As the size of glass increases, so do the machines that handle those large lites. The trend to build bigger prompted Wood’s Powr-Grip Co. Inc. (WPG), a Laurel, Mont.-based manufacturer of vacuum lifting tools and equipment, to build a mammoth curved glass lifter with a capacity of 5,300 pounds.

The trend to build bigger prompted Wood’s Powr-Grip Co. Inc. (WPG) to build a mammoth curved glass lifter with a capacity of 5,300 pounds.

WPG’s new curved glass lifter has a wingspan of up to 20 feet, is roughly 10 feet long and stands over six-feet tall. It lifts glass with a minimum radius of 50 inches, which makes it the company’s largest capacity vacuum lifter manufactured to date. It also features a curved glass handling option.

“The end customer, Christopher Glass, for this particular job contacted us around a year ago or more and had asked us to quote a custom lifter for these pieces,” says Ross King, WPG sales manager. “The practicality of owning the unit was not in the cards for them for such an occasional use. Christopher Glass had worked with Great Lakes Lifting Solutions before, so they approached them for a solution. Great Lakes ordered this lifter to provide a solution for this customer and to use in their lease fleet for future jumbo capacity installations.”

The substantial size of WPG’s lifter could be a solution to the current design trend of “bigger is better.” The design community realizes that architectural jumbo glass provides an array of benefits, including the building’s aesthetic appeal, minimizing visual barriers and increasing energy efficiency. Studies have also shown that more natural daylight in buildings offers many health benefits.

As such, jumbo glass has become a popular design choice in many modern buildings. Jumbo glass ranges from widths of 84 inches to 130 inches with heights from 144 inches to 300 inches. These sizes demand sizeable production equipment.

“The architectural community is pushing for glass, especially windows, to be bigger,” says Chris Cullum, sales manager for CMS North America Inc., of Caledonia, Mich. “They’re basically saying ‘how big can you make these?’ They want to take out what was six different lites with metal in between them and put one piece in. For that reason, machines have to be big.”

The size of glass will continue to grow as architects and clients strive to build bigger, better and more visually striking buildings. As that occurs, WPG and other manufacturers will be on the front lines designing machines to accommodate the larger lites of glass.

“We are getting more requests than before, but these very large pieces are still an exception,” King says. “With the smaller labor force, there will likely be a trend to produce larger curtainwall assemblies, which will require larger lifters to install.”