Volume 9, Issue 5                     September/October  2005

LAND OF THE MIDNIGHT FUN
(and Education)

A Look Back at GPD 2005

by Brigid O'Leary

The can of “spotted dick” was up for sale at the charity auction, with bids reaching well past $100 Euro and four Americans sitting together were pondering aloud for what, exactly, people were bidding.

“The can says Heinz on it,” observed one. “Maybe they’re selling beans.”

Spotted dick, evidently, is an English pudding—a particular type of suet pudding with currants. You wouldn’t necessarily have known that if you weren’t at Glass Processing Days (GPD), the international glass conference held every two years in Tampere, Finland. The conference, hosted by Tamglass, was held June 17-20. Though the social events are well known, the educational seminars are the highlight of the program. 

This year, GPD attracted 850 people and offered four concurrent seminar tracts, which covered a range of topics relating to the glass industry, including two architectural tracks, an automotive block and a whole day dedicated to new products within the industry.

While window film did not have its own seminar track, at least two speakers at the conference discussed window film and its relation to the glass industry, proof that where glass goes, window film follows.

Where Cars are Concerned
Seminars began on Saturday, June 18, and among the speakers at the auto glass seminars were Ashley Torr and Alan Woodward, both of Pilkington, each of whom discussed the aesthetics of auto glass as it is evolving. The two key aspects of new auto glass that they talked about were panoramic and “cielo” (extended windshield and sunroof) glazing. Cielo glazing is so named because it means “sky” in spanish, an indicator of the receding glass line on vehicles.

With the concerns that accompany large scale glazing for vehicles numerous, every aspect of the auto glass industry will be affected when and if the trend takes off, and many within the industry indicate that will happen.

“Every supplier has a part to play in this,” said Torr, pointing out that with extended and more common use of sunroofs, solar control becomes an issue, both from direct solar heat as well as that which is reradiated within the car.

Could the larger, longer, wider windshields mean more tinting opportunities for the window film industry? Aside from the legislative aspect, there is also the possibility that glass manufacturers will step in and create an effective solution to the heat-reduction problem that won’t necessarily include window film—at least not aftermarket film. Will low-E glass-type become available for vehicles as it currently is for buildings? That remains to be seen, but it’s not inconceivable.

Though Torr was the first to broach the subject of thermal and solar protection during the first day of automotive seminars, he was hardly the last. Three seminars concerning thermal and solar protection followed. Hisashi Ogawa with Nippon Sheet Glass and Jiro Miyai of Sekisui spoke before lunch and Giovani Manfre of MG Consult S.r.l. took to the podium immediately after lunch, discussing the need for thermal and solar control, the products and technology available and test results reflecting not only how important the needs are but how effective the solutions are as well.

“Heat reduction can be solved by nanotechnology; sound reduction can be solved by multiplayer technology. People want both,” said Miyai, describing how Sekisui has worked to combine the two technologies into one product, S-LEC® sound and solar film.

Everyone Wants New Products
The new products seminar sessions that ran all day Sunday, June 19, covered a vast array of information, with Jan Wil-lem Holst making the presentation “New Philosophy in Glass Enhancement.”

Speaking to an audience whose familiarity with window film was both varying and unknown, Holst gave a brief introduction to the use of aftermarket window film and how it is most frequently used (retrofitting existing buildings to meet the needs of the owners or occupants) before launching straight into new technologies available for window film.
Holst discussed the nanotechnology and chemical innovation of infra-red shielding and in some ways was almost reminiscent of Miyai’s presentation the day before.

In discussing the new technology available and how it will shape the future of the industry, Holst explained how more ultraviolet repulsion results in less harmful rays penetrating windows and that such results can be increased with technology based on inorganic coatings made of biaxial-oriented PET.

He then explained some of the drawbacks associated with organically coated or metallized film (color stability, corrosion). Inorganic films, Holst said, offer different and potentially better long-term benefits.

“We want visible light coming in. It’s durable … an easy, compatible solution to enhance buildings,” he said.
While few would argue that color stability is important on an aesthetic front, Holst pointed out an additional need for it: if window film is used on hospital windows, color stability is vital, as doctors must be able to observe color changes on a patient’s skin under certain circumstances.

Inorganic film may be the wave of the future, but when asked, Holst assured his audience that is installs the same way a daylight applied organic coated film does.

In Conclusion
What does this bode for the window film industry? Per Holst, “the glass aftermarket is gigantic” and the film industry is in no danger of becoming obsolete.

Maybe the future will also find window film with its own line of seminar sessions at GPD and other international conferences. 

Brigid O’Leary the editor of Window Film magazine.

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