Volume 39,  Issue 12,  December 2004

Show Stoppers
   A Look Back at the Week That Was glasstec 2004

by Ellen Girard Chilcoat

Have you ever stopped to think how similar attending a trade show is to watching a movie? Think about it: there are always critics. Some people like it, some people don’t. Some will see it again, others won’t, and everyone who saw it will talk to everyone else who saw it. While you can listen to the critics all you want, the only way to truly gauge something is to experience it for yourself. 

Such was the case of glasstec 2004. The bi-annual glass-industry trade show took place November 9-13 at the fairgrounds in Düsseldorf, Germany. The mammoth exhibition hosted 1,088 exhibits in 708,300 square feet of space that encompassed nine halls. Now, as a journalist, it is my job and responsibility—my ethical duty—to present information to you, our readers, in a non-biased, non-critical manner. But for just one moment, I’m asking that you turn a blind eye upon me as I must be somewhat opinionated on this one matter: there is nothing else like glasstec in the industry. It is the place to go if you need new products, are interested in new technology or, in all honesty, just want to socialize. 

Thank you.

From this point forward it’s the straight and narrow. When I’m done you can draw your own opinions based on just the facts, pure and simple.

Opening Credits
This year glasstec opened with an address from Paul Neetson, president of glasstec 2004. He began by greeting those in attendance, and noted the continual growth of glasstec.

“glasstec has been the international meeting point for business, science and trade associations for more than 30 years,” Neetson said. “Over this period the number of exhibitors has continually risen. This year sees a total of 1,250 participants from 44 countries attending glasstec. This means participation is higher than ever,” he added.

Neetson also talked about current market conditions that have affected the German construction market negatively. 

“ … The construction business continues to be in decline as a result of the sustained slump in investment; and the recently introduced CO2 emissions trading is proving to slow growth down continually,” he said. “It is expected to cause extra expenditures to the tune of approximately EURO 35 million in the glass industry alone.”

On a positive note, he did say he is expecting to see improvements.
“The first isolated signs of a gradual recovery are already visible on the horizon,” he added.

He also noted the ever-growing presence of Asian companies establishing themselves within the glass industry.

“The Asian region will also continue booming thereby opening up new business opportunities for machinery and plant manufacturers, as well as glass producers.”
Based on the increase in Asian exhibitors, it is evident that China and other countries in that region are becoming more involved in the glass industry. The number of Chinese exhibitors alone more than doubled this year compared to 2002, increasing from 21 to 45.

Something for Everyone
Many in the industry agree, glasstec is the not-to-be-missed event.

“If there were one word to sum up the show it would be overwhelming. It’s such a big show … and some of the displays, equipment and booths are fantastic,” said Gerry Duffy, president of Trulite Industries. While Duffy explained he made no purchases at glasstec, he was interested in some of the new technologies he saw.
“We came back with so many brochures I was surprised [our luggage] wasn’t declared overweight,” he said.

Bob Price, director of sales with J.E. Berkowitz L.P., was also impressed with the many new technologies on display.

“The technological advances are amazing,” Price said. “The new laminating cutting lines are extremely accurate. They can cut both surfaces at the same time, heat the PVB, separate the glass and leave a clean edge.”

Price also noted many intricate point-supported glass systems. 

“They are beyond imagination,” he said. Some of the options consisted of laminated, low-iron glass, with operating blinds and point-supported system that attached only to the inner laminated lite, leaving the outboard lite with an undisturbed surface.

John Perry with Coastal Glass Distributors also said the show was an important one for his company.

“Keeping up with the latest available technology is key for us,” Perry said. “[glasstec] does outshine any show in North America. It is overwhelming. Some of the technologies he was interested in at the show included machinery for automatic spacer applications as well as vertical seaming equipment.

A Well-Worth Trip
American manufacturers exhibiting at glasstec not only enjoyed the bounty of visitors and customers they were able to see each day, but also the strong EURO compared to the American dollar. With the EURO being worth so much more than the dollar (one EURO was worth about $1.30 USD), many European attendees chose to buy from American companies because after the dollar was converted to EUROs the pricing was favorable to them.

“The EURO helped us in terms of European sales,” said Phil Plant, sales engineer with Billco Manufacturing. “It was finally nice to have the EURO help us and not hurt us.” Though Billco chose to not exhibit any equipment in its booth, the company still left with sales, “primarily to our European customer base,” said Plant.
Jay Molter, director of marketing with Glasstech Inc., said the EURO also worked in their favor.

“The value of the dollar is so weak we’re able to sell more into Europe,” Molter said. “As American manufacturers it is helping us in Europe.” 

