At glasstec, the Swiss manufacturer of warm-edge spacers, SWISSPACER, introduced a new product to the market: the SWISSPACER Air. This small component provides for pressure equalisation and counteracts climatic stresses in insulating glass with multiple panes. But the field trials have already been underway for some time: since 2016, the component is already in use at Glassolutions, the leading manufacturer of construction glass, a subsidiary of the globally active SAINT-GOBAIN Group.
Glassolutions has already carried out projects with SWISSPACER Air all over the Swiss Alps. For example, in the Haldigrat mountain lodge in Wolfenschiessen, where the new insulating glass has already been equipped with the SWISSPACER Air in the course of the building extension. With a climb rate of 59 meters per minute, the insulating glass was taken by chairlift to the location across a difference in altitude of 707 meters.
But the small component is also already being used in the chalet in Riederalp in the Swiss Canton of Valais: here, all the windows in the building were renovated and equipped with the SWISSPACER Air. Again, the glass had to be transported by mountain railway, with a difference in altitude of 1166 meters above sea level and a journey time of nine minutes, there was a climb rate of 130 m/min in altitude – no longer a problem with the SWISSPACER Air.
Both reference properties were also equipped with windows at the Waser joinery company, which isalso based in Wolfenschiessen.
“We really appreciate the openness our customers show to such projects. We are very grateful for the trust they have placed in us, which really gives us an incentive for future projects,” explained Valerian Wicky, Managing Director at Glassolutions Kreuzlingen.
As part of the Europe-wide network with over 200 production locations, the Glassolutions site in Kreuzlingen, Switzerland, is primarily known for its special solutions. That’s why SWISSPACER opted for a collaboration with the Swiss insulating glass manufacturer. “In the joint projects with Glassolutions with bundled know-how, quite a few technical challenges have already been overcome. In the DACH area (Germany, Austria and Switzerland), customers appreciate the company as a reliable, innovative operation. For us, it was therefore only a logical consequence that we carried out the first SWISSPACER Air pilot projects with this strong partner,” said Matthias Bach, Technical Director at SWISSPACER.
The solution for a long-term industry problem
Particularly when transporting insulating glass across areas with vast differences in altitude, for example through mountain passes, tunnels or during air freight, there is no pressure equalisation between a sealed piece of insulating glass and the outside atmosphere, resulting in considerable tension at the edges of the glass and inside the glass itself. This can cause damage to the sealant at the edge of the glass – or even breakage.
Wicky is also well aware of this problem: “When the SWISSPACER R&D department came to us with the SWISSPACER Air solution, we were all ears. It could be used to solve not only problems caused by differences in altitude, but also the climatic stresses at the edge of the glass. But as we are a very service-oriented company, it was the simple installation of the insulating glass in the window frame above all that convinced us.
“The window manufacturer can fit the insulating glass in the factory as usual and thus saves all additional expenses incurred during transport and installation on site – and that really benefits our customers in practice.”
Prior to this development of the SWISSPACER Air, Glassolutions worked either with pre-set pressure equalisation using an altimeter or open units. This always involved a great deal of logistical effort, as interim storage at a reseller of the windows posed the risk of glass breakage.
Wicky added,“When deadlines had to be pushed back on the building site, it turned out time and again that the insulating glass had cracked during the interim storage. Our clients were demanding a simple yet flexible solution that could react to weathering, transport options and building progress according to the situation at hand.
“Now, thanks to SWISSPACER Air, all this is no longer a problem. As soon as the corresponding building section is ready, the window manufacturer can install the units of glass directly in the factory and transport it to the property, for example in the mountains. Since then, our customers no longer have to worry about additional handling or double transportation of glass and frames.”
Improved optics and the ultimate in thermal insulation
In addition to the planning security, the small component offers even more advantages: especially in the winter, parallel panes are important for the thermal insulation. SWISSPACER Air prevents bending when air contracts in the area between the panes when it gets cold. That way, the insulating glass can continue to provide its full level of performance even during colder times of year.
Unsightly distortions of the panes, a daily issue when there is no pressure equalisation, are something the SWISSPACER Air helps counteract. Wicky has already had some initial experiences with that and said, “Not infrequently, architects and planners came to us with the challenge of finding a solution to this problem. This prompted us to conduct several field trials to check the effects of air on the distortions in the glass – with positive results: the seasonal distortions are reduced. We are pleased to now to be able to offer our customers assistance in the form of the Air.”
In practice, the installation of the SWISSPACER Air at Glassolutions was seamless. The company helped develop and optimise the process of installing the component during the production of insulating glass here.
Under certain circumstances, it is now even possible – in consultation with SWISSPACER – to install the Air after the curing of the secondary sealant at the edge of the glass. This has the advantage of being able to carry out pressure equalisation even at a later date upon request.
The presetting of the pressure equalisation with the altimeter is no longer necessary, increasing the speed of production. “You only need to install the component, but the handling is simple,” says Wicky.
At Glassolutions, exclusive knowledge in the area of basic glass, spacer bars and processing glass into insulating glass is bundled in order to develop sustainable solutions to meet the requirements of the customers. “Glassolutions has done practical, pioneering work in the development of the Air. Thanks to the help of the team, we were able to optimise production and make a key contribution to the further development of the processing methods. As with other projects, we can once again look back on a professional and constructive cooperation,” says Bach.
Wicky added, “We have established SWISSPACER as our warm edge on the market since 2003 and since 2005 over 90 percent of our insulating glass products used the warm edge spacer. By now, most window manufacturers are already explicitly demanding these spacer bars. When our customers heard that SWISSPACER is now offering this component and that despite the use of air instead of noble gases, sensible Ug values in triple insulating glass can be achieved, their interest immediately piqued. Since then, we have successfully used the product within the framework of our field trials in all regions and differences in altitude.”