Vitrum 2005: Shopping for equipment, Italian style
European equipment manufacturers continue to hone tradition, reserving the biennial Vitrum to announce innovations. Executives of many major companies proudly brought forth and exclaimed over faster and more highly automated machinery during the 60,000-square-meter show Oct. 5-8 in Milan.
Most of their lines now feature tightly aligned functions that almost entirely eliminate manpower. Optimization software that makes the most of every square inch of glass has become essential for efficient plant operation. And, in response to architects’ demands for larger panes of glass, some basic—albeit the most sophisticated—equipment has grown in size. These larger models often require related devices or mechanical features to move those heavier panes around. Finally, many manufacturers offered equipment specifically for the efficient production of shower doors.
The show opened amid a relatively flat European market for architectural glass, a market stymied by the economy in general and by Chinese imports. As Dino Fenzi, GIMAV honorary president, noted at the association of Italian machinery suppliers’ 25th anniversary party, “Globalization is affecting many consumer goods producers, but we GIMAV members are in the technology business; its machinery and chemicals equal almost $1 billion annually in exports,” and that number rose 8 percent in 2004. Vitrum 2005 drew 438 exhibitors from 29 countries showing machinery, equipment, wares and systems for processing flat and hollow glass, and a reported 16,018 visitors.
The shopping spree
Italian Bottero Inc. commits to introducing six innovations at every major European glass trade show, said Vice President of Sales David Mackey, who works out of Florence, Ky. To Vitrum, Bottero researchers brought more than six:
1. Bimatech’s computer numerically controlled Practica entry-level edger, “economically priced,” with three axes, high speed and high performance.
2. Entry-level 332BKM float-glass cutting table with high speed, high degree of accuracy and easy loading. Driven by software, not an interface, Mackey said, the table includes simple optimization, computer-aided design and a shape library.
3. The 345BHP cutting table with high speed, composite alloy bridge and linear motors that contribute to enhanced productivity, three shifts a day.
4. Easy Edge Deletion System, a low-emissivity deletion device that fits on any Bottero cutting table.
5. The 511 LAM/37 cutting table that “allows faster cutting and separation of interlayers.” It features more standard options such as diverse capacity to cut various thicknesses from 4.3-to-20 millimeters.
6. The 680STS automatic SaveTech System for re-stocking unused subplates, operated in conjunction with optimization software.
7. A racking system for glass storage and loading areas including mobile glass storage racks and a laterally mobile loader, the 605MRS and 620CMF-J.
8. New features on the Discovery 770DMW computer numerically controlled drilling machine, such as the two large opposing spindles. Each spindle can select from its own horizontal tool-storage magazine, with a total capacity of 32 positions. The upper spindle can move at up to 10,000 rotations per minute, permitting it to perform milling operations.
Bovone Elettromeccanica S.r.l. of Italy presented an entry-level 10-spindle straight-line edging machine, the Bovone 102, for flat polishing with arrise. The company created a division, Bovone Diamond Tools, producing wheels for CNC equipment from all manufacturers. New items for the tools division include routers, edging wheels and beveling wheels. Salem of Winston-Salem, N.C., serves Bovone customers in the United States.
Bystronic Group of Germany presented an automatic desiccant-filling machine that permits insulating glass manufacturers to take one employee off each line. The existing lines each require an employee to position the spacer frame manually, explains Peter Nischwitz, manager of corporate communication for Bystronic. The machine automates the process and integrates with the butyl-coating machine, next on the line.
Bystronic also recently introduced an additional shuttle table for its Byjet series water-jet cutting systems; and company officials claim productivity increases of up to 30 percent with the use of such devices. According to a company release, last year, Swiss engineers gave the shuttle table sufficient muscle so that it can lift large-format materials up to 4.0 meters by 2.25 meters, or 6.2 tons.
From CMS’ Deltaprogetti Easytools’ line comes a vertical drilling and notching eight-position tool, including many drill profile and routing tools. It has an electric spindle rather than mechanical; the in-feed and out-feed configuration permits two pieces of glass to be on the machine at the same time, increasing productivity, said Allen Bonthuis, product manager of the glass division for CMS North America, a division of the Italian CMS Group. The company’s newest equipment offers innovations in drilling and notching tools that make for efficient production of shower doors, he noted. These include an accessory to the Technometal Jr. 1.40 edging machine for true polish on a cut edge achieved with a cup wheel, and an accessory to the drill systems R 1.40, FT2.18 and B72.03 that permit carrying holes out as far as 150 millimeters from a piece edge. CMS also offered the Technometal Runner 3.70/8.20 with cutting heads that each cut a different thickness and with speeds to 180 meters per minute. Its innovations include an integrated electrical cabinet and a lifting system with large gears rather than hydraulics.
