What goes into making the most significant improvement in glazing?
You know that Museum Glass® offers high levels of protection and anti-reflective qualities. However, what you may not know is how much technology, state-of-the-art equipment and expert level of scientific knowledge goes into creating and improving this product.
From the inception of the idea to the stock in your store, our products take a long path through several phases designed to ensure that we are offering the best that we can to our customers. Improving our products is an ongoing endeavor, and we knew that with Museum Glass there were opportunities to make it an even better product. As a result, we launched a continuous improvement project to address customer feedback on cleaning and handling. Here is a glimpse at our process for developing the latest enhancements to Museum Glass.
Our goals with this improved product were two-fold—make it easier to clean and more durable. We had to accomplish this without impacting the UV-protection and optical specifications of the glass, which is achieved by applying coatings onto the glass at two different facilities. During this phase, we created a variety of possible solutions and decided which would likely be the best options for testing in the next phase.
We took our potential solutions from conceptual to tangible and created prototype samples. We experimented with ways to make water bead up on the glass rather than flatten and adhere to the surface. When water beads, it is easier to remove oils, such as fingerprints.
As Jim DeCoux, R&D manager at Tru Vue’s Fairbault facility describes it, “It’s like car wax. The surface repels water, making it easier to wipe off and clean.”
The slicker surface also resulted in better durability, which addressed the other goal of the project. This was a pleasant surprise for the project team, according to Jean Breshears, R&D manager at Tru Vue’s McCook facility. Sometimes things end up having unexpected relationships.”
Using small pieces of glass, we evaluated each of our most promising prototypes in a variety of ways. To determine which prototype would enable us to retain important features such as, specifications for UV protection, clarity, and light reflection. The prototypes also needed to pass tests that Tru Vue has been conducting since it began producing Museum Glass years ago. These include tests that simulate long-term exposure to UV rays and others that simulate aging. For example, we use the Photographic Activity Test (PAT), an ISO standard test for evaluating photo storage and display products.
We also assessed our prototypes for how well the coating adhered to the glass and other measures of durability. Our environmental testing determined how well the glass would hold up to various conditions it might experience through shipping, storage, and even exposure to elements once it is in a frame. By simulating and combining various conditions that might be encountered; we are able to make these tests more rigorous than what is likely to happen in most real life situations.
We developed new tests to evaluate our enhanced product features, including texture analysis to determine how smooth the surface was and cleaning protocols, which we developed by observing framers cleaning the glass.
“When you think about tech-oriented industries, custom framing doesn’t immediately come to mind,” said Breshears. “But there is a surprising amount of technology and scientific advancement in what Tru Vue does.”
Production Line Testing
Once a concept made it through prototype development, it was then tested on the manufacturing line to see how it would scale up for larger sizes and mass production. The same tests that were performed on the smaller prototypes were also done on the “real life” samples.
This was a key part of the overall project and a part of the timeline that ran longer than other R&D projects typically take. We wanted to be completely thorough so that our enhanced product would deliver on our goals.
“We went through a lot of testing in this phase,” said DeCoux. “We were very cautious about not releasing the product until we were absolutely sure it was what we wanted it to be.”
In addition, it was important to us to keep manufacturing costs low enough so as to not increase costs for our customers. Being able to integrate a new coating into our line with minimal change was critical to this challenge.
The End Result
Museum Glass is now more durable and easier to handle and clean. It still offers the same amazing clarity, highest level of brightness and 99% UV protection. We think you’ll agree that our product enhancements make a significant difference.
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This article is intended for educational purposes only and does not replace independent professional judgment. Statements of fact and opinions expressed are those of the author(s) individually and, unless expressly stated to the contrary, are not the opinion or position of Tru Vue or its employees. Tru Vue does not endorse or approve, and assumes no responsibility for, the content, accuracy or completeness of the information presented.