What began as a conceptual idea several years ago between a known leader in the glass industry and New Era Converting Machinery has today become a complete, clean-room ready turnkey system for conveying and processing flexible glass substrates.
The glass manufacturer originally approached New Era with its ideas and specific challenges; New Era came back with the beginnings of what would become a versatile unwinding and conveyance system allowing a wide variety of downstream processing for the flexible glass.
After some collaborative fine-tuning, the final design was New Era was engineered to operate with the high degree of precision and repeatability that the client required.
“This project presented numerous challenges from a web handling perspective,” said Paul Lembo, vice president at New Era Converting Machinery. “The ability to unwind and convey the flexible glass substrates with as little tension as possible, while still maintaining control of the substrate for downstream processing was paramount.”
Flexible glass can be used in markets such as portable electronics and building products, but it seems the potential uses for these high quality, durable products are growing every day. The benefits of flexible glass include optical transmission, surface roughness, thermal stability and moisture/gas barrier properties, all of which are well suited for electronics, both in the manufacturing process and for the devices end use.
Flexible glass can be used in a variety of display types for portable electronics. Whether the display is flat, curved or designed to flex and take on different shapes, the potential to fold up a tablet or unroll the screen of a phone opens new doors for the portability of devices, which we have come to rely on more and more for all types of information.
The strength-to-weight ratio and moisture resistance of flexible glass gives it distinct advantages for use in building products. Its use in photovoltaics can provide solar cells with the durability they need to stand up to the elements, improving longevity and performance; its clean-ability also makes it well suited for barrier applications for both decorative and functional applications such as backsplashes and whiteboards.
“Our goal has been to create equipment which will enable our clients to add value to flexible glass substrates in much the same way someone would coat or laminate film products,” said Lembo. “This means we could offer continuous web processing of flexible glass in addition to conventional roll-to-sheet type operations. We expect this industry to grow exponentially and are proud to be working with some of the leaders in this technology.”
New Era is a global enterprise focused on providing custom designed equipment solutions for the web handling industry, with experience in areas such as coating, laminating, calendering and drying systems for a wide variety of environments.