The Glass Industry’s take on development by meeting across borders


As far as the materials industry is concerned, it’s not all darkness. The light in the tunnel can be seen not least in the wealth of innovation across materials. Melinda Lemke from Glasbranschföreningen (The Glass Industry Association) sees how knowledge is being shared and inspiration is awakened and how meeting places such as Nordbygg will become even more important to create dialogue and understand the market.

The Glass Industry Association is an industry and employer organisation with more than 570 members, and around 60 associated supplier companies. Melinda Lemke, Project Manager, sees how innovations, not least in sustainability, are accelerated by a huge increase in interest and a difficult world situation that has led to increased prices and supply issues.

Natural gas is being phased out
The interest in recycling flat glass is increasing, which contributes to reduced raw material extraction and reduced energy consumption in the smelting process, as it takes about 30 percent less energy to remelt glass rather than producing new glass. 

– So far, production is highly dependable on natural gas and as long as the world situation is what it is it will affect prices. Tests are being performed to replace natural gas in the smelting process with green alternatives and the great benefit of being able to decrease the climate footprint. 

To be inspired by actors in the same industry, but also through other people’s innovations, she sees meeting places as a must. A huge benefit is being able to test products live instead of just reading a description or seeing them on a screen.

–  How important this is was shown at Nordbygg last Spring, where we finally had the opportunity to have an eye-to-eye dialogue after a four-year pause. A fair is about so much more than showing news, suppliers have the opportunity to put their ears to the ground to find out what the market really wants and continue to build their customer relations, Melinda explains. 

The meeting between glass and the sun
As part of how meeting across industries can lead to innovation and cooperation, she is very optimistic about the possibilities of sharing knowledge between glass and photovoltaic actors when Nordbygg invests in a new themed area for photovoltaic technology at the fair in 2024.
– The energy issue is always high on the agenda for us working with glass and there are many good solutions to save energy. We also see many new creative photovoltaic solutions, so that we in the future won’t have to compromise with the design when we generate energy, but can choose freely between patterns and colours. My members and I always long for opportunities to be inspired so that we can bring the industry forward, Melinda closes.
Melinda Lemkes international reconnaissance – five glass innovations 2022

Transparent intelligence  
Transparent materials that add function to flat glass, for instance sun protection coating and products such as electrochromic from Swedish Chromogenics.
We also see energy-saving coatings, low-emission coating, anti-fog and anti-frost.
Another innovation is coatings on glass that can be heated, so called heat-windows. 

Thinner and stronger glass 
Laminated glass and toughened glass are in general thinner and stronger, since untoughened and unlaminated glass would have to be much thicker to be as strong. Another example of thinner and stronger glass is the innovation from Cornings, chemically toughened gorilla glass in mobile phones.
Anti-reflective glass 
The first generation of sun protection coatings were almost like mirrors, based on thin layers of metal. The latest generation is made up of two, three and even four silver layers, which give sun protection windows with less reflection and a more neutral colour, but also with high sun protection performance. 
Bird protection glass
For instance Pilkingtons AviSafe, with a patterned UV reinforced coating.