Subscribe to USGNN!

USGNN Original StoryIt's All in the Interlayer (and Out of the Autoclave)

Laminating glass production has become more popular with fabricators and their options continue to grow, as has been evidenced here at glasstec in Düsseldorf, Germany.

One reason more companies are doing their own lamination is that the investment has decreased making the decision to go into production more affordable for more companies.

Doug Canfield, president of Casso Solar in Pomona, N.Y., points out that having the option of making laminated glass without an autoclave is a factor in more companies deciding to go into production.

"The market for autoclave-less laminating production is being driven by companies asking what they can do for themselves," he says. "Companies are doing tempering and sending out for the laminating and they are not satisfied with what they get back. Pieces come back broken, etc.," he continues. Also, companies that do decorative glass and have to laminate it for safety are looking to do their own laminating so that their artwork is protected. He says, "What you get back is always an issue."

How fast is this market growing? "If you take window glass out of the equation, it is growing by 50 percent a year; good substantial growth," says Canfield.

What should companies ask themselves if they are thinking of adding this capability? "How much of one size glass do you want to make; what are your production requirements, and what kind of interlayer do you want?" recites Canfield. "Many customers don't need PVB. EVA works very nicely and it is more clear if it is artistic glass. With it, instead of PVB, they don't have to get into the moisture issue."

Ah, yes. The moisture issue. This brings us to EVA.

Maja Weller, product manager, Bridgestone Industrial Ltd., a German supplier of EVA interlayer that is expanding its presence in the North American market, explains that there are two types of the product. One, thermoplastic, which is non-cross linking and the bonding is mechanical not chemical and it is produced by extruding. Her company's Evasafe EVA-based thermo-set product with a 3D cross linking capability has a different formula and method of production. "We don't apply extreme heat and add no plasticizer," she says. "It is not extruded and has mechanical and chemical bonding. This makes the adhesion much stronger and it is not humidity-sensitive."

According to Weller, the product allows "the small guy to get into the lamination market. It requires no control room, there is no concern about storing the interlayer material, and you just need a small oven."

She also makes the point that the interlayer allows a company to offer "design" products, which have better profit margins. "Compared to PVB, this costs twice as much but the economies are in the production process." Continuing to go through its advantages she says it is good for tempered glass because when it melts it fills in the gaps in the rough surface of the glass better than alternative materials. She also points to its virtues for LED glass because moisture is not a problem, which means it doesn't affect the electrical components.

One design alternative that she is very excited about is that the interlayer can be used with thin stone and then backlit to show the beauty of the stone.

According to Weller, the company will offer the support and service for a company that wants to get into lamination with everything they need including all the materials, not just the interlayer.

The company's main market has been solar panels and it is now moving into the architectural market.

Anyone interested in laminating glass made by any method has a lot to look at and choose from at glasstec, as there are many exhibitors participating in this market segment.

One company showing a new product is Bystronic Glass. Iris Minten, public relations/online communication for the company, explains that it is introducing an automatic trim machine for PVB film. "It can be used for film up to 4.6 mm [and] 12-fold and has a cutting speed of over 40 m/min." The most significant thing about the machine, she says, is that it is a cold process, which means that there is no sticking of the film layers by the cutting process. This means that the film trimmer keeps the layers of film from melding together, which could prevent the air and moisture from escaping from the unit.

glasstec continues through tomorrow. Stay tuned to USGNN.com™ for more coverage from the show floor.

Need more info and analysis about the issues?
CLICK HERE to subscribe to USGlass magazine.