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The components and process of making glass bottles

10/7/2013 8:12:06 AM | by Anonymous

Bottles: Glass

We use glass bottles to contain our daily beverages, but not many people know what goes into making it. Depending on its purpose, the glass bottle can vary greatly in size. However the most common sizes of glass bottles range from as little as 10ml to as big as 4-5 liters. In the past, glass bottles used to be hand blown and it was a tedious process, however today it has transformed into a highly mechanized process. The good thing about glass is that it can be recycled, unlike plastic bottles. This greatly helps the environment by cutting down on wastage.

Components of a glass bottle

Since glass bottles are made up of glass, it is important to understand what glass is made of. Glass is a non crystalline solid mater that shows a glass transition. Most type of glasses are brittle and either transparent or translucent. Glass bottles consist of sodium oxide, silicon dioxide, calcium oxide, soda ash and other additives. This glass material has an extremely long history as evidence has shown that the ancient Egyptians have been manufacturing glass since the second millennium B.C. However, it was not until the first century that the use of glass as a container to store fluids became more main stream. This was due to the invention of blowing techniques by the Roman Empire that provided many more options when it came to the shape and sizes of these glass bottles. In ancient times, glass was used as a container to store food and beverages as the glass could be used to preserve them. Glass was preferred as the material did not alter any of its contents that were stored inside.

Process of making glass bottles

Glass is made by fusion at temperatures exceeding 1000 degrees in special furnaces covered with heat resistant materials. These materials include silicate sand with calcium and sodium carbonates. All these materials have to be changed into oxides first before it can go through fusion. When it cools the materials become a thick liquid which can then be blown in to the desired shape.

Glass bottles are made by hot end processes and cold end processes. The hot end process involves using high amounts of hear to shape and produce the glass container. To mold the molten glass, glass feed stock is fed into the furnace. Many gases and materials are added into the mixture before melting. The next step would be to form the glass bottles. This is done by automated equipment which shapes the glass into the desired shape and sizes. Glass bottles may go through a lot of stress in this process. The glass bottles are usually baked or annealed in an oven to reduce the stress of the glass bottles and make them even stronger.

The cold end processes refers to the inspection and packaging of the bottles. Some common faults with the glass bottles include cracks or foreign objects in the glass bottles.

In some cases, lamination is used to reinforce the glass bottle by coating the surface of the glass bottle with a plastic layer. This prevents glass shards from scattering when broken as it will be held together by the plastic layer.
It is important to manufacture the glass properly as factors such as rapid cooling may affect the durability and strength of the glass bottle.

Why go through such a tedious manufacturing process?

One of the biggest advantages of glass is that is the materials can be 100% recycled which means that the glass containers can also be reused, as unlike plastic or other materials it will not contaminate the contents stored inside the glass bottle. Apart from being reusable and not contaminating the contents, glass bottles are also good protection from the atmosphere, making it the ideal container to store alcohol, as alcohol cannot be exposed to oxygen for long periods of time.

However, there are also disadvantages of using glass bottles. Firstly it is more expensive and time consuming to manufacture than plastic bottles. Also, glass is quite fragile so it is important to handle the glass bottles with care. Glass bottles compared to other materials are also quite heavy.

Apart from storing fluids, glass bottles can also be used for many other things such as storing herbs and spices, vases for flowers, money jars, decorative purposes, and many more.

In conclusion, even though it takes much more effort to produce a glass bottle than compared to a plastic bottle, there is good reason for doing so as the advantages and perks of a glass bottle outweigh its disadvantages.

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