If you are fortunate enough to stipulate exactly how you want your commercial space constructed, decorated or embellished, making sure you include elements of artificial glass within your grand plan will serve you, your employees and your customers well, beginning the day you open your doors, say the folks at U.K.’s interior design firm, Cantifix.

“The best designers work with architectural glass installations and know how to strike a harmony between their concepts and the glazing at their disposal,” say experts in the field. But before you start ordering materials, it’s important to know the difference between glass and artificial glass as defined by “The Journal of Chemical Education.” Artificial glass, also known as Poly methyl methacrylate, has been around for more than 60 years (https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/ed077p841).

You may be familiar with brand names like Plexiglass, Prespex and Lucite. Developers seeking a safe alternative to glass first manufactured it to make aircraft canopies and found it easier to make than standard glass and less likely to cause cuts and injuries. Industrial use of artificial glass has greatly expanded since inventors developed it in the 1930s and if you want to know more about it, Brisbanes Best can help you out.

The evolution of glass

When did glassmaking first appear in society? Historians say an early form of glass was made around 2500 BC. By 7 B.C. it had evolved into an essential architectural element. Glass cutting was perfected in Venice by the 13th Century, but it remained an expensive material because the process of making it was so labor-intensive and time consuming.

Once the Pilkington Process was introduced to the world, mass production was possible and techniques ranging from electro-chromatic glazing to fusion welding gave the construction industry a variety of glasses from which to choose. Today, one can choose from float, tinted, toughened, laminated, shatterproof, double-glazed, chromatic and glass blocks. As green technology and sustainability remain a priority, the fabrication of glass is expected to continue to evolve in terms of materials and manufacturing methods.

Glass is transformative in more ways than just aesthetics

Studies have proven that a building’s design can impact health, says Lorne Bridgman, quoted in Kashmira Gander’s article about the relationship between mood and light and published in “The Independent” (https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/design/how-architecture-uses-space-light-and-material-to-affect-your-mood-american-institute-architects-a6985986.html).

Glass allows light to flow into rooms where humans are the beneficiaries. Body clocks are re-set. Melatonin floods the body. Even digestion is enhanced when a body is exposed to light emanating from glass expanses. Use colored glass and moods can be boosted or soothed, leading to a more stimulating environment for creatives or calming effects that can impact everyone from staffers to customers.

If the glass you install happens to be in the form of a window or door, the amount of money you spend on artistic touches that accessorize rooms can be cut dramatically or eliminated entirely because panes of glass bring the outside in and can have a restorative impact on people as a result of idyllic landscaping outside.

Artificial glass can add dimension to small interiors

Your dream of occupying a commercial space that’s yours alone can result in a bit of disappointment if you discover that your budget won’t cover as much square footage as you wished for. Use glass walls to separate spaces and you immediately give your offices a more spacious, open feel. Today’s frameless glass panels require very little hardware to spoil clean lines as these expanses create what’s called “horizontal continuity.”

If you worry that glass is too fragile to hold up over the long haul, artificial glass to the rescue. The advent of these glass products means construction crews can craft panels in sizes that range from a single pane inset into a wall to the creation of a glass floor.

Glass stairs are typical of a design element that is growing in popularity thanks to the invention of tough artificial glass materials. One glance at this Pinterest page, featuring commercial spaces with glass staircases in their layouts, tells the story: https://www.pinterest.com/jesminecalista/glass-staircase/?lp=true.

Artificial glass can mediate power costs

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, glass can play an important role in regulating the temperature within your commercial business (https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/fall-and-winter-energy-saving-tips). Build your enterprise in Miami and locate glass on the north side of the building to mediate the sun’s rays or use glass as an energy driver in the north where southern exposures help heat rooms so a business uses less power.

Control sun exposure using drapes and shades fabricated to block sun infiltration when you don’t want it and open them to allow the sun to stream in. Even the colour scheme you choose for these rooms can promote energy savings you get from glass: paint north-facing rooms in warmer wall tones and south-facing rooms lighter colours to maximize the impact of light filtering through your glass panels.

The future of artificial glass

One of the most often-asked questions about using glass products for walls is “But, what about privacy?” In fact, glazing options have made it possible to transform translucent panels into opaque ones simply by pushing a button.

But glass development in general has become a more complex process as researchers like John Mauro, Pennsylvania State materials science professor, pursues the study of mapping the glass genome to push the material into the next century and beyond.

Glass composition, structure and property relationships are being investigated via machine learning and empirical modeling and this pursuit has a space-age component that seems to have little relationship to the methods employed by glass blowers thousands of years ago.

Mauro admits to making “a career out of the interplay between chemistry and physics” in his search for a better understanding of glass. Will this pursuit include artificial glass? Of course. In his vision, glass compositions like Corning’s Gorilla Glass are the future of this medium, essential to “meet stringent demands for future applications,” adds Mauro (https://phys.org/news/2018-07-future-glass.html).

The role artificial glass is expected to play down the road is exciting and expansive, from efficient buildings to information display technology. Yes, artificial glass is figuratively at the cutting edge of development, but like its original purpose, it won’t cut the skin of those working with it over time and isn’t that why its inventors came up with this product in the first place?