Why have tables been exploding!

Many people wonder, when debating whether or not glass furniture is really for them, if glass furniture is safe. Glass has a reputation for being quite weak and prone to dangerous breakages which, whilst not entirely undeserved, isn’t strictly true. Particularly when talking about toughened glass.

You may be wondering now, if glass so strong and durable how comes I’ve heard all these stories of Patio glass tables exploding recently? You would be well within your rights to ask this question and Futureglass would like to help shed some light on the situation.

First, heres some fun facts about toughened glass:

  • Standard toughened glass typically has a pressure resistance of over 65 megapascals which means that theoretically it could withstand the ground force exerted by an elephant’s foot.
  • Futureglass manufactures glass hifi stands with free standing shelves capable of supporting over 20kg of weight.
  • Toughened glass is manufactured so that when it breaks it forms small blunted granules instead of large dangerous shards.

So if toughened glass is so capable of such feats of strength why have tables been exploding?

A common cause of this is that quite simply the design and or manufacturing is flawed. Glass placed within a metal frame, particularly garden furniture for the summer, has to be granted tolerances, and gasketed accordingly. The metal frame will grow and shrink throughout the day and unless this has been taken into account unnecessary pressure will be placed on the glass which can cause it to break. Gaskets remove the pressure points of unevent metal and share the load. This is often the case with mass produced imported furniture. Design flaws often go overlooked until after the incident has occurred because these products are manufactured by people without the understanding, care or skill who sell to retailers who are often staffed by buyers who simply do not have the specific expert knowledge and experience required.

This is why specialist manufacturers are important. Professional glass furniture manufacturers have the knowledge and the training to understand not only how to design and make a beautiful product but also how it will be used and how this will ultimately affect the product. When purchasing from an independent design and manufacturing specialist you pay for this expertise which makes an engineered product designed to last.

What can I do if my glass top breaks?

When broken, toughened glass forms small relatively harmless granules. A good way of picking up these granules is to get the nozzle of a hoover and place a pair of fine tights over the nozzle end, then simply hoover up the granules and place them into a lidded container. Plastic bags are often unable to take the full weight of the glass table top and will likely split when lifted, so wrap in old newspaper or put into a sturdy box.

In terms of replacing your table top, you can appeal to the retailer who sold you the table, however there is no guarantee that a replacement won’t fall foul to the same issue. We would recommend going to an independent glass furniture manufacturer, many of whom are more than willing to provide a custom made replacement glass table top. If you have any further questions please feel free to contact us.


<h2>UPDATE 11/08/2017</h2>

The BCFA recently released their own article on this phenomenon which can be found here, however whilst we respect their take on the matter, we are not entirely in agreement.

The article talks about some of the causes of toughened glass breakages which whilst valid we believe aren’t necessarily the underlying cause of the recent bout of breakages. One of the reasons given in the article is something known as nickel-sulfide (NiS) inclusion. NiS inclusion occurs during the glass manufacturing process and involves trace amounts of nickel getting mixed into the glass. If nickel is present in the glass it will shrink when the glass is put through the extreme temperatures of the tempering process however the rapid cooling that is necessary for tempering glass doesn’t allow the nickel the necessary time to revert back to its previous state thus freezing it in an unstable state. Over a long period of time the nickel will attempt to grow which puts increasing pressure on the glass which can cause it to shatter.

Nickel-sulfide inclusion is incredibly rare with CareyGlass reporting that on average there is 1 instance for every 11,000lbs of ordinary tempered glass. The article states that these inclusions are ‘unavoidable’ however there are processes that can drastically reduce the already incredibly remote chance of a nickel-sulfide inclusion to as low as 1 inclusion in every 882,000lbs of glass.


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