Guardian Industries´ new antireflective glass increases the amount of light transmitted on the field, or in this case, an outdoor hockey rink. The Auburn Hills-based company spent 3 ½ years developing both the glass and its unique coating at its technology center in Carleton.
The AR Glass illustrates the kind of innovation coming from the once-stodgy glass industry. Thanks to increased investment in research and development, glass manufacturers are bringing new products to market faster than before, said Scott Thomsen, Guardian´s group vice president of North American flat glass.
"You are going to see a lot of innovation in glass in the next three to four years," he said. "Glass isn´t boring anymore." To make its antireflective glass, Guardian developed a low-iron glass used in the solar industry and coated it on both sides with an antireflective coating.
When light is transmitted through a lens made of AR glass, only 0.5% of the light is lost, compared with 10% for a traditional glass lens, according to Thomsen.
Guardian started selling its AR glass in the U.S. six months ago for use in a variety of commercial and consumer applications, ranging from street lamps to jewelry cases and picture frames. Thomsen predicts an enormous market for AR glass, totaling at least $800 million. He expects the product will be used most widely in flat-screen televisions and smartphones.
Two European companies are also selling a similar kind of glass, but so far Guardian is the only manufacturer in the U.S., Thomsen said. The glass works with all kinds of lights, from incandescent to fluorescent to LEDs. Guardian plans to expand sales of the glass to Hungary in next year´s second quarter, followed by Brazil at the end of 2011 and Asia in 2012.
For Guardian, the next task may be finding a catchier name for its new glass. That shouldn´t be a problem since this is a company with glass products called ShowerGuard, DiamondGuard and SunGuard.