Researchers at the University of Maryland found that people remember information better when presented in virtual environments. Perhaps that was the premise that thin-glass manufacturer Corning Inc. employed when it hosted its “Advanced Windows Virtual Experience” last week.

The company used Spatial.io, a web-based, virtual meeting platform, to announce a new material and manufacturing process for thin-triple insulating glass units (IGUs). Attendees were required to navigate and interact via avatars in a video-game-like format. “I feel like I’m playing a video game at work,” one attendee commented.

Corning Inc. used Spatial.io, a web-based, virtual meeting platform, to announce a new material and manufacturing process for thin-triple insulating glass units (IGUs). Attendees were required to navigate and interact via avatars in a video-game-like format.

The event drew the participation of door and window manufacturer PGT Innovations (PGTI), which partnered with Corning to produce a new breed of thin, laminated glass, and a program for producing thin-triple IGUs.

Dubbed Architectural Technical Glass (ATG), Corning’s new material is touted to replace standard soda lime glass “to enable advanced performance at a lighter weight and a smaller footprint” compared to standard triple-pane IGUs. Paired with the company’s new production line, ATG includes “a family of thin, lightweight glass technologies and process innovations for windows.”

Via these new glass technologies, Corning and PGTI have zeroed in on the potential of a new thin-glass format as a solution for Energy Star 7.0, which is set to take effect in October 2023. According to Corning’s internal analysis using industry software, company officials said that thin-triple IGUs with ATG meet Energy Star requirements in all regions of the U.S.

In 1964, Corning invented the “fusion” process for creating thin glass, revolutionizing the market for thin-panel TVs. They hope to do the same for windows via triple- and quad-pane IGUs using a new 0.5 mm glass for their inner lites. In its presentations, the company looked to dispel many concerns and challenges associated with handling thin glass in production. The product is one-sixth the thickness, and thermal expansion is one-third of what’s found in traditional soda glass, said Erica Lawes, product line manager for the Advanced Windows division.

“By incorporating an ATG thin-triple into your window package and as thermal requirements shift with both Energy Star and local and state standards and regulations, you’re set up with a runway to achieve a U-factor of even 0.17,” Lawes said. At the same time, she touted the fact that room-side low-E coatings aren’t required to achieve such levels of performance. The company also drummed on the differences in weight, bulk and safety factors compared to standard triple-pane IGUs.

Regarding cost, Corning reports that its new product’s price is just above that of baseline, double-pane IGUs. According to the company, its new thin-triple ATG is the lowest cost option for meeting and exceeding Energy Star 7.0 requirements, but with a caveat: only when drawing on available rebates and incentives. Sometimes, homeowners can “stack” local, state and federal programs to receive numerous rebates and credits on the same products, said Justin Whitcomb, assistant product line manager for the Advanced Windows division.

In Connecticut, for instance, a state program offers $100 per window for Energy Star-rated products with U-factor ratings of 0.20 or better, Whitcomb added. At the same time, a Wakefield municipal program offers incentives that, combined with state rebates, make products with the company’s thin-triple IGUs less expensive than those with double-pane IGUs and similar performance. The company’s presentation failed to mention whether those same stacked incentives could be applied to products with double-pane IGUs.

While Corning promoted its new thin-triple ATG for performance and cost benefits, director Michelle Engarto addressed concerns associated with handling. Engarto said Corning’s ATG material is 85% more flexible than standard float glass, which she admitted makes production challenging. That admission made the perfect segue to Corning Thin Line, a production lineup the company created for manufacturing thin triples and other IGUs.

While displaying a schematic of Corning Thin Line, Engarto explained how the company’s manufacturing line can be used to produce a “wide variety” of standard IGU products, including double-, triple- and quad-pane IGUs, as well as shapes and thin-triples utilizing ATG. The system includes a dedicated cutting station, washing and an IGU line that loads and processes in a vertical orientation. A cutting cell has been optimized for glass under 1 mm in thickness. ATG is automatically unloaded from carts and transported through wash units designed to prevent breakage. A robotic system then applies spacer materials, followed by a gas filling station.