Volume 41, Issue 6 - June 2006

Fabrication Education
Glass Fab Attendees Learn How to do What They Do Better

by Ellen Giard

“If we don’t understand the process, we can’t make knowledgeable decisions moving forward.” 
—Jill Nowak

For those who are new to the industry, especially those who are handling glass every day, there is a lot to learn about glass fabrication. How do I hold and carry the glass? Which side is coated? What’s laminated glass used for? These are just some of the hundreds of questions that someone new to a glass fabricating company may ask.

Such an individual is not alone in these wonders. One way to find answers to these questions (and many more) is through the Glass Association of North America’s (GANA) Glass Fabrication Insulating, Laminating and Tempering Educational Conference.

Designed for those with less than five years industry experience, the conference took place this year April 10-12 at the Hyatt Regency International Airport Hotel in Orlando, Fla. Nearly 140 individuals attended the event, and approximately two-thirds of the attendees were taking part in the program for the first time.

Glass Evolution 
The first day’s session began with a presentation from Pilkington’s Scott Hoover who talked about float glass technology, and gave a timeline of the history of glass. He said the first discovery of natural glass was in 5000 B.C. By 650 B.C. the first glass manual was written, consisting of tablets that had instructions for making glass. 1000 A.D. brought the invention of the first sheet glass, which was made through the cylindrical method; by the 1600s the French had developed plate glass. In 1905 the vertical draw sheet glass production method was developed followed by laminated glass in 1910. All of this led to the development of Pilkington’s float glass production method from 1959-1960. 

Since that time glass has seen numerous developments, from the addition of color (1960s-1970s); reflective and low-E coatings (1980s) and spectrally-selective glass (1990s). Today, Hoover explained, numerous developments continue to be introduced, including self-cleaning/low-maintenance, scratch resistant and others.

Cutting and Handling 
Chuck Beatty of Edgeworks discussed automated glass cutting and edging techniques. To cut glass, he explained, you need a crisp, clean, fine score; you need to drive a fissure into the glass; and you need to put the fissure into the tension area of the glass.

“This allows you to run your cut and break out the glass easily along the score line,” he said. “You never want to destroy the glass.” He also advised, when processing glass, that the working surface beneath it be supportive. He said glass will be firm and flat with a rigid work surface, but if the surface is pliable it will become soft and uneven. He also talked about choosing the proper wheels to be used with the proper type of glass.

Mitch Edwards of Guardian discussed proper techniques for handling coated glass. Some of his tips included checking for coated glass, which should be done when opening incoming packaging, when moving material and before any processing steps. He also reminded everyone to keep the number of times hands touch the coating to a minimum. 

Cleaning Up
Bob Lang of Billco followed with his presentation on glass washer maintenance, which focused on the importance of keeping the washing machine clean. Some of the proper maintenance steps he offered included following good safety procedures, tightening fasteners, electrical connections, greasing the machine and conducting a proper motor rotation after the first week of the washer’s operation; conducting a weekly maintenance (cleaning tanks, checking air filters, lubing the pinch roll drive gears, etc.); cleaning immersion heaters; conducting regular maintenance at 250 hours of operation followed by maintenance checks at 500 hours.

“This is an important event in any good maintenance program,” said Lang. “The machine should be opened up as completely as possible to perform this extensive list of maintenance items.” The check list should include a thorough inspection, checking to see there are no glass chips and no stickers on the rollers, cleaning the rollers, cleaning the spray pipe, etc.
Lang advised, “If the inside of the washer is dirty it cannot produce clean glass.”

The second day’s session began with a discussion on glass breakage from Bob Maltby of R&D Reflections. Maltby covered the reasons glass can break, such as tensile stress and cracks. He emphasized that glass breaks as a result of tension flaws. He also talked about different types of stress as well as thermal breaks.

Following Maltby was a discussion about standards led by Henry Gorry and Kevin Olah, both of Guardian Industries, and Valerie Block of Dupont. They talked about three ASTM standards: C 1036, Standard Specification for Flat Glass; C 1048, Standard Specification for Heat-Treated Glass; and C1172, Standard Specification for Laminated Architectural Glass. The three explained the purpose of each standard, as well as how and by whom they are used. Olah stressed that standards are voluntary and do not take the place of any building code. 

