IGMA Looks at Testing and More

By Katy Devlin, Glass Magazine
March 28, 2011
Meetings & Events

Las Vegas–Passing IG testing requirements for certification can present real challenges, according to Dan Braun of Architectural Testing Inc., speaking last week at the Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance's annual meeting. Held at the Paris Hotel in conjunction with Glass Week, organized by the Glass Association of North America, the meeting also featured a variety of association business.

"With the [National Fenestration Rating Council] mandate to require IG testing, manufacturers have to have a compliant product. If you don't, you'll be shut out from the marketplace. This is serious stuff," Braun said. The most common failures to the certification testing occur in four general areas: handling and thermal breakage, chemical/volatile fog, gas fill, and seal durability.

For handling, "each piece of glass sent to testing is handled about 15 times, significantly more than the average production unit," he said. To prevent breakage during handling, Braun recommended that manufacturers use shipping containers that properly cushion the glass and provide separation for each unit; polish or sand edges to reduce the risk of chipping and thermal breakage and create units that are safer to handle; and inspect glass edge before shipping.

Problems with chemical/volatile fog, the result of off gassing of paints and oils, are more common in residential applications, Braun said. Common sources of fog failures include: glass cleanliness, volatiles in paints, cutting oils, fingerprints, volatiles in plastics and sensitivity of low-E coatings. If a unit fails the volatile fog test, it will fail the entire E2190 test, so manufacturers should make sure their units are able to pass, he advised. He recommended manufacturers acquire a chemical fog chamber to test units on their own.  He also advised that manufacturers should complete the fog test before the weather cycling test, explaining that if the fog test fails, the manufacturer will not have spent time and money on the weather cycling portion unnecessarily.

Braun also suggested that glass suppliers should be consulted about low-E sensitivity and that component products—grids, caming, blinds, paints, etc.—all need to be compliant with E2189. For the gas content component of the test, which measures the ability of a unit to retain its gas fill, Braun recommended that manufacturers need to take grids and spacers into account and acquire a GasGlass device to test fill on units in their own plant.

The final portion of the test looks at seal durability of units after intense weather cycling. Poor glass cleanliness, low-E coating corrosion, sealant voids, incomplete sealant mixing, pre-loaded desiccant and poor primary-to-secondary sealant adhesion can all lead to seal failure, Braun said. To avoid failures, he told attendees they should edge-delete to avoid low-E corrosion; educate and train staff on fabricating small test-sized samples to ensure that the production quality is equal to the quality with normal-sized units; and complete post-fabrication inspection of units.

Looking forward, manufacturers will see certification considerations for vacuum glazed units, certification of gas mixes, and increased attention in certification testing from the Department of Energy, Braun predicted.

Other speakers touched on testing as well. In a session offering an update on various standards, John Kent, administrative manager for the Insulating Glass Certification Council, advised that "the 2010 version [of ASTM 2190] is a more rigorous standard than the previous, and everyone needs to be aware." One major change involves the coupling of the gas content test with the overall IG certification testm, he said. "In my opinion, the bar has been raised dramatically."

Emily Zachery of D & R International, which manages the Energy Star program for windows for the Environmental Protection Agency, noted that coming revisions for that program will include several new IG certification and product verification requirements that "will help ensure the lifetime of products carrying Energy Star label." Other possible changes to Energy Star, scheduled for fall 2013, include more stringent U-factor and solar heat gain coefficient requirements, orientation and shading considerations, daylighting criteria for tubular daylighting devices and skylights, installation requirements and air leakage criteria, she said. Proposed life cycle analysis and structural requirements are unlikely to make it into this round of revisions, she noted.

IGMA Business
The meeting also saw IGMA members discussed possible revisions to its North American glazing guidelines for IG units related to setting blocks, and the development of capillary tube guidelines. Additionally, a working group continued efforts develop a document focusing on design considerations for multiple cavity IG units. 

The meeting also saw Crystal Archibald, Kohltech Windows & Entrance Systems; Frank Caporiccio, PPG Industries; Scott Cardwell, AGC Flat Glass North America; and Helen Sanders, Sage Electrochromics named to IGMA's board of directors. Additionally, Dave Cooper of Guardian Industries took over as board president, succeeding Ray Wakefield of Trulite Industries.

The IGMA board voted to form a new glass safety council within the organization.  On the technical side, the council will follow efforts within ASTM related to glass safety standard development, providing feedback and new ways to protect the employees. The committee will also be tasked with education for IG manufacturing operations, including activities similar to a recent IGMA/GANA webinar.