Volume 40,   Issue 8                                  August  2005

To See, To Listen, To Learn

Glass Processing Days 2005 Provides an Outlet to Take in the Industry's Continual Evolution

by Ellen Girard Chilcoat and Brigid O'Leary

Glass Processing Days (GPD) is an educational venue for the glass industry (both architectural and automotive) like no other. Where else can you go and spend four days listening to some of the industry’s most brilliant minds speak on technology, developments, changes in international codes and standards and how this is all shaping the face of the glass industry? You would be hard-pressed to find another industry event that allows such an opportunity, along with an over-the-top social and networking program, blanketed in scenery and surroundings that can leave you breathless. It is only in Tampere, Finland on a bi-annual basis that this opportunity is even possible. Typically held in June, those traveling to Tampere are treated to a temperate climate, nearly 24 hours of sunlight, the finest in Finnish hospitality and an industry program not available anywhere else. 

What’s it All About?
This year’s event took place June 17-20. Sessions were held in Tampere Hall in either auditoriums or college classroom settings. Organized by Tamglass Oy, also based in Tampere, 860 professionals attended this year’s event. Though the number is just slightly smaller than that from 2003 (880), Jorma Vitkala, chairman of the GPD organizing committee, was very pleased with the turnout, saying the decrease was “nothing significant,” and adding that the smaller number was likely due to Europe’s struggling economy.
Scheduling for this year’s event was different in that the conference took place over a weekend, so attendees could spend less time out of the office. Vitkala said this change was a positive one in that it brought more top managers.
“Top managers made up 35 percent of our total delegates,” said Vitkala.
Tony Mazza, sales manager with ICD High Performance Coatings in Vancouver, Wash., attended GPD for the first time, and said the trip was extremely worthwhile.
“We really gained a better understanding of what’s happening in the glass world today,” he said. “I was impressed with how much information was shared. So much to learn, in such a short time frame. ICD needed two of us there, just to attend all of the technical presentations of interest.”

New Stuff on the Block
New products and technologies was the subject of one of the sessions. The all-day track grew increasingly technical as the day went on. The seminars began with Bernhard Weller of Technische Universität Dresden, who presented “Adhesives in Glass Construction” and pointed out that European guidelines differentiate between windload and deadload weight bearing capabilities.

“The parameters that determine how well an adhesive will work include length, the thickness of the adhesive … geometry and the glue surface,” Weller said.

Weller hopes to study topics such as the lamination between glass and metal in civil engineering, as well as adhesive thickness and aging in the near future.

Harald Kahles of Kömmerling Chemische Werke took the podium after Weller and spoke about a new way of thinking and analyzing jobs to prevent what he calls “random decorative elements” (designs in or on glass created when interlayers or sealants fail). 

“Glass is expected to provide an increasing number of functions,” Kahles said, and listed off thermal control, safety, aesthetics and keeping the elements out while letting light in. To achieve all the facets of the duty that is being asked of it, glass and those who work with it need more components, such as interlayers, sealants and auxiliary glazing (gaskets, etc.) to achieve what’s asked of it, he explained. When these aspects of glazing come together and are not compatible, it can cause a system failure or breakdown of one or more parts, resulting in the “random decorative elements” and compromised safety and professionalism. 

Contributing to the problem, Kahles said, is that compatibility lists used are not always accurate. He recommended that glass companies think about the information on any compatibility list being used critically. 

Questions that need to be asked are: 

• How old are the results? 
• What has changed since the compatibility testing occurred? 
• Is the test procedure relevant? and
• What was the test criteria?

“I’d like to wake you up to a problem you may not be aware of,” Kahles said, before pointing out common fallacies that he sees in the industry, such as assuming that the curing mechanism dictates compatibility and that solvent-free substances will always be compatible.

Kahles was followed by Jean-Paul Hautekeer of Dow Corning, who discussed New Bonding Technology for Window Glazing and Assembly, focusing on silicone reactive hot melt technology, the benefits of which Hautekeer described as instant green strength, ready-to-use process solution and a decreased labor cost and working capital. 

The topic was one in which the audience showed great interest, with questions ranging from the use of hot melt reactive silicone in IG units (not something that can be done yet, according to Hautekeer, but one he hopes to see become possible in the future) to potential problems, such as heat from the adhesive cracking the glass (something Hautekeer has not seen happen).

“Can silicone be applied manually or does it always need to be machine applied?” asked one audience member. 

“Yes, it can be done manually, but automatic application gives the best benefits [for quick turn around],” Hautekeer said.

After the morning coffee break, Jens Schneider with Schlaich Bergermann & Partners took the podium to discuss the new possibility in glazing, glass foil. Though the use of foil covers is not new, particularly for green houses, Schneider explained how incorporating glass into the system would strengthen the inherent weaknesses that come with using foil.
“The idea is to combine transparent foil with tempered glass,” he said. 

