For glass industry companies, GlassBuild America is one North American event that tends to draw the masses. From new equipment and machinery to glass and glazing supplies, the three-day event features hundreds of exhibitors.

Glass manufacturers and suppliers make up one segment of the companies that exhibit. This year, those companies displayed a diverse selection of products. And while the glass industry may be the primary audience, that’s not to say architects don’t also attend. Rob Struble, manager of brand and communications strategy with PPG Industries, said they talked to several from all over the United States. The company featured its new Solarban 90 glass, which combines solar control performance with the aesthetic appeal of clear glass.

Companies such as PPG visited with plenty of architects at GlassBuild last week.

“Their [architects] responses all centered on the very neutral color of the product, especially the exterior, but also the interior,” said Struble. “This was not really a surprise to us because architects had been involved in the design of Solarban 90 glass from the very beginning and through rounds and rounds of development trials.  A true, neutral reflected color was the constant design direction.”

He added that the performance of the glass was also impressive. It has a solar heat gain coefficient of .23 and visible light transmission of 51 percent. He added, “In the glass industry, we all know that ‘clear’ is really green. With this ultra-neutral reflected color, Solarban 90 glass looks, as one architect told us, the way clear glass should look – actually ‘clear.’”

Glenn Miner, director of construction, flat glass, with PPG, added that Solarban 90 was the hot topic of conversation for them.

“Fabricators, architects, in fact the whole channel had a lot of interest,” said Miner. “The performance numbers create the initial interest, but when they come in and see the glass itself, they are struck by how clean and neutral it looks. It really leaves a lasting impression that excited people and I think will make it one of those bell weather products for years to come.”

Miner added that overall, the show seemed to have a vitality and sense of excitement that has been hard to find the last few years.

“This year the show attracted a true cross section of the industry and was a great opportunity to showcase our products to new contacts, as well as catch up with old friends. The thrill for me is always those instances where you meet somebody who has a problem and you work together to find the best solution. In most cases we have the right product to solve the problem, but if we don’t, I can still help them by pointing them to somebody else’s product.”

On the specialty glass side, Vetrotech Saint-Gobain featured a variety of fire-rated glazing products. Kevin Norcross, general manager, said like with traditional glass products they are also seeing a demand for increasingly larger sizes of fire-rated glass. The company’s Keralite product is now available in what Norcross said is the largest listed size in the country. They also have structural products available up to 14 feet tall.

Environmental Product Declarations (EPF) are also a focus for Vetrotech, and Norcross said they represent an area starting to flourish. Earlier this year the company published a comprehensive life cycle assessment (LCA) of its fire-rated glazing products. The results of the LCAs are validated by an independent third-party organization and reported as an EPD.

Sage Glass, also a Saint Gobain company, featured its electrochromic dynamic glazing. Derek Malmquist, vice president of marketing, said two focus areas currently are higher education and healthcare applications. And while these products have been on the market for some time now, Malmquist said they are starting to get involved with increasingly larger projects. They now have sizes available up to 5 by 10 feet and have one 17,000-square-foot project in the works.

“Electrochromic glass will likely always be a niche product to some degree, but it is getting more and more into the mainstream,” said Malmquist, adding, “It’s an elegant solution to control the sun.”

The show also kept machinery manufacturers and suppliers busy. All seemed to agree that business has been strong. They also reported positive feedback from the show.
Tem Bechill, sales manager with Hegla, said his company’s Rapidline Series complete cutting system solution was a popular item for them. He said they’ve sold more than 70 in the past two years. According to Bechill, the line is ideal for smaller-sized fabricators.

“We’ve seen a lot of new business with this,” he said.

Machinery designed for value-added products also drew a lot of attention. Cefla North America showcased its Prima, a reciprocating spray machine, which features an integrated, intuitive 6-inch touchscreen control, as well as four spray guns. Roy Pagan, a sales representative with the company’s finishing division, said the multiple spray guns allow fabricators to create a unique aesthetic, such as glitter plus color.

“It provides a ton of flexibility,” he said.

Casso Solar Technologies didn’t have any actual machines on display. However, president Douglas Canfield and sales manager Sal Frasco were busy discussing with attendees their various systems and capabilities.

The company featured its new Gemini 96 Automated Spray Coating System, among other technologies. Casso Solar offers infrared and infrared/convection ovens for drying ceramic, silicone, enamel, mirror, epoxy and other types of coatings applied by a roll coater, screen printer, digital printer and spray.

According to the company, the wavelength output of the infrared oven is optimized “for maximum efficiency resulting in the smallest footprint.”

Plans for GlassBuild America 2016 are already in the works. The show will take place October 19-21 in Las Vegas.