Mirror making – How are Mirrors Manufactured

reflections and mirrors

Reflections have always fascinated humans and that’s because there is something very strange and at the same time quite magical (as people from a few hundred years ago would tell you) about seeing yourself reflected in a mirror. Mirrors have quite a history behind them and in the times of old they were thought to possess magical powers. These days though we can see mirrors everywhere and we don’t find them to be special or surprising anymore.

However, have you ever wondered how mirrors are made and if not, would you be curious to know how?

If so, then you may want to keep on reading since we’re going to tell you everything about it in the paragraphs below.

Raw Materials

First of all, you should know that only high quality and pure glass is used in order to make mirrors. However, since it only reflects about 4% of light striking it, it means it needs to be polished better and also have a metal layer added on it to make it even. The quality of the glass will of course vary depending on the process considered to make it.

For instance, if you want to get a mirror that can withstand high temperatures, then you’ll need to get one that was made using Borosilicate glass. On the other hand, if you opt for a higher quality mirror (scientific mirrors), then you should know these feature a few or several hundred layers of silicon nitrides and oxides that are each a ten thousandth of an inch thick.

how they make mirrors

Design

Surface regularity is vital when making mirrors, so when making a home window, it needs to be made using glass sheets that are durable and flat. Keep in mind that the specific type of coating to be used is also going to be influenced by the mirror design. In general, the coating material is chosen depending on the reflectivity and durability required and also based on the mirror’s purpose of use.

An essential step in manufacturing mirrors lies in the proper shaping and cutting of the glass blanks. The raw materials are first of all cut using a as that features a diamond dust embedded in the tips. After that, the blanks will be placed in optical grinding machines that use a grinding plate and a special type of liquid (abrasive) in order to make the blanks very smooth and even. Next, the reflective material will have an evaporator applied on it that heats up the metal coating to the point of evaporation.

Quality Control

The quality of the mirror can vary quite a bit and it depends on its purpose of use. For instance, if the mirror is to be used for scientific purposes, the coating’s reflectivity and the surface’s shape need to be known to a certain degree to make sure the reflected light will go where the designer of the telescope wants it to go and have a certain intensity as well. In this case, the mirror’s tolerances are going to directly affect the process of making the mirror and also the cost.

how mirrors are made

The Future 

Technology has advanced a lot in the last few years and what this means is that glassmaking techniques have greatly improved. The mirrors made today are not only of a much higher quality than those made a few decades ago and more so earlier, but they’re also very affordable to buy. Designers usually prefer lighter and stronger glasses when making mirrors and that’s because by using them they can come up with some really interesting designs.

On top of that, you should know that if you’re interested, you can also purchase one-way mirrors. The technique used to make them ensures the mirrors are mirrored on the outside. Given their main advantage of being able to reflect light away, they’re generally used in office buildings in order to save money on electricity.

Mirrors play an important role in a lot of complex optical applications, from laser based reading systems to telescopes and microscopes and even bar code scanners and CD players. So the next time when you want to purchase something that uses a mirror in order to function properly, then you may want to look more into the quality of that mirror, how it was made and if it indeed improves that specific product’s lifespan or function in any way.