Technical Services Manager
Quanex Building Products
March 22nd, 2023
Are Your Sealants Optimized for High-Speed Production?
More and more, high-speed processing lines for insulating glass (IG) are being installed around the country every month. And that’s not likely to stop any time soon.
In fact, your shop floor may be next.
I’ve written plenty in this space about how getting the most from an investment in automated production equipment requires more than simply buying it; it takes new thinking, optimized processes and a keen attention to detail. Whether you’re new to automated production or you’re an experienced pro, it’s worth continuously evaluating every part of your production strategy. And that brings me to today’s tip:
Don’t undervalue your choice of sealant.
Sealing your insulating glass unit (IGU) is a critical part of production, with the seal serving the important function of keeping moisture out of the gas-filled space between the glass lites and contributing to the unit’s structural strength. For these reasons alone, it’s important to go with a high-quality sealant to help ensure reliable units. Look for sealant materials that provide a good moisture vapor transmission rate (MVTR), which can help the unit keep moisture out of the gas space for longer periods of time. Hot-melt butyl formulations typically provide the best MVTR among commonly available sealant chemistries.
There are other factors to consider when it comes to manufacturing efficiency. Modern sealant formulations are available that are complementary to high-speed automated processing. The sealant’s ability to bond quickly and seal on the unit’s fourth corner can shave seconds off production time per unit. Shorter skimming times further enable the sealing process to be completed more quickly. And while a few seconds may not sound like much, such efficiencies can add up if you’re producing several hundred units in a shift.
Another variable to consider is whether or not your sealant formulation contains a curing agent. Curing agents can add significant tensile strength and have become popular for this reason. But consider this: Curable sealants don’t fully cure until long after your units have been glazed into the sash—meaning that such sealants may be susceptible to potential handling damage before they’re glazed. For this reason, it can be beneficial to seek out sealant formulations that gain full strength shortly after they’ve cooled, offering superior durability throughout your glazing process.
As you work to optimize your production processes, your choice of IG sealants is an area worthy of investigation. Traditional formulations can work well in today’s applications, but newer alternatives that have been specifically developed to complement high-speed processing can bring increased efficiency to your shop.