World’s largest fire-rated glass-ceramic unlocks new architectural designs
Nobody wants to be stuck in tiny, dark, cramped rooms with artificial lighting. When it comes to interior architecture, most of us want open spaces filled with natural light.
But as any architect knows, those design goals sometimes take a back seat to safety.
Fire codes dictate where architects put walls, doors, and windows, and they set standards for how long those walls, doors, and windows should be able to last during a fire. In too many cases, that’s meant heavy, cement-block walls that cut off natural light.
Over the years, fire-rated glass-ceramics have stepped in to give architects new materials to fill interior spaces with borrowed light while still meeting fire protection codes. Fire-protection-rated glazing blocks smoke and flames during a fire without turning opaque, allowing building occupants to see a clear path to safely exit the building, and allowing fire-fighters to see into interior corridors while fighting the fire. But many fire-protection-rated glazing options require design trade-offs, from their small stock sheet size to their yellowish tint.
New technology and manufacturing methods are giving architects more options. SCHOTT recently introduced the world’s largest fire-protection-rated glass-ceramic panel, at 51 inches by 99 inches, offering new opportunities for open, naturally lit spaces.
The larger sheet size is made of PYRAN® Platinum, the world’s first and only floated glass-ceramic for architectural applications. Its formulation eliminates the yellowish tint found in most glass-ceramics, and it’s made with SCHOTT’s microfloat process, leaving the surface exceptionally smooth without the need for polishing.
Fire codes impose strict demands on building materials. For example, fire-protection-rated glazing materials must be able to provide a barrier to fire, hot gases and smoke for up to 90 minutes in windows and up to 180 minutes in door lites.
They must be resistant to thermal shock so they don’t shatter during a fire, as tested by high pressure water from a fire hose in the hose-stream test.
In addition to performance during an emergency fire situation, glazing materials installed in safety-rated locations such as corridor windows and door lites must also safely break should someone accidentally run into them.
Those safety features and the testing that fire-protection-rated glass must pass used to mean compromising on architectural ideals. New, larger sheets of clear glass-ceramic now offer architects and designers the tools to design beautiful, light-filled spaces that are just as safe in dimensions up to 25 percent of the wall area.
Hi, I’m Karen Wegert, Applications Engineer for SCHOTT Home Tech North America. I specialize in new product development, and in my 13 years with SCHOTT, I’ve co-authored five patents. I’m also an active member of several industry organizations and committees, including the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the Glass Association of North America’s (GANA) Fire-Rated Glazing Committee, GANA’s Glazing Industry Code Committee, and the Society of Women Engineers. I earned my master’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Louisville’s Speed Scientific School. Outside work, you’ll find me in my vegetable garden, cooking, or out on a run.