Laminated glass protects building occupants and pedestrians from accidental glass impact, breakage or fallout.Glass laminates also provide added resistance to forced entries, bomb blasts, as well as hurricane-force winds. Already a building standard in other parts of the world, glass laminates are now becoming a mandatory component in U.S. and Canadian construction jobs.
With this increased demand, glass manufacturers are taking on a multitude of jobs that require a variety of laminated glass products. Previously, these manufacturers, many of which are small- and family-owned operations, had to use multiple suppliers to have product needs met. But, with Kuraray’s recent acquisition of DuPont Glass Laminating Solutions/Vinyls (GLS/Vinyls), the situation has changed. Today, Kuraray has become the world’s only single-source for the full gamut of laminated glass products.
In June 2014, Kuraray acquired GLS/Vinyls, a top supplier of polyvinyl alcohol (PVOH)/vinyl acetate-derived products used in a variety of architectural, automotive and industrial applications. The $543-million acquisition doubled the size of Kuraray’s presence in the U.S., Central and South America, transitioning it from a mid-size contributor to a large presence in the industry. It expanded its technical and operational strength in the areas of technology, research and development, manufacturing and sales. The purchase also gave Kuraray an integrated supply chain, presence in six new markets worldwide and increased availability of resources through GLSV’s strong market penetration.
Today, Kuraray’s comprehensive glass laminate line features three core products that address the requirements of commercial manufacturing needs – from standard applications to higher-end ones that require the utmost clarity. Kuraray’s Polyvinyl Butryal (PVB) offers excellent properties in terms of safety, security and long-term stability, noise reduction and UV protection. Manufactured around the world, in additional to standard products, Kuraray offers 13 colors and enhanced sound control. Kuraray PVB is most often used in architectural glass as well as specialty applications like white boards, office dividers, risers and more.
Through the acquisition, Kuraray inherited two glass laminate products: Butacite®, which is primarily offered to U.S. customers, and SentryGlas®. Also a PVB film, Butacite is often used to construct windows on the outside of office buildings as well as in the automotive market for replacement windshields.
Another new product added to the Kuraray portfolio is SentryGlas®, a thermoplastic interlayer sheet and the only product of its kind in the world. Made from ionoplast, its interlayers have extra rigidity and toughness that are five times stronger and 100 times stiffer than traditional PVB film and conventional laminating materials. This helps create lighter, safer, more structural glass that can stand up to greater loads and higher threat levels. With this kind of strength, the glass can be a more active element in the building’s structure, opening up extensive design possibilities. Applications include: hurricane-resistant windows, doors and skylights; bomb-blast resistant windows, doors and facades; minimally supported and open-edged railings, facades and canopies; and structural glass flooring, stairs, walkways and pedestrian bridges where heavy load-bearing is required (i.e., floor for the Skywalk at the Grand Canyon).
Other products to round out the line-up include SentryGlas® Expressions™, in which the PVB interlayers are digitally printed in high-definition using proprietary ink jet and specialized Butacite technology. This results in astonishing imagery and design textures – such as rice paper and patterns. In additional, Spallshield® is a composite that increases the penetration resistance of a given thickness of glass and helps stop the showering of small glass particles that can occur when conventional glass fails.
Having all of these products under the Kuraray brand is a huge asset to glass manufacturers. First, it simplifies the act of doing business. In the future, manufacturers will only have to generate one purchase order to meet a variety of glass needs versus trying to juggle multiple POs with a variety of companies. This fosters operational efficiency. Whether talking to a designer, architect or structural engineer, Kuraray now has something that meets all of those needs.
Kuraray as a single source helps increase overall capacity for glass manufacturers. Not only did Kuraray purchase GLSV business but, Kuraray plans to invest in technology and capacity in the future. This will translate into even greater manufacturing efficiencies as the company relies on best practices between all of its existing and newly acquired plants.
For any business, especially small ones, owners must do what they can to reduce costs and increase efficiencies in order to best serve their customers. Kuraray’s new role as the world’s only single-source provider of all laminated glass products helps make this possible. Business owners (large and small) now have a trusted, high-quality resource at their disposal, 24/7, to help ensure their growth and success.