In this guide, we take a look at what you need to know when partnering with a commercial glass company.
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Partnerships work best when communication is a priority. You may have a vision in your head but it won’t come to life if you don’t share the details with everyone involved.
Whether you’re designing a commercial storefront, a hotel lobby, or a shower enclosure, your commercial glass company is a great partner. However, your vision needs to be presented to your glass company in a way that makes your vision come to life just the way you imagined it.
There is a lot that goes into partnering with a commercial glass company. This guide walks you through the ins and outs of this partnership so that your project looks great, and is completed on time, without breaking your budget.
Glass Fabrication Capabilities Your Commercial Glass Company Should Provide
"The glass manufacturer you choose should be able to provide basic fabrication capabilities that save your project from unnecessary delays, cost overages, and headaches."
You don’t want to leave your glass project up to any manufacturer. You waste time and money if your glass has to go from a manufacturer to a vendor for edging, another for v-grooving, and another for CNC grinding. The glass manufacturer you choose should be able to provide basic fabrication capabilities that save your project from unnecessary delays, cost overages, and headaches.
Here are five capabilities that your commercial glass services company should provide:
- Working small
- Advanced mitering/edging
- Water jet capabilities
- CNC machining
1. Working Small
Your project may involve pieces of glass that are only a few inches in size -- whether it’s for manufacturing trophies or placing accents in larger glass pieces. Your glass fabricator should be able to work with sizes large and small.
2. Advanced Mitering/Edging
Can your glass fabricator cut glass at any angle? Advanced mitering and edging capabilities are a must when it comes to custom-designed pieces or those with non-geometric shapes. The best fabricators are skilled enough to miter a unique piece of glass just as easily as glass in a standard 90-degree shower.
3. Water Jet Capabilities
Your glass fabricator should have water jet capabilities for those times when you need precise and intricate cuts, including:
- Custom designs
- Glass walls
Does your project involve detailed patterns? Your customer may want to match a certain time period or an eye-catching design for an upscale restaurant. Your vendor should have v-grooving capability to meet their design vision.
V-grooving cuts v-shaped lines into the surface of a glass pane to create detailed patterns. V-grooving can be applied anywhere on a glass pane.
5. CNC Machining
Does your glass need to meet exact specifications for shape and size? Are there small flaws that need to be addressed? Your glass fabricator should have CNC machining capabilities to fabricate glass to precise measurements and within acceptable tolerances.
What Comprises a Usable Sketch for a Commercial Glass Services Company?
"Precise sketch measurements ensure your glass manufacturer efficiently
and accurately completes your job."
Your manufacturer shouldn’t have to struggle to understand the details of a sketch or template, nor should they have difficulty using it to craft the final product.
There are many details a commercial glass services company needs to know about your project. The key to creating a usable templates sketch for a commercial glass manufacturer is two-fold:
- Accurate measurements
1. Accurate Measurements
Without exact measurements, your sketch is simply a picture of what you want. But is the piece 8’x12’ or 4’x6’? What tolerances are required? How thick should the glass be?
Precise sketch measurements ensure your glass manufacturer efficiently and accurately completes your job. They also guarantee that the finished product fits perfectly where it’s supposed to -- even with uncommon shapes, such as parallelograms or pieces with unique dimensions.
Measurements to include are:
- Side lengths
- Block sizes
- Inside radius (if known)
- Tracing of questionable areas may be required
Don’t send your vendor a scribble on a napkin. To ensure your manufacturer gives you exactly what you want, your sketch should have clearly defined lines as well as the precise locations of any cutouts, notches, or hardware. For glass walls, windows, or shower enclosures, pictures of the space where the glass product will be installed are also helpful, but not necessary.
Sketches are best provided to manufacturers on single pieces of:
- Heavy paper
- Digital files such as DXF or PDF
Don’t send sketches on:
- Wrapping paper
- Plastic sheets
Creating Templates for Commercial Glass Companies
"Make sure your sketches and templates give all the details your vendor needs."
Your project may involve some unique shapes that make it difficult for you to provide a detailed sketch. A template helps communicate what you’re looking for.
The most important thing for your pattern template is: It must be to the exact size and shape of what you want to be fabricated.
- Be on a single piece of wood, cardboard, or heavy paper
- Feature thin, distinct lines
- Denote where the edge of the pattern is in relation to lines -- is the edge on the inside, outside, or center of the line?
