Global glass manufacturer Pilkington has been put to the test by the BBC in a informative television programme hosted by Top Gear’s James May. ‘James May’s 20th Century’ examines a range of innovative products and scientific developments from the last 100 years, and saw the seasoned presenter travel to Pilkington’s UK research and development centre in Lathom to examine the recent advances in glazing technology.
Founded in 1826, Pilkington is now a leading manufacturer in the global Flat Glass industry. In an effort to demonstrate its Pilkington Planar™ structural glazing system to James May and the BBC, the firm organised a drop test where a 15 year old, 640kg Mini was released onto the glazed sheet.
Tim Morgan, Technical Manager at Pilkington was involved with the production of the show. He explains: “The episode demonstrated how the strength and flexibility of glass has developed over the past 100 years by the use of ever improving toughening and laminating technologies. At Pilkington we are now making glass designed to withstand earthquakes, hurricanes and fire as well as man-made hazards such as bombs. Such levels of extreme performance would have been considered virtually impossible at the beginning of the 20th century.”
“As far as the car drop test was concerned, after calculating the kerb weight and the height from which it was going to be dropped, we were confident that a sheet of 2m x 3.6m Pilkington Planar™ laminate would easily take the strain. The glass laminate consisted of two layers of 10mm Pilkington Optiwhite™ with a Sentry Glas® Plus interlayer.”
“One of our development engineers hit the glass with a hammer, and then we asked James May to attack it with a mallet and a 2lb steel engineering hammer - there wasn’t a scratch. Then James decided to jump on it, he invited about ten other people to join him, and still the glass stood firm. For the Mini drop, the car was first hoisted to a height of three feet, from which it was dropped, and the glass remained unscathed. The glass still remained totally undamaged after the second drop from five feet. The programme illustrates that Pilkington is at the forefront of glazing technology and innovation. The glass was not specially formulated for the programme, it can be specified and bought by anyone who chooses it.”