Fall Preview

By Debra A. Levy

Just as the Fall signals a new season of TV shows, movies and school-aged children, so does it signal a new season of products on display by the glass industry. And that season kicks off September 12 in Las Vegas where you will find USGlass magazine (in booth 410) along with hundreds of other companies displaying their newest in products and services. Here are the five product categories I would look to for the greatest in innovation this Fall:

1. Jumbo glass: While jumbo glass has been around for a while now, the number of companies that manufacture it has increased rapidly. You’ll see offerings from so many companies that I bet within the next five years jumbo won’t be jumbo anymore; it will just be some of the many glass sizes available.

2. Jumbo coated glass: And while jumbo glass gains in usage and popularity, so will its ability to be coated with a variety of coatings. Vitro’s new high-performance magnetron sputtered vacuum deposition coater debuted last month in Wichita Falls, Texas, at a cost of $55 million. Vitro expects to coat even larger sizes next year. Guardian’s 12th jumbo coater worldwide is debuting in Carlton, Mich., as well, and will likely take advantage of ground-breaking research and development. And Viracon’s large-sized coater is already in operation in its Owatonna, Minn., plant, which is a model of efficiency. There’s more to come as well.

3. Insulating glass technology: This area continues to change as a result, ironically, of some of the same trends in larger glass. Jumbo IG units mean new types of spacers, such as Viracon’s new warm-edge spacer technology for insulating glass units called Viracon Thermal Spacer (VTS). VTS replaces a traditional spacer, desiccant and primary sealant with a single component spacer—and it’s available in glass sizes up to 130- by 236-inches.

4. Robotics: You’ll probably see more of this at glasstec in Düsseldorf next month than anywhere else, as robotics comes of age on the glass fabrication floor. A dearth of qualified labor is even moving traditionally cautious fabricators to incorporate automation into their lines. And we’re just starting to see the move toward critical mass in robotics with artificial intelligence. This combination will be especially helpful in the quality control arena.

5. Manipulators: Those mobile vacuum lifters now have a category all their own as they continue to gain in market share and advance in sophistication. This equipment is no longer just for the early adopters as new and enhanced variations come to market. One of the drivers of this new equipment? Jumbo-sized glass of course.

I hope you get to see everything available at all the shows this fall, including one other thing—US! USGlass magazine will be exhibiting in Las Vegas (booth 410) and in Düsseldorf (hall 13, stand D14). I hope you’ll stop by, say hello and we can compare notes on the latest in new products.

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