- Not be cut to the object’s exact shape
Communication is crucial for your glass manufacturer to deliver the product you were hoping for. Make sure your sketches and templates give all the details your vendor needs.
Commercial Glass Services: Designing for Manufacturability
"Getting glass design details right saves you time, money, and frustration.
You want glass products that are easy to install, not a source of frustration.
Fabrication Elements That Impact Commercial Glass Manufacturability
Don’t leave the details to chance. Paying attention to these five details during the design stage allows your commercial glass manufacturer to fabricate beautiful, custom-shaped pieces that meet your project’s demands.
Your project may involve some non-traditional shaping. It’s important to let your glass manufacturer know this upfront. Your design may require skills beyond their capabilities. Telling them in advance allows you to make other arrangements if necessary.
Creating a quality template or pattern is necessary to ensure you and your glass manufacturer are on the same page. Consider sending a digital photo of where the glass will be installed, especially for irregular-shaped glass, such as pieces for slab furniture.
Make sure to connect with your commercial glass manufacturer regarding size limitations. Not all glass manufacturers have the same equipment. This is especially true for large glass pieces that cannot be fabricated in a single unit. A 20’ x 20’ wall mirror, for example, may need to be created in multiple pieces.
This is particularly important with tempered glass, as holes need to be made in the glass before it’s tempered. The minimum hole diameter needs to be equal to the glass pane’s thickness. The placement of a hole in a tempered glass piece can’t be too close to a corner or edge because it becomes nearly impossible to fabricate as specified. A slotted hole may be required when the hole is too close to the edge.
This applies mainly to single glass pieces with large cutouts, such as a bathroom mirror with an opening for an inset medicine cabinet. Remember: there are limits with the cutout/glass pane size proportions -- the larger the cutout, the more risk there is for breakage.
The thickness of your glass impacts the style of edgework you can use. Again, there are manufacturer limitations.
At New Angle Beveling, an ogee edge is only available on ½″ and ¾″ thick glass, while a bullnose edge is ½”. The triple pencil edge (waterfall) can only be completed on ¾” glass.
Communicating Commercial Glass Designs for Increased Manufacturability
Do all that you can to get you and your manufacturer to understand one another.
Designing a glass piece that meets a custom glass services company’s capabilities is only half of creating a manufacturable project.
The other: communicating precisely what you expect of the finished product.
You’ll want to tell your glass manufacturer exactly what you plan to use the glass for. Give them all the details -- from size to tolerances. Do all that you can to get you and your manufacturer to understand one another. This reduces the amount of time you’ll play telephone tag and ensures you get the right product the first time.
You may not be an expert in glasswork. Ask questions and be open to recommendations. The more you understand, the easier the process is.
9 Project Details Your Commercial Glass Company Should Know
"Good information means good results."
When working with a commercial glass company, here are nine things they’ll need to know before starting your project:
- Project scope
- Cutout/Hole information for hardware requirements
- Delivery location
- Shop limitations
1. Project Scope
Every project has an ideal glass type. Your commercial glass company has expertise in this area. They need to know exactly how the glass will be used in your project so they can make sure to select the right glass for your project.
You may be a little shy about giving exact figures. You don’t want unnecessary upcharges or add-ons. A reputable commercial glass company isn’t interested in selling you what you don’t need. They want to make sure they help you make the best, cost-effective decisions possible.
By knowing how much you can spend, a glass company can provide you with the best information and products possible. They can also give you a realistic expectation of your project’s cost. You may have underestimated the cost necessary to complete your project.
Projects have a lot of moving parts. A contractor has to juggle several schedules to make sure projects get done on time. Third-party elements, like commercial glass companies, need to know your deadlines. But you also need to know their capabilities.
The commercial glass for your project may require more time to manufacture depending on its type or the size of the order. A glass manufacturer may need to make special arrangements to meet your timetable.
Give your glass manufacturer exact dimensions and shapes. Imprecise measurements mean you’ll get custom fabricated glass that won’t work with your project. The manufacturer works with the information they are given. Good information means good results.
5. Cutout/Hole Information for Hardware Requirements
Do you need hardware for your glass project? Glass companies need to know this upfront, especially if you’re looking for an accurate quote.
This information needs to be known ahead of time when working with tempered glass, as fabrication needs to happen well before a pane is heat treated.
Sometimes, custom glass sheets need holes or notches cut in to accommodate the hardware. These elements impact the glass manufacturing process. Knowing hardware requirements is especially important if specialized cuts are needed.
