Volume 41, Issue 4 - April 2006

Meeting Point
IGMA Members Come Together for Annual Conference
by Ellen Giard

In the insulating glass (IG) industry, whether a company follows the path of supplier or fabricator, the roads they take change constantly. Often, an avenue that leads one way today may go another way tomorrow. In an effort to stay on track IG companies must stay focused on their industry and the direction in which it is headed—much like the Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance (IGMA), which follows a road toward educating and improving the industry and the products its members produce.

For industry members, taking part in specialized events and programs catering specifically to IG is one way they, too, can keep themselves on the road to success. With this in mind, IGMA held its annual meeting at the Miramonte Resort & Spa in Indian Wells, Calif., February 22-25. Nearly 130 individuals took part in the meeting. The program for the four-day event offered a schedule of working group meetings, technical sessions and a number of networking and social events.

Glazing Guidelines

The first technical working group to meet was the glazing guidelines working group, chaired by Ken Shelbourn of TruSeal Technologies. The group reviewed an amendment to the guidelines manual that had been re-submitted by Advanced Elastomer Systems (AES) to allow for the use of thermoplastic elastomers, such as Santoprene™, as setting blocks. Robert Lietz and Lorin Beaber of AES gave a presentation about their company and the TPE products it produces. They are asking to have information on TPE setting blocks written into IGMA’s Glazing Guidelines manual.

There was a concern from some working group members about TPE’s incompatibility with some sealants.

Shelbourn said the document would need to stress the compatibility requirements that are already there.

“Spell out in the guidelines when and where not to use it [TPE],” said Roland Temple.

Bob Spindler of Cardinal IG also pointed out that color changes of sealants have been a concern with some window manufacturers in regards to TPE setting blocks.

“If the sealant being used changes colors in the area where you have the setting blocks, what’s it doing to the [long-term performance] of the glazing sealant,” asked Spindler. Others in the meeting added, though, that it’s not just TPE setting blocks that can cause sealant color changes.

“We’re not interested in color changes, but in the performance changes,” said another attending the meeting.

IGMA’s technical consultant, Bill Lingnell, added that sometimes with TPE setting blocks you may see performance issues, such as compression, but noted that sometimes such a problem is more related to the design of the window rather than the products themselves.

Advanced Elastomer Systems was still in the process of having products tested, so the group decided it would wait to receive these results and would then send out an electronic ballot on the issue.

Visual Quality

The next group to meet was the visual quality working group, which is co-chaired by Joe Hayden of Pella and Roland Temple. The group is working to draft guidelines for determining criteria for observing unintended visual obstructions in sealed insulating glass units. At the summer meeting last August the group drafted a list of visual obstructions to include in its document

Lingnell pointed out that of the obstructions, there are not just visual issues, but also measurement issues. The list was then reviewed to determine which had measurement issues and/or observation issues. The list includes:

  • Desiccant dusting, observation;
  • Chemical fogging, observation
  • Moisture fogging, observation
  • Spacer (sightline), observation and measurement;
  • Sealant (sightline), observation and measurement;
  • Fingerprints, observation;
  • Muntins out of alignment, observation
  • Dirt, observation;
  • Sticker residue, observation
  • Suction cup residue, observation
  • Water marks, observation; and
  • Equipment marks, observation.

The question over what type of document needed to be developed was also raised. Mike Grossman of ACI Distribution, had an answer.

“What I need as a fabricator is a [document] that says these are the things you will likely see [in the IGU]. If [the obstruction] is beyond that [common fabrication marks] you give [the customer] a new unit. If not, they [customers] need to know these issues are typical of the product.”

Another question was raised as to whether the group should distinguish between IG used in residential versus commercial applications.

“There can be differences based on … sizes, etc.,” said Lingnell, “but we did not want to differentiate because we see this as the criteria an IGU should meet, regardless of where it is used.”

What’s New with You?

IGMA asked supplier members a question this year: what’s new with you? And 12 companies answered as they chose to participate in a “What’s New” tabletop reception. This was the first year IGMA offered this event, which provided those in attendance with an opportunity to learn about new products and new developments from some suppliers.

Products on display included glass, spacers and other tools and products used in insulating glass production.

Thermal Stress

The thermal stress working group also met to discuss its work toward developing guidelines on avoiding glass breakage problems that may arise due to thermal stress conditions. Lingnell chaired the meeting in the absence of Steve Crandell of PPG Industries who was unable to attend.

The group has been working on drafting a “Dos and Don’ts” guideline for fabricators, and had asked for feedback from members during the August meeting. The response rate, though, had been minimal.

“When we began this [at the August meeting] it seemed positive, but maybe we need to re-look at it and see if there will be enough information,” said Margaret Webb, IGMA executive director. A hand count of those willing to participate showed the numbers were still low. Webb said that the American Architectural Manufacturers Association had also requested that its members be involved in the survey, which would help broaden the participation level.

Lingnell added that all information provided would be kept confidential.

Pointing out the importance of the project, one attendee added, “Glass breaks and without a good examination you may miss the cause.”

