Glasslam Launches New Spacer Production Process

March 18, 2011

A new process for the production of silicone foam spacer is being licensed by Glasslam NGI Inc. To be introduced first in its own operations, the new system enables window and IG producers to manufacture their own foam spacer in-house "at a significantly lower cost," according to Steve Howes, Glasslam CEO. 

 The inline oven for heating and drying the flexible spacer material.

The company is working with a number of leading industry suppliers, he reports, to develop the modular equipment that can be put together in a spacer production line. Any manufacturer that can justify the investment in an automated IG line using flexible spacer products will be able to justify the cost of bringing foam spacer production in-house, Howes adds.

What makes the new Glasslam process unique is that rather than extruding the spacer material to size, it is extruded as a ribbon and cut to the proper shape and size. That allows increased volume, Howes states, as traditionally foam spacers are extruded in pairs. With the material extruded as a wide ribbon, it can be slit to make multiple spacer shapes and sizes at once.  

This approach also cuts expense by reducing changeover times from one spacer shape to another to about 10 seconds. "In extrusion, the cost isn't in the material. It's the downtime it takes to change over from one size to another," Howes states. It means stopping production, changing the die and starting up again, which he estimates costs about $1,000 each time at Glasslam's spacer manufacturing operations.

In addition to the computer-controlled slitting equipment, which cuts the spacer to the exact sizes needed, another difference in the new manufacturing process is the oven used. Traditionally, the material has come out of the extruder and is placed in baskets which are put in ovens for heating and drying prior application of the adhesive, the Glasslam executive explains. In the new process, the oven is inline with the extruder and the spacer material runs through it continuously. This not only increases the efficiency of the operation, it provides more consistency in the final product, he states. 

Howes expects the new equipment will be fully operational in Glasslam's Bahamas' plant–where it produces its Air Tight spacer products–in about 10 weeks. The company plans to host potential customers to see the system in operation there, as well as show the equipment at the next Glastec show in Germany in 2012.   

Glasslam plans to offer two types of licenses for the product–one for manufacturers that plan to produce spacer for their own use only and one companies that plan to supply spacer to others. Based in Pompano Beach, Fla., Glasslam will supply licensees the desicated sillicone pellets and adhesives used to make the spacer.