Although the manufacture of raw flat glass follows a well-established process – and basic flat glass products are made in a similar manner – technological innovations still occur. In recent years, such value-adding developments as low-emissivity (low-E) glass, smart windows, and self-cleaning capabilities have created exciting new opportunities for glass companies to stand out in the marketplace.
As innovation is a cornerstone of the global flat glass industry – especially in the major US market – demand is expected to rise 4.3% per year to $86 billion in 2021.
1. Low-E Glass Contributes to Lower Energy Costs
Controlling energy costs has become an increasingly major concern among building operators, leading to heightened interest in solar control glass – or, glass that reflects away a significant portion of the sun’s heat while still admitting sunlight to brighten interiors. Low-E glass – glass with a transparent coating that reflects heat – is the most common type of solar control glass. Among some notable low-E glass offerings are:
- Sunergy from Asahi Glass: Available in a range of colors, this pyrolytic-coated glass is used in residential and nonresidential exterior applications.
- LoĒ³-340 from Cardinal Glass: In addition to reducing solar heat gain, this glass reduces glare without the use of tinting.
- ClimaGuard from Guardian Glass: This glass is available in several formulations designed for the unique requirements of different US geographic regions.
2. Smart Windows: A More Advanced Solar Control Glass
Another solar control glass product is the smart window, which is capable of darkening and lightening, either automatically or on command. One type of smart window utilizes electrochromic technology, in which electricity causes a transparent coating over the window to change color. Among the key suppliers of electrochromic glass is SAGE Electrochromics, a subsidiary of Saint-Gobain that makes SageGlass, a ceramic-coated window glass that allows the user to create up to three different tint zones in a single pane of glass. This glass reduces glare and heat and eliminates the need for blinds or shades.
3. Self-Cleaning Glass: Easy to Maintain
While solar control glass can provide significant energy savings, self-cleaning glass can lower maintenance costs by reducing the frequency of window cleaning activities. Given the number of windows on a typical modern commercial high-rise, such costs can be considerable.
Self-cleaning glass features a coating that provides hydrophilic properties, allowing water to sheet over the glass with little or no streaking or spotting. This coating also uses the sun’s ultraviolet radiation to break down organic dirt on the glass over time. As a result, self-cleaning glass remains clean for much longer than conventional glass. One producer of self-cleaning glass is Cardinal Glass, which offers Neat, a glass that features a titanium dioxide coating that helps decompose organic material and a silicon dioxide layer that is extremely smooth, allowing water to sheet off the glass.
Where to Find Out More
Need more information? For historical demand data and forecasts by market and geographic region, see Global Flat Glass, an industry study published by the Freedonia Group. The study also covers market environment factors, industry structure, company market share, and top companies.
About the Author
Joseph Iorillo is a researcher and writer at The Freedonia Group, where he contributes to studies on a wide array of topics, including consumer and industrial goods, chemicals, and packaging.