Written By: Brittney Phillips | June 5, 2020
A question we hear a lot at Riot Glass is, “does unbreakable glass really exist?”
The answer to this question is more complicated than just a simple “yes” or a “no”.
The short answer is that no – unbreakable glass does not exist. No matter which fabrication process is used, glass can only be strengthened to a certain degree and to withstand a specific ceiling of impact force. If the force exceeds the stresses that the glass can withstand, it will break.
So if it doesn’t exist, why does it keep being mentioned? Well, the answer to this is simple. When we mention “unbreakable glass”, we’re actually referring to laminated security glass or polycarbonate panels.
As mentioned previously, there are two primary categories of ‘unbreakable glass’ that are marketed to commercial business owners:
Laminated security glass or laminated safety glass is a type of robust, shatterproof glass composed of a thermoplastic interlayer sandwiched between glass panels.
Though not truly “unbreakable,” this type of security glass can withstand heavy, repeated impacts.
Unlike standard window glass or even some tempered safety glass, laminated security glass will not shatter inwards when it is broken.
If you’re looking for the closest thing to ‘unbreakable’ glass, then windows made from polycarbonate panels are the ones you should get.
These panels look just like regular window glass, but they are actually made of a combination of acrylics, polycarbonate, and other plastics.
The combined strength of these materials makes polycarbonate panels the only virtually impenetrable solution for your glass doors and windows.
Laminated shatter-proof glass protects against multiple man-made and natural threats.
For example, retailers can install it to protect their stores and merchandise against burglary, smash-and-grab theft, rioting, and looting.
Depending on the thickness of the glass and the determination of an individual trying to gain entry, laminated security glass can delay entry by at least four minutes to total non-entry.
In addition to the security it provides against forced entry and theft, shatter-resistant glass also protects against threats posed by mother nature, such as storms and seismic events.
When a window has been reinforced with security glass, it can withstand high-force impacts from flying storm debris or stay intact during an earthquake. This not only prevents more serious property damage but more importantly, prevents the glass from shattering inwards and potentially injuring someone on the inside of the building.
Polycarbonate windows are much more difficult to break through than traditional glass windows. This is true for most impact types which makes them quite a versatile choice when it comes to protecting the occupants of your commercial building.
According to some estimates, polycarbonate windows are over 250 times more resilient against impacts.
Polycarbonate unbreakable windows provide all the same security benefits as security glass but with even more protection.
While in some cases shatterproof windows will only delay forced entry attempts, a polycarbonate unbreakable window will maintain its strength to prevent entry completely. As mentioned above, every material has a breaking point, but polycarbonates are considered unbreakable because the strength is disproportionately higher than any other clear light weight window infill material and is generally considered containment grade or capable of completely preventing someone from making a hole large enough to breach or pass a hand through. Polycarbonate is the best defense against prolonged, violent intrusion attempts.
If you require the highest level of security, polycarbonate panels are available in several ballistic grades.
Ballistic-grade unbreakable window glass is designed to stop bullets from firearms of varying calibers. It will not break down or lose its strength, even after repeated ballistic impacts.
This means that the bad guys and their guns will remain outside, while those inside can react by calling 911 and evacuating the building or barricading themselves inside while the police arrive to deal with the situation.
Laminated security glass and polycarbonate panels are both more expensive than traditional windows. This is why most commercial business owners aren’t fully invested in making their buildings as resistant as possible. However, due to the benefits of ‘unbreakable’ glass, these glass products are perfect for business owners that are looking to:
On top of that, if your business is situated in storm-prone areas, then either of the two choices is excellent for more protection.
The answer to this question is a resounding “yes!”
In fact, Riot Glass laminated shatter-resistant glass is 100x stiffer and 5x stronger than traditional interlayer safety glass.
Riot Glass shatter-proof windows and doors can even be retrofitted right on top of your existing window and door glass, making it much more cost-effective and hassle-free than a complete window replacement.
All Riot Glass laminated security glass panels are custom-made to fit your window openings and door frames. Riot Glass is also available in single-pane and dual-pane options, as well as clear, tinted, or low-emissivity versions, so that you can receive even more benefits than just safety and security.
ArmorPlast is the proprietary line of polycarbonate and acrylic panels designed and built by Riot Glass.
We offer a full range of ArmorPlast shields, from containment-grade to ballistic-grade strengths, so you can choose the unbreakable barrier that fits your security needs and budget.
Like all other Riot Glass products, ArmorPlast shields can usually be retrofitted onto your existing glass and can be back-glazed, over-glazed, or used as a replacement glass utilizing Riot Glass retrofit conversion framing.
ArmorPlast break-proof windows also come packaged with our security framing system. Standard frames are often the weak link when a window or door comes under attack and can be displaced to allow entry.
The ArmorPlast framing system is designed to withstand prolonged forced entry attempts, so you can be confident in the integrity of your windows and doors.
No traditional window glass is truly unbreakable.
However, the two types of glass products that we covered in this article provide varying degrees of “unbreakable” protection. If you’re looking for a very cost-efficient solution with a high level of security to protect against things like burglary or storm damage, consider installing laminated security glass on your property.
If you want virtually impenetrable glass to protect against forced entry and more serious threats like determined, armed attackers, then polycarbonate panels are the way to go.
At Riot Glass, we offer a wide range of options for the aforementioned types of unbreakable and shatter-proof glass.
We strive to ensure that our clients find the security solution that is best for them, which is why we always prefer to start with a threat assessment to evaluate your property’s security and make recommendations about the type of unbreakable glass that would work best for your unique scenario.
Contact Riot Glass today for more info about our laminated security glass and ArmorPlast® polycarbonate shields or to schedule a consultation.
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