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The spontaneous breakage of tempered glass spandrel panels used to cover concrete wall panels on building facades was investigated. Between January 1988 and August 1990, 19 panel failures were recorded. The tinted panels were coated on their exterior surfaces with a reflective metal oxide and covered on the back surfaces with an adherent black polyethylene plastic. Macro fractography, SEM fractography, EDX analysis, and photo elasticimetry were conducted on four of the shattered panels. Small nickel sulfide inclusions were found at the failure origins. Failure of the panels was attributed to growth of the inclusions, coupled with high residual stresses. Fracture mechanics analysis showed that the residual stresses alone were high enough to cause fracture of the glass, with a flaw of the size observed.

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