Volume 41, Issue 12 - December 2006
|The Journey of 9 Halls …
Begins in Düsseldorf, Where glasstec 2006 Entertained the Masses
By Charles Cumpston, Ellen Giard and Debra Levy
Whatever your glass game you are certain to find something you need (or just want) in at least one of the nine halls that make up glasstec, the bi-annual event that takes place in Düsseldorf, Germany.
The event took place this year October 24-28, and more than 1,300 companies, associations and research institutes from 46 countries exhibited their latest developments as well as updated and improved products. Visitors totaled more than 54,000 (compared to 53,752 in 2004).
The Italians led the number of exhibitors from countries other than Germany with 198, followed by China (97), the United States (68), The Netherlands (63), Great Britain (55) and France (41).
Hall 9: My, What Pretty Glass You Have
The displays included those of the many German guilds that participate in glasstec, along with the UEMV and a number of decorative glass manufacturers such as Armstrong, C.R. Loo and Kokomo Opalescent Glass Company. Also displaying was Decotherm, which introduced its digital ceramic frit glass decoration to inquiring eyes from around the world. The two largest areas of the floor were the guild area and the Bohle stand. In previous years, a number of artisans selling paperweights and hand-blown-glass trinkets had dominated the hall. That number seemed greatly reduced this year, with a few stands scattered throughout the entire fairgrounds.
Hall 10: A Strong Chinese Presence
“We have been very pleased with the response to our presence here at glasstec,” said Patrick Wang, general manager.
Toyah Zhang of Liaoning North Glass Machine Company was also pleased. The company displayed information about its equipment and machinery. Jade Hardware Ltd. of Guangzhou showed a full array of patch and sliding glass door fittings, along with handrail, profile connectors, door closers and rail fittings.
Also in Hall 10, CHMI of Keokuk, Iowa, had a position in the KL Megla booth promoting its various hardware products.
“We do joint manufacturing with them,” said Tony Lambros, president of CHMI, “so the products here at the show will also be available in the United States.”
He reported seeing a “fair amount” of attendees from the United States, and said that there was a lot of interest in their sliding door systems being shown, as well as a folding system that has no bottom track; magnets are used to hold it together when it closes.
“They can be used in big hotels to separate space and the glass can be decorated in any way,” he explained.
Dow Corning, which has U.S. operations based in Midland, Mich., announced the launch of its Quality Bond™ program, which is designed to provide support in testing, quality assurance and quality control, warranties and more to companies involved with silicone glazing. Currently, the program is only being offered in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Mark Maxwell with Dow Corning’s global marketing communications/core products business said this is because in North America companies are already proficient with silicone structural glazing and in other countries the process is relatively new and starting to grow in popularity.
Hall 11: Glass Doesn’t Have to Look Like Glass?
Other news for Saflex was the announcement of its Continuous Lamination Technology (more on this when we get to Hall 13 next month) and the introduction of its tri-layer acoustic product. This new technology, used for automobile glass, combines three interlayers—one layer of specialized acoustic PVB between two layers of traditional PVB—laminated between two or more lites of glass. The product enables noise, vibration and harshness engineers to design a vehicle that can be up to six decibels quieter than with standard tempered glass.
A few steps from Solutia’s stand, the glass technology live exhibition dominated the center of the building. Here, visitors could view innovative glass designs and displays, from lighted glass to photovoltaics; architectural, colorful, design displays; a large glass sphere (see image above) and a staircase made entirely of glass.
Across from glass technology live the Spanish company Cricursa was displaying its latest bent/curved glass innovations—these are applications that you simply can’t walk past without stopping.
“People come to our booth looking for specialty architectural glass,” said Joan Tarrus, marketing director. “They are looking for solutions for unique glass make-ups.”
While Cricursa is based in Europe, its North American presence is growing. Tarrus said the company has a showroom in New York as well as several representatives in the United States and had been seeing customers from the Unites States and Canada at the show.
“This is a very technical show,” he said. “People come here because they always find the latest news and it’s important for them to be here.”
Still in Hall 11, Viewcol was offering attendees crisp green apples, ripe berries and fresh citrus fruit—images, that is. The Australian company was promoting its digital printing technology for laminated glass.
“If I had a nickel for every picture that’s been taken of this booth I could pay for this booth with it,” said Eric Seifried, the company’s sales and marketing director. A first-time glasstec exhibitor, Viewcol has been working its way into numerous markets around the world and is beginning to make its way into the United States, as it is currently in negotiations will several glass fabricators.
The company’s process involves super imposing imagery onto a film product that the fabricator can then laminate into the glass with either PVB, EVA or resin. The company has also tested the product in both the United States and Canada.
Walk a few feet away from Viewcol, pass the glass technology live exhibition, and you’d find another first-time glasstec exhibitor: Bend, Ore.-based Glas-Weld.
“We’re here because we’re now working on entering the European market, having already been in the U.K. for a while,” said Simon Underwood who works in the company’s U.K. office. “It’s been a good show and we’ve had a lot of interest in our scratch-removal system,” he added.
Other U.S. companies exhibiting in Hall 11, included ACH Glass Operations, which was displaying its architectural glass products, and Glasslam, which was promoting its Color Cote sprayed glass system. This allows small companies to make their own colored glass products easily.
Sekisui, which has North American operations in Columbus, Ohio, was there as well, and saw continual booth traffic. The company was offering its interlayers for laminated glass.
Hall 12: Finding Ways to Make Better Glass
The Belgium-based Cytec Surface Specialties was one such company displaying laminated glass possibilities. Cytec offers a liquid resin process that allows companies of all sizes to make their own laminated glass. Monique Lempereur, marketing communications specialist, explained they were showing glass possibilities made by a number of their customers to show the diverse options that are available, including colors, bent/curved glass and lighted glass. Another product they showed involved laminating marble, granite, stone, etc. into glass.
