TGQ – three years on

Edgetech’s head of marketing Charlotte Davies
Edgetech’s head of marketing Charlotte Davies

On April 10 2014, Edgetech UK hosted the Triple Glazing Question, the largest live debate in the history of the glazing industry with an audience of more than 600. Three years on, Edgetech’s head of marketing Charlotte Davies talks about the development of triple glazing since then and how Super Spacer can deliver the best performance for triple glazed units.

It’s hard to believe that three years have gone by since we hosted the Triple Glazing Question (TGQ). After the event, Nathan Bushell, editor of Glass Times, said Edgetech put a line in the sand and anyone discussing triple glazing in the future would refer to the information from the event.

That’s because the whole of the supply chain was involved. The line-up included expert speakers from glass manufacturers, window system companies, hardware suppliers, fabricators and installers.

The top subjects in 2014 were performance of units, manufacturing complexity and lack of availability, both of IGU manufacturers producing triple units as well as window profiles capable of accommodating the deeper units without compromising aesthetics.

Everyone left the event with solid answers, misconceptions corrected, and greater awareness of the impact of triple glazing throughout the industry.

If we were running TGQ today the questions would likely remain the same, however as the triple glazing market in the UK has developed some of the answers have advanced also.

Perhaps the most important discussion at the event was about performance of double and triple units. A great argument for using ‘clever doubles’ was made. It was highlighted that adding an extra pane of glass doesn’t necessarily make the performance better, especially when such good thermal efficiency is available from double glazed units.

But since the event we have seen times when the additional thermal efficiency from correctly specified triple glazing is needed. For example, in super insulated buildings there are significant gains to be made by choosing U-values of 0.8W/m2K which are easily achievable with triple glazing.

Recently, with the massive increase in sales of bifolds and sliding doors, there’s a lot more demand for big units. Some of these greatly benefit from using triple glazing as with such vast expanses of glass it can make a real difference to the comfort levels of a room. Certainly, there’s a good argument to use triple glazing when they’re installed facing north to keep in the warmth.

Whether double or triple glazed, Super Spacer offers high levels of thermal performance. And long term performance is backed up by an industry best 40-year product guarantee.

It was confirmed at TGQ that the centre pane should be toughened because it can become very hot within triple units, especially if they are fitted in a building in the full glare of the sun. The elevated temperature can have other ramifications too, as it can easily exceed the maximum required of volatile fog tests in current European standards. This means there is a risk of fog appearing within units from spacers which are not compliant to higher international standards giving off volatiles when overheated.

This isn’t a problem for Super Spacer as it is installed in units from Alaska to Dubai. It’s designed to work in extreme conditions across the globe and tested successfully from -15ºC to 125ºC, so you can be sure it will perform in UK triple glazing.

Super Spacer also allows for expansion and contraction caused by temperature fluctuations and will always return to its original shape and dimensions, which makes it very stable.

One of the big changes in the last three years has been the level of automation for manufacturing triple glazed units. Many IGU manufacturers have added machinery capable of switching easily between double and triple units. The development of high speed automation in partnership with Edgetech has also improved productivity. Super Spacer is supplied on large reels in a continuous length and, combined with automatic reel changers, virtually eliminates machinery downtime. Complete and ready to handle triple glazed units can be manufactured in just 30 seconds and double glazed units in as little as 20 seconds on these high-speed lines.

Our long-term relationships with machinery companies mean we can provide IGU manufacturers the right solution for their triple glazing requirements from high speed automation to manual application.

Since 2014, most window system companies have added profile options to accommodate high performance triple glazed units. With this sorted, there’s an even greater level of importance on the glazed unit. The alignment of the two individual spacer bars is paramount, if they’re not they appear to be stepped within the unit.

Unlike rigid spacers which are generally lined up manually, Super Spacer references the edge of the glass. The two spacer levels line up perfectly so triple glazed units made with Super Spacer always look symmetrical. Visible smears inside the unit from application of the PIB primary seal creates a common quality issue when using rigid spacer bars, especially in triple glazed units due to the more prominent centre pane. Here Super Spacer has another advantage, its clear acrylic side adhesive means there’s no need to apply a PIB primary seal and eliminates this risk of smearing.

Since 2004 in the UK, Edgetech has been helping companies manufacture triple glazing in a very specific aesthetic application. Edgetech’s Super Spacer Cushion Edge, launched in the US over 24 years ago, is designed for encapsulating glass into a triple glazed unit using just one spacer bar with a groove to hold a centre pane. It is especially good for patterned glass in top lights or door panels and means two plain glass panels can be used either side of the patterned glass. It is used in restoration projects to encapsulate original glass designs too. Not only does it give an extra level of protection for the design, it also makes it easy to keep clean.

Three years on we can see increased production of triple glazing and we know that there’s now manufacturing capability in the market for high performance triple units without compromising productivity or aesthetics. There’s not been a switch over from double to triple – but the trend continues to grow, especially where high levels of performance and energy efficiency are paramount.