Costruzioni Meccaniche Besana S.r.l. in Milan featured its vertical drill type VD-2H/130 with numeric controls, handing glass to a maximum size of 2,200 by 1,300 millimeters.
Italy’s For.El exhibited a prototype of a high-speed and automated arising machine that processes glass and glass shapes from 1.6-to-3.2 meters and from 3-to-32 millimeters thick. Other For.El prototypes were three versions of gas-filling machines, all automated with the same software.
Michael Dolcetti, the company’s Canadian representative, said three manufacturers in the United Kingdom were now using For.El’s high-speed SuperSpacer applicator. For.El salespeople also were promoting its automatic hot-melt sealing machine that carries out perimeter sealing of double- or triple-glazed insulating glass units. As coupled units exit the coupling machine, a measuring sensor on the feed conveyor of the hot-melt sealing robot detects and measures its dimensions. The software thereby controls the quantity and flow of the sealant. Sealed units vary from 2,000-to-2,310 millimeters in size.
Italian Forvet introduced the Chiara series. Model 2000 MTP glass-polishing machine of the series works on four sides simultaneously. It processes glass from 3-to-15 millimeters thick in a horizontal position. Model MTA of the same series, an arrising machine, processes thin low-emissivity and other glass. The series can be integrated into highly automated lines to reduce labor costs, said Michael Spellman, president of IGE Solutions Inc. of Jupiter, Fla., Forvet’s U.S. representative. Forvet also introduced model 32M 3200 of its Francesca series. Fabricators prefer this drilling and milling machine for shower doors because of its high speed and automated features, Spellman said. It has two sets of double working heads, one each top and bottom, up to 32 tools, and a patented belt system for holding the glass. A “dynamic vacuum” holds the glass without contact to coated surfaces. The Francesca 32M also has a drilling optimization program. It had demonstrated production of more than 300 doors in eight working hours, he said.
Glassrobots Oy officials reported on the characteristics of the relatively new RoboTemp multiconvection flat tempering machine based on the use of forced convection and indirect radiation, according to a report in Glass Age of London. This multiconvection heating system provides uniform tempering of value-added glass, from bronze silvered glass to painted, coated solar and the newest low-emissivity glass, company officials say.
The heating time of clear glass with the RoboTemp can be as low as 25 second per millimeter, and for soft coated glass only 10-to-20 percent longer than for clear glass. The first furnaces have been installed and commissioned and more are under construction at Glassrobots’ factory in Finland.
Integrated systems were show highlights for two divisions of Finland’s Kyro Corp., parent of Glaston Technologies, Finland’s Tamglass and Italy’s Z.Bavelloni. S.p.A.
Tamglass added the Sonic high-convection furnace for the tempering of flat, super low-emissivity glass. Company officials say it is extremely fast and designed for the tempering of glass with emissivity in the range of 0.02-to-0.04, mainly for insulating glass units and other architectural applications. The Sonic enables continuing production of window and patio door glass sizes with 65 percent bed utilization. This processing has been carried out with a charted optimum super low-emissivity 4-millimeter glass achieving speed of 33 seconds per millimeter and producing the highest quality, said Pentti Yliheljo, president and chief executive officer of Kyro Corp. The patented profiled convection heating system with ultra speed convection blower technology provides up to 60 percent more capacity than traditional technology, company officials claim.
Other introductions by Tamglass and Z.Bavelloni:
• Z.Bavelloni’s new integrated horizontal double edging and drilling process line stages many processes into one. It includes a high-speed double edging machine, the VX EVO, as well as a drilling, milling and countersinking machine, the HDM. Flexibility of this line enables working with small or very large glass pieces. Computer numerically controlled with 18 axes, it has more than 16 tools on board, said Stefan Bavelloni, business area director of Bavelloni. The double-edger and the drilling machine also are available in Magnum series for jumbo-size glass sheets up to 3.3 meters wide and 7.2 meters long. The risk of damaging low-e surfaces at the stages of pre-processing will be minimized through automated operation, company officials said in a press release. Automation reduces glass handling to bring down production costs and improve safety. The line also features the ALM 120 CN automatic loader for glass sizes to 1,500 millimeters by 3,000 millimeters.
