Thanks to laser technology, the glass industry can do something that would be almost inconceivable in any other sector. Laser finishing treatment enables manufacturers to enhance the value of largely standardised products and increase their functionality. With prices for traditional IG units and facade cladding coming under increasing pressure, using laser upgrades to create bird protection glass, RF-transparent glass and anti-bacterial glass gives manufacturers the chance to tap into new target markets and increase their profit margins.
HEGLA boraident of Halle/Saale, Germany, part of the Hegla Group, is a company that specialises in these types of laser applications. The HEGLA Laserbird is a system that can manipulate the top layer of a pane of glass or use laser printing to alter its properties, thus providing the glass with an additional benefit for the customer.
“The high degree of flexibility and precision that laser technology offers is what sets it apart from other processes. You can switch between different finishing treatments without wasting time retooling, and the system can be used to work on both individual panes and finished IG units,” said Dr. Thomas Rainer, Head of Development at HEGLA boraident.
Bird protection and RF-transparent glass
RF-transparent glass is created by removing a layer of the coating in a dodecagonal pattern with extremely thin lines. Once this is done, the interior behind the pane of glass in question will enjoy full data and phone reception – perfect for conference rooms, office buildings and public transport. The pattern is almost invisible, and imperceptible when used as part of a finished IG unit.
Birds can be protected from colliding with glass by lasering a different shape into its coating. For optimum results, Dr Rainer recommends applying the laser to the pyrolytic coating on the outside of the IG unit. However, the glass can also be functionalised without this layer. In such cases, a laser printing process is used to apply a pattern that birds will recognise as an insurmountable obstacle onto the outside of the facade glass.
“In Europe alone, 250,000 birds die every day from collisions with glass windows and doors,” Dr. Rainer continued. “New legal requirements at the international level have opened up a new market for these applications, and the demand for these types of glass in public and commercial buildings is growing in many local markets as well.” The print is weatherproof, scratch-proof and light-fast.