AGRR, On the Road with USGlass, USGlass

Fathers—of Invention and Otherwise

“Repositionable note” is the generic term for 3M’s Post-It-Notes®, those little usually-yellow squares most office workers use everyday. Just about everybody knows the story of its birth, as the low-tack glue languished within 3M’s confines for six years before it found a home on paper. This goes to prove the old saying (that I just made up) “it’s not in the invention, it’s in the application.” And, by golly, there are a few new glass inventions just waiting for an application to ride them to glory.

You may have seen the news reports last week about Corning’s creation of “Willow Glass,” which is basically the same as the glass currently used in smart phones, iPads, etc. (which is called Gorilla Glass)—only on steroids. It’s currently found a home there but, if the past is prologue, it won’t be long before applications and adaptations for the traditional architectural glass industry will be found.

The invention-application equation goes both ways for glass and ceramics. Take the case of curved glass. Originally developed to meet the demands of car designers who wanted a continuous curved windshield, curved glass is today used in too many applications to mention. And the radii of curvature has been pushed all the way to the creation of a true 90-degree one a few years back.

The quest to develop new coatings has led to some of the best acoustical and wave insulating products available. I was in a major manufacturer’s R&D lab in the late 1980s and saw the very top-secret testing of a glass that at that time was called anti-eavesdropping glass. The scientists at the time covered the radio with a five-sided box of glass and the radio transmission stopped. Nothing but light waves could penetrate the glass. It was a neat application, but one of our tour guides that day opined as to how there would probably not be much demand to stop radio transmissions as people liked listening to the radio. Well, fast-forward 25 years or so and you can imagine how popular that glass would be now as companies work to keep “wireless” communication secure within their walls.

 Just as computer screens and television screens are in the process of evolving into one entity, I predict that their offspring will eventually made with windows and smart (white) boards allowing one lite of glass to act as your window (with variable transmittance of light and changing colors and patterns, of course), your television screen, your computer screen and your game platform. And just that evolution—whether in application or innovation—is part of what makes glass such an incredible product.

Speaking of Offspring …                  

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads in the glass industry. Your influence is always felt and never forgotten, even in ways you could never imagine.

Along those lines, I was looking for a good video in honor of the occasion and most of them were well … pretty sappy. I saw this one on TV this a.m. and, though different, it has parts to which every Dad can relate.

 Have a great week!