GEPN Offers Education and Networking Opportunities in the Crane Capital of the U.S.

by Jordan Scott

“This is definitely a great time in the Northwest for the glass industry. As you can see, there are cranes everywhere. We are one of the busiest pockets in the U.S., and we’re appreciative of that,” said Rick Koeller, president of the Washington Glass Association (WGA) as he welcomed attendees to start Glass Expo Pacific Northwest™ (GEPN) ’18. GEPN took place May 31 to June 1 in Bellevue, Wash. (suburban Seattle). The event offered insight into some major glass and glazing industry trends and topics. GEPN, co-sponsored by the WGA, USGlass magazine,™ and Architects’ Guide to Glass & Metal, featured a trade show, networking and an in-depth educational program.

Educational Seminars

Vaughn Schauss, Americas technical consultancy manager for Kuraray’s Tro-sifol division, presented “Working with Laminated Safety Glass to Avoid Problems.”

“Edge defects take away from the natural beauty that glass offers,” said Schauss. “When we talk about edge defects we’re also talking about edge stability, or the laminate’s resistance to defects along the edges over time.”

According to Schauss, PVB interlayers are created through the formation of hydrogen bonds. Adhesion can be lowered through moisture and temperatures that are too hot or too cold. Wash water heavy in minerals can also reduce the interlayer’s adhesion to the glass. If the temperature is too hot, bubbles can be pre-sealed inside. If the temperature is too cold, it won’t seal enough, and bubbles may be created during the autoclave process.

Bernard Lax, CEO of Pulp Studio, who also spoke at Glass TEXpo™ (see related article in the June 2018 issue), spoke about “Decorative Glass: Benefiting from Graphic Imaging.”

“There is not one perfect imaging technique for every single job. It de-pends on the type of image and where it’s being applied,” said Lax.

“Ninety percent of our time is spent indoors,” said Julia Schimmelpenningh, global architectural applications manager for Eastman Chemical Company, during her seminar “Acoustic Laminated Glass Workshop.”

“You can add an air space and insulating space to add acoustical performance,” she said. “A dampening interlayer material also reduces noise.”She pointed out that a tri-layer material designed for superior sound dampening performance can reduce noise by 10 db.

“It increases performance without an increase in glass thickness,” said Schimmelpenningh. “A solid 40-inch concrete wall achieves a sound transmission class (STC) of 48. A 1.5-inch insulating unit has an STC of 48. Glass is not the weak link, and we have to stop badgering ourselves about that. Glass is amazing. Let’s use it to its potential.”

Florian Doebbel, business development manager for Sika Corp., spoke about optimizing structural silicones for different applications in the seminar “Structural Silicone Applications – Trends in Glass Bonding.”

According to Doebbel, high-modulus silicones are better to achieve energy efficiency due to improved argon retention, better U-values and longer insulating glass service life. High-strength silicones can better achieve a lean structure with slimmer frames and larger glass dimensions.

C-Suite Changes

In the seminar “C-Suite Changes Coming in the Contract Glazing Industry,” Lyle Hill, managing director of Key-tech North America, and Attila Arian, president of Schüco USA, discussed changes coming to contract glaziers in the U.S. (see related article page 96).

“The big are getting bigger. The top 40 have doubled their business in the last few years,” said Hill. “More and more people will have to specialize. They won’t be able to be a general glazing contractor anymore.”

Arian said that the U.S. is in need of small- to medium-sized companies with higher technological advances that are currently missing in the market.

He compared the U.S. market to con-tract glaziers in Germany.

“Germany can do work at tight tolerances because they invest in machinery and keep their stock updated. They don’t outsource their engineering work in Germany and apprenticeships are stronger there. To be a glazier you must be an apprentice for three years, six years for a foreman,” said Arian.

He suggested that the industry initiate conversation about how to improve the strength of smaller companies.

The Show Floor

GEPN ’18 also gave exhibitors a chance to network with potential customers.

Portals, which is part of Bohle, is just beginning to penetrate the local market.

“It’s tough to crack,” said Justin McNutt, sales representative of Portals.

According to McNutt, the company has a hands-on approach with the design and manufacturing of its products, allowing for greater quality control.

Salem Flat Glass & Mirror displayed some of its robotic line. The machine helps with loading, unloading and transferring glass on edging and beveling machines.

“The robotic line increases safety and reduces risk. It also reduces fabrication labor by redistributing the labor elsewhere on the line. We’ve seen an exponential growth in production,” said Mike Rosato, machines sales engineer/owner.

Vetrotech Saint-Gobain showed its fire-rated impact glass Safeguard. The glass is designed to slow down intruders and can take seven to eight minutes to be compromised, giving first responders more time to arrive on the scene.

The company’s butt-glazing system is growing more popular according to Patricia Hernandez, Northwest regional sales manager.

“It can be used structurally, and it also provides daylighting and LEED points,” she said.

Attendees had different reasons for participating in the show. Some focused on education while others were there to network.

“It’s a great opportunity to learn about new products, networking and there’s been some fantastic presentations,” said Richard Green, Front Consulting. “It’s been a great blend of technical information, people and products.”

Justin Keesee, residential supervisor at Guarantee Glass & Mirror, was interested in meeting other companies involved in the competitive Washington market.

“We’re here to get our name out there and see who’s out there. There are a lot of people to experience and learn from,” he said.

Juan Pascheco witth Kyocera wanted to learn more about the glass industry.

“We’re a components manufacturer for high-temperature and high-wear applications,” he said. “The show has been largely educational for me to understand the glass industry and how our products could potentially be used in the process of glass. We think our products could be a good fit for this industry.”

Next up: Glass Expo Midwest™ ’18 heads to Indianapolis, November 8-9.

Seattle Under Glass

While covering GEPN ‘18, I felt the restless desire to get into the city and explore. I had never been to Seattle and I was mesmerized by the landscape, both natural and man-made. At the end of the show, I made it out to the city for my first stop — Chihuly Garden and Glass.

The first part of the visit included colorful indoor installations with sea themes. Each individual glass work is shaped and colored with care, forming an awesome effect when placed together like a luminescent wave.

Dale Chihuly’s work is its strongest in the garden. lt’s obvious that he meant for his art to appear alongside nature. His glass sculptures look organic when placed next to flowers of the same color, as if the glass grew from the earth. It was a sight to see, especially with the Space Needle hovering over the garden.

The famous Space Needle was my next stop. Seattle’s best-known fixture is undergoing a renovation, as was evident by two men painting the halo while standing on wooden planks outside the safe confines of the newly installed glass. The renovation is intended to bring visitors closer to the city with more glass and more views. There were gaps between the thick glass lites where tourists, including myself, stuck their phones through to get a decent picture of the Seattle skyline. Fingerprints and reflected light made that task difficult behind the glass.

I heard repeatedly at GEPN that Washington has the most cranes of any state, and I believe it. I was able to see many of Seattle’s cranes lit up in colorful lights.

I returned to the city Saturday to visit other tourist spots such as Pike Place Market, the Gum Wall (as disgusting as it sounds) and the Amazon Spheres.

The Spheres provide Amazon employees with space to work while surrounded by nature. They are open to the public two Saturdays a month, and I was lucky enough to be able to visit. I honestly think I’d have trouble concentrating in such a beautiful space. Plants are everywhere, surrounding unique workspaces.

The glass spheres stand out on the block, surrounded by tall, glass skyscrapers. I was able to see the reflection of the spheres in neighboring buildings, and it created such a stark contrast. The spheres provide a playfulness to the area with a space for dogs just outside the structure. This was another great example of how glass works alongside nature to inspire.

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