Turning a corner

Developments in UV-bonding technology are supporting glass processors in driving innovation in the built environment, delivering great architecture and higher margins, according to Bohle.

One such example is the 90º seamless Infinity Corner IGU from The Glass Man.

In the early 1940s, American architect Frank Lloyd Wright said: “The outside of any building may now come inside and the inside go outside, each seems as part of the other. Continuity, plasticity, and all the new simplicity they imply have at last come home.”

It was the quote from Frank Lloyd Wright that got Alex Simpson, managing director and owner of The Glass Man, thinking about how as an industry we handle corners in window design, especially when those windows are looking out onto panoramic views.

“Pillars and supports interrupt and ruin them,” he said. “The concept was simple: develop a glazing unit that turns a corner to maximize the view outside. It was doing it that was the hard part.”

Having initially developed the concept more than a decade earlier, The Glass Man manufactured its first 90º seamless Infinity Corner IGU in 2009.

“It wasn’t delivered overnight,” Alex said. “In part because I was developing the unit alongside running a business and in part because it took a lot of investment to get the process right.”

The patented Infinity IGU is suitable for use with timber, aluminium, composites and PVCU frames, in either double or triple-glazed, argon-filled options. These are manufactured from 8mm toughened external glass and 6mm Pilkington K toughened internally.

“These units are invariably going out to somewhere sitting on top of a sea cliff or half way up a mountain so you need to factor in wind loadings,” Alex said.

Creating a single IGU unit that in effect seamlessly turns the corner of building, presented a unique set of challenges. “We worked very closely with Bohle to identify the right UV bonding solution,” Alex said. “There are other suppliers out there and they’ll all supply you with a product but what you get from Bohle is incredible technical expertise.

“We made a number of trips across to Haan in Germany to work with their technical team to identify the right bonding solution for what we were trying to achieve.

“It sounds simple but in manufacturing a 90º unit, you’re applying at least five disciplines. You have to understand glazing, edge-working, polishing, toughening and bonding, before you even get to sealing and filling the unit.

“Manufacture at 90º creates a lot of different challenges, not least how you turn spacer bar on a 90º angle.”

Manually manufactured, units also have to be specially packaged before shipment to minimize risk of damage in transit.

This hasn’t, however, stopped the Infinity Window from ‘travelling’. For a window manufactured a stone’s throw from the banks of the River Clyde, this has included shipments as far afield as Penzance and Sligo, and London to Estonia.

“It’s more expensive than a standard IGU but as a percentage of a larger high-end installation it’s negligible and in defining a room, or even the architectural style of a property, it delivers a huge number of benefits to the end-user,” Alex said.

“The real opportunity here is for window companies. It’s such a stunning architectural product, selling it as a fabricator or retail business delivers so many USPs and opportunities for high margin.

“That’s what we have always tried to do: manufacture innovative high quality products that deliver high margin to us as a business and our customers.”