Ready to Learn: Training and Education for the Insulating Glass Industry

By Bill Lingnell

Today’s design, manufacture, installation and end use of insulating glass units (IGU) in buildings requires a substantial background in the technologies and overall education of how the IGU actually works. While IGUs have been around for a long time, understanding the full cycle, from manufacturing/fabrication to the end use, which could be in a residential or commercial building, requires a considerable amount of training and education covering the basics and special components.


The Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance (IGMA) provides many programs, publications, research and presentations that address training and education. It’s extremely important that a company have the resources and culture to provide employees the proper training and education to understand the goals and principles that will make the business successful and profitable. These IGMA programs are available to members and others who are interested in obtaining and maintaining a sound foundation of IGU manufacturing and end use. For example, hands-on workshops, such as the IG Fabricator Workshop, give program participants a chance to see the various stages of how IGUs are made. It also covers steps, testing, observations, handling, materials used, investigating potential problem areas, quality assurance, and a host of other items pertinent to the IGU’s production and end use.

This workshop provides hands-on experience surrounding materials, testing, fabrication techniques, technologies, and investigation of failures that are included in the program’s eight modules of the work stations. The modules include: frost point testing, glass cutting and washing, spacers-muntins-grids used in IGU fabrication, gas filling/technology-easurement, desiccants/desiccated matrix, sealants, volatile fog evaluation, and forensic evaluation-investigation of IG failures. Each session is led by experienced industry experts in the subject matter field.

Workshop presentations also cover the design of IGUs, including the main
principles and parameters of putting a unit together. Many of the materials, parts, components and engineering considerations are discussed in an open forum with questions and answers among the instructors and participants.


A short session is also included on the importance of safety in the workplace with specific emphasis on IGU producers. This portion addresses how to follow certain guidelines that keep the employees safe and make the shop floor a good place to work.

The workshop is held in a major testing laboratory that also gives participants an opportunity to learn about the significance of IGU testing for product development and certification. Having the chance to learn and observe many of these items relating to the IGU provides a foundation students can add to their knowledge base and experience they can use to train others in their own organization. The workshop will next take
place in Plano, Texas, November 12-14, 2019.

IGMA also has many other educational programs for the IGU industry that address design, incorporate new technologies, investigate failure modes, etc., of the product. For example, “Preventing IG Failures” is an online educational seminar that includes ten hours of training presented by subject-matter experts. Topics covered range from glazing guidelines to examination of glass breakage and seal failures. This is also helpful in training new employees on many of the practical “dos and don’ts” of IGUs.

A “Leadership Development Program” is also available. This is based on a team performance model that focuses on the soft skills of leadership, character and communication skills that assist in developing individuals in their everyday tasks, along with increasing successful team-building competences. IGMA recently launched some additional manuals on quality that complement previous work and will assist IGU facilities in achieving even higher quality standards in their operation.

These training and educational topics are only a few of the many items available from IGMA to help the insulating glass industry provide training and education to their employees and company. Additional information on these and other programs is available through the IGMA website,

Bill Lingnell is the technical director for the Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance.

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