The OG of IG: Sealants Can Help Maximize Your Pace of Production

By Brian Kress

High-speed processing lines for insulating glass (IG) have proliferated on plant floors throughout
North America, and more are popping up every month. If you haven’t automated your IG production by now you’ve probably thought about it, and perhaps you’re doing it soon.

But even amid the equipment’s popularity, it’s worth zooming out a bit. Why automate in the first
place? There are many tangential benefits to automated production—including less manual labor on your line and enhanced quality consistency from unit to unit—but automation is first and foremost about speed. With this in mind, it’s worth investigating all avenues to make the most of your investment. One of those avenues includes your choice of IG sealant. There are a variety of sealant formulations to choose from, each offering certain characteristics, but not all are created equal. High-performance formulations are designed specifically to contribute to efficiency gains
in automated lines while offering highly consistent, reliable performance. The following is what you need to know to make an optimal choice for the needs of your business.

To start, it’s helpful to consider the role that secondary sealants play in a completed door or window, but there are additional things to consider from a manufacturing perspective. If you’re automated, your sealants should be well suited to your equipment. This means the sealant should be able to quickly bond and seal on the unit’s fourth corner to best maximize production output.

To Cure or Not to Cure?

Another important variable to consider is whether your sealant contains a curing agent.

Curable sealants have become popular for a good reason—curing provides the sealant with significant tensile strength. But it’s important to remember that curable sealants do not fully cure for 10-14 days after application.

An increasingly fast-paced manufacturing process, however, has different demands. A sealant’s ability to gain full strength quickly is a desirable characteristic today. Formulations that gain full strength as soon as they have cooled can offer superior durability as the unit moves through your processing line. That same sealant will also be able to withstand accidental bumps, nicks or scratches that may occur before the IG unit is glazed into the sash.

A sealant’s moisture vapor transmission rate (MVTR) is another important metric to consider. It
is the rate at which water vapor will permeate through solid material over a specific period of time. Manufacturers should seek sealants with optimal MVTRs, as doing so can enable every unit to offer reliable performance over longer periods of time.

Eliminating curing time is just one way that a sealant can elevate the pace of today’s automated
technology. Manufacturers should look for sealants that offer short skimming times. While this might sound minor, any time saved during the sealing process adds up for an automated line that is producing several hundred units per day, even if it is only a matter of seconds per unit.

Manufacturers who properly evaluate the options when selecting sealants have the opportunity to gain an edge over their competitors.

Brian Kress is a product manager for Quanex Corp.

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DWM Magazine

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