The architecture of major cities around the globe is characterized by modern glass facades. In today’s world, this diverse material contributes significantly in terms of design aspects in new buildings. Building design and engineering, as well as associated technologies, have developed substantially over the past 10 years, allowing architects the freedom to create awe-inspiring structures while benefiting from the functional advantages of glass.
From sustainability to high-performance, energy efficiency, and safety, glass is no longer just a transparent material that blurs boundaries and connects occupants to the outside world – it is an integral component of the modern building’s composition.
This multifaceted nature of glass has propelled its use in the retrofitting and renovation of existing structures, enhancing the aesthetics of historic buildings while harnessing the benefits of sustainability and performance. In addition, safety has become increasingly important when specifying glazing materials; not only can glass reduce or prevent the likelihood of burglary but it also lowers the risk of personal injury from unplanned interfaces between objects, end-users, and the façade or windows. Safety glazing is commonly categorized into 3 distinct types: VSG – laminated safety glass, ESG – toughened safety glass, and TVG – partially tempered glass.
Arguably, there is no other material that we encounter as often as flat glass in our daily lives. This foundational material of modern construction is and will remain a fundamental design element into the future and will increasingly take on technical functions. Whether in a refrigerator, in the kitchen, the car windscreen or the window of an office, the possibilities of innovation and functionality are only limited by our imagination and creativity. With the development of cutting-edge display glass and switchable glazing, these technologies are no longer ideas confined to the realms of science fiction. Combined with the recyclability of glass, this material has been established as a viable means to a sustainable future.
At BENTELER Glass Processing Equipment, we develop and produce machinery and equipment for glass processing used in architecture, the automotive industry, and for diverse technical applications. With over 3,500 successfully completed projects in over 60 countries, we support our customers with innovative solutions and are a reliable and trusted global partner. BENTELER develops solutions that make a difference. As a fourth-generation family company, our focus for the past 140 years has been on combining commercial success with social responsibility, employee development, and ecological awareness. We continually develop our company with innovative products and processes and our aim is to shape the future – sustainably.
The demand for innovative and sustainable flat glass solutions is reflected in our mechanical engineering activities:
Finesse: In order to reduce the overall weight of automotive vehicles, we developed processing solutions that were required to produce ultra-thin glass of 0.5mm – half the thickness of a pin!
Think BIG: A US technology company required architectural glass with unprecedented pane lengths of 20m, all bent to a specific radius. We developed this production line with our client and now these colossal panes can be admired in the futuristic headquarters of the American company.
Smart: More recently, we developed a production line for dimmable glass for a DAX company. Transforming from transparent to opaque, smart glass controls the amount of heat that enters or leaves a building, reducing the need for energy-intensive air conditioning units and contributing significantly to the energy efficiency of a project. Particularly in hot climates, for retrofitting structures and expansively glazed facades, this is a viable solution for architects and developers pushing costeffective sustainable agendas.
Sustainable: At BENTELER, we develop complete production lines that laminate a wide variety of glass packages up to 150mm thick. In line with our sustainable vision, the process is optimized for energy efficiency. Since the process involves highly reflective coatings, it is essential that we ensure the right type of heat input during lamination in order to keep energy consumption low during production.
Tailor-made: BENTELER provides customsized laminating solutions, individually designed to the requirements of our customers.
Experience: With 4 machine options, BENTELER offers solutions for various glass laminating needs. From manual to fully automatic lines, we accommodate all common types of foil including PVB and SentryGlass®. With the continuous development of laminating lines and our extensive experience, we provide state-of-the-art, energy-optimized and quality processing equipment for our clients.
Behind the Glass – Interview with expert Olaf Patsch- Berkemann
Design, flexibility in terms of size, and processing speed are important aspects when producing architectural glass. What unique solutions does BENTELER offer to accommodate these considerations?
We currently offer the fastest and most flexible line on the market. Our production is streamlined to ensure that the process is optimized – For example, the PVB storage is installed on the 1st floor, making it possible to handle cooled and interlayer PVB films. The storage allows for 6 to 24 PVB rolls with separate steel construction. The steel construction is also used for the isolating panels, assembly, and storage room Our lines allow for significant flexibility for different glass sizes processed on one production line. A laminated glass line must be able to process large and small glass quickly, efficiently while maintaining the highest quality. In order to meet these expectations, we have different programs and solutions that cater to various dimensions. Today, many of our customers require laminated safety glass lines that are far longer than the usual 6m glass lengths. We have already delivered lines with lengths of up to 20m.
Apart from design, handling glass is an important aspect of production. How does BENTELER ensure smooth and precise handling?
