Thin is In–and Out

There’s a uniquely American ritual at glasstec. Whenever you run into someone from the U.S.—and there is a very healthy contingent here by the way despite the concerns about airline strikes and Ebola—they will ask you what you have seen that is new or different. I used to think this was because I was covering the show, but it is an equal-opportunity question asked by and to all. “What did you see?” and “What’s new?” are the common questions and they usually result in as many different answers as there are answerers.

Not this year. There is only one answer and it is consistent and single response from all: the story is in the thin glass. Oh sure, thin glass has been around for awhile but its use has been limited. And new types of thin glass have advanced, mainly in the touchscreen and smartphone area. But this year, thin glass is having a coming-out party. Applications seem to be everywhere.

Who's the thinnest glass of all? How about this curved glass. Thin glass can now be curved to angles of 270 degrees.

Who’s the thinnest glass of all? How about this curved glass. Thin glass can now be curved to angles of 270 degrees.

“Just about everything you see in Europe ends up in the United States a few years later,” Ed Zaucha of APG reminded me yesterday, and he is right. There’s a product application trajectory. You will see a technology introduced one year, see a limited of interesting number of applications at the next glasstec, and then, four years after the first introductions, applications explode and go mainstream. That’s about the time they first head over to the States (unless they originated there).

It’s actually fun to watch. I remember when the first custom holographic glass designs were introduced and crowds thronged 12 deep in line just to get a look at the technology. Now almost every gift and online shop in the U.S. offers them.

Fashionably thin: this insulating unit is more than 11 feet long and made out of thin glass.

Fashionably thin: this insulating unit is more than 11 feet long and made out of thin glass.

So this year, we are seeing a small number of thin glass applications introduced. Thin glass can now be curved and it’s true that this will eventually create additional aesthetic and decorative possibilities. But the power application will be in insulating glass. And here in Hall 10, you can see an 11+ foot continuous thin glass insulating unit on the Northglass stand. “Can you imagine what thin glass could mean for triple insulating units?” Zaucha asked with an eye toward the future.

I have a feeling we will find out in 2016.

Postscript

I am headed back to the States later today but will have a few more reports on the show in the coming days. I did just want to take a minute to give a well-deserved congratulations to our team at Key. I can tell by all the nice emails I have received that you are really enjoying the coverage. It is a grueling schedule to visit and cover the show not only in print but in video as well, and I believe our team consisting of editor Ellen Rogers, assistant editor Casey Flores and video producer Chris Bunn, has done an outstanding job.

Another view of the Northglass thin IG unit.

Another view of the Northglass thin IG unit.

And they are not the only ones. This was a challenging week for us as the Greenbuild show and the Association of Millwork Distributors shows were also taking place in the States. Editorial director/publisher Tara Taffera and assistant editor Nick St. Denis along with video editor Drew Vass handled them expertly as well.

Have a great weekend!

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