Volume 33, Number 12, December 1998


GLASSTEC 98 The Greatest (Glass) Show on Earth

by Debra Levy

Glasstec is very difficult to describe to the uninitiated—to those who haven’t been there and haven’t yet received a frame of reference for its size and scope. Officially glasstec 98 was the 15th biennial trade fair for glass machinery, equipment, applications and products, held September 1-5 at the fairgrounds in Dusseldorf, Germany. It is co-sponsored by three German trade associations: the German Machinery and Plant Manufacturers Association (VDMA), the Glass Industry and Mineral Fiber Industry Federation and the Federal Association of German Glazing Guilds (BIV). It is organized and managed by Messe Dusseldorf GmbH.

More than 45,000 visitors from 68 countries came to see the products and services displayed by just under 1,000 exhibiting companies. While organizers expressed a bit of disappointment at the slight drop in visitors since 1996, few exhibitors expressed any dissatisfaction whatsoever. Most cited the Asian economic crisis and the earlier dates of the show (it is usually in October) as reasons for the slight decline in attendance. The event’s international appeal was cemented with release of statistics showing that nearly 60 percent of exhibiting companies came from outside Germany as did just under half the attendees.

A record 7,200 visitors came from North and South America; 71 U.S. companies exhibited, as did two Canadian firms and one from Mexico.

The event opened with a symposium called "glass technology live," the first international conference on structural glass engineering that included a spirited display and lecture about all the uses of glass in architecture. It, along with the many displays featuring the use of glass, served as an inspiration start to the event. Glass technology live also attracted many architects and students to the show.

Gaining a perspective without being there is very difficult. You’d need to take the largest of the U.S. shows and multiply the size of the exhibit hall by seven to get an idea of the size of this event. And you’d need to adapt to the cosmopolitan, European way of doing business in order to savor the experience. Even with a five-day show open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., it was difficult to see everything.

What glasstec is, of course, is a series of mini-plants, if you will, constructed to work and produce products for only a week, but designed to help potential buyers see their would-be equipment in operation. The show occupied seven halls at the fairgrounds, with exhibitors loosely grouped by type of product. Glasstec exhibitors are involved in the production of all types of glass including flat glass, ceramics, glass containers and packaging, scientific glass, art glass and more. The star of this--the greatest (glass) show on earth--was as usual, the machinery.

A new KSL machine was premiered by Peter Lisec of Austria. The machine finishes edges and eliminates defects on all four sides of the glass. "We’ve already sold two machines to American companies and it’s only the second day," said Manfred Lesiak happily. "This machine can ‘finish’ all four sides and change heights and thicknesses easily. It will adjust to such changes automatically—and it only takes nine seconds to process a one-square meter lite of glass."

Marcel Bally of Bystronic Inc., was no less pleased with the crowd’s reception of his company’s new machines. For architectural glass, an automatic loading, shape-cutting and edge deletion machine debuted. "You can score and automatically break out x, y and z cuts," said Bally, "and the glass will automatically be sorted and placed in racks according to the order in which they will be put into the IG unit. It is fully automatic and moves seamlessly into the TPS insulating glass line. The TPS lines produces, on average, 120 IG units per hour.

For automotive glass, Bystronic also introduced two new "compact" CNC cutting, break out, grinding machines for automatic glass processing which garnered quite a bit of attention. One system on exhibit processed large windshields (buses, etc) while the other processed very small sidelites. "Both machines are designed for high productivity and great flexibility," said Bally.

Working in conjunction with Glasstech, Inc. of Perrysberg, OH, Decalite, Ltd. of the United Kingdom, premiered an Automated Decal Application and Printing Technology (ADAPT) system which can apply images on glass in up to 23 colors in only one pass resulting in a highly accurate and fine reproduction of the image. Through the systems special paper substrate (a sophisticated decal) is transferred to the glass in one dry application. "The samples shown displayed an excellent reproduction," said David Pearson, Decalite’s CEO. The company plans to license the technology.

"Reference stops are the key," said Jack Van Meerbeeck of Z. Bavelloni’s brand new VT 110 CN machine with the stops. The machine is a fully automatic double-headed drilling machine with computerized features. "It’s the only machine out there like it," he said. "The reference stops make it extremely desirable for those who use this type of machine." The Italian manufacturer also premiered its B13 straight line grinder and PRV99CN straight line machine at the show.

A new screen printing machine by Fleischle of Germany also garnered a great deal of attention. Model SH provides a fixed printing table that can be adjusted to heights up to 40 mm. The printing unit is on the upper part of the machine which can move horizontally to the back making the printing plate accessible at three sides. Once a lite of glass is placed, the upper part of the machine moves horizontally to the front in the printing position. The flexibility of the machine makes it useful for printing both large and small series.

Some of the loudest buzz on the floor was about the new glass cutting technique debuted by Grenzebach of Germany. The innovative technology allows glass to be scored by use of a laser beam before it is snapped, resulting in finely-snapped edges without micro-cracks or splinters. Because it is defect-free, the glass can move quickly to be bent or tempered. The new laser technology also allows glass that cannot be ground (such as thin glass), to be scored and cut. "We are the first to succeed in bringing this technical solution from the laboratory stage to practical use," said company president Thomas Netzer. "We are proud . . . to offer a base for discussion to potential users."

