Whereas 10 years ago architectural laminated glass was not commonly used in Europe, the material is now widely used as a major construction element. What I mean is that architects often ask us to make and install large (20 m2) freestanding single panes of architectural laminated glass, which act as structural members of a building. There is great confidence regarding the material's strength and safety. The European architectural and construction community is also very familiar with other important benefits of laminated glass such as acoustic barrier, solar control and UV protection.
There are several exciting new areas where we are seeing strong interest from architectural customers. My personal favorite is the area of photovoltaic solar cells. Here, we have seen a dramatically increased demand in the last year or so and I believe there is a huge market possibility for the future. Laminated glass is, without any doubt, the best substrate for the solar cell industry. The material's outstanding light transmission is just what the solar cells need to function optimally and the laminate protects the cells better than any other material could. In addition, the strength of laminated glass means we have freedom to use the solar cells as a construction element. Lastly, since laminated glass has passed all the European safety codes, it is easy for architects and clients to design in solar cells encapsulated in laminated glass; no additional codes need to be applied for.
I am also very interested in some of the new ways that are emerging to print on glass or to contain designs in the laminate. This will be a wonderful product for office partitions, for example. Another great application for the corporate market is where we are seeing architects start to include electrical films or circuits into the laminate so that you can regulate the degree of light transmission coming through the glass. Maybe offices will soon no longer need blinds! Laminated glass is the perfect material for conference rooms, for example, because it keeps sound out. I believe that you will very soon see this light transmission capability becoming used in quite a widespread way."
We have enjoyed a close relationship with DuPont for over ten years and we look forward to working with the company in the future because it's always good to feel that you can supply your customers with the best in cutting edge architectural laminated glass technology products.
Jacques Scheuten President, Scheuten Glasgroep Venlo, The Netherlands