Architects Guide to Glass, USGlass

Gorillas in the Midst

The wide expanse that was AIA 2015 in Atlanta last week ...
The wide expanse that was AIA 2015 in Atlanta last week …

There were new ones and improved ones, and there were variations on a theme. There were enhancements and enrichments, as well as unique colors and new sizes. And, while they were all good, there was only one product at the AIA show that literally stopped me in my tracks.

It was in, of all things, the booth of the panel supplier SnapCab. Snapcab displayed its patented system of interlocking panels designed to make any panel job, well, a snap. “The panels (layers) simply stack one on top of the other, and installation can be completed inside of a day, including demolition and installing a new ceiling,” says the company on its website.

The booth featured a number of different panel materials including…. wait for it …. Gorilla Glass®. It is, to my knowledge, the first attempt to sell this product aggressively into the architectural market.

The SnapCab booth featured architectural panels with Gorilla(r) Glass.
The SnapCab booth featured architectural panels with Gorilla(r) Glass.

For those who may not know, Gorilla Glass® is a registered trademark of the Corning Company, which makes the highly-specialized light, very thin and impact-resistant glass used in iPhones and iPads. The glass also conducts the slightest of electrical charges given off by human fingers, thus allowing these devices to respond to human touch.

Both Asahi’s Dragontail and Schott’s Xensation are similar, though not nearly as widely manufactured. If you have ever watched a teenager misuse their iPhone, you know how tough this glass is. Add to that its lightweight and thin width, and you have a product ready for architectural prime time.

Except nobody, including Corning, knows quite what to do with it yet. “We are trying it out in elevator panels,” said SnapCab’s marketing manager Brian Godshall. “Corning approached us and it’s a good fit for them and us.”

When asked if the glass has been tested to Z97.1 standards, Godshall responded affirmatively. “It meets all the appropriate impact standards, including Z97.1.”

Though this is a glass ready for take off, the problem is going to be how. Corning is very used to, and geared up for, consistent assembly-line type manufacturing with replicated quality and size, hence the panels.

It’s a glass that screams to be used in custom applications, and whichever manufacturer is able to meet the need for custom sizes first will have an amazing advantage in this sure-to-skyrocket category.