Bullet Proof Glass


“Bullet proof” glass is more correctly called bullet-resistant glass (because no glass is totally bullet proof), it’s made from layers of tough plastic called polycarbonate sandwiched in between pieces of toughened glass.

This sandwich of layers is called a laminate. It can be up to ten times thicker than a single pane of ordinary glass and it’s usually very heavy. When a bullet strikes bullet proof glass, its energy spreads out sideways through the layers. Because the energy is divided between a number of different pieces of glass and plastic, and spread over a large area, it is quickly absorbed. The bullet slows down so much that it no longer has enough energy to pierce through—or to do much damage if it does so.

Although the glass panes do break, the plastic layers stop them flying apart. Think of bullet proof glass as “energy-absorbing” glass and you’ll have a good idea how it works. Bullet proof glass comes in all shapes and sizes to give different levels of protection in different situations. You’re most likely to find it places like banks, where the tellers typically sit behind thick bullet proof windows and use bullet proof drawers to exchange paperwork and money with customers.

Generally speaking, the thicker the glass and the more layers it has, the more energy it can absorb and the more protection it will give. Making bullet proof glass thicker also makes it more opaque, because light struggles to get through all those extra layers. That can cause difficulties if it impairs the driver’s visibility. Rap artist Buster Rhymes ran into problems in 2007 when police stopped his SUV (with its 5cm/2in-thick bullet proof glass) “for having excessively tinted windows”!


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