Is your laminate line at breaking point?

Regulatory change in the form of Part Q is forecast to deliver a significant uplift in demand for laminate glass on top of pre-existing growth. Dave Broxton, managing director at Bohle, argues that as glass processors try to extract greater output from their laminating lines, choosing the best cutting wheel technology has never been more important.,

It’s a numbers game. In the last three-years, volumes of laminate glass production have increased by anywhere between 16% and 24%, according to analysts. That’s substantial growth in anyone’s book. It’s also something that could accelerate further.

Part Q has introduced a new requirement for the use of security laminated glass on all accessible entrance, bifolding and patio doors going into new build. Given the strategic priority that the government has placed on the building of new homes, and throw into the mix a huge number of ground-floor windows, and the pull through of laminate glass in IGU manufacture is potentially massive.

Although there is no regulatory requirement, Secured by Design specifications are also driving the increased specification of security laminates in domestic replacement applications.

The increased use of solar control glass, fire, acoustic and structural glass, collectively contribute to a major increase in demand and this means small efficiencies have the potential to make a sizeable long term impact on your bottom line.

Processing laminate glass effectively, efficiently and at volume is key for any glass processor worth its salt.

Our range of Silberschnitt cutting wheels are, in the literal and metaphoric sense, at the cutting edge of laminate glass processing.

The detailing is something that’s easy to overlook in a product which, is in itself is so small. Each cutting wheel that we manufacture is ground with incredible accuracy, featuring honed axle holes, while the side surfaces are polished and lapped.

This innovation is founded on our industry leading engineering, research and development programme, something developed by Bohle since 1923 and by working in partnership with leading OEM machinery companies.

We work in partnership with companies such as Hegla, Bavelloni, Bottero, Bystronic, Intermac, Macotec and Lisec. Our cutting wheels are suitable for use with all of the standard machinery ranges manufactured by each. We also develop bespoke solutions to meet specialist requirements such as thin glass for TFT screens or complex automotive shapes.

This is important if glass processors want to get the most out of their laminate lines. While the use of carbide steel has underpinned our wider development programme, it delivers significant advantages in the process of laminated glass.

Offering up to ten times the life expectancy of a standard cutting wheel, Bohle’s Cutmaster Gold carbide automatic cutting wheel is a great example of how this investment in research is delivering a direct return to our customers.

Developed as an ideal solution for the automatic cutting of laminated glass, it can deliver a consistent cut of up to 250km, significantly reducing the risk of glass damage. It also does this at a reduced cost compared to more expensive polycrystalline diamond (PCD) cutting wheels.

This is a key point. Edge and finish quality can deteriorate very quickly if the right cutting wheels aren’t used or, just as importantly, the cutting edge of the wheel deteriorates over time. Delivering not just a reliable and accurate cut but sustaining it through the life of the wheel improves quality and reduces wastage. It also increases efficiency and production levels.

These are comparatively small efficiencies individually but with forecast growth in laminate specification, incremental efficiencies that soon add up to deliver critical competitive advantage.

Bohle Cutmaster Platinum advances glass cutting technology still further, employing a new specially structured PCD wheel technology to maintain not only a consistent cut throughout its service life but to reduce edge-damage. Suitable for use in dry cutting, cuts require minimal pressure and edge stability is greatly improved.

This is achieved using a patented micro technology, which maintains a continuously sharp cutting edge across the entire circumference of the wheel achieving a uniform penetration of the glass. This creates a precise cutting pattern minimising splinter formation and damage to the cut edge.

It’s suitable for use on: shape cuts of 0.1mm-2mm and straight cuts of 0.05mm-3mm of thin glass; and shape cuts of 0.1mm-2mm and straight cuts of 0.5mm-19mm of float glass. It’s also suitable for cutting medical glass, optical glass, borosilicate glass up to 25mm, plus other specialist glass types.

This sits as part of the complete cutting solution offered by Bohle, including not only wheels and axles but also wheel holders and pillar posts plus cutting fluids. We work with our customers to continually refine this offer, working with them where required, to develop bespoke solutions, which allow them to extract additional efficiencies from their cutting lines.

The demand is there for laminated product in all of its many forms. If you can make one or two small changes to the way that you process it and extract additional capacity from existing lines, you avoid larger scale investment and maximise your return.

It’s also worth mentioning that with increased demand for laminate, you also need to be confident about your supply chain.

There have been a number of high profile cases that highlight the deliberate passing off of standard laminate as safety or security glass and countless more – where simple errors have been made in supply.

When they do, it can be very difficult to distinguish the properties of one type of glass from another – particularly where a PVB interlayer or coating is being used.

Bohle provides a potential solution in the Glass Buddy and Glass Buddy Plus, which eliminate the risk of inaccurate supply of product by providing an instant analysis of glass properties ahead of manufacture or installation.

Capable of analysis of single pane through to multi-laminate/multi-interlayer high security glass or insulated glass units, Glass Buddy uses laser technology to deliver an instant analysis of glass properties. This includes thickness, the structure of the pane, the low-e coating, PVB interlayers, and their position to the accuracy of 0.1mm.

It’s a useful tool for a glass processor, surveyor, installer or anyone working in building control.