International Studies
Gearing Up: Italian Manufacturers Prepare for Vitrum 2005
Plans are in the works and Italian glass machinery companies are getting ready for their big event—Vitrum 2005. This bi-annual trade show (taking place during the years opposite glasstec) is organized by GIMAV, the Italian machinery association, and will be held October 5-8, 2005, at Fiera Milano (the city’s fairgrounds). 

In 2003, 432 exhibitors took part in the event, occupying 27,517 square feet. More than 13,000 visitors came from 93 countries. For the next showing, organizers are again expecting a positive turnout. Vitrum 2005 will take place in pavilions 14/1, 15/1 and 16/1 and 11. Show hours will be from 9 am to 6:30 p.m.
Info+ www.vitrum-milano.it or call 39-02 33006099.

Prepare Yourself: Conferences, Workshops and a Social Setting Make up GPD 2005
With the event just seven months away, a Glass Processing Days (GPD) 2005 press conference took place during glasstec. The conference will take place June 17-20, 2005, in Tampere, Finland.

“GPD 2005 will [be held] from Friday to Monday for the first time,” said Jorma Vitkala, chairperson of the organizing committee. “The new time has been chosen in order to provide the participants an efficient conference without losing too many working days. At the same time, the weekend allows visitors to possibly bring their families and enjoy the Finnish summer and culture.”

According to organizers, GPD 2005 will focus on serving the needs of glass processors, industry specialists, designers and architects. More than 900 people are expected to take part in the event. In addition to the informative sessions and workshops, an entire day will be devoted to industry case studies.

“The idea of increasing the number of real case studies is to provide GPD 2005 participants a pragmatic approach to different glass processing possibilities and challenges,” said Vitkala. “The best way to learn … is to analyze real cases … and to use the experience of others in developing your own business processes.”
Info+ www.glassprocessingdays.com or call 358 

New, Improved, Easy to Use 
Many of the equipment companies at the show demonstrated their latest lines and developments. 

Bottero was one of the many glass machinery companies that reported equipment sales. The company had three brand new lines on display—the 560 VLS, a vertical laminating line; the 680 STS, a glass storage and retrieval system; and the 770 DMW numerical controlled glass drilling and routing system. 

“We sold the very first one in the world [the 770 DMW] to a U.S. fabricator,” said Carey Brayer, Bottero’s vice president of sales and marketing. Though he could not disclose to whom it was sold, he did say a number of major U.S. fabricators had looked at the line.

Renata Gaffo, director of GIMAV, the Italian machinery association that also organizers Vitrum (see sidebar for more on Vitrum 2005), said glasstec was a satisfying event for Italian manufacturers. She did say, though, the number of visitors on a daily basis was not as much as what they would have liked to see. Reasons for this, she explained, could likely be attributed to Germany’s slow construction market and the weak U.S. dollar in comparison to the EURO.

“The glasstec dates overlapping the Ramadan period could have been an obstacle for the trip to Düsseldorf for people from the Middle East,” she said. “On the other hand, we met many [people from] East European countries such as Russia, Poland, the Czech Republic and a good number of businessmen from South America,” she added.

Bystronic also said the show was a success. According to Marcel Bally, sales and marketing director, glass processing systems division, the company received more North American visitors than it had expected, and also received numerous orders, primarily from European and Asian customers.

Visitors to the Bystronic booth could take part in a guided tour of the different equipment lines that were demonstrated. In order to give all participants the ability to see and hear the tour guide, video screens were located throughout the booth. 

“There was heavy traffic in our booth almost all the time,” said Bally. “The vertical cutting machine, Verticut, attracted a great deal of interest. Among many others, two sizeable U.S. companies, one in the residential and one in the commercial fields, are now making concrete plans to install this new glass cutting and handling concept.”

Its equipment showcase, however, wasn’t the only news to come from the Bystronic booth. The company also announced the formation of the Glass and Windows Alliance (GWA), which not only includes Bystronic, but also Albat+Wirsam, Cantor and Stürtz. The alliance will provide complete component solutions, bringing together software and production equipment, for the glass, window and door industries.

"We came back with so many brochures I was surprised [our luggage] wasn't declared overweight."                                                -Jerry Duffy

Exhibition Expedition
Many who attended glasstec in 2002 probably recall the massive exhibit space that was occupied by Lisec. While the company again occupied a large amount of exhibition space, this year’s show attendees found something missing on the Lisec stand—equipment. Instead, the company chartered a plane and each day took customers and potential customers to its headquarters in Austria.

“This year we chose to do something different and take customers to Austria simply because the glasstec exhibit is too small and it is not possible to show our entire product line in full operation [at the show],” said Greg DeWeese, vice president/general manager of Lisec America. “We wanted our customers to be able to see our entire insulating glass facility in full production using [our] latest equipment technology, [rather than] showing them the equipment standing idle in the booth or doing a limited demonstration.”

