Last year at the American Institute of Architects (AIA) convention, elevator panel company SnapCab featured its then-new concept of decorative wall panels clad with Corning’s Gorilla Glass. Earlier this year at the 2016 AIA Show, that concept was put into practice at the company’s booth.
In 2015, virtually SnapCab’s entire setup was regarding elevator interior systems, which has made up the bulk of its business over the last two decades. “But people were interested in the wall panels outside of the elevator, so we continued to pursue it,” says vice president of sales and marketing Caleb Morrison. “This year, I’d say 80 percent of our booth consisted of wall panels, to 20 percent elevator interior.”
The exhibit, according to Morrison, sparked conversations with a handful of companies expressing interest in becoming installation partners, something SnapCab is now open to.
He says this encompasses a variety of trades, and that he found “it was right in line with companies that specialize in glass and metal installations” as well as interior glass wall systems. “The other aspect is the connections they would bring,” he says. “They would be an additional sales channel.”
This would be an interesting prospect for contract glaziers, who are increasingly finding themselves part of unique installations and are evolving their capabilities as new applications come along.
Corning and SnapCab are working toward the concept of “smart walls,” and interactivity with touchscreens and active monitors behind the glass is now a reality. Additionally, Gorilla Glass has acoustical properties that allow high-quality sound to be passed through it. SnapCab has been able to integrate screens and speakers behind its glass-clad panels in some projects.
SnapCab has partnered with Duggal Visual Solutions to produce high definition images to print to the glass, which can span over multiple panels. It has also reduced the gap between panels as a result of demand from architects and increased its glass thickness from 1.5 mm to 2 mm.
Strength is also a key trait of Gorilla Glass, making it a fit in the architectural world. It meets ASTM standards for flat glass, and with a “qualified panel backer,” the product also meets U.S. standards for indoor use—including CPSC 16, CFR 1201, ANSI Z97.1-2009, ASTM E84, ANSI maximum impact Class A and CPSC maximum impact level Cat II.
Glazing contractors have been working with decorative glass for a long time. But panel systems such as SnapCab’s and interactive-friendly glass like Corning’s may open a new sub-sector they could add to their mix of offerings.