The Construction Research Laboratory in Miami showed IGMA conference attendees a live demonstration of dynamic testing of a curtainwall using an aircraft wind generator.
The Construction Research Laboratory in Miami showed IGMA conference attendees a live demonstration of dynamic testing of a curtainwall using an aircraft wind generator.

“The great thing about testing is, you don’t know what you don’t know.”

That’s how Construction Research Laboratory Inc.  director of operations George Dotzler sums up the purpose of his company’s Miami-based facility, which hosted a group tour for the Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance (IGMA) 2015 Winter Conference attendees Thursday.

The curtainwall testing facility features 25 large test chambers averaging 30 feet wide and up to 40 feet tall, utilizing aircraft engine wind generators, high water spray racks and high pressure blowers, among many other pieces of equipment. The lab has 40 test chambers in total.

Dotzler took the attendees on a tour of the facility, where he showed various curtainwall mock-ups and explained the different methods and purposes of testing.

He says the typical mock-up is three units high and three units wide, and that the trend of “bigger pieces of glass and bigger units” has pushed the company to build larger chambers. The facility has a 65-foot-high mock-up going up soon.

The IGMA group witnessed a live dynamic testing demonstration of a curtainwall when facility workers fired up one of the two 2,650-HP aircraft engine wind generators, which boasts propellers nearly 14 feet in diameter. It happened to be raining at the time, so the added weather effect helped set the scene.

IGMA attendee Chris Barry looks at a skylight that underwent missile testing at the Construction Research Library in Miami.
IGMA attendee Chris Barry looks at a skylight that underwent missile testing at the Construction Research Library in Miami.

Dotzler also showed off a large skylight that had undergone missile testing, and he talked about a recent testing project that was supposed to be “the greenest building ever.” It was made up of two glass walls with a big space in between, and while he says the outer walls performed “great,” the interior walls fogged up in certain weather conditions.

“It was really green, but you couldn’t see through it,” he said.

Dotzler explained that while financially conscious builders may not want to front the extra capital for pre-construction testing, they’re sorry when issues come up late in the project. These can cost hundreds of percent more to fix than early testing would have.

In another words, “We’re cheap insurance,” he says.

Stay tuned to USGNN.com™ for more updates from the IGMA conference, which continues through Friday.