Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials IWM have developed a new process that can bend sheets of glass to produce angular corners. Unlike conventional processes, this does not impair the optical properties of the glass. Bent glass looks destined to play a key role in future building design, and there are also potential applications in the fields of medical technology and industrial design.
Generally speaking, window glass is flat. When constructing the walls of a building, apertures are therefore left for windows to later be inserted. Occasionally, however, smart office blocks and apartment buildings feature windows that wrap around the corners of the structure. To achieve this, window manufacturers join two panes of glass at an angle, using either a metal profile or an adhesive bond. Now, however, researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials IWM in Freiburg have developed a spectacular way of bending sheets of glass—to angles of 90°, for example—so that the corner thereby produced is sharp and angular. In other words, they have made the corner an integral part of a single sheet of glass. “We’ve already had lots of positive feedback from architects,” says Tobias Rist, a specialist in glass forming at Fraunhofer IWM and head of the Glass Forming and Machining group.“ A lot of them are now keen to know when this corner glass will be available. But our lab system only processes sheets of glass one square meter in size, so we’re only able to produce prototypes.” The research team is therefore eager to join forces with partners and scale up the process to produce larger formats.