Glass Expo Pacific Northwest™ (GEPN) ′18 opened today in Bellevue, Wash. (suburban Seattle) and attendees have already gained important insight into some of the major glass and glazing industry trends and topics.

Glass Expo Pacific Northwest attendees learned about a variety of industry topics during today’s seminar program.

Washington Glass Association (WGA) president Rick Koeller welcomed attendees this morning to start the show.

Rick Koeller, president, Washington Glass Association

“This is definitely a great time in the Northwest for the glass industry. As you can see, there are cranes everywhere. We are one of the busiest pockets in the U.S. and we’re appreciative of that,” he said.

Koeller described GEPN as a dream come true for the WGA.

“We tend to feel forgotten in our little pocket up here,” he said. “We invite you to mingle among yourselves. This is our industry and the exhibitors are here to help use do better for our industry.”

Economic Update

Nick St. Denis, director of research for Key Media & Research, the parent company of USGlass magazine/USGNN™, followed Koeller with the “Glass and Glazing Industry Economic Outlook.”

Nick St. Denis, director of research, Key Media & Research

According to St. Denis, the residential sector’s recent growth has been driven by single-family housing. However, multi-family housing is showing signs of strength. In March 2018, it had its highest reading since the end of 2016.

The non-residential sector, which has been on an incline during the past eight years, is starting to settle down. Office construction has been a key driver.

“Institutional building is on the up; it’s close to catching pace with commercial building,” said St. Denis. “The institutional sector usually takes longer to recover because it’s funded publicly, rather than privately like commercial building.”

St. Denis pointed out that most states in the Pacific Northwest are outpacing the national average of total construction starts.

At the end of 2017, 57 projects were under construction in downtown Seattle. By the end of 2018, 27 projects are scheduled for completion. By the end of 2019, 43 projects are scheduled for completion.

According to Key Media & Research’s 2018 Industry Outlook, 59 percent of contract glaziers surveyed said they hired a full-time employee in 2017. Seventy-one percent of contract glaziers expect to hire full-time employees in 2018.

When asked their biggest concern, contract glaziers responded that the skilled labor shortage and competitors not knowing their costs/bidding are the major concerns.

“Nearly half of glazing contractors said skilled labor shortages have a big effect on their ability to find quality craft workers. Forty-one percent said it has a minor effect,” said St. Denis.

None of the glass fabricators and manufacturers surveyed said they expected a decrease in sales for 2018, which is a good sign for architectural glass.

Fabricators and Manufacturers responded that demand for larger glass sizes is the biggest industry trend, followed by higher quality aesthetics, decorative glass and meeting stringent energy codes.

Avoiding Laminated Glass Problems

Vaughn Schauss, Americas technical consultancy manager for Kuraray’s Trosifol division, followed St. Denis with his seminar, “Working with Laminated Safety Glass to Avoid Problems.”

Vaughn Schauss, Americas technical consultancy manager, Kuraray’s Trosifol division

“Edge defects take away from the natural beauty that glass offers,” said Schauss. “When we talk about edge defects we’re also talking about edge stability, or laminate’s resistance to defects along the edges over time.”

Defects can appear as small or large bubbles, discoloration or even delamination.

Weathering tests can help detect the potential for defects.

Natural weathering tests involve leaving the laminated glass samples exposed to the elements to see how they perform. Accelerated tests require the glass samples to be put into a chamber that’s heated up and lit with a light source that mimics the sun’s rays.

“I get calls about defects in the field and their first question is what caused it,” said Schauss. “It’s difficult to tell.”

Factors include the lamination process, quality of the glass, application and the environment.

According to Schauss, PVB interlayers are created through the formation of hydrogen bonds. Adhesion can be lowered through moisture and temperatures that are too hot or too cold. Wash water heavy in minerals can also reduce the interlayer’s adhesion to the glass

“We recommend deionized water so that the interlay has a better chance to stick and adhere to the glass,” he said. “After the lamination sandwich is put together, the temperature at which it goes through the oven and nip rolls is critical.”

If the temperature is too hot bubbles can be pre-sealed inside. If the temperature is too cold, it won’t seal enough, and bubbles may be created during the autoclave process.

Salt spray tests can be conducted for laminated glass that will be used in an area near the beach. After 3,000 hours of exposure to salt water, standard PVB had no bubbles or delamination, but had cloudiness around the edges. Both high-adhesion PVB and ionoplast had no bubbles, delamination or cloudiness.

Graphic Imaging

Bernard Lax, CEO of Pulp Studio then spoke about “Decorative Glass: Benefiting from Graphic Imaging (1 AIA LU).”

Bernard Lax, CEO, Pulp Studio

“There is not one perfect imaging technique for every single job. It depends on the type of image and where it’s being applied,” said Lax.

He explained the ceramic decoration through screen printing has been used for several decades.

“It uses the screen printing technology and is great if doing one pattern and repeated sizes,” said Lax.

Ceramic ink is made of ceramic particles that provide the coloring, a flux and a carrier or binder.

“The screen has to be porous enough to allow this heavy, destructive type of ink to sink into the glass. The flux pulls the ink into the glass then burns off along with the binder when cured, leaving the ceramic ink to fuse with the glass,” said Lax.

Flatbed digital printing with UV inks came after. Lax warned that UV ink is not UV-stable but is cured with UV light.

“Stay away from these, the offer no true stability,” he said.

Ceramic ink does not print using true color, it uses CMYK colors to form the required colors. Because of the potential for inconsistencies, companies use a method called profiling to match the color of the photograph to the final product.

“Now we have clear, low-iron and textured glasses with different tints. There’s white, clear and translucent PVB. We have all these different variants. Every one of these needs a separate color profile. You can’t create a profile that’s good forever,” said Lax.

The Show Floor

GEPN runs May 31 to June 1 and the show is open today from 2 to 7 p.m. and 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. tomorrow. Those in the area who have not registered can still do so until 7 p.m. (PST) today and tomorrow from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. (PST) at the Hyatt Regency Bellevue.

The event is cosponsored by the WGA, USGlass magazine,™ and Architects’ Guide to Glass & Metal magazine. Visit for more information.

Check back at™ for more GEPN coverage throughout the week.