From the Fabricator: Slowing the Roll

The past week brought some technology plays to the forefront of our industry. Usually I am pretty upbeat about the possible innovation breakthroughs because I love when we push the line. However, this time I’m a little more cautious than normal.

The first was from NREL with the press release on a thermochromic glass product. This potential product supposedly will mix the thermochromic property into a solar/electricity generating one. The issue I have is this is not new, has been done, and the product they are showing still is nowhere close to any sort of commercialization. It’s very premature that they are even trumpeting this, but if you Google NREL and glass, this isn’t the first time they’ve pushed their news with every ballyhooed announcement about some solar breakthrough and then nothing happens. This does cause our industry as a whole to take on unwarranted criticism that we are not innovating. It’s a neat concept, but that’s all it is right now and until it can be produced in a consistent manner in commercial sizes, the celebration needs to slow a bit.

The second story came from Merck out of Germany with news on a production facility to produce Liquid Crystal Windows. This has some interesting potentials and it appears this is much further down the process line than the NREL item mentioned above. What caught my eye was the distribution comment:

Merck does not see itself as a competitor to glass and window manufacturers, but rather will supply the modules enabling them to make these smart glass elements, windows and façades. In addition, Merck assists architects, designers as well as window and façade makers in an advisory capacity.

I guess someday soon your window manufacturer will be bringing in LC to integrate into their windows…? It just doesn’t seem that doable given the technology needed to handle it all. But it bears watching and, despite my comments, I am keeping an open mind. 

By the way you may be noticing a lot more news from the “smart” glass world. Reason is based on continuing market studies that say the switchable/smart glass market will be in the billions of dollars in the coming years. It’s been a pretty constant prediction of that since I started blogging and the studies (big numbers coming in a few years!) just keep moving the goal posts. But a billion-dollar potential is surely enticing.

Elsewhere…

  • More positive economic news. The latest Dodge Momentum Index was very strong. It surged up almost 20 percent on the commercial building side in November. Year-over-year the index is up 24 percent. Obviously, very good signs. Another good sign are the commercial building backlog statistics. They currently stand at an all-time high with this last six-month stretch blowing the doors off past numbers. All the metrics do have 2018 looking to be very good. Obviously, we’ll see if everything plays out like the projections are showing.
  • Congrats to Heather Evans of YKK AP America on her first blog on GlassMagazine.com last week. This was a super read and another great use of the medium. Informative, interesting, helpful. Job well done, Heather!
  • Next week, my glass industry MVP will be revealed along with this year’s runners up. All I can say is this has been the toughest call yet and none of the past ones were close to easy. So many good choices!
  • Last this week, folks who know me know I hate the commissioner of the NFL, Roger Goodell. So obviously this week was not a good one for me when he signed a new contract with the NFL worth $200 million. $200 million. That just makes me ill. I used to live for sports, and especially Sunday NFL football, but that love is long gone. $200 million. Absolutely insane.

Read on for links and video of the week…

Max Perilstein is founder of Sole Source Consultants, a consulting firm for the building products industry that specializes in marketing, branding, communication strategy and overall reputation management, as well as website and social media, and codes and specifications. E-mail him at MaxP@SoleSourceConsultants.com.

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.

 

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