Glass manufacturers and processors are focused on maximising production
efficiency, product quality and energy efficiency to increase their performance.
Factors such as increasing international competition in the glass
sector, price pressures, wider range of glass products and strongly diverging
batch sizes are compelling many glass converters to look towards
high-performance technologies in their production machinery.
The rising weight of construction glass is also another challenge with
increasing preference for large-format glazing units and laminated toughened
glass in end applications. To efficiently manufacture these heavy large-format
sheets, processing machines and logistics need to be modified.
High process speed and superior
Given the excess capacities prevailing on the glass market, glass
processing companies, especially in Europe can survive only by cutting
production costs. Companies are focussing on consistent automation concepts,
based on a holistic view of the operational environment and production
workflow. Machine producers for instance, tailor glass manufacturing equipment specifically
to their customers’ needs.
Extremely short cycle times are needed in industrial glass processing
and finishing to maximise efficiency, without compromising product quality and
dimensional tolerances. High precision in glass units is critical across all
user segments from automotive to architectural applications.
Fenestration and façade specialist Franz Hauk, representative of the
Technical Committee of the German Fachverband Fenster + Fassade e.V., recently called
for smaller tolerances for construction glass at the annual congress of the
German Flat Glass Association (Bundesverband Flachglas e.V.). He explained that
window and façade builders only had a very small tolerance area due to their
highly modern systems, and exceeding it would lead to massive problems.
More energy efficiency
Energy efficiency is also a key aspect of state-of-the-art glass
machinery production, which can be achieved through optimised workflows, and use
of highly efficient engines and the latest radiator and convection technology
in the manufacturing of safety glazing. The latest purification technology for
process water purification allows manufacturers to save the environment and
natural resources, reduce costs and improve machine performance.
Innovative insulating glass
Swiss-German group Bystronic glass offers speed’line, an example of
modern high-speed manufacturing technology in which process steps in the insulating
glass production line are geared optimally to the production of triple glazing
units to achieve fast cycle times. Thanks to speed’line’s triple glazing, units
can now be produced in the same time as double glazing units.
The company has also introduced new simulation software to the
industrial working party Research & Technology of ‘Forum Glasstechnik’, the
professional Association of Glass Machinery Builders in the German Engineering
Federation (VDMA e.V.). This software allows engineers to precisely calculate
the cycle times and costs for each individual glass pane while also displaying
optimisation potential on existing production lines.
New production technologies, market potential and application benefits
of triple glazing units from 2mm thin glass were also presented at the same
meeting by Austrian glass machinery producer Lisec. Apart from reducing glass
weight, using thinner glass also cuts primary energy needs in manufacturing by
30%, with the changeover from previously customary 4mm glass to 2mm thin glass
resulting in substantial energy savings when viewed across the 30 million
square metres of insulating glass produced every year in Germany alone.
New benchmark for machinery size
Setting a new benchmark in the size of glass processing machinery, German
company sedak GmbH & Co. KG has shown the capability to print complex,
multi-coloured pixel designs in high-resolution photo quality on extra-large
format sheets measuring up to 3.21m x 15m with their new digital flatbed system
for ceramic glass printing.
CEO Bernhard Veh explains that the system has a resolution of 720 dpi allowing
them to not only produce excellent prints but also offer a significantly
thinner ink layer than obtained through screen or roller printing thanks to
their digital printing process. This enables them to produce translucent prints
and design flowing transitions.
Trend towards vertical machines
Vertical machinery is the latest trend in finishing glass surfaces and
edges of glass doors and textured glass since they have a markedly smaller
footprint than machines with a horizontal layout. The vertical drilling and
grinding machine Vertmax by Italian glass machinery manufacturer Intermac
scores not only with its new user-friendly operator software but also its
finishing for float and laminated glass. Additionally, the system requires only
minimal set-up times and can drill, mill, grind and polish glass for a multitude
of applications quickly and with high precision in an automated working
High-powered laser technology
The glass manufacturing industry believes laser technology also holds
great potential for flat glass finishing. German firm Cerion GmbH offers
machines that can perform internal or external engravings using solid state
and/or CO2 lasers. The c-vertica series comes in various sizes and
configuration levels, ranging from small systems for finishing door-sized
formats all the way up to laser machines for sheet formats as big as 6,000 x
3,300 x 100 mm. Add-on modules allow the format to be enlarged by 3,000mm each.
With laser machines made by Cerion, float and laminated toughened glass
as well as mirrors and other coated glass can be treated. Even surface
engravings on TSG no longer pose a problem. Additionally, laser technology is
suitable for de-coating flat glass or applying transparent anti-skid textures
(certified according to R9 and R10). Thanks to the high degree of automation,
entire product series can be processed with minimum personnel intervention.
Reliable quality assurance
Quality assurance remains a major impacting factor in glass production
and processing. State-of-the-art scan systems provide ultimate assurance for
glass manufacturing and processing. Ulrich Bauereiß, Sales Manager of Dr.
Schenk GmbH, a specialist for industrial measuring technology says the true
benefit of automatic surface inspection in glass manufacturing lies in process
optimisation. By evaluating the data furnished by these systems, flaws in the
manufacturing process can be identified and eliminated.
Viprotron GmbH offers inspection systems specifically geared to various
flat glass processing segments, which consider the special requirements of each
process. The latest generation of this scanner technology reveals even the
smallest of defects.
Glass machinery and equipment producers from across the world can get a
complete 360-degree view of the latest technological innovations at the
upcoming Glasstec 2014 exhibition being held in Düsseldorf from 21 to 24
October. The most important international trade fair for the glass sector,
Glasstec 2014 will present the entire spectrum from glazier-crafted to
industrial glass processing for flat glass, hollow glass, solar glass as well
as various types of special glass. The latest technology trends in machine and
equipment building will be the focus of the VDMA Symposium being held on 22
October as part of the special show ‘Glass Technology Live’ at the Glasstec.