An Issue of Champions

By Debra A. Levy

The July issue of USGlass magazine is always one of my favorites as it contains our Annual Guide to New Products and Services for the glass and metal industry. The relative dearth of new industry products during the recession-laden end of the last decade has been replaced by a cascade of new and important products. Though you’ll see many of these products in the rest of the pages, here I want to focus on the new types of glass that debuted at the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Conference on Architecture in New York City late last month.

Glass products are the prize-fighters of the construction industry—they get knocked down, they get back up again. When maligned for not performing in certain ways they develop new products that do. Glass takes a lot of cheap shots and hard knocks from other building material industries. Even so, the great R & D departments of the primaries always figure out how to come out ahead with innovative products that meet expanding specifications and design considerations. Here’s a few that the primaries were showing at the AIA Conference last month.

AGC heralded the North American debut of two products that have been avail-able in Europe for more than a decade. AGC’s Mark Twente says they are ideal for back-painted glass and interior applications. Lacobel® is one type of glass that is glossy on one side and ready for back-painting on the other. It also can be tempered and can be used for spandrel, as well. Matelac® is similar, but with a satin finish on one side instead of a gloss making it prime for use in interior applications as well.

Guardian Glass introduced a vacuum insulating glass hybrid that offers an insulating value of R-14. “It’s a glass that insulates like a wall,” said Chad Simkins. The company also announced its 12th jumbo glass coater, which is being built in Carleton, Mich., and will be able to coat glass up to roughly 11 by 17 feet.

Vitro Architectural Glass provided an overview of its new Acuity Glass which is a low-iron, 6 millimeter thick glass designed to act as a substrate for coatings and spandrel glass. But it’s what Acuity lacks that gets all the attention—it has no green hue. The company designed the glass to be used with current and “coatings yet to be conceived,” says Rob Struble. The company is also launching its oversized coater, allowing any of its current—and perhaps future—coatings to be used on oversized glass.

It’s clear to see how these products work to solve problems such as increased energy performance and insulating values. And they also provide additional design options for large-sized glass, back-painting, spandrel and interior glazing—all growing markets right now. Glass continues to be a formidable adversary to other façade and interior materials.

If you’d like to see these products in action, take a look at our AIA Conference coverage on the USGlass website at All these innovations, plus the other new ones in these pages, show why glass will always remain a champion building product.

To view the laid-in version of this article in our digital edition, CLICK HERE.