This is a short overview of the learnings from Glasstec: how things presented there might affect your or my daily life in the coming years…
It was visible everywhere. With different terminology, but all striving in the same direction. It’s obvious that a bigger transformation has begun, and there’s no way back. Robots are here to stay. And as we saw at the show, they will be making your job safer, faster and more ergonomic, with the bigger and heavier glass handling and much more.
The not-so-visible “robot” inside the machine – here referring to the automated features like process assistant and artificial intelligence – is starting to make you the master of your process. This means robots are helping you minimize costly mistakes, remakes and waste. Multiplying that with all the machinery in the world, these things will make a real difference in terms of sustainability, too.
And what will virtual or augmented reality bring to the table? The development speed in that sector is fast. We’ve already started to see what opportunities there are just using the features that already exist – being connected in a virtual world, without delays, getting immediate assistance, virtual training, traveling, testing, experimenting…
The word smart is added everywhere – also in glass. Glass is no longer glass, it is an object with built-in intelligence, and almost a “living” thing. As an example of dynamic, switchable glazing units, Glasstec showed that there are several different technologies to realize dynamic glazing, which will transform the way we see glass in our houses or in our surroundings.
That will change the quality of our lives and well-being when we can let light in and still have privacy when needed. We will no longer be isolated in concrete blocks. Instead, we will be more integrated into our surroundings. This applies both to our home and workplace.
In the automotive industry, glass is becoming a digital display. In the coming years, according e.g. to Pilkington Automotive Finland Specialised Transport, we’ll be seeing such things as transparent electroluminescent displays integrated inside laminated glass, solar glazing to reduce heat penetration through glass, anti-reflective coated glass to diminish the surface glare – and even acoustic glass to minimize the amount of noise coming through glass.
Personal safety and protection is a main focus. Regulations are tightening all over the world, and today it seems that lamination, or tempering and lamination together, is one of the hot topics.
Today, it would be hard to think of glass roofs, balustrades, curtain walls or walk-on glazing without lamination. One growing area is also sound insulation, where the laminated units are the only reasonable option for personal well-being.
I guess it is something that is inbuilt in human nature – one needs to always break the limits. When walking by the technology exhibits, you could see it everywhere – glass companies impressing the world with ultimate sizes, strengths, thicknesses, applications. Of course, we understand that most of these will not be a business or commercialized product as such, but they’re amazing and inspiring things to see and feel. And when people are inspired, they’ll likely push for new innovations and development.
The concepts just presented as novelties will continue to develop. And it’ll be interesting to see what the next steps are to realizing these new concepts. How will we be experiencing glass in future applications? Will we see something different during next year’s GPD in Finland?
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