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Technically speaking

The big minds in the North American glass industry came together in Ottawa.

August 20, 2012  By Patrick Flannery

It was standing room only in our nation’s capital as the Insulating
Glass Manufacturer’s Alliance kicked off its Summer Technical Conference
at the Ottawa Marriott on June 6.

It was standing room only in our nation’s capital as the Insulating Glass Manufacturer’s Alliance kicked off its Summer Technical Conference at the Ottawa Marriott on June 6. IGMA board members, members of the Technical Services Committee and observers met to hear updates on the work of various standards committees, a keynote speech from one of Canada’s first female fighter pilots, Deanna Brasseur, and to plot the course of the association going forward.

The IGMA Technical Conference is not your standard meet-and-greet opportunity. A great deal of serious work gets done. Even industry veteran learn a lot when this room gets talking.


The association heard from the task group working on ASTM E 2431 that a methodology has been developed to test IG units for thermal stress failures, but the funding was not available to do the necessary laboratory testing to bring the technical bulletin fully into the ASTM standard. IGMA executive director Margaret Webb reported that the research and development fund needed $63,000 more to complete the project, and proposed a mandatory assessment to members of $200 each to help cover the costs. The vote was thrown open to all members in the room and passed with very few objections. The committee has recommended to the board that annual IGMA dues now include a $200 assessment for the research and development fund. The committee then passed another resolution asking the board to immediately fund the thermal stress standard development using contributions from other organizations or whatever other funds were available.


In the keynote speech, pilot Deanna Brasseur presented a motivating talk detailing her rise within the Canadian military to become one of the first female fighter pilots in the world. She passed along what she has learned about how a can-do attitude can unlock personal potential to overcome any obstacle. Brasseur also shared some hair-raising stories from her years in the cockpit.

The Technical Services Group discussed comments received on drafts of guidelines for general glazing and multiple-cavity IGUs. IGMA technical consultant Bill Lingnell reported progress from the ISO Standards Insulating Glass Working Group and several ASTM committees looking at issues as diverse as standards for spandrels, IG applications in very hot climates, determining argon gas concentrations, and destructive and non-destructive testing of etched glass and glass in air traffic control towers. Lignell said he remains hopeful that Canadian authorities will agree to reference ASTM E 1300 load standards in upcoming revisions of the National Building Code.

Evolving Energy Star
The committee heard from other North American glazing organizations, including the Glazing Association of North America, Energy Star, the American Architectural Manufacturers Association, Fenestration Canada and the National Fenestration Rating Council. Jim Krahn of Marvin Windows and Doors reported that American Energy Star authorities feel too many products on the market today meet Energy Star requirements and are considering tightening regulations to the point where as few as 15 to 20 per cent of fenestration products might qualify. Steve Hopwood of National Resources Canada concurred, saying tighter standards are in the offing in Canada, too. “Energy Star is perhaps the only program that is always trying to put itself out of business,” he said.

To the victors go the spoils. The winning scavenger hunt team of (clockwise from right) Crystal Archibald (Kohltech), Bill Briese (GED Integrated Solutions) and Aaron Ryan (Pella) celebrate at a Market pub.   

Hopwood also reported his office is working closely with Fenestration Canada and other organizations to create a unified Canadian standard for energy efficiency in fenestration. He said the current patchwork of provincial, federal and municipal standards are creating problems for manufacturers. NRCan will conduct a market survey next year to determine what needs a unified standard would have to fulfill.

Hopwood also pointed to condensation control as another area of interest for NRCan research. Problems related to fourth-surface low-e designs bear further investigation, he said.

Jeff Baker of Fenestration Canada reported that the Fenestration Installation Technician certification program is close to completion and that the Siding and Window Dealers Association has already begun using the standard in its training programs.

Tracey Rogers of Quanex proposed IGMA create a consumer-level document on glass visual quality describing acceptable industry standards for inclusions and clarity in terms that homeowners would understand. He said it would help contractors to explain the product to customers complaining about very small flaws in glass lites. The committee voted to have Rogers’ Visual Quality Task Group draft such a document.

Day Two
The second day of the Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance Summer Technical Conference featured a meeting of the new Emerging Technology and Innovation Technical Committee. Executive director Margaret Webb started the day with an overview of the committee’s scope and guidelines. Helen Sanders of Sage Electrochromics chaired.

John Greenzweig of H.B. Fuller chaired the Gas Permeability Task Group. This keenly watched group is looking for correlations between the ASTM E 2190 IG performance standard and loss of gas. Greenzweig discussed the road map the task group had created to guide its efforts and the need to issue requests-for-proposals to labs to find one able to do the work.

