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IGMA – Fabricator Workshop preserves knowledge

Keeping trade knowledge alive


June 8, 2016
By Margaret Webb

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The IGMA’s first IG Fabricator Workshop was held May 3 through 5 at the Intertek testing facilities in Plano, Texas.  IGMA plans to offer this workshop multiple times each year and at various locations throughout Canada and the U.S.  Oak Moser of Oak Hill Consulting is professionally moderating the workshop.  Oak, formerly a plant manager at a major fabrication facility, brings his years of experience to this new role.

The object for the workshop is to transfer knowledge and skills to the next generation. Many of the baby boomer experts will be retiring in the next five years and we want to make sure that most of that capital knowledge stays in the industry and doesn’t retire at the same time. Students gain valuable insight into the IG production process and forge networking connections that will last their career and are transferable both within their own facilities but also beyond. Have a problem? One of our subject matter experts or a fellow student will most likely have the answer or be able to provide guidance on where to find a solution.

So what made this training session different? This was predominantly a hands-on training event. Students rotate through various work stations to learn and practice many of the activities that are part of a regular IG production line.

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The opening session on Day One started with an orientation on safety and basic information that the students needed to know for each work station. As safety in handling glass and other materials is paramount in the workshop, IGMA provided all students with personal protection equipment including full arm sleeves, safety glasses and cut-proof gloves. Mike Burk, chair of the IGMA Glass Safety Awareness Council and a trained adult education specialist, was on hand to ensure safety protocols were strictly adhered to.

Day Two is where the students put theory to practice.  There were six work stations, each with its own expert moderator or instructor.  Each hands-on session was approximately 30 minutes each so that each student had the opportunity to practice the specific task associated with the work station. Registration was limited to a maximum of 30 students to ensure that each one gets the individualized attention required to master a technique.

At the frost point station, Bill Lingnell, IGMA Technical Consultant, showed students how to set up the frost point device including how to properly use dry ice, place the unit on the measuring sensor, take a measurement and learn how to determine a pass from a failed unit. The volatile fog station with Jeff Haberer of Trulite Glass and Aluminum Solutions gave students the opportunity to view units both passed and failed per the ASTM E2189 procedure. The gas fill and measurement station with Randi Ernst of FDR Design  let students gas fill their own IG units and showed them how to properly measure the gas content with the Sparklike GasGlass device.

David Cooper of Guardian Industries manned the sealant adhesion butterfly test and sealant mix test workstation teaching two activities: correctly scoring glass and following the procedure to determine primary sealant adhesion to glass, and also mixing a two-part sealant properly and determining that the mixture has been done correctly. Desiccant testing with Shulin Cui of SilicaStar showed two procedures for measuring desiccant capacity. The first used a pre-packaged desiccant kit commonly provided by suppliers and the second uses a microwave. Finally, glass cutting with Bill Briese of GED Integrated Solutions taught the importance of using cutting oil when cutting glass and showed students the results of a good cut versus a poor one. Students were also be able to see the effect on sealant adhesion when glass is improperly cleaned.

Day Two concluded with a networking reception where students had the chance to ask the subject matter experts questions on the day’s activities and consult with them about specifics in their own operations. Rounding out the workshop, Day Three focused on IG design, certification and testing, component compatibility and a facility tour to witness impact testing, full wall testing and hurricane testing.

Visit the IGMA website (igmaonline.org) for dates and locations for future IG Fabricator Workshops.


Margaret Webb is the executive director of the Insulating Glass Manufacturers Association.


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