Another reason Lisec brought customers to Austria was to provide them the opportunity to view its tempering furnace.

“The utilities are not available to run the tempering furnace at glasstec and the time involved to install the furnace is more than the glasstec schedule allows,” said DeWeese.

While Lisec’s tempering line is not yet available, DeWeese said the response to it by American customers was very high.

Located just across the aisle from Lisec was Edgetech, which launched a new commercial spacer called TriSeal™ during the show. Application demonstrations were done on a Lisec line designed specifically for the spacer.

“glasstec was excellent for us,” said Mike Hovan, president of Edgetech. “I think TriSeal was bigger than any of us expected … [we met] a number of customers from all over the world who wanted to use the product in markets we had never [considered],” he said.

In addition to the Lisec/TriSeal line Edgetech demonstrated, ForEl demonstrated its first automated equipment option for Super Spacer® in its booth as well.

Show Stoppers
Aside from the expansive machinery exhibition, there’s still lots of glass to see—colored glass, clear glass, point-supported glass, decorative glass, hollow glass, even glass jewelry.

One attraction that drew a constant crowd was the “Stairway to Heaven,” which featured DuPont’s SentryGlas® Plus. This ganzglastreppe (German for pure glass stairs) was a freestanding stairway of laminated glass on which visitors could walk. The structural interlayer is designed to provide safety without sacrificing aesthetics.
Another unique glasstec exhibit was the Glass Technology Live showcase. This exhibition focused on transparent design and provided a look at just some of the many ways glass can be used. From furniture, floors and facades to solar glass, the possibilities seemed endless. 

New Additions
Showing just how much glass can twist, bend and flex and yet still be impact-resistant was the Spanish company Cricursa. The company’s display consisted of an orange, bent glass structure, as well as displays of its new product call Cri-Regulite, a laminated glass with adjustable transmission. The glass features suspended particle technology and allows users to control how clear or dark the glass is by manually or automatically adjusting it. The technology darkens when light-absorbing particles are dispersed within a thin film laminated inside the glass. Applying voltage aligns the particles and allows light to pass through.

Laser technologies and digital printing were also available at glasstec.

The German company Jenoptik was demonstrating its Votan™ G, a no-metal laser cutting technology. According to information from the company, the Votan G uses heat-induced laser beam separation, heating the material’s surface with carbon dioxide and causing compression stress layers near the surface. The cut’s hot line is then cooled, producing a steep temperature gradient, causing tensile stresses above the strength limit in the material’s surface near layers. Materials can be either scribed or full-body cut. The line can also separate laminated glass and edge trim float glass directly at the float tank.

Glaston Venture Technologies, which is the offspring of the merger of Tamglass and Z. Bavelloni, introduced the Direct on Glass (DOG™) digital printing equipment, GlassJet™. GlassJet is a flat-bed digital printing unit that uses ceramic ink. It can be used in any type of application in which screen-printing would be used. With the GlassJet, there are no screens to clean, store or maintain.

Thieme and Schott AG also launched their “computer-to-glass” (CTG) digital printing process that uses ceramic ink. Schott AG has developed an electrophotographic process that converts ceramic inks into a toner before being applied electrostatically to the substrate. Thieme is in the process of developing a complete machine for industrial applications that incorporates this process. According to the companies, the CTG system works with file formats that include TIFs, BMPs, PDFs and others, and inks are applied in a dry process, so there is no need for a typical drying process.

All Around Good Show
Whether exhibiting or attending, people all seemed to agree: this year’s glasstec was an excellent event.

“We saw a significant number of North American attendees, with all of our key customers being represented there,” said Mike Willard, vice president of Salem Distributing. “In terms of North America, attendance this year was probably the best it's been in the past decade. Customers are investing in their plants, especially with higher-end, glass fabricating equipment.” Willard said that while Salem did sell equipment during the show, the follow up since has been tremendous. Two lines that were of particular interest were the Bovone laminating line and the vertical drilling machine from Delta Progretti. 

Chuck Hayes of Sage Electrochromics was a first-time glasstec attendee. He said he traveled to the show specifically to look at equipment.

“It was very convenient to go an see a diverse group of [companies] all in one location,” he said. “It was very efficient and very worthwhile.”

“I didn’t leave enough time to cover it all,” said Leon Silverstein, president and chief executive officer of Arch Aluminum & Glass. “I had about a day and a half to cover it and I really needed three to absorb it all. There’s a lot there and you can really see what’s going on worldwide,” Silverstein added.

Ellen Giard Chilcoat is the editor of USGlass magazine.


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