Volume 35, Number 7, July 2000



Behind the Rainbow

moving away from the boring to add a bit of color


by Dez Farnady

Due to large quantities of glass used in the residential market, manufacturers have been working diligently to produce the 21st century glazing product that would give them the lion’s share of the market. The new glass will have to offer a high light transmission, be energy-efficient, color neutral and a long-lasting insulating product. With low-E products, we are close, and nearly everybody has a low-E. This is the solution for the 21st century? How boring.

I cannot fault the motivation or the product, only blaspheme, and that is what I intend to do — boring, boring and triple-boring. The intended cure-all may assuage the aesthetic fear of the homeowner who does not want to see color. But I, for one, like the stuff. Color, that is. The color-neutral magic products still require a coating that makes the glass look darker and under certain lighting conditions as if there was a “foreign substance” on the clear glass. And, there is the coating. Sorry, David Copperfield is probably working Vegas and is not available for the glass industry.

But I linger too long on the boring. Give me some color, particularly the blue end of the rainbow. Give me the soft blue of Pilkington’s Arctic Blue or the deep cobalt of Visteon’s original blue now called Versalux. I feel the PPG Azurlite turns aqua, as it picks up a little green in the sunlight and Versalux Blue 2000 adds a lighter tone to the original cobalt. When pyrolitic silver coating is added to these products, you get ten more shades ranging from the blue mirror look of Visteon’s blue RC reflective with coatings on the number one surface, to the blue-emerald of Solarcool Azurlite with the coating on the number two surface. Each coated product provides a slightly different look and a slightly different performance, although they are all in the same family. Mixing these products with others, such as arctic blue in front of clear eclipse, or any in front of
low- E, offers a wide range of both color and performance choices.

We are fortunate that there are still commercial buildings with lots of glass, and architects, designers and owners who still wish to see color on buildings. All of these products can be used to both brighten up the cityscape and open up the commercial building’s interiors to daylight without cooking the occupants.

And then there are the greens. Pilk-ington’s blue-green and evergreen, PPG solex and solargreen and Visteon Versalux green and green 2000 and all of these with reflective coatings.

OK, let’s count them. First, the non-reflectives. There are four blue tints, six greens, four grays, counting the standard 42 to 44 percent light transmission gray only once and counting bronze only once, plus clear. That brings the total to 16. Forget the low-iron stuff, that’s for tabletops. You think this is easy math, just wait. If you count these same products with their reflective coatings you have 15 more. If you take the 15 reflectives, and realize that in an insulating unit the coating can be on either the first, second, third or fourth surface, then you better multiply it by four. You now have 60, until you add a low-E option to give you 120. On the other hand, instead of low-E you could add another color, making 16. So, that is 60 times 16 more to make 960 times two with the low-E for 1,920. Plus, we have not even mentioned Heat Mirror® films. There are eight heat mirror films that can be suspended between any of the previous combinations jacking our ridiculous total to 15,360. We still have not even mentioned colored lami.

Have I given you a clue? Who needs boring low-E when you can choose from all the colors of the rainbow? The glass manufacturers’ sophisticated engineers have given us this rainbow treasure trove to sit behind and enjoy the light of the sun. Looking out you will not see the color, and sitting next to it in the light you will not have the death-like pallor feared by the homeowner. From the inside looking out, all this is color-neutral. Just a final note for those already shaking from fear that a customer might discover this list: continue reading this column, and in the future I will show you the easy way through this swamp of colors.


wpe15.jpg (3343 bytes)   Dez Farnady is manager of architectural products for ACI Distribution in Santa Clara, CA. His column appears monthly.


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