You want to make sure your glass remains intact as it travels from the commercial glass services company to your destination. You also want to make sure that the glass stays safe on location until it’s ready to be installed.
Let your manufacturer know of any special packaging requirements.
7. Delivery Location
The glass you ordered may be delivered to your shop or at your project’s location. The commercial glass manufacturer needs to know where the glass needs to go. This is especially important for deliveries going to bigger job sites where it’s easy to get lost.
8. Shop Limitations
Like commercial glass companies, your shop also has limitations. You may be limited by door height or the lack of people available to help lift the glass. You need to be prepared to receive your order.
Glass measurements need to be exact. A fraction of an inch may be enough to make a piece of glass not fit the intended space. Providing tolerance information ensures you’ll still receive a usable piece of glass or custom glass sheet even if it needs some additional work to clean up imperfections.
A Commercial Glass Company’s Guide to Tolerances
"Manufacturing tolerances are the wiggle room a glass piece has so that it can still fit and function as intended."
Though glass tolerances are among the smallest elements of glass fabrication, they can have the biggest impact on the quality of a finished piece.
Failure to discuss glass fabrication tolerances could result in getting a glass piece that won’t work for your project.
What Are Tolerances in Commercial Glass Manufacturing?
Commercial tolerances are the minimum and maximum variations from a piece’s original measurements before it becomes unusable. In other words, manufacturing tolerances are the wiggle room a glass piece has so that it can still fit and function as intended.
Check out this resource to learn more about glass tolerances:
What to Tell a Commercial Glass Manufacturer About Your Project’s Tolerances
When partnering with a commercial glass manufacturer for standard glass fabrication, there are several pieces of information you should always provide:
- Dimensions: Length, width, and thickness.
- Edgework: Thickness, piece size, width-to-height ratio.
- Holes and notches: Hole or notch location, placement tolerances based on the width of glass, radius, diameter, chip tolerance.
- Tempering: Thickness, size, diagonal dimension, bow, and warp allowances.
Tolerance Information for Specialty Custom Fabricated Glass
Intricately shaped pieces, such as patterned and shaped glass, may have tight or non-existent tolerances. This information is critical to discuss with a glass manufacturer during the quoting process. Creating glass pieces with little room for size deviation requires additional planning and labor, impacting final production costs.
Quality Renderings = Tolerance Accuracy
Renderings can be a glass manufacturer’s best friend in both quoting and completing a project.
When drawings are required to highlight specific fabrication details, submit clear and detailed sketches, complete with all required tolerance information. This is especially critical when projects have tight or no tolerances.
Every drawing submitted should be labeled to ensure the finished piece you receive is the same as the one you intended to order.
For bigger custom glass pieces or those requiring a template, it’s best to provide a digital rendering, though traditional renderings are acceptable.
Large patterns submitted on taped-together paper leave room for error -- if a piece comes off or moves slightly, a glass manufacturer will likely struggle to put it back together exactly as before.
When it is time to finalize an order, submit the most recent version of your project’s rendering. That ensures a glass manufacturer is working with the most up-to-date information.
Be sure that your rendering includes any notes regarding specialty glass, such as the need for it to be heat strengthened. Any fabrication will need to be done before the glass is heat-treated.
Specifications for Tempered Glass Shapes for Your Commercial Project
"It’s best to talk with the manufacturer about current lead times to shape and temper a piece of glass."
Tempering glass requires heating a glass pane using high temperatures and then putting it through a high-pressure cooling process.
This procedure deliberately places stress on the glass. This stress produces tension that is compressed and spread to the outer edges of the glass, giving panes their final strength.
Why Use Commercial Tempered Glass?
Tempered glass is a popular choice as a shaped glass because of its three main characteristics:
- Strength: It’s one of the strongest glass types available.
- Safety: It breaks into pebble-like pieces instead of jagged shards, limiting the risk of serious injury.
- Heat resistance: It withstands higher temperatures longer than most glass.
Key Information for Tempered Glass Design Shapes
Here’s what you’ll need to provide to your glass fabricator:
- Glass Type
- Detailed Renderings
With the necessary information, glass fabricators quickly get to work creating your custom-shaped tempered glass. Production time can vary based on the complexity of work and work already scheduled for other customers.
It’s best to talk with the manufacturer about current lead times to shape and temper a piece of glass.