Schneider pointed out that 74 percent of lower Europe employs plastic foil covers because they are lighter and cheaper than glass. Combining foil with glass allows the glass to take the loads that foil cannot. The glass can also resist conditions, such as hail, that would cause the foil to fail. Additionally, he explained, the foil prevents splinters from falling in case of glass failure.

Frank Wellershoff of RWTH Aachen University – Institute of Steel Construction, followed Scneider and discussed the use of glazing to stabilize building envelopes. The use of glass lites in facades was explored in two sessions, one by Edwin Huveners (Eindhoven University of Technology) , who looked specifically at temperature loads, and one by Mauro Overend (School of the Built Environment—University of Nottingham) who looked at the use of glass columns. The development of glass façades was again reviewed in the afternoon by Thomas Hofmann.

The use of window film, its benefits and new technology associated with it was discussed after lunch, as was electrochromatic devices for smart windows and the acoustic properties of laminated glass. Anti-reflective glazing and The Coating Revolution wrapped up the new product development and application seminars.

Laminated Lessons
Another GPD seminar track focused on laminated glass processes and trends.

Phillip Davies of DuPont (Australia) spoke about edge stability in structural laminates.

“Sunburst delamination causes lots of fear. It’s caused by a manufacturing or installation defect,” Davies said, indicating to the audience that PVB defects and delamination problems will generally show within the first year.

Tammy Amos, also of DuPont, followed Davies with a technical discussion on strength and deformation behavior of laminated glass. Bernhard Weller later led an equally technical discussion about an experimental study that looked at different interlayer materials.

Kahles returned to the speaker’s deck with a late-afternoon seminar on specialized applications for cast in place laminating, or resin laminating, which he described as “introducing liquid resin between glass sheets.”

Of the factors that Kahles mentioned was the myth that the resin laminating is a “simple alternative to PVB,” which he says causes careless manufacture and handling of the finished product, but at the same time, the in-house use of resin laminating is available with moderate investment.

Holger Stenzel of KSE also discussed architectural standards for laminated glass and what they mean for the industry.

“National standards have been substituted by European and International standards,” he told his audience, noting that European standard EN 12543 in combination with EN 12600 is the basic standard for laminated safety glass and is often supplemented by higher standards when and where needed.

A Grand Opening 
Not surprisingly, the increasing presence of Chinese products in the glass industry was a topic discussed by a number of presenters, including opening addressee Arthur Ulens, executive vice president of AGC Flat Glass and chief executive officer of Glaverbel. His address, titled “Shifting Markets Appealing for Innovative Glass Products,” looked at how the glass industry is changing and how those in the industry respond to those changes. He looked at three areas: globalization, the environment and products. “Keep an eye on them,” he advised, “and turn them into challenges.”

In his address, Ulens talked about China as an emerging market.

“We see more float glass capital investment in China today than in the rest of the world,” he said. “The Chinese float manufacturing market is estimated at approximately 130 float lines owned by more than 50 companies … this figure is impressive given that in the rest of the world there are just over 180 float lines.” 

He also pointed out that China’s quality is driven by a rapidly growing economy, and with rising energy prices, glass products are becoming more value added and, that with an estimated population of 1 billion, product volume is needed.

“In view of these factors … and in view of the low-cost manufacturing advantage offered by the Chinese market, can the global glass manufacturer really afford not to be present?” he asked his audience. He then asked another question: “Knowing that the Chinese glass industry will eventually suffer from excess capacity and will therefore turn to export markets to offset its deficit, can you really afford not to see China as an opportunity?”

Global Views
The general opening session provided other opportunities to learn about the global glass market as well. Nick Limb with Ducker Research Co. made a presentation on the evolution of the global architectural glass market. 

“Flat glass demand has been strong [globally],” said Limb. “Primarily the growth has been coming from Asia.”

Another point he made is that the adoption of low-E has been the biggest industry change in architectural glazing over the past decade, but he was quick to note that product evolution happens very slowly.

Some facts about glass he shared included:

• Total glass demand is at 4 billion square meters; 52 percent of which is coming from Asia, 30 percent from China alone;
• There is huge potential for India. There, overall flat glass demand grew 4 percent between 1990 and 2003;
• In North America, total glass demand is 650 million square meters. Of that, 63 percent is residential or commercial, 26 percent is automotive and 1 percent is specialty;
• The European market saw a 20-percnet growth between 1990 and 2003;
• Asia had a 130-percent growth between 1990 and 2003.

In looking at the developments of new technologies, Limb said the flat glass industry continues to excel. But as far as the future goes, Limb said not to expect any of the new developments to be mainstream by 2010.

“Any product with market benefit takes many years to adopt,” he said.

The General Programming
For many people, getting to Tampere is not always an easy trip. Depending upon the city of departure, there can be numerous flights, trains and various other modes of transportation. So what brings people to GPD? Many agree—the sessions. Stephane Fournier with the Canadian company Prelco said it was the technical sessions that brought him there.

