Let’s take a look at one of them below.
Transparent steel is the nickname given to ArmorPlast’s™ AP25 containment-grade glazing shield system. These transparent armor panels don’t actually contain any steel or other metal elements. They get the nickname from their steel-like strength and impact resistance.
AP25 sheets are made out of a single layer of AR polycarbonate with an abrasion- and UV-resistant coating. AP25 is a non-ballistic grade shield, meaning it is not bulletproof, but it is so strong that it won’t break apart or diminish in strength after being riddled with bullets.
This invisible steel offers the transparency and surface hardness of glass paired with the virtually unbreakable impact resistance of polycarbonate.
The proprietary coating of these panels means that they are resistant to yellowing, hazing, marring, and even chemical attacks. Unlike other types of acrylic and plexiglass panels, they can have a very long service life in high-profile security applications.
As we mentioned earlier, transparent aluminum is too expensive for now to even consider it for any sort of commercial security application.
AP25 is an affordable, realistic alternative to aluminum glass when it comes to security glazing for schools, hospitals, correctional facilities, detention centers, psychiatric facilities, religious centers, and retail stores.
The ArmorPlast™ transparent steel system creates a formidable barrier to forced entry, as it cannot be easily cracked, shattered, or dislodged from windows and doors.
Because it’s made from lightweight polycarbonate, AP25 is highly adaptable and can be fit into or onto almost any existing door or window framing system. Whether it’s wood, metal, old, or new, AP25 can be retrofitted to protect your existing glass from forced entry.
AP25 does come in ArmorPlast™ security framing, which has a very slim profile and does not significantly alter the appearance of your existing windows or doors. To the untrained eye, your building won’t look noticeably different from before the transparent armor was installed.
The minimal footprint (it adds about 1 inch around the perimeter of existing glass) and the crystal-clear transparency mean that AP25 doesn’t cut down on your sightline, reduce visibility, or alter the appearance of your glass.
That’s why ArmorPlast™ is so popular with commercial clients of all types. AP25 provides an incredible boost to any facility’s security without hurting the aesthetics of the building or the optics of its window glass.
AP25 Protects Against:
You never know when someone’s going to try and break into your property or when something can spark civil unrest that results in rioting and looting in your area. That’s why it’s of the utmost importance to make sure your facility is protected 24/7.
Any building is only as strong as its most vulnerable entry points, which are always its unprotected windows and doors.
Sure, you can install uninviting bars and gates to protect a retail store from afterhours burglaries, or board up a business before a riot (if you have enough warning) or a storm, but putting a transparent glazing shield system in place is much more effective and reliable.