Size Considerations for Mirror and Glass Sheets
You’ll want to consult your glass fabricator at the start of your process to determine the minimum and maximum sizes they have available. As each fabricator has different capabilities and constraints they’ll have different limitations for the size of glass they can use for your project.
The minimum and maximum glass sizes are determined by:
- Which glass type do you need?
- Are specialized shipping and handling equipment available?
- What size glass does the primary manufacturer have available?
- Are there limitations to the fabricator’s equipment?
How To Safely Shipping Custom Glass Sheets
As a glass shop, the last thing that you want is an unsatisfied consumer because their product is broken or damaged upon receiving it. You know that glass is fragile so take the precautions you need to ensure your glass arrives undamaged.
How Product is Shipped by Your Custom Glass Manufacturer
- Out of State Shipping: Commercial glass companies may choose a common carrier based on reviews or based on your preference. They will likely crate the glass using foam between the wood and the glass and ample packaging material within. Paper interleaving prevents the glass pieces from rubbing and scratching against one another while in the crate.
- Local Shipping: Commercial glass companies may crate glass for local delivery. Alternatively, they could be placed on an L-Buck and offloaded with a forklift if there is substantial size and weight. Glass should be wrapped in cardboard with rubber material protecting the corners. Smaller fabricated products and orders shipped locally are often wrapped or shipped “loose” using static cling cork tabs in between. Whenever possible, ship glass products in covered trucks to protect fabricated glass from the elements.
3 Do’s of Custom Glass Shipping
3 Don’ts of Shipping Custom Glass
Commercial Mirror & Glass: Tips for Proper Handling, Installation & Upkeep
"Taking the proper precautions to protect your glass pieces, as well as your staff and customers, is worth the time and effort."
Commercial mirrors and glass should be handled with care. Carelessly moving, installing, or maintaining commercial mirrors or glass can result in breaking the piece or causing injury.
Taking the proper precautions to protect your glass pieces, as well as your staff and customers, is worth the time and effort.
Receiving & Storing Commercial Mirrors & Glass Sheets
Once the glass is sent to you from the manufacturer, it’s up to you to protect it. When your delivery comes be sure to:
- Inspect it for obvious breaks while still in its packaging -- you’ll save yourself the headache of cleaning up shards of broken mirrors if your order was damaged during shipping.
- If moisture is present on the mirror or glass sheet, wipe it off with a dry cloth to preserve its integrity.
- Keep your commercial mirror or glass in a dry, well-ventilated area with a stable temperature to help preserve its integrity.
- Store your glass vertically. Laying it flat increases the risk of damaging your glass.
How to Safely Move a Large Mirror or Glass Pane
Moving large commercial mirrors or glass can be a tough job. Avoid damaging the glass and prevent injury by:
- Using two hands to improve stability.
- Wearing rubber gloves to improve grip and protect your hands.
- Seeking assistance -- especially for large jobs.
How to Install a Commercial Mirror & Glass Safely
Your glass has made it this far. Keep your precautions in place to ensure your commercial mirror or glass is installed successfully.
When installing a commercial mirror or glass:
- Have the right tools: Keeping these readily available helps you work efficiently to secure the mirror or glass in place. Installation jobs often call for a:
- Measuring tape
- Stud finder
- Have an assistant: for your safety and the integrity of the glass a partner is a must.
- Follow the instructions: Deviating from the manufacturer’s instructions may mean your mirror or glass is placed improperly, increasing the odds of it falling.
When installing a commercial mirror:
- Fasten mirror mounting hardware to wall studs. This is especially important for heavy pieces.
- Be mindful of the piece’s safety backing and the type of adhesive you’re using to keep the mirror from falling and keep the mirror’s silvering from damaging.
- Prepare your surface properly. If the wall was recently painted, make sure it's had enough time to dry and cure. An uncured painted surface can’t support the stress placed on it by an adhered mirror.
Partnership With a Commercial Glass Company: A 2-Way Street
With in-depth information and excellent communication up-front, a skilled glass vendor using modern technology and state-of-the-art machinery can produce custom, high-quality pieces that make commercial glass installation a breeze. You’ll be able to complete your project with no unnecessary delays or added expenses.
Interested In Partnering With New Angle Beveling?
We have more than 50 years of experience working with customers to create glass products rooted in quality, accuracy, and timelessness. We’ve worked on commercial glass projects ranging from creating custom insulated glass units and tempered glass pieces to heavy glass shower enclosures and glass staircases.