The enduring popularity of glass is mostly due to its versatility. As a raw material glass can be used to produce domestic, commercial and industrial products, and glass fibres can also be combined with other materials to form highly resilient materials. In order to make glass, raw materials such as limestone, soda ash and potash are melted down in a sub-cooler which then solidifies. Though glass has no specific melting or freezing point, it becomes more fluid as the temperatures it is exposed to are raised. This variable viscosity allows the glass to be formed by hand or machine into the useful or decorative items we need and desire.
There are a number of glass production methods, which vary according to organizational needs. The production of glass bottles is usually a manual process facilitated by a glass blowing pipe. However, bottles can also be produced mechanically with glass blowing machines. Most modern windows and flat glass surfaces are produced via a method known as float glass, which is achieved by floating molten glass over a ‘bed’ of molten tin and results in high precision glass with a smooth surface finish.
Glass processing machines are highly specialised pieces of equipment which facilitate the professional manufacturing of glass objects. Such processing requirements include edge grinding, engraving, hardening, sanding, drilling, strengthening and sandblasting. Certain glass finishing machines have become very popular choice within the decorative glass production industry because of their ability to create a one-of-a-kind artisan aesthetic. Machines are primarily characterised by their high precision capabilities, which enable the cutting and processing of glass in a multitude of shapes and size specifications. Some machines are able to largely automate the process of treating the glass. However, many machines also are manually adjustable, allowing the operator to exercise full control over the entire process.