Gas Permeability

The gas permeability working group was the last meeting on the morning agenda. It was chaired by Bruce Virnelson of PRC-Desoto. This group is working on a research project that looks at the performance sustainability of IGUs; the project also includes the development of a test protocol for argon permeability through the units. The first phase of the project is complete and during the meeting the group reviewed final data points on the evaluation of the permeability of sheet material testing done by TNO. The group also began discussing phase two of the project, which will evaluate the gas permeability of edge seal assemblies. Virnelson said it will work on an RFP (request for proposal) for the program that will be reviewed at the next meeting. 

It’s Good to Color Outside the Lines, Just Ask Jeff Tobe

Attendees at IGMA’s annual meeting this year took a lot home: more knowledge about IG, perhaps a bronze tan or maybe even an improved golf swing (the meeting was in Palm Springs, after all and many did participate in the group golf tournament). Others went home wearing their watch on their right wrist rather than their left; they were also ready to begin coloring outside the lines. “Coloring Outside the Lines” was the message shared by keynote speaker Jeff Tobe, who challenged everyone to find ways to be more creative at what they do and to learn to do things differently than everyone else. Thus the challenge: remove your watch from your left wrist and put it on your right. Yes, he said, it feels different; it’s something people are not used to—that, he said, is what everyone needs to bring to their jobs. “Force yourself to try things that are a little uncomfortable,” he said.

He encouraged attendees to find a way to look at their industry different than everyone else. “It will give you a competitive edge and set you apart,” he said.

Other tips he offered were:

  • Have fun at what you do. “Fun is the number-one reason to be creative. People want to work with people who are fun.”
  • Dare to look for the second right answer; and
  • Shatter the stereotype of the experience customers think they will have.

“Color outside the lines,” he reminded everyone, “but don’t fall off the page.” In other words, know what your limits are, as well as those of your customers.

Tech Services Notes

In the tech services committee meeting, Webb provided an update on their work toward having ASTM E 2190 adopted by the Canadian General Standards Board. She reported that the standard will go out for public review in May or June this year and said they are hoping to have the opportunity to review any negatives received.

“There is a possibility the standard can be published as an errata, but they still do not know when the next codes cycle will be,” said Webb.

The group is also working to have the standard adopted by individual jurisdictions in Canada, including Ontario, where the proposal has already been submitted. Webb and Ray Wakefield of Trulite presented ASTM E 2190 to the Ontario Building Code’s technical advisory committee, where it has been approved. According to Webb, the standard should be published in the 2005 Ontario building code, provided citizens have no objections.

Webb also updated the group on the current status of the GasGlass “best practices” position paper. While the working group has been dissolved, there was consensus that the paper should still be completed. It was suggested that a small group be formed to work on the paper and then bring it back to the committee once complete.

Certification Reports

Progress on the NFRC’s development of a non-residential certification and rating program was covered during the tech services meeting, as well. Webb said at the NFRC’s meeting in Santa Fe last November there had been a concern that the NFRC’s peer review process could increase the length of time for component approval so a “challenge procedure” was incorporated into the new flow chart. Under the challenge procedure simulations can be accepted in lieu of testing, but an established percentage of submissions will be verified and false submissions will be penalized. If the submission tests to the posted values the challenger will bear the costs of the procedure; if values are proven false the submitter will bear the cost.

John Kent of the Insulating Glass Certification Council (IGCC) provided an update about the IGMA certification program. He reported there are currently 23 certified plants; of those eight are also IGCC certified. There are three plants pending IGMA certification and of that two are pending IGCC as well.

Kent said that because there are still differences in the two programs there can sometimes be conflicts when certifying to both. He said at the next certification meeting the groups will continue to push toward aligning the programs.

Education Committee

Also meeting was the education committee, chaired by Mike Burk of GED. Members began by discussing its development of an AIA continuing education course, which will be available online upon its completion.

On the subject of its educational courses for the IG industry, the programs have continued to do well. 

“Our educational programs have been very successful,” said Burk. Webb agreed, stating, “The feedback has been phenomenal.” The group is continuing to refine the programs and alter them each time they are presented. This year educational programs will be held in conjunction with the Fenestration Manufacturers Association meeting, which took place earlier this month, GlassBuild America in September and the WinDoor Show in November.

A lengthy discussion also took place over developing a new educational program that would focus on quality. Everyone attending the meeting agreed that the development of this course will be much more difficult than the course on preventing IG failures.

“If you wash glass at 140 degrees, the temperature of the glass is also going to rise. Do not seal a hot piece of glass as it will likely become concave.” - Chris Barry

Quality Concerns

“When you talk about developing quality procedures you’re talking about trying to teach a whole new way of thinking, so this one is more difficult,” said Webb. She explained that with a course on quality the goal would be to teach accountability, responsibility, etc. She said they need experts to teach the courses who can teach a new way of thinking rather than just the skills to do the job.

“You can’t teach someone to develop quality in one day,” said the IGCC’s Kent, “But you can educate them to want to do it.”

The group plans to continue working toward the development of this program, but did not set a date of expected completion.

In addition, the committee voted to change its name to the education and communication committee, as the group defines its goal as educating the IG industry and also communicating to the industry what it is doing. The committee’s scope will be re-written to reflect the name change.