Trendsetter 
Rosie Hunter, also with Guardian Industries, followed with a discussion about glass coatings in architectural design. She covered different types of glass coatings and trends in the commercial market (such as an increasing amount of transparency). She also showed pictures of applications illustrating different types of glass usage.

GANA president Julie Schimmelpenningh of Solutia spoke next about laminated glass. She began with a description and explanation of what laminated glass is and the applications for which it can be used. Application trends, she said, include safety, security, sound, solar and style. The style application is increasingly appealing to architects due to the many options laminated glass affords, including color choices and graphic design capabilities, Schimmelpenningh said.

The morning’s final session was lead by Jill Nowak of Viracon who talked about time studies and efficiency planning using lean manufacturing. The purpose of a time study, she said, is to evaluate individual process rates and to establish equivalencies. She explained that following “lean” procedures is not about manufacturing more quickly, but more efficiently. 

“The goal of lean manufacturing is to eliminate waste in our process, as seen through the eyes of the customers,” she said. “If we don’t understand the process, we can’t make knowledgeable decisions moving forward.”

Breakout Sessions
Break out sessions were held each afternoon and focused on insulating, laminating and tempering processes. Attendees could choose the session that best suited their needs and take part so as to learn more about their specific area of focus.
In the tempering session, perennial favorite Stan Joehlin gave his discussion on analyzing glass tempering concepts. In the two-part presentation he explained what happens to glass inside a tempering furnace.

He talked about the differences in tension and compression, glass stress and glass strain.

He explained that stressing the glass is significant to the tempering process because it ensures the glass can withstand impact.
Joehlin explained that glass is strong when compressed and weak in tension. When glass is compressed (squeezed), he said, the micro cracks are squeezed closed and do not fail, but putting tension on the glass causes the micro cracks to open and failure to occur at the weakest point. 

On the second day of his presentation, Joehlin brought in glass samples and heated them to different temperatures. Through this demonstration he was able to show how glass can bow and warp at different temperatures.

In the insulating session John Kent of the Insulating Glass Certification Council talked about standards for insulating glass. He pointed out that with the development of ASTM E 2190, commonly called the HIGS (harmonized insulating glass standards), ASTM E 774 was removed as an active ASTM standard in the first part of this year. Kent added, though that there are still many references to E 774.

He also talked about the different types of certification testing, including tests for weathering, fog and humidity. Gas filling and tests for it were covered as well. 

“You need to know and be able to prove how much [gas] goes in, and know and be able to prove how much stays in,” said Kent. He mentioned that a standard and certification for gas fill are works in progress, but will be coming. The proposal for certification is currently a 90-percent initial fill and 80 percent final fill after the ASTM E 2190 test for weathering.

Attendee Perspective
Phil Long, production manager, with Coastal Glass Distributors in Charleston, S.C., was a first-time attendee at this year’s Glass Fabrication Conference. 

“Being new to the industry, I wanted to learn more about the industry and begin to network with others in the glass sector,” he said. “Although I found the sessions interesting and did learn some new things, most of the information was not new [to me]. I also wanted to bring one of my line supervisors as a reward and expose him to the glass world outside of Coastal Glass.”
Just weeks after the conference ended, Long said his company has already begun implementing what they learned into their operations.

“The cutting session reminded us of a problem we were having cutting out a particular type of glass; we were able to rethink which cutter wheel to use and how long to use it,” he said. “Also, it was encouraging to see that we are doing a decent job of following the trends in glass.”

And for Long, while some of the tempering sessions were basic, they were still important. “It reminded us that we sometimes need to go back to the basics and not complicate issues when they arise.”

Glass Fab 2007
The Glass Fabrication program is one that offers education for everyone, those who are new to the industry as well as industry veterans. You can plan to participate and further your own fabrication education at next year’s conference, scheduled to take place April 16-18 at the Hyatt Pittsburgh International Airport Hotel.  

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