Glass Canada

Technology Glass
Spreading the word about nano-fusion

... nano-fusion

May 8, 2008  By *

Editor’s Note: A Canadian company is making advances in new coating
technology. Prelco, located in Riviere-du-Loup, Quebec, has installed a
Chemical Vapour Deposition (CVD) chamber used to apply a newly licensed
nano-technology coating called Nano-Fusion.

The licensed CVD chamber built by the company is the first of its kind
in Canada and is able to apply coatings to monolithic glass and IG
units up to 96 by 196 inches (2438mm by 4978mm) in size.

Prelco is a pioneer in this new technology and Glass Canada magazine
has been following this company’s efforts to educate the industry about
a new wave of nano-fusion products for glass applications. -end-

It has only been one year since Prelco installed the first Chemical Vapour Deposition (CVD) chamber in Canada. It incorporates a technology called Nano-Fusion that applies a water repellent protective coating to the surface of glass. When water comes into contact with glass protected by Nano-Fusion it beads, rapidly streaming off the glass surface. The glass stays clear and clean and does not accumulate spots or dirt.

Nano-technology coating is factory applied in a chemical vapour deposition (CVD) chamber. The chemical mixture is vapourized into the chamber and instantly coats the glass. The molecules of the nano-chemicals bind with the glass molecules to form a permanent chemical bond.

While improvements in technology will produce better products, it does not mean applicable industries will embrace it overnight. From a sales and marketing point of view, Nano-Fusion should be an easy sell. It is a value added product which brings a distinctive character to glass that can be used for an array of applications from architectural to automotive glass.

Like any new technology breaking into a well established industry, a marketing campaign becomes an educational campaign. “It’s natural for people to be reluctant to adopt new products. They don’t want to be the guinea pig. But once it is tried and tested, then it becomes easy to sell because everybody knows about it,” says product specialist Bill Marchitello, adding that the same thing happened when ‘warm edge’ technology was first introduced. “People weren’t sure if it would work, but now it’s being specified everywhere.”

Launching new products presents interesting opportunities for companies in the glass industry, but it also presents a number of challenges. One of these challenges is developing an efficient advertising campaign that promotes the product directly to the people who will be interested in purchasing it. These include, purchasing agents, architects and other specification writers as well as the end users.

Palais des Congrès de Montréal (Realization phase 1: Unicel Architectural Corporation and Prelco) has 30,000 square feet of high performance sealed units protected with Nano-Fusion. Photo Courtesy Of Bill Marchitello

“The North American market is huge, therefore Prelco’s advertising campaign for Nano-Fusion has to be targetted and include companies that also specialize in the sale and installation of value added glass products,” says the company’s marketing agent, Maryse Paradis. “Potential customers include companies that specialize in shower glass, high end solariums, commercial curtainwalls as well as the architects and designers who specialize in high end projects,” she says, adding that its campaign utilizes different promotional tools such as technical data brochures, information on its web site and various print advertisements. “By creating different advertising tools, we not only introduce Nano-Fusion to our targetted customers, we are promoting these products to end users as well.”

Company representative, Kim Belliveau says they already have a network of educated representatives with a mandate to promote this technology. They are equipped with technical data brochures and sample kits that they give to customers who, in turn, use them as displays in their showrooms to educate their customers.

“Another strategy we use is indicating the cost of Nano-Fusion on all of our quotations for shower glass as an add-on benefit. This works extremely well because it attracts the customer’s attention to the feature. A short promotional message is also attached to the end of each e-mail sent out by our salespeople that includes a link to the product’s web page,” says Patricia McLean, director of sales and customer service.

Glaziers who specialize in shower enclosures and solariums are distinguishing themselves from their competition by adding value to their products. Photo Courtesy Of Solarium Servitech

Marchitello says nano-technology has been around for a few years as a spray-on product that would eventually wear down, but the new method bonds the product permanently to the glass so it doesn’t have to be re-applied. This is key to its introduction and general acceptance within the commercial building sector.

Architects and designers represent an important target market as they are the ones specifying what products go into buildings. Before they specify a product, they have to first learn about it and then trust that it will work. Glass expositions and commercial exhibits are where they often discover new products, but it is the specifically targetted presentations that bring the message directly home. “If a new product matures in five years, it’s doing well,” he says.

Paradis says the results are promising so far. “A few weeks after the installation of our vapour chamber, we received our first orders. Slowly but surely Nano-Fusion has begun to find a place in the market,” she says, adding that glaziers who specialize in shower glass and solariums have embraced the product.

The residential shower enclosure market seems to be where this coated glass is taking off because it has allowed installers to distinguish themselves from their competition by adding value to their products. Some high end homes already have the product on windows as well as the interior glass.

However, the company has its eye on the commercial market and says it is only a matter of time before it becomes common. “We are working on commercial contracts such as the replacement of the windows in the Palais des Congrès in Montreal. At the end of this project, 30,000 square feet of high performance sealed units will all be protected with Nano-Fusion,” says Paradis. In Halifax, the Nova Scotia Community College interior glass and stairway railings have all been ordered with Nano-Fusion coatings,” adds Belliveau.

Just one year since its official launching, Nano-Fusion is still in a growth phase. “We believe it will be a few more years before it reaches its full potential,” says Belliveau. “Acceptance of new products in the construction industry is a slow process that requires good planning and constant effort, but the effort is well worth it. At the end of the day everyone wins, from the manufacturer to the end user.” -end-

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