“Four years ago my boss attended GPD,” he said. “I’m in research and development, so it’s been a good opportunity for me to learn about technical information and share knowledge with others.”

“It is fascinating to see where new technology is taking us,” said Richard Green, principal with Green Facades, an Australian structural engineering company.

 “Glass is a material for which the specialty and structural applications are moving faster than the design standards and codes. Conferences, such as GPD, help designers determine best practices, rather than minimum practices in these special circumstances.”

GPD is organized in three general categories: architectural, automotive and market trends (Editor’s note: the automotive portion of GPD will be covered in USGlass magazine’s sister publication, AGRR), and category sessions had a theme for each day, ranging from safety glass processing and energy performance in buildings to insulating glass and coated glass (see sidebars throughout this article).

Everyone Has an Opinion 
Though a lot of time at GPD is spent sitting and listening, there is still plenty of time to ask questions. A grand panel discussion, which included Georg Hesselbach of Interpane, Keith Boswell of Skidmore Owings & Merrill, Jean-Luc Batkin of Glaverbel, Nigel Rees of the U.K.’s Glass and Glazing Federation and Nick Limb of Ducker Research, provided that opportunity. Topics discussed included industry challenges, making a quality product and economic issues, as well as many more.

When asked what the most important challenges facing the industry’s future were, panelists agreed that excessive capacity was an issue.

“Investments in float businesses do not fill up completely, so every company has [much] over capacity,” said Hesselbach. Who added that it could be difficult to make a profit, in such a situation. 

“We have to become low-cost producers and [we have] to become more in-line with our customers,” said Batkin. 

Providing the architect’s perspective, Boswell said he saw the biggest challenge as continuing education.

“Very few architects attend a conference this dedicated to one product,” he said. “The more the glass industry can get to the architect, the better [the architect] will be. There needs to be an outreach from the supplier/fabricator to the architect.” 

Another audience member asked “How can the glass industry defend itself against other building products?”

“We have to be conscious to promote what glass can do,” said Rees.

Hesselbach agreed. “Only glass can both save energy and [give] energy … glass is the only material to cost less today than it did 15 years ago … we have high-performance glass; no other building product can do what high-performance glass can do.”

The panelists also looked at the future of glass by answering a simple question: How do you see the product’s future? The question was probably best answered by Boswell.

“We [architects] are big proponents of glass because there is a lot that comes with it … taking that product and combining it with other products [such as with laminated glass], that is where we see this going …[the development of more] security glazing and blast-resistant glazing. We’re using glass today in areas that five years ago would have been concrete.”

Market Value 
Attendees had the opportunity to learn about the market and marketing trends internationally in another day’s session.

“The Construction Product Directive (CPD) will need amending to take into account new requirements of ascension states [countries who are working to come into line with economic, environmental, social and other requirements before they are admitted as full member nations join the European Union but whose status must still be voted upon by current EU members], new requirements for daylight, energy sustainability, etc., and other directives will be drafted on specific subjects,” said John Waldron of Waldron Consultants, who explained just how the CPD, created by the European Economic Community, will shape the future of the glass industry. 

Waldron’s presentation reviewed with his audience that it’s not just architects, specifiers, clients and manufacturers who shape the market, but organizations and governing bodies. His example of the CPD was used as an illustration for just how many outside influences can affect one governing body, which in turn can have a ripple effect across the industry.

Also discussed were trends in glass, particularly where aesthetics are concerned.

“This means using glass as a more expressive material … and it can be in texture, color,” said Graham Dodd of Arup Materials Consulting, who also described how glass is being laminated to stone for a different look and use in some areas.

Another trend discussed during the seminar block was the use of digital printing for glass decoration and the new capabilities of ceramic ink. Christian Schweikert of Thieme GmbH & Co., compared the new technology to the more frequently used and better known screenprinting, done with inorganic components for frit. The main obstacle, Schweikert explained, was creating ceramic toner. 

All Work and No Play
It’s hard to not take advantage of a land where there’s nearly 24 full hours of daylight. GPD evening dinners and social functions are known for lasting well into the early hours of morning. From dinners and receptions to the legendary farewell party, these activities are just as much a part of GPD as the technical sessions.

This year’s themed farewell party took place at the nearby UKK institute, which is similar to a fitness and wellness center. GPD participants came dressed as spectators ready to cheer on team Finland. T-shirts and hats were give to everyone to wear for the event. Games and other activities took place, and a buffet dinner was provided. There was also an old-fashioned lumberjack show.

Two Year’s Time
According to GPD organizers, it takes two full years to plan the event. That means, before one event even begins plans are already being made for the next one. Though no information has yet to be announced regarding the program or speakers for 2007, you can be certain the event will once again provide a stellar opportunity for technical information and a social and networking program beyond compare. 

© Copyright 2005 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.