• The line and the individual machinery—designed to be connected to each other—enable high efficiency and speed for the preprocessing of glass before tempering, Bavelloni said. As part of Glaston’s “one-stop partner” concept, the Bavelloni pre-processing system works in conjunction with the Sonic and other Tamglass furnaces.
• Tamglass Advisor is an intelligence platform for the long-term collection and analysis of production data to identify places in plants where managers would achieve greater efficiency.
• Z.Bavelloni officials announced that the vertical drill VT1301 T CN recently completed client trials and was being delivered to clients in September. The manufacturer has added functions that can be carried out in a single automatic cycle including processing holes of the same diameter, deburred holes, milling arrised notches and deep countersunk holes of the same diameter. Workable dimensions range from 300-by-500 millimeters to 1,300-by-2,600 millimeters.
Austrian Lisec offered a laminated glass-cutting center with two exits that speed production. For small to medium-sized glass pieces, fabricators can improve processing speeds by 50 percent and the equipment produces a clean cut with no polyvinyl butyral protruding, said Manfred Lesiak, marketing and event manager.
Lisec also featured a compact seaming machine for shapes. Software drives its computer numeric controls, and new features in the grinding process give fabricators more options for different edge treatments.
In its booth, Lisec featured a demonstration of its vertical water-jet cutting and edge-working center first introduced three years ago. Fabricators find its speed and versatility ideal for completing doors, including cutouts for key holes, hinges and handles, Lesiak said. A finished door can be completed in three minutes, he said.
Lesiak also announced two modules of the company’s software: one for quality management and the other for automatic shape scanning, and both offering more production control.
Italy’s Lovati introduced the numerically controlled BEM 31 for grinding and polishing edges on shaped glass with internal curves, external curves, straight sides and mitered corners, and particularly low-e glass. The surface of the coated glass sheet never contacts the suction pads or transport rollers. Any kind of geometric profile becomes possible by means of linear and circular interpolation on the X, Y and Z axes. Further processes include holes, pin and screw inserts, internal and external routings. The equipment processes different types, shapes and thicknesses of glass without having to readjust the machine, as a bar code scanner on the machine realizes the types of glass to grind. Moreover, the working table has mobile bars with suction pads to fix the glass sheets. The pads position and activate automatically according to the shape and dimensions of the glass to be processed. Minimum glass size is 600 by 400 millimeters; and maximum is 3,200 by 1,700 millimeters.
The machine also has a washing system for the suction pads and the grinding area that can be activated when required. The numerically controlled drilling section, Drill 31, compatible with the other equipment in the Lovati line, can be positioned in line with the BEM grinding machine and double-edging machine or used separately. It has one double head to perform holes and routings, automatic regulation of the rotating speed based on the tool diameter and automatic tool change for upper and lower spindles. Other versions service glass to 6,000 by 3,210 millimeters.
Upon request, the machine can be equipped with, loading-unloading tilting table, 15-position tool crib with automatic selection for tool withdrawal and deposit, and CAD-CAM automatic design station.
Interlayer manufacturer Sekisui of Japan, a competitor of DuPont and Solutia, plans to open a North American plant in 2007, according to Sjoerd Polderman, marketing and sales manager in the Netherlands. Sekisui produces a multilayer acoustic film laminate that it introduced in 2004, and other interlayers under the brand name S-LEC, at factories in China, Japan, the Netherlands, Mexico and Thailand. Its customers include PPG Industries Inc., Guardian Industries Corp. and AFG Industries Inc. Last March, Sekisui entered a joint venture with Italian R.C.N Engineering Glass Solutions to produce a vacuum laminating machine. After heating, the resulting laminated glass does not need to be treated in an autoclave. R.C.N introduced the Lammy System with a shelf size to 1,800 by 3,000 millimeters, capable of producing glass to a maximum workable size of 4.5 by 2.1 meters. It has a tilting surface to allow easy movement of large panes, said Roberta Cometti, head of the export office. The machine also can laminate marble, polycarbonate, onyx or other stone to glass using Sekisui’s EVA-EN interlayer, she said.
“There is absolutely nothing really new at this show,” complained André Ommer, owner and general manager of OGIS GmbH and publisher of www.glassglobal.com, based in Germany, during one Vitrum dinner party. However, most exhibitors had added to their lines. As a result, buyers now have more flexibility because so many more suppliers offer different versions of similar tools. For instance, Gadia of Spain, along with Bottero, Costruzioni Meccaniche Besana S.r.l., Forvet and Z.Bavelloni have similar CNC drilling machines with turn heads and diverse tools. The enhanced competition bodes well for careful buyers.