These figures encompass solar control glass (low-emissivity, reflective and smart glass), security glass (bullet- and burglary-resistant and firerated glass) and other emerging niche products, such as HUD (heads up display) windscreens, ultraclear glass and self cleaning glass.
Three distinct but interrelated drivers are promoting gains for these products: efforts to improve energy efficiency in buildings and automobiles; heightened security concerns; and demand for products exhibiting improved safety and convenience features. For flat glass suppliers, diversifying into value-added glass allows them to focus on premium, branded products in an industry dominated by commodities.
Smart glass to rise the fastest
US demand for advanced flat glass will accelerate through 2006 based on rapid market base expansion for a range of innovative new products. Among the products forecast to see impressive gains are smart glass; self-cleaning glass, which is architectural glass that has been coated to improve water sheeting properties and thus reduce (though not eliminate) the need for washing; and HUD windscreens in motor vehicles, which allow critical data to be superimposed on the windshield.
Perhaps the most significant of these introductions is smart glass, where demand is forecast to expand nearly 20 percent per year to $445 million in 2006, driven by the large-scale commercial introduction of electrochromic windows for homes and commercial buildings. These windows, which can be lightened and darkened on command, offer unprecedented control, aesthetics and energy efficiency, though high prices and the need to integrate their use with the building's heating and air conditioning systems will initially relegate them to high end custom built homes. Solid gains also are forecast for the larger self-dimming electrochromic automotive mirrors, which were introduced in 1991 and continue to expand their share in the US automotive industry.
Security, solar control also key types Market gains also will benefit from stable demand for a range of more established solar control and security products. The market for security glass - particularly bullet- and burglary-resistant glazings - has seen a sharp but likely temporary spike since the terrorist attacks of September 2001. Security glass is being installed in many government buildings, research facilities and laboratories. The market for burglary-resistant glass relies on a large installed base of correctional facilities, government offices and retail stores, such as check-cashing facilities and jewelry stores.
Conventional solar control glass, particularly lowemissivity glass, will continue to expand its share in both architectural and motor vehicle markets based on its favorable benefits related to energy efficiency and reduced wear-and-tear on drapes, furniture and other interior components. Also, low-E coatings can be incorporated into smart windows to improve performance.