Speedburn IV from Hoaf of the Netherlands was also a hit. This quick heating kiln heats up to 850 degrees centigrade in less than 12 minutes. It offers non-asbestos insulation and heat-resistant stainless burner housings for improved overall heat distribution.

Bando of Japan introduced an integrated cutting, breaking and grinding machine under computerized numerical control on double stations. The company says CN-controlled X-Y-Z axis system guarantees a high degree of accuracy in shape cutting.

A new system for measuring the distortion of automotive glass from Asahi debuted. It evaluates distortion quantitatively as viewed from the driver’s seat through a windshield. It also measures and displays the distribution of glass distortion.

In addition to Asahi Glass, Pilkington, PPG Industries and Visteon, Guardian (under its Asiaguard name), Glaverbel and Interpane all exhibited. Interpane’s presence was quite imposing and the company had also placed billboards all over town.

Some of the most breathtaking glass was introduced by a number of Italian firms. Color uniformity and clarity seemed to have become perfected during the past two years.

Companies from the United States expressed satisfaction with the show. Nearly two-thirds of those exhibiting did so on their own. Some of the other third, participating in the U.S. pavilion, expressed concern as to the pavilion’s location in the very back of the most distant hall from the entrance. But the complaint was a minor one. CHMI of Keokuk, IA, exhibited for the first time. "I’m overwhelmed," said Mark Kemp. "We’ve learned a ton about what to bring and sell." A new dual-seal insulating glass system from Sommer & Maca Industries of Cicero, IL, also garnered quite a bit of interest. The system includes a computerized washer, assembly and pressing speeds that the company says simplifies dual-seal IG production.

Just as the show was larger than life, the space required to render a full discussion would require hundreds of pages in this issue. USGlass will highlight many of the other products and services shown at glasstec in these pages during the next few months.

The next glasstec will take place in October, 2000. Exact dates have not been announced yet.


VITRUM ’99: The Other BIG European Show

Glasstec is held in even years only and will next occur in October, 2000 (the exact dates have not yet been announced.). In alternate years, the Italian machinery association, the Associazione Italiana Fornitori Macchine ed Accessori per la Lavorazione del Vetro (GIMAV) sponsors VITRUM at the fairgrounds in Milan, Italy. The show encompasses all phases of flat and hollow glass processing. VITRUM will next be held November 3-6, 1999. It will feature more than 26,000 square meters of floor space in the spacious fairgrounds where it will occupy the third pavilion at Portello.


ITALIANS & GERMANS: Game, Point, Draw

A press conference held by GIMAV to promote the upcoming VITRUM show (see box on page 83) turned into a bit more than anyone had expected.

GIMAV president Mr. Annibale Besana used the occasion to express vocal dissatisfaction with some of the policies that had affected his membership at glasstec 98. In polite but firm tones, Besana expressed his opinion that Italian exhibitors had been separated into more than one hall to diminish the appearance of the Italian contingent. "We are all members of the association and we all came together. We do not like to be split apart and we do not understand why it happened," he said. Besana also took issue with the timing of this year’s event. "Many Italian families are still on holiday," he said. "We and our work crews had to cut short their holidays to be ready for glasstec—and, you did not see any Italian visitors until the end of the week."

Dr. Dino Fenzi of Fenzi Mirror Products attempted to clarify Besana’s remarks. Fenzi said it was difficult to understand why GIMAV exhibitors were not all in one hall. He then cautioned that "we (GIMAV) have been a good friend to glasstec and wish to continue as such. But you must remember that if you pull the string too tightly, sometimes the string breaks. . ."

A bit surprised by both the comments and the public forum in which they were aired, glasstec officials responded. "It is no secret that we have had numerous discussions about these issues," said Mr. Horst Klosterkemper, managing director of the event. "I am sorry for the unhappiness, but in much the same way as we can all play soccer because we subscribe to the same rules, all who participate in glasstec must subscribe to the same rules." Klosterkemper said that GIMAV companies were placed by the types of products they had rather than nationality. "We try to put all companies with similar products near each other to make it easier for visitors. There is no ulterior motive for doing so."

He also said that glasstec was held earlier than usual this year because of an exceptionally high number of events being held at the Messe this fall. "We have a number of events that occur every three or five years only, and unfortunately a number of them hit this year, making our scheduling very tight. We apologize for the inconvenience."

After a few more verbal volleys, both sides then agreed to disagree in private and the press conference ended.



The Tamglass Group of Finland, had quite a bit to celebrate at glasstec. The company has recently been awarded contracts worth $13.2 million to supply safety glass machines and production lines. Tamglass directly credits "the exceptionally high commercial activity which took place related to glasstec ’98." The company also celebrated the receipt of its 1000th contract during the show. The company has placed production lines in more than 50 countries worldwide.

One of its most recent contracts was with Floral Glass of Hauppauge, NY (see "Two-Two-Two-Two Lines in One, USGlass, November 1998). The company purchased twin tandem "double-barrel" lines—one for jumbo and thick glass and the other for thick glass and thin heat-treated laminates.

"It has now been several months of running the tandem lines and I know that the concept was successful," said Chuck Kaplanek of Floral Glass. "Not only are we producing more glass but what we produce is of the quality needed to support the high-end specialty laminated products our customers need."

Tamglass also announced that it expects its new manufacturing facility in Tampere to be operation in May, 1999.


Copyright 1998 Key Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.