BENTELER is one of the largest suppliers of complex processing lines from a single source. This includes the linking of grinding, drilling and washing machines to complete processing lines, minimizing handling during manufacturing and reducing cycle times. The quality of our flat glasswasher and machinery, the well-thought-out and precise collating area and fast energy-efficient pre-laminating area all contribute to a flexible handling line. In addition, our production lines can be run in various program modes according to a client’s requirements: from manual to semi-automatic and fully automatic (without the need for a machine operator), this flexibility allows for effective production and minimal handling if required.
Different architectural glass applications demand unique setups. How does BENTELERS machinery make this possible?
For over 60 years, BENTELER has supplied processing machines for architectural flat glass. In the last few years, the requirements for glass processing have surged, as have the demands from clients. Our experience and successful partnership with customers have ensured that we continue to develop sophisticated solutions that cater to a variety of glass applications and the setups required to fulfill them.
BENTELER offers individualized solutions. From small, fast VSG lines with glass dimensions of 1.60 x 2.40 m, or typical fixed dimension of 2.60 x 5.00 m to 20m long VSG glass and 3,30 x 16.00m cold bent glass. We have different solutions for the production of stock sheets (PLF or DLF) and split size (LES or SSS) for mass production in float glass plants, with full automation if required. Shuttle station for fast autoclave loading and unloading and re-packing and inspection lines are also part of our scope of delivery.
A Unique Business Case for Architectural Glass
FRERICHS GLAS is a premium manufacturer of insulating and safety glass units of exceptional quality.
As a pioneer in the processing and finishing of glass with over 145 years of experience, FRERICHS GLAS is the proud supplier of customized glass solutions with outstanding technological expertise and visual appeal. The new production process supported by BENTELER allows numerous product specifications, thus addressing market needs and engaging customers effectively via enhanced performance in architecture, home and living, industry and retail. The exclusive range of FRERICHS GLAS safety glass is made to contribute to higher protection and increased efficiency.
With regard to growing demand, FRERICHS GLAS made the decision to produce laminated glass in-house. As Jan Wennemer, Managing Director, explains ‘Due to this new production line, FRERICHS GLAS is faster and can respond more flexibly to current requirements. In addition to improvements in response time and the company’s newfound autonomy, particularly impressive is the quality of BENTELER’s glass processing equipment. This leads to a subsequent improvement of the final product’. As Jan describes, ‘There is no room for compromises when it comes to safety. This special laminated glass is more robust and has remarkable shatter protection’, important factors when considering that the company’s target market is the construction sector.
Behind the process – The manufacturing process explained
FRERICHS GLAS offers various types of safety glazing, thus providing a full range of product specifications. An important element is the inhouse production of the toughened safety glass at FRERICHS GLAS’s headquarter in Verden, Germany, the ‘glass factory’.
The recent implementation of laminated glass production is fully automated: desired sizes of glass are transported to the plant via conveyor belt; there, a film is applied and a second pane of glass is placed on top – exclusively under clean-room conditions. The unfinished glass panels are retained in a large transport carriage and then positioned in the autoclave which is heated to bonding temperatures between 120 and 140 degrees Celsius and overpressure of up to 13 bar (usually 12 bar).
‘The thickness of the panes and dimensions are basically unlimited as the system is capable of processing glass panes of different sizes. In addition, multiple structures are possible.’ Jan emphasizes. Film change and quick provision of further film or working width are key mark of quality and simply better solved with the BENTELER line than with other lines.
A total of 38 tons of steel were used for the implementation of these complex production facilities, resulting in a potential output of 345,600 square meters of laminated glass per year. The new production line is 42 meters long, delivering considerable skills. ‘Across a whole spectrum of central requirements, we benefit from a high level of automation; only the autoclave is filled manually,’ underlines Bodo Hagemeister, Sales Manager at FRERICHS GLAS.
With Acrylic glass and engineering plastic processing, both as additional core markets of the medium-sized company, FRERICHS GLAS provides its products to customers throughout northern Germany and the greater Berlin area.
Video: The Custom Size Laminating Line includes the high-quality oven technology with low energy consumption and also the powerful BENTELER glass washing machine. Thus, it is the line ideal solution for the production of all known laminated safety glass in the lamination process.
This article was originally published in IGS Magazine’s Autumn 2021 Issue – Glass Retrospective: Read the full Magazine here for more thought-leadership from those spearheading the industry
Olaf Patsch- Berkemann
Head of Sales Architectural, BENTELER Glass Processing Equipment
Managing Director, FRERICHS GLAS GMBH
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