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Sand-blasted Glass

This is produced by spraying sand-like Aluminium Oxide at high velocities over the surface of the glass. This gives the glass a multi-facetted translucent surface, which is usually rougher than that obtained by acid etching. During sandblasting, only the areas that are to remain transparent are masked for protection. The depth and degree of the translucency of the sand-blasted finishing vary with the force and type of aluminium oxide grit used. Sand-blasted glass can be used in numerous interior design applications in both residential and commercial settings: doors, shower screens, partitions and interior screens, furniture, etc.


There are two different methods used to produce tempered glass

The first step in ordering sand-blasted glass is deciding on a pattern. If the homeowner or builder doesn't already have a design in mind, the process begins with looking at existing drawings and then having new ones created to show any desired variations.


At this time, the type of glass (tempered, laminated or annealed) is decided upon and also whether to have it constructed as an insulated panel. A nice feature of a thermal-pane unit is that the etched surface is inward towards the dead air space and the design is protected from paint and grease.


Next, the actual construction of the window begins. The selected drawing is reproduced into a full-scale pattern, which is transferred onto a vinyl, adhesive-backed resist. This is then hand cut to produce a single stencil. The process varies at this stage depending on the style of sandblasting to be used to achieve the etching. The most common method gives a solid frosted design with a clear background or the reverse, with the design clear and the background frosted. The latter produces privacy for entryways and bathroom windows. A much more unique method incorporates varying degrees of shading, thereby softening the design and adding texture and depth. An etched entryway can become a masterpiece of artistic beauty as well as provide the desired privacy.


There is no limit to design flexibility or style when using custom etched glass in a home. Besides highlighting windows, other applications include mirrors, cabinets, shower doors, dividers, tabletops, sliding glass doors or even car windows. Whatever the use the etching will add a personal statement of elegance and lasting beauty.

Sandblasting of Tempered Glass (excerpt information from PPG USA)

Care in Processing

Sandblasted glass surfaces provide varying aesthetics for interior divider panels, privacy and other architectural applications. When using these processes, understanding the effect on glass strength is an important issue. Tempering glass creates an equilibrium condition in which the forces across any section of the plate must be balanced. This results in a surface compression and balancing center tension stress condition within the body that improves its surface strength. The compression envelope surrounding the center layer equals approximately 20% of the glass thickness through each surface of the glass. When sandblasting glass, companies such as PPG recommend sandblasting the annealed glass before tempering. This allows thermal strengthening to heal some of the surface damage created by the decorative process. Post tempered sandblasting can cause the glass to bow due to a significant shift in the surface compression resulting from the decorative surface alteration. Sandblasting after tempering can lead to additional, and possibly immediate breakage e.g., during framing operations. According to PPG, if fabricators choose to sandblast after tempering, a limit on the depth of the sandblasting to 10% of the glass thickness should be considered. These considerations may suggest a limit of 1/64-inch (0.44mm) for glass less than 1/44" (6mm). Similarly, a limit of 1/32-inch (0.8mm) for glass greater than or equal to 1/4" (6mm) may be considered. Additionally, the use of the finest (smallest particle size) grit material and lightest application pressure possible result in surface damage and less resultant reduction of glass strength. Table 1 provides strength reduction factor guidelines comparing tempering after sandblasting and tempering before sandblasting of tempered glass which has not been sandblasted.

Table 1

Strength Reduction Factor Guidelines

Process Sequence Factor (maximum)
Tempered, NOT Sandblasted 1.0
Sandblasted to maximum depth as above, then Tempered 0.9
Tempered, then Sandblasted to maximum depth as above 0.7

Sandblasting tempered glass requires great care during processing. Since the compression layer equals approximately 20% of the glass thickness, the depth of the sandblasting is critical. The deeper the sandblasting, the more glass strength is sacrificed and compromised. Sandblasting through the depth of the compression layer into the tension zone of tempered glass will result in severe loss of glass strength and subsequent breakage.

There are other considerations to be dealt with when deciding on whether the glass should be sandblasted before or after toughening and will also depend on the degree of depth to which the sandblasting is to be performed.

There are specialized liquid sealer coatings available to fill the pores of a freshly sandblasted surface with translucent resins to render the product more resistant to and easier to clean for dirt and oils. Usually with fine sandblasting to a depth of no more than 0.20mm (two tenths of 1mm) for 3/8"(10mm) thickness glass it is common to sandblast after toughening to create the finest but grittiest surface for sealant adhesion.
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