Technical Presentations

Technical presentations covering a number of topics were also included as part of the annual meeting.

One of the topics discussed was the effect of water quality on glass quality. Four speakers covered different areas to consider when it comes to cleaning glass. TruSeal’s Ken Shelbourn began by talking about water quality, asking, “What’s in the water used in cleaning and washing glass?” His presentation covered some of the issues with water common to fabricators and some of the solutions and treatment options that can be applied. For example, water that is high in dissolved solids can be treated through either de-ionization (DI) or reverse osmosis (RO), while a filter can address turbidity issues. An activated carbon filter can eliminate odor, and multi-stage treatments are available for treating iron and sulphur that may be found in the water. When washing glass, he also noted that issues with the sealant’s adhesion to the glass and coatings must be addressed. Impediments to the bond include water on the glass or coated surface, detergent film from a washer malfunction or an excessively thick layer of deposited soluble solids.

“If the edge of the unit gets wet these mineral salts and detergents will dissolve and can result in a breach of the units hermetic seal,” said Shelbourn.

Bob Lang of Billco followed with a presentation about glass washer maintenance. 

“With the advent of high-performance coatings, clean glass is even more important, so maintenance of the [washing] machine is even more important,” said Lang. Some advice he shared included keeping pyrolytic and vacuum coated glass washers clean on the outside as well as the inside, making sure the water level is always adjusted perfectly, keeping roll coverings smooth and clean, keeping spray lines clean, using a slightly acidic detergent and keeping water temperature at 140 degrees F. He also advised that washers be cleaned thoroughly once a week, and stressed the importance of cleaning the drying system, as well.

Jeff Haberer of Cardinal IG talked about measuring water quality, and began with the basic water quality parameters: pH (the acidity level of the water) and conductivity (how electrical is the water). For wash water Haberer recommended using softened water in the pre wash and wash tanks, DI or RO in the rinse tank and cool water for the rinse. He also reiterated Lang’s recommendation of 140 degree wash tank temperature.

Regarding maintenance, he advised purging the tank water daily (not necessarily a complete purge, but a little bit to bring in some fresh water) and steam cleaning the washer weekly.

Chris Barry of Pilkington spoke next.

“A lot of IG failures go back to glass cleanliness,” said Barry, who reminded everyone, “glass is never completely clean, but you can get it clean enough.”

He began with a look at some of the different types of dirt on glass: SO2, acidic stain inhibitors, cutting fluids, resin from paper interleaving, adhesives from static cling, foam faced, cork tabs, dirt from the road and diesel fumes. 

Adding to this “chemical soup,” Barry said residue from detergent and water can also leave dirt. 

Noting the 140-degree water temperature mentioned previously, he cautioned listeners about sealing hot glass.

“If you wash glass at 140 degrees, the temperature of the glass is also going to rise,” he said. “Do not seal a hot piece of glass as it will likely become concave.”

The 25-Year Mark

Bill Lingnell gave a presentation that looked at the results of the 25-year year field correlation study, which began in 1980. The purpose of the study was to correlate unit failure to ASTM E 773 and E 774 for C, CB and CBA ratings. Lingnell explained that more than 100 buildings were included as part of the study, which was a SIGMA/HUD project originally. He also praised Jim Spaetz as the project’s principal, saying that much of what they learned from the study has been used to update testing standards and other documents.

According to Lingnell, for the first seven years of the study frost points were reviewed and then visual inspections were done at the 10-, 15- and 25-year marks.

“Some were now inaccessible, some buildings had been replaced,” said Lingnell. “But we were able to get about 75 percent of the original population reviewed for the study.”

Originally the study included 2,400 units in 14 areas. “We were not able to get to every area in the final study, but we were able to review about 1,700 units,” Lingnell added. Of the glazing systems studied, 40 percent were residential (in-plant glazed) and 60 percent were commercial (field-glazed).

Results at the 15-year mark showed a failure rate of about 7.9 percent; at the 25-year mark there was a 9.2 percent failure rate.

Lingnell also talked about a second study of the CBA units that began in 1990; this one was a 15-year study. Lingnell said 10,000 of the original 14,000 units were evaluated. Of those, he said there was only a 1 percent failure rate.

He also looked at specifics: 

  • In the 25 year study at the 15 year mark the C plus CB units had a failure rate of 5.9 percent; the CBA units had a failure rate of 1.2 percent;
  • In the 25-year study at the 25-year mark the C plus CB units had a failure rate of 14 percent; the CBA failure rate was 3.6 percent.
  • In the 15-year study CBA units showed a 1.0 percent failure rate.

Lingnell said as far as considerations for future studies go, there are numerous new developments that would need to be included, such as new sealant technologies and gas fill. He said they would also include Canada for a more complete North American study. ASTM E 2190, E 774 and CGSB 12.8 would also be evaluated for comparison.

IGMA Summer Meeting

IGMA has tentative plans to hold its summer technical meeting July 29-August 1 in Toronto. A specific venue has not yet been announced.

To learn more about IGMA visit www.igmaonline.org.

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