What is HercuGlass
??? What is HercuGlass and where on earth did it come from?
The process for producing ultra-high-strength HercuGlass was developed at the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, the country's leading academic glass research organization. The HercuGlass process is related to that used to strengthen aircraft windshields, iPhone cover glass and EpiPen bee sting antidote injectors and other high strength products. Corning's Gorilla Glass is a similar process but Corning uses a special glass composition that is not appropriate for dinnerware and drinkware production.
In our "ion-exchange" process, small ions from the glass (e.g. Li+ or Na+) are replaced by larger ions from a molten salt such as KNO3. The large K+ ion "stuffs" the surface and causes it to expand. In turn, this expansion closes cracks and puts them under a compressive stress. In order to break the glass a stress = to this compressive stress + the original strength of the glass must be applied. Since the compressive stress can be 50,000 lbs./in2 , the treated glass is actually stronger than most materials. (A process similar to ours is described on Wikipedia)
Santanoni did not invent "ion-exchange strengthening". Our contribution is a proprietary process that reduces costs. We can now apply this Advanced Materials Technology to everyday products such as wine glasses, beer glasses, tumblers, goblets, ... even home canning jars.
We are often asked about our proprietary technology. We don't tell much! Suffice it to say that others don't strengthen glassware using ion-exchange because it would require more than a day to produce strengthening suitable for consumer glassware. This makes the process inherently expensive, and until now has been used only for fairly small items or for products that MUST have very high strength, no matter what the cost. All we can say is that we have optimized the process to a degree that our costs are only a fraction of the normal production costs.
??? Do your glasses release any dangerous chemicals into the drinks or food?
The only difference between our glassware and normal bottles, mugs, etc., is that our glass contains potassium in place of sodium. Potassium is a nutrient, and KCl is often recommended for use in place of NaCl for those with high blood pressure, etc. Small amounts of K+ (potassium) , Ca++(calcium), and Na+ do leach from the glass during the first few uses, but none of these are dangerous. Thus our glassware is completely safe. No other chemicals, other simple salts that contain potassium, are used in our process.
??? Why is unstrengthened glass usually so weak and brittle?
Flawless glass is not weak. A freshly-formed 1" square cross-section glass rod is much stronger than steel, being capable of supporting almost 2,000,000 lbs. However, glass is EXTREMELY sensitive to contact with other materials. Even light contact introduces microscopic cracks (micro-cracks) that cause weakening. The same 1" square glass rod with a micro-crack only .001 in. deep would hold a measly 12,000 lbs.
??? Is HercuGlass unbreakable?
Nothing is unbreakable. However, some of our products can survive drops from 8 ft. onto hard floors. HercuGlass will probably break if thrown against a brick wall, and thin-walled glassware will sometimes fail on dropping on a tile floor from 4 ft. However, all HercuGlass products will survive mishaps that ordinary glass of the same type will not.
??? So - - how much stronger is HercuGlass than "normal" glass.
We have tested our process on glasses from several manufactures. While the results vary from one to the other, we find that the AVERAGE bending strength of normally handled glass is increased by as much 5 times. Further, the glass is more resistant to damage than normal glass, meaning that they will remain stronger for longer periods of time.
??? How do you test the break resistance of glassware?
Our strengthened glasses are tested in several different ways, depending on the product.
- All glassware is tested by thermal shock tests.
- Most of our glassware has been tested by dropping from various heights onto a wooden floor, such that they impact on the rim in one test, on the side in another test, and on the base, in a third test. Maximum drop heights are recorded, and HercuGlass outperforms normal glass by a factor of 2 or more.
- The glass is impacted with a steel ball dropped from various heights, or by a pendulum that is released at various heights and then impacts the glass. In all cases HercuGlass significantly outperforms ordinary glasses of the same type.
In one test, a 1/4 lb. steel ball was dropped from various heights onto wine glasses. Untreated glass broke at drop heights of about 2 feet or less, while HercuGlass survived 4 feet in all cases, with some lasting til 5 ft.
??? Which products benefit the most from the HercuGlass treatment?
The strength of all glassware increases to about the same level, depending somewhat on the manufacturer's composition. Wine glasses appear weaker due to their thin walls that are sometimes only a 1/25th inch thick. The HercuGlass treatment will make wine glasses much stronger, and therefore much less prone to breakage by dropping or other impacts. However, that does not mean that a thin-walled product such as a wine glass will survive the same abuse as a thick walled glass mug. An unstrengthened mug can survive greater impact energies than a wine glass due to the wall thickness. If the mug has the HercuGlass treatment it will survive even greater impact energies (e.g. drop height) without failure.