How is Bullet Resistant Glass Made?

15 September 2020
15 September 2020, Comments Comments Off on How is Bullet Resistant Glass Made?

Although everyone calls it “bulletproof glass,” the more technically correct term is “bullet resistant glass.” Whether the base material is acrylic or glass combined with polycarbonate, the end result is a transparent barrier that can protect against specific types of gun attacks. This article will shed light on how these different bullet-resistant, transparent plastic and glass products are made.

Security at Work and in Businesses

Gun violence continues to be a serious threat to people’s safety, and Creative Industries is a family-owned and operated business based in Indianapolis that helps companies and organizations across all sectors and industry types achieve effective protection against gun attacks. We achieve safety through the manufacture and installation of bullet resistant barriers made of a material such as acrylic or polycarbonate. Call us at 800-776-2068 to find out how we can help you achieve peace of mind with our products!

Bullet Resistant Glass Basics: It’s All About Layers

A solid piece of acrylic provides its own bullet-resistant properties while maintaining glass-like transparency if it’s 1.25-1.375 inches thick (providing a level 1 rating of protection against 9mm handguns). LEXGARD Laminates by GE Structured Products are composite sheets available in a range of transparent ballistic protection levels. 

The basic idea across other types of bulletproof glass is the same: The simplest configuration is to take two pieces of glass and create a “sandwich.” In between the two pieces of glass will be some kind of polycarbonate (a very tough but transparent plastic). Common polycarbonate brand names include Lexan, Armormax, Makroclear, Cyrolon, Lexan, Tuffak, and so on. The process of creating this sandwich is called lamination, which is why you’ll see references to laminated glass or laminated polycarbonate when people are talking about bullet-resistant glass. Think of this as creating transparent armor for a building that protects against specific types of gun attacks.

When the layers of the sandwich are bonded together, it is then “cooked” at high temperatures in an autoclave (industrial pressure cooker) because it makes the whole assembly much stronger and eliminates any air bubbles that would weaken the final product. The more layers you add to the sandwich, the thicker the final product and the greater the level of protection provided. If you were installing bullet resistant glass in a car, the thickness would probably be about ¾ of an inch. On the other hand, if you were putting bulletproof glass on military combat vehicles, the thickness would be more in the range of 2-3 inches. Most of the products we make at Creative Industries can achieve Level 1-3 protection with a product thickness of 1.25 inches that is effective against a range of handguns. 

How Bullet Resistant Glass Stops Bullets

Why does this sandwich of polycarbonate between glass or acrylic stop a bullet? It’s an interesting process to deconstruct. With the “sandwich” approach to bullet resistant transparent barriers, the outside threat-facing layer is going to be regular glass. A bullet strike to this layer causes the glass to shatter, which absorbs some of the energy of the bullet by spreading it out over the area of the external surface, and then the inner polycarbonate layer(s) stop the bullet from penetrating the final interior layer. 

Interestingly, a more recent development in bulletproof glass for military vehicles is called “one-way bullet resistant glass.” Rather than a sandwich approach, there are only two layers, with the polycarbonate layer being the inside layer. If needed, a soldier inside the vehicle could fire their weapon right through the window because the bullet gets through the polycarbonate when it has the most focused energy and is able to easily break the exterior glass layer outward to strike its target.

As you can imagine, the more powerful the weapon, the thicker the bullet resistant glass you need. A transparent bulletproof barrier effective against a 9mm handgun isn’t going to be effective against a rifle bullet that will hit the bullet resistant barrier with a lot more force. But the most common incidents of gun violence by far are committed using handguns in calibers like 9mm, .357 Magnum, and .44 Magnum, which are respectively addressed by bulletproof glass carrying ratings of UL 752 Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3. 

Making Finished Products with Bullet Resistant Glass

If a Level 1 rating is all that a client needs and is mostly for building interior applications, we find solid acrylic with a thickness of 1.25 inches offers the best combination of effectiveness and affordability. 

When it comes to Level 3 protection, we’re big fans of LEXGARD Laminates, made by the GE Structured Products. LEXAN resin was invented largely by accident in 1953 by GE chemist Daniel Fox. His experiments with a particular chemic process resulted in a resin that hardened into something incredibly strong and quickly became one of the most widely used engineered materials in the world. LEXGARD Laminates are composite sheets of transparent plastic made by combining polycarbonate with polyurethane interlayers to achieve various levels of ballistic threat protection. LEXGARD Laminates have been highly praised for their many superior qualities including how they don’t spider or crack or “whiteout” on impact, maintaining excellent visual clarity both during and after an attack. The also resist abrasion, yellowing, coating failure, and structural delamination. These products also stop bullets without dangerous “spalling” (breaking into flying shards that can be lethal). For us, we can easily design bulletproofing products and cut the laminates into whatever size we need.

What we do at Creative Industries is take these basic bullet resistant materials and then design and manufacture the kinds of products various businesses and organizations need for the type of operation they run. Our primary product categories include the following:

  • Bullet Resistant Windows: From simple visibility windows to 14 other configurations for various applications to provide greater security and protection for employees as they interact with customers and the public. 
  • Deal Trays: We make 13 different deal tray products to protect workers while interacting with a customer when they need to pass small items back and forth in order to complete transactions.
  • Drawers: Our 9 styles of drawer products are similar to ones you’ve seen when you do the drive-up option at a bank. The employee extends the drawer for a customer to put things in, pulls the drawer in to complete the transaction, and extends the drawer again to give the customer whatever they need to get back. 
  • Pass Thrus: These are larger than drawers to enable back-and-forth interactions that include packages of various sizes. We make 11 different products in this category.
  • Talk Thrus: Our products also include 7 different kinds of talk thrus that can be added to various bullet resistant transparent barriers to enable dialog between an employee and the customer being served.

The common products listed above are the ones that many businesses need and request when wanting to protect workers as they interact with the public. But customization is also a primary component of what we do at Creative Industries. We have become accustomed to taking on custom projects to meet the needs of our clients. 

Creative Industries: Your Bullet Resistant Expert

When you want to get the right information about meeting your bullet resistant barrier needs, look no further than Creative Industries. Mark and Mike Clark have been involved in this family-owned business for nearly 40 years, working with an array of client companies that has included Wells Fargo, Disney, Coca-Cola, Walmart, Microsoft, ABC, and Chevron. We’ve helped hospitals, schools, government buildings, stadiums and arenas, banks, convenience stores, and many other types of businesses achieve the peace of mind that comes with knowing your employees and protecting them from gun violence. Call us at 800-776-2068 to discover how our products can help you achieve greater safety and security!