Randi Ernst of FDR Design then chaired the task group on validation of the Mocon OpTech technology for analyzing gas concentrations in IG units. In a very technical presentation, Ernst updated the group on his experiments aimed at showing this technology could generate accurate gas concentration readings even at lower concentrations and through coated glass.

David Cooper of Guardian chaired the task group for Vacuum Insulating Glass next. He went over the group’s search through the available literature on the technology and said the group’s goal was to create a generic white paper that would introduce the technology to a wider glazing audience. Many technical hurdles still exist to fulfilling the full potential of this technology, but Cooper noted that a few VIG units are now on sale in the international market.

The Advanced Fenestration Testing Task Group, chaired by Tim Snow of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, is looking for less expensive and easier ways to test IG units, especially edge spacers. It is looking at various apparatuses to assess their feasibility.

Sanders then chaired the Life Cycle Assessment task group. This group is working on protocols for detailing the cradle-to-grave history of products so that buyers can more easily assess their environmental impact. The goal is to develop a labeling system that would work something like food labels, except listing environmental impacts and life cycle history instead of ingredients. Saunders noted there has been significant debate around some of the points about the environmental impact of various product inputs.

After lunch, Sanders was presented with a birthday cake and a round of Happy Birthday from the delegates. Delegates were also treated to some very entertaining video from the the Fall Technical Committee Meeting in Tempe, Ariz., where Sanders showed off her belly dancing skills.

Once the laughter had died down, it was on to Ken Rubis of Dow Corning and his fascinating presentation on cold bending IG units. Rubis shared the results of studies done by a consortium of several organizations to investigate how cold bending affects the seal quality of IG units. Rubis’ group prepared full finite element analysis models of IG units then certified the models with real-world tests at ATI test labs. Large curtain wall panels were bent, in some cases up to 15 inches, then hit with 100 psi wind loads. Delegates were surprised by how well seals and the glass held up under even these extreme conditions.

The IGMA then moved on to the afternoon’s fun activity, an urban scavenger hunt organized by Urban Quest. Delegates squared off into teams of four and competed to see who could solve puzzles and find various locations around downtown Ottawa the fastest. The incredibly energetic Crystal Archibald of Kohltech led her team of Bill Briese (GED Integrated Solutions) and Aaron Ryan (Pella) to victory. The fourth member of Archibald’s team, your humble editor, soon found the pace too far in excess of his normal activity of sitting at a desk and retired to the relative comfort of a nearby pub patio.

Day Three
The last day of the IGMA Summer Technical Conference kicked off with a meeting of the Glass Safety Awareness Council. The chair, Mike Burke of Quanex, was not able to attend so Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance executive director Margaret Webb chaired the meeting. There was a discussion of safety issues in the glass industry as well as possible approaches for raising awareness. There was some discussion of putting a section on safety into the quality manual, however many delegates were concerned about the possible legal implications involved in producing safety guidelines.

Randi Ernst of FDR Design summed it up: “All the equipment manufacturers provide lots of safety information, but no one reads it and when someone gets hurt, the manufacturer gets taken to court anyway.” Webb said she felt the IGMA needs to find some way to provide more safety information to its members.

Crystal Archibald of Kohltech chaired the Education and Certification Committee meeting. Everyone agreed that the education seminars held in Vancouver last December were hugely successful and produced some lively interactions. The committee is working on deciding whether to hold similar seminars at GlassBuild in Las Vegas this September. Webb commented that it is difficult to know in advance how a seminar program will be received. While Vancouver was a great success, Toronto, she said, is often a “dud.”

Next, Ernst chaired the TM-4000 task group, also dubbed the Death by PowerPoint Committee. The group is attempting to develop educational materials to inform the industry about the TM-4000 Insulating Glass Quality Procedures, but most of the discussion at the meeting was about proposed guidelines for creating more effective presentations. Some discussion ensued as to whether their work would be better turned over to the Marketing Committee.

The component task groups delivered an overview of the AGMA/IGMA validation process for insulating glass components and discussed their various certification activities. Some areas where suppliers were asking for change were discussed, such as humidity standards for dessicants and product categories for hot melt. A lively debate broke out over whether the ASTM E 2190 accelerated aging test addresses sealant adhesion, with one group saying it is impossible for an IG unit to pass the test without the sealant maintaining sufficient adhesion, and Tracy Rogers of Quanex pointing out that this does not constitute an actual test of the sealant’s adhesive properties. Everyone enjoyed the discussion so much that it seems sure to come up again at future meetings.

Tim Snow and David Goldwasser of the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory closed the conference with an in-depth presentation on the thermal modeling capabilities of the Open Studio plugin for Google Sketchup. These free online products have extensive tools for three-dimensional modeling and building design, and can create detailed reports on the thermal characteristics of the building design.

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