Like me, I’m sure you’ve described to others your profession in the ‘glass industry’ with the requisite blank stares and polite head nods that ensue from the listener. We need to rethink our description. In reality, I would argue you are part of a dynamic and exciting industry that exemplifies American values and success.
Each day, I have the pleasure of reading about the myriad ideas our industry is actively pursuing. Some of these ideas will be proven successful, and as a result better the lives of the end user, the new hire at the successful company, or future innovations that are a subsequent result. The ongoing success of the architectural glass business has always depended on developing higher and higher performing materials, all born from your ideas.
Reading through various historical accounts of glass making, I’m struck by three broad innovation trends, which involve improvements in glass chemistry, production and systems. Chemistry improvements in glass include the addition of lead oxide to make glass more attractive and easier to work with, while production improvements include the invention of methods for producing plate glass and eventually float glass, to name a few.
At the same time, our industry has excelled at pioneering ever better systems to use our products to create functional and beautiful architecture--think curtain walls, point-supported glazing and other systems that combine high-performing components into beneficial assemblies that stretch the possibilities of building design and performance.
The systems innovation tradition continues today with new systems coming to market, including more aesthetic options for fire-rated glass assemblies. The availability of butt-glazed, exterior silicone glazed curtain walls, or fire-rated glass floors are a tremendous leap forward from the 100-square-inch panel of wired glass of only a few decades ago.
Most importantly, these industry ideas and innovations come from people of all backgrounds and walks of life, freely pursuing their own vision of betterment. This is especially true in America, and more specifically, one that our glass industry and people exemplify well. Your ideas, innovation and improvement are what make this wonderful country tick for all of us: thank you!
So the next time someone asks you what you do for a living, you could easily say “I’m an inventor, entrepreneur or innovator making this world a better place.” But then again, saying you’re in the ‘glass industry’ already accomplishes all three. Let’s keep the great ideas coming.
Jeff Razwick is the president of Technical Glass Products, a supplier of fire-rated glass and framing systems, and other specialty architectural glazing. He writes frequently about the design and specification of glazing for institutional and commercial buildings, and is a past chair of the Glass Association of North America’s Fire-Rated Glazing Council. He can be reached at 800/426-0279.
The opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Glass Association, Glass Magazine editors, or other glassblog contributors.