Volume 49, Issue 1- January 2014

News Analysis: Machinery

Trending in 2014: Laminated, Decorative and Beveled

Glass machinery manufacturers and distributors are preparing for 2014 by carefully watching trends in fabrication in order to prepare for demand in the year ahead.

“Interest in laminated and specialty decorative glass seem to be a growing trend, and it seems more companies are now producing machinery for this type of work,” says Peter DeGorter, inventory manager for DeGorter Inc. in Monroe, N.C. One trend that seems to be emerging this year is the demand for laminated glass as a finished product with a high polish. At the recent Vitrum show (see page December 2013 USGlass page 54) DeGorter fielded questions about flat edge machines, as interest was high in running laminated glass through these lines in order to get that polish. “Several are doing or looking to start doing this type of work,” he says.

Doug Mangus, machinery sales director for Salem Flat Glass and Mirror in Winston-Salem, N.C., agrees: the continuing trend is demand for heavy glass edgers. By way of example he says, “We’ve sold 38 Bovone machines last year and the lion’s share of those were heavy glass edgers for people producing shower doors, interior architectural glass and heavy polished glass.” He adds that although this demand has been steady in recent years, it’s building now as other fabricators add this to their offerings.

In addition, Mangus points to a new demand that he has found interesting. “We’re seeing a resurgence of bevelers, which is very unusual because over the last five to eight years there’s been absolutely no bevelers being sold. All of that moved overseas.”

It seems to be back in a big way. “In the last six months we’ve sold more than we have in the last six years, so that’s coming back in straight line and also in the shape beveling,” Mangus says.

He attributes this new demand to a growing interest in custom beveling. “You can’t call overseas and say ‘I need one mirror x by x and I need it next week,’” he says. “That fast turnaround seems to be supporting that market once again.”

In addition, DeGorter says he continues to hear interest from fabricators looking to laminate with decorative inserts and a variety of materials beyond the standard interlayer fitted between the lites.

“Customers continue to move into laminating now that there are more and less expensive options available to the traditional autoclave technology,” agrees Bob Quast, president of Lisec America; he cites his company’s low-pressure autoclave technology by way of example.

“There is only so much one can make off a standard lite of float glass, but by adding value through processes such as decorative laminating, our customers are able to get more out of their products,” DeGorter says. “There are, of course, other ways to produce unique pieces of decorative glass (for instance, ceramic paints), however, we specialize in autoclave-less laminating.”

Mangus sees fabricators looking to invest in technology for digitally printing on glass and producing back-coated glass. “Decorative glass continues to be growing in market share and I think that’s going to move forward over the next five years,” he says.

Overall, these machinery distributors are hopeful that the fabrication trend for 2014 will involve continued investments in new technology. “Regarding the overall market, the government shutdown and the rollout of ‘Obamacare’ did create some uncertainty in the United States and has seemed to slow down the speed of the recovery somewhat. However, we remain cautiously optimistic on 2014’s overall business climate for the glass industry,” Quast says. —Megan Headley

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