Viewpoint: AGC North America Exec Offers Insights on New Coater

Glass Magazine
March 12, 2018
COMMERCIAL, FABRICATION

During the second half of 2017, Asahi Glass Co. broke ground on a new magnetron sputtered vacuum deposition coater at its Church Hill, Tennessee, facility. The coater, which is expected to begin production later this year, brings with it 80 additional jobs at the facility. Mike Antonucci, regional president of AGC Glass Company North America, spoke with Glass Magazine about the new expansion and the evolution of glass coating.

Tell me about the decision to expand with the new coater. What market trends is the company answering with the new coater?
 
The biggest market trend is the request for increased daylighting due to the established link to improved productivity and human comfort. Architects and designers are looking to identify ways to incorporate more visible light while maintaining or improving the performance of the glass. This trend of increased daylight with higher performing glass products creates the need for more complex products and coating technology. The complexity of coatings will only continue to increase due to more stringent codes and the requirement for the quantity and quality of light. At AGC, we are committed to meeting this challenge and providing coated products of tomorrow that will expand the possibilities in both commercial and residential spaces.
 
Can you tell me about the evolution of glass coatings in the last 5-10 years? How has the industry evolved?

Lower solar heat gain coefficients, improved light transmissions and improved U-factors are several requirements that are fueling the evolution of coatings over the last 10 years. Coatings have become more complex (in the number of layers), pushing for neutrality (colorless), more selectivity and lower emissivity.
 
What can glass do today that it couldn’t in 2008?
 
Coatings are now more versatile, and as a result are being utilized in more innovative ways. For example, laminating and/or bending of low-emissivity coatings is now possible, due to their increased mechanical durability. Another cutting-edge technology AGC has introduced, is Halio – smart tinting glass. More glass in buildings introduces more challenges, such as glare, daylighting, solar heat and [lack of] privacy. With Halio, you can go from clear to dark and in-between, in under five minutes. Halio provides expansive views and/or creates intimate spaces, without the need for one curtain or shade. 
 
Where are glass coatings going? We’re hearing about 4th surface low-Es, quad silvers, etc. What’s next for the industry in general? And, more specifically, what’s next for AGC in the realm of coating tech? 
 
U4 – AGC’s 4th surface low-E is already available. Window manufacturers and consumers are already purchasing U4 – 4th surface low-E from AGC today and will continue to turn to AGC for innovative products like this, as their needs evolve. There will continue to be a push for improved performance (i.e. lower Solar Heat Gain Coefficients, improved U-value, etc), but architects and designers will always want to find a way to stand out visually. As the world’s largest glass manufacturer, we utilize our commitment to research and development to provide leading–edge products and processes, such as Coating on Demand. ... AGC offers Coating on Demand, a customized one-of-a-kind coating that allows the architect and/or designer’s visions to become a reality.
 
Tell me about the investment in the coater. How long will construction take? When do you anticipate operations will begin?
 
Our Church Hill, Tennessee, facility has two float glass lines that will support this innovative coater. ... This investment in North America allows us to expand the industry’s largest product offering and continue to augment our world-class service that is second to none. We started construction during the second half of 2017 and we expect to be in production during the fourth quarter of 2018. AGC has the benefit of experience in regards to building coaters and developing coatings, which has allowed us to build the most technologically advanced coater at a level of investment that is competitive with other recent announcements of new coaters.