The glass industry comprises five main sectors covering different glass products, applications and markets. These sectors are very different, whether in terms of manufacturing process, products, markets, the economics of the sectors or manufacturers, but they all transform raw materials into glass by a process of melting. While the glass industry is based on global production, transformation and distribution, under present market conditions there are cost and transport constraints which make it uneconomic for flat and container glass to be transported long distances. However, in the case of tableware and reinforced fiber glass, these constraints, in part because of higher profit margins, do not apply to such an extent. More than 90 per cent of glass industry products are sold to other industries. Glass manufacturing is thus significantly dependent on the building construction sector, car manufacturing and the food and beverage industry.
However, there are also smaller volume sectors that produce high-value technical or consumer products. In 2007, world glass production was estimated at a total of 115 million tons, with the European Union representing 32 per cent of world production. Estimates for global employment figures in the industry vary, but in general it is not labor-intensive. The flat glass and container glass industries are highly automated, while some parts of the domestic glass industry remain labor-intensive. The global market for flat glass in 2009 was approximately 52 million tons, representing a value at the level of primary manufacture of around €22 billion. Prior to the 2008 financial crisis, there was a steady annual rise in global demand for flat glass of 5 per cent, driven by growing demand in the construction and automotive industries.
However, this growth came to a halt as global demand fell in 2008; in 2009 it contracted by 3.6 per cent. The extent of the decline was most severe in North America and Europe, where the decrease in demand was accompanied by steep declines in capacity utilization. Demand for flat glass fell an estimated 20 per cent from 2007 to 2010 in Europe. Capacity utilization, which had neared 100 per cent prior to the recession, fell to about 85 per cent by 2011 and 2012. The significance of China as a market for glass has been increasing rapidly since the early 1990s, as the country opened to foreign investment and the economy expanded.
In the early 1990s, China accounted for about one-fifth of world glass demand but is now the largest producer of glass and glass products, with just over 50 per cent of the global demand of flat glass in 2009. It has the greatest number of glass-producing enterprises and the largest number of float glass production lines in the world. The market grew by more than 10 per cent per annum from 2000 to 2009 and demand for flat glass in China is expected to grow by 8.2 per cent annually to reach 3.4 billion square meters by 2016.
The international glass decoration community came together in November at GlassPrint 2019 and were presented with the latest trends and developments for decorating all types of glass.
Staged for the eighth time and powered by glasstec, an international audience travelled to Düsseldorf, Germany from 24 different countries, not only from throughout mainland Europe and United Kingdom but also from long distance destinations such as Australia, Canada, India, Peru, South Africa, United Arab Emirates and the USA.
Key stakeholders represented included glassmakers, decorators, end-users, brand owners, OEMs and suppliers such as AGC, Arc, BA Glass, Heinz Glas, LAV / Gürallar, O-I, Piramal, Saint-Gobain, Saverglass, Schott, Steklarna Hrastnik, Vetropack and William Grant & Sons.
GlassPrint 2019 provided delegates with the opportunity to discover the latest innovative advances in screen printing, dynamic strides in digital print technology and new techniques such as direct to shape or container printing via a two day programme of conference and networking sessions.
Featuring an expanded technical programme, experts working for various companies in the glass decoration sector then delivered a series of presentations that demonstrated processes and ideas to add extra value to the end product, cut production costs and make processes more efficient:
• Adhesion of inkjet inks on glass by ChemStream
• Will it be screen or digital printing on glass bottles? by Curvink
• Sol-gel inkjet printing for transparent conductors on glass by COMATEC-LANS
• Making a lasting impression: Image quality, colour management and industrial digital printing by ESMA Expert Team
• Digital printing on hollow glass by Fermac
• Adding value for hollow glass decoration by Ferro
• Inkjet coating and decoration of flat, container and industrial glass by Global Inkjet Systems
• Simplifying glass printing with screen and CtS technology by Grünig/SignTronic
• Direct-to-cylinder: Digital printing on glassware by InkCups
• High performance CTP system for digital preparation of silk screen forms and pad printing plates by Lüscher
• Labels are out! Ink challenges and opportunities in direct to container glass inkjet printing by Marabu
• Screen print 2.0 from plastic dial to digital glass display by Marabu
• Developing dedicated mesh for screenprinting on glass by Sefar
• Automation and control for screen printing on small size flat glass by SPS Technoscreen
• Surface pre-treatment to enhance adhesion and coverage of organic inks to hollow glass by Tecno5, an affiliate of Cerve
• Industrial solution for digital printing of windshields and sidelights by Thieme
Additional keynote addresses were made covering the flat and hollow sectors. Michael Delle Selve, Senior Communications Manager at FEVE, examined the container glass industry vision to capitalize on sustainability, while Luca Oggianu, Advocacy and Communication Advisor at Glass for Europe, looked at energy savings and CO¬2 emission reduction in the glazing sector.
Later, Dr Johann Overath, Director General of Bundesverband Glasindustrie e.V., evaluated the current situation and trends in the German glass industry and an update of glasstec 2020 was provided by Birgit Horn, project director at Messe Düsseldorf.
The conference programme was supported by intervals dedicated to the accompanying tabletop exhibition area, and at the end of the first day delegates benefited from networking with their peers and suppliers during an evening dinner. Exhibitors who displayed the latest developments in inks, pre-press technology, printing equipment and supplies included:
AROJA XORFEX, Cerinnov, ChemStream, Curvink, Encres Dubuit, Fenzi, Fermac, Ferro, glasstec / Messe Düsseldorf, Glass Global, Glass Processing Bernroitner, Global Inkjet Systems, Grünig-Interscreen, Inkcups, ISIMAT, Kissel + Wolf, Koenig & Bauer Kammann, Laboratory of Applied NanoSciences COMATEC-LANS (HEIG-VD/HES-SO), Lüscher, Marabu, PVF, RKS, Saati, Sefar, SIAK Transfers, SignTronic, SPS TechnoScreen, Sun Chemical, Tecno5 (Cerve) and Thieme.
GlassPrint was jointly organised by Chameleon Business Media, publisher of Glass Worldwide and ESMA, a European association for specialist printing manufacturers of screen, digital and flexo technology. As well as being powered by glasstec, GlassPrint 2019 was sponsored by Glass Global.
After reaffirming its importance on the global glass events calendar, the organizers are already planning the next edition of GlassPrint; details on the location and dates will appear in future issues of Glass Worldwide and interested parties can register their interest at www.glassprint.org. In the meantime, the March/April 2020 issue of Glass Worldwide will include the Annual ESMA Glass Publication 2020, a unique guide to glass decoration, and members of ESMA will also showcase the best in functional and decorative glass printing in a dedicated pavilion at glasstec 2020.
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