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Volume 7    Issue 6            November/December 2005

Fun (and Educational) Times in Finland
A Look Back at GPD 2005

by Brigid O'Leary

The can of “spotted dick” was up for sale with bids reaching well past $100 Euro and four Americans sitting together were pondering aloud for what, exactly, people were bidding.
“The can says Heinz on it,” observed one. “Maybe they’re selling beans.”

Spotted dick, evidently, is an English pudding—a particular type of suet pudding with currants—but you wouldn’t necessarily have known that if you weren’t at Glass Processing Days (GPD), the international glass conference held every two years in Tampere, Finland. 
GPD, hosted by Tamglass, ran from June 17-20. Though the social events, including the charity auction at which the spotted dick was selling, are well known, the educational seminars are the highlight of the program. This year, GPD attracted 850 people and included seminar tracks for the auto glass industry over two of the three days.

Seminars began on Saturday, with the auto glass program beginning with Donald Ableson, executive director of specialty vehicle activity at General Motors, who gave the keynote speech on how auto glass design will lead vehicle styling trends. 

“The trendsetters are the conceptual cars that will change our attitudes and ideas. New technology will become the trends of the future. Styling cues will be radical shapes and close tolerances,” Ableson said.

Some of the major trends Ableson identified as shaping the future of the auto glass industry included weight reduction, safety and security measures for vehicle glazing and passenger comfort, a topic that was addressed by other speakers as well.

“The auto glass industry has adapted to designers’ palette with color and designs,” he added.

Bernard Jean Savaete of BJS Differences followed Ableson with a presentation about the requirements for the auto glass industry, detailing what he thinks are significant trends including weight reduction, safety-security, optical clarity and passenger comfort. Among other aspects of auto glass Savaete addressed were standards for OE glass. 

“We don’t have any international standards for the quality of glass between raw material and the final product.” He also spoke of a new requirement in auto glass: aesthetics. He opined that current standards in Europe and the United States are “old and focused on safety ... and do not cover enough aesthetics.”

Ashley Torr and Alan Woodward, both of Pilkington, each continued with the topic of aesthetics, discussing different aspects of panoramic and “cielo” (extended windshields and sunroofs – the name “cielo” was chosen because it means sky in Spanish) glazing. While Torr linked the use of both new glazing techniques to what is happening with the architectural glazing industry, Woodward addressed more specific issues of using larger and more cumbersome shaped glass, such as avoiding double images created by the bending of windshield glass for the new styles, as well as visual clarity in the area currently obscured by the A pillar.

“Headlights can separate between the inside and outside surfaces of glass, causing double images and calculating the zones of [engineering cost estimate] for vision areas is very complex,” said Woodward.

Larger glazing also brings other challenges.

“Wiper performance will be critical for panoramic and cielo glazing. The attachment angle is very important,” Woodward added.

With the concerns that accompany large-scale glazing for vehicles numerous, every aspect of the auto glass industry will be affected when and if the trend takes off, which many within the industry indicate will happen.

“Every supplier has a part to play in this,” said Torr, pointing out that with extended and more common use of sunroofs, solar control becomes an issue, both from direct solar heat as well as that which is reradiated within the car.

Will low-E glass-type become available for vehicles as it currently is for buildings? That remains to be seen, but it’s not inconceivable.

Though Torr was the first to broach the subject of thermal and solar protection during the first day of automotive seminars, he was hardly the last. Three seminars concerning thermal and solar protection followed. Hisashi Ogawa with Nippon Sheet Glass and Jiro Miyai of Sekisui spoke before lunch and Giovani Manfre of MG Consult S.r.l. took to the podium immediately after lunch, discussing the need for thermal and solar control, the products and technology available and test results reflecting not only how important the needs are but how effective the solutions are as well.

“Heat reduction can be solved by nanotechnology; sound reduction can be solved by multiplayer technology. People want both,” said Miyai, describing how Sekisui has worked to combine the two technologies into one product, S-LEC® sound and solar film.

Other topics covered in the Saturday afternoon auto glass seminars included the use of laser cutting for free-form shapes, cameras in the manufacturing process (to detect flaws before the glazing is completed) and the technology behind head-up displays that are becoming available in cars. Plastics in industry was also a topic that garnered much attention; presented by Jutta Trube of Leybold Optics GmbH, the session was titled “PCVD and PVD Coating Techniques for Plastics and Glass in Automotive Applications,” and he spoke of the different uses of plastic coatings in cars, from headlights to use in sidelites for smart cars and for sun roof applications. Additionally, Trube explained that a combination of PCVD- and sputter PVD techniques has opened up the market for applications of the coatings on such things as hard- and wipe-resistant coatings, displays, sidelites or sun roofs.

The Sunday seminars revisited the laser-cutting subject briefly, as well as the need to monitor the production line. After a morning keynote by Tommi Salenius of Tamglass about high-performance auto glass and the need for new technology, new topics including the new horizon for glass heating, numerical modeling of shaping and strengthening glass sheets and auto glass decorative elements (focusing on the black protective bands and dots on vehicle windows) were introduced.

After lunch the theme was the environment and the auto glass industry’s role in protecting it, followed by a panel discussion that started with considerable attention paid to the environmental issue before going on to cover the role of record keeping of windshield manufacturing (particularly in relation to lawsuits concerning windshield failure).

Thirty minutes went quickly, rolling from the momentum of the seminar sessions that immediately preceded it. 

“How difficult is recycling for the glass industry?” asked Salenius, who served as panel facilitator.

Woodward noted that the most common product is laminated glass, which is difficult to recycle and the more of it in use, the more the industry seems to go against the trend of environmental recycling.

“Will it ever catch up?” Woodward asked in return.

One panelist pointed out that with different kinds of plastics in use, the more separation is needed to ensure proper recycling; add this to the fact that designers continue to incorporate new and different kinds of plastics and the mere sorting of the proper parts to begin the recycling process and the cycle becomes exponentially harder.

The conversation transitioned into one of liability, proper part usage and installation techniques in vehicles.

“Is traceability going to become an issue?” Salenius asked the panel. “Will you have to get really specific?”

“You have to be able to trace the history of the issue so you can protect the company,” fellow panelist Donald Ableson with General Motors Corp. responded.

The consensus was that, with rollover lawsuits becoming more frequent, even windshield manufacturers might later be named as defendants to a lawsuit with the claim that the windshield was not produced correctly or safely.

Touching on discussion topics that thus far have only been mentioned sporadically, the panel discussion and the automotive glass seminars at GPD offered a glimpse into issues the industry would be well advised to consider sooner rather than later.

Brigid O’Leary is a contributing editor of AGRR magazine.

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