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Looking at glass


The spontaneous failure of part of a large glass wall earlier this year raised understandable concerns for the future safety of passers-by. The glass fell into a public area, triggering the closure of that part of the building until preventative measures are in place.

Materials onsultancy Sandberg was called in to investigate why the problem occurred and to determine how to prevent any similar incidents.

One of the glass fins stiffening the wall had failed spontaneously, says consultant Dr Richard Harris.

Possible causes were checked. 'We were eventually able to locate the piece of glass from the origin of the fracture and prove there was a defect in the material, ' says Harris.

'It was a nickel sulfide failure.'

The presence of this naturallyoccurring crystalline impurity can cause toughened glass to fail without warning.

There was a chance that other inclusions might be present in the glass wall. 'We've been looking at options for securing the glass, so that if another one failed it would not fall down, ' says Harris. Several tests were carried out to arrive at a way of applying a film to the glass and securing it in place.

www. sandberg. co. uk

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