Stevens Urethane of Easthampton, Mass., displayed its interlayer products used for protective glazing, such as their optical aliphatic polyurethane films and sheets. The company’s Mike Voltero said they were busy at the show, and increasing demands for security-resistant glazing fueled a lot of the traffic they saw.
Primary Energy Challenges Covered During GPD Press Conference
Tomoaki Abe, vice chairman of Nippon Sheet Glass, the Japanese primary glass manufacturer which recently acquired UK-based Pilkington, started off by saying, “They say that glass is a mature industry, but it is not. It is a growing industry. One whose growth is more than 1 percent ahead of world gross domestic product (GPD).”
Talking about the Pilkington acquisition, he pointed out that there is not a geographic overlap because Pilkington has been in Europe and North and South America while NSG is in Japan and Asia.
He closed by saying, “Please watch us as to what progress we make. It is going to take time but it is a good combination.”
On a more serious note, Arthur Ulens, president of Asahi Glass Corp. and chief executive officer of Glaverbel, discussed energy efficiency and the role of glass. He reported that a lot is being done to reduce emissions and that more will continue to be done.
“We need to explain what our challenges are as an industry and what we can do,” he stated. “Then we have to make it clear that this is not free.”
Ebeid retorted with the point that, “Despite the clamor for cleaner air, neither the consumer nor the builder is willing to pay for it. It has to be mandated through legislation.” He then added, “For our industry, we place too much emphasis on our individual products in competition against each other rather than presenting a united effort. That is what we need.”
glasstec 2006 Opens with Optimistic Industry-Wide Outlooks
The day before opening, while exhibitors busily prepared for the show’s opening, representatives of Messe Düsseldorf and the international glass industry shared optimistic views of the industry during an opening press conference.
Joachim Schäfer, managing director of Messe Düsseldorf Gmbh, opened the conference by talking about how glasstec has grown, and expectations for future growth.
“This is the 19th fair [glasstec] and the biggest ever,” he said. “The display area exceeds 63,000 square meters, a new record, and there are more than 315 new exhibitors—that’s nearly 10 percent more exhibitors and 50 percent more space,” he said.
Schäfer talked about the diversity and innovation that glass affords the architectural industry and how glasstec is able to be a source of the product’s growth.
”We’re delighted to post the biggest international exhibition and we’re looking to the future and being at the pulse of the sector to identify the current trends … we want to be the complete value chain [and a] resource [for the industry].”
He also talked about the growth of architectural glass in applications ranging from glass buildings and facades to interior applications.
“The multiple design options of glass facades are made possible only because of new developments in systems and technology,” he said. “The multi-functionality of glass constantly acquires new perspectives, and it is amazing to see how many different functions a single glass item can have.”
Siegfried Glaser, chairperson of the Forum Glastechnik at VDMA (The German Machinery and Plant Manufacturers’ Association), and chair of the glasstec exhibitors’ board, next spoke about some of the changes and advancements in glass processing machinery and how equipment is being produced to address growing trends in glass usage.
“The trend is toward high-quality, special glass,” he said. “The developing focus is on increasingly thinner glass.” Glaser showed samples of paper-thin glass products that have been created to illustrate this shift. He said there was also a constant growing demand for glass products such as safety glass, fire-rated glass and other specialty glass products.
“German manufacturers are leading in the field of high-tech plants for making high-quality special glass,” he said, adding that currently German companies are primarily positioned to supply the international glass market with production systems to manufacturer and fabricate these high-quality, special glasses.
Glaser also talked about how German glass machinery manufacturers are currently doing very well financially. He said the industry’s sales increased 57 percent domestically and 5 percent abroad over the first eight months of this year compared to the same period in 2005. He said the VDMA also expects turnover growth to level out at a “good double-digit figure” by the end of this year.
Regarding export growth for German machinery manufacturers, this is also doing well, accounting for 77 percent of business. Glaser said right now a hot market is the Middle East, where for the first six months of this year orders from the region quadrupled compared to the same period last year.
India and Eastern Europe also remained strong, but demand from China was on the decline. In 2006 the United States was still the largest export market.
Providing insight into the state of Germany’s glazing industry, Martin Nagel, president of glasstec 2006 and federal master of the German Glaziers’ Guild, was the next presenter. He described the trade as being “carefully optimistic,” with a push toward being more energy efficient.
“We see a great benefit in energy-saving glass,” Nagel said. “The awareness has grown these last few years.” Renovation and upgrading is another income generator. Nagel said that currently 26 million residential units are not up-to-date when it comes to energy efficiency—that’s 500 million square meters of windows.
Nagel explained that 86 percent of glaziers in Germany today provide window installation services, as well as a host of others, including services for all-glass facilities, profile glazing, framing and more; solar technology will be the next area in which the trade is headed. That means the buzzword of the industry is training.
“The concept of life-long learning will maintain a prominent position in the German glazier trade,” he said. “The training and professional development centers of the German glazier trade … ensure that the level of education will be maintained.” Nagel explained that these schools train apprentices in the areas of glazing, refining, glass painting and glass appliance construction.
“After receding sales in the past year the German glass industry is looking ahead again with optimism,” he said. “The trough has been passed, inquiries from abroad are increasing and the economic climate in Germany has slightly improved,” he said.
Specifically, companies producing flat glass saw a 22-percent sales growth, of which 28 percent was for abroad markets. Specialty glass and technical glazing also have been improving. Compared to last year, foreign sales increased by 12.3 percent; domestic sales, however, are still low, though orders are starting to increase.
As far as 2007 and the future, Overath expects the markets to continue improving, as new developments, such as photovoltaics and solar thermal technologies, are “reviving the market.”