[image above] Sky view of the exhibition at the Glass Problems Conference Nov. 6–9, 2017, in Columbus, Ohio. Credit: ACerS
More than 560 people converged upon the Greater Columbus Convention Center November 6-9, for the 78th annual Conference on Glass Problems (GPC). The conference brings together global manufacturers, suppliers, and academics to exchange innovations and solutions.
According to Robert Lipetz, conference coorganizer and executive director of the Glass Manufacturing Industry Council (GMIC), the record attendance reflects the increasing value of the conference to the glass manufacturing industry. GMIC and Alfred University coorganize the event.
“GMIC and the GPC advisory board, comprised of industry volunteers, with support from Alfred University, implemented a plan to increase the opportunities to find value, supporting attendees’ professional objectives,” Lipetz explained. “To that end, we added short courses, this year covering topics in batch and furnace, safety and controls, as well as a full-day GMIC organized symposium on reducing construction, rebuild and hot repair times, which was very well received.”
The conference featured technical sessions addressing manufacturing issues, citing real-world data from manufacturers and solutions providers. The plenary session started with remarks from Lipetz, and program director S.K. Sundaram of Alfred University, and the keynote address from David Pye, who made the case for the arrival of the “Glass Age.” Pye is professor of glass science (emeritus) and past president of The American Ceramic Society
Tom Cleary, research manager at Corning, Inc., discussed his research to bring thin, lightweight glass to the automotive industry; Paul Woskov, senior research engineer at MIT, spoke about gyrotron based melting; Reinhard Conradt RWTH Aachen University, Germany, (retired) spoke about the relation between furnace efficiency and the physics and chemistry of the melting process; and Erik Muijsenberg, vice president of glass service, made the case for how ‘Industrial Revolution 4.0’—complete automation—will impact the glass industry. Rounding out the plenary session was current Alfred University president Mark Zupan, who celebrated all of the great glass innovators who came out of Alfred University.
Added this year to the conference was the 11th Advances in Fusion and Processing of Glass symposium, organized in collaboration with ACerS Glass and Optical Materials Division to present addition material on materials science and current research. Lipetz said the symposium doubled the program size and brought in a new variety of expert lectures, as well as supported significant international participation.
According to Philip Ross, an independent consultant in glass manufacturing industry, the real-world data with relevant solutions is one the reasons the conference was worthwhile. Ross has attended the conference since 1963.
“I was impressed by the timeliness of the information shared, ” Ross said. “There were some really good papers presented. We saw solutions to problems we have not seen before: For instance, one paper discussed a solution found for a furnace that they found only three weeks ago. I believe this up-to-date discussion of the troubleshooting of methods is very important for the manufacturers here.”
Ross also felt the inclusion of students at the conference, thanks to a generous student travel grant underwritten by the O-I Charitable Foundation, Air Products, and RoMan Manufacturing, was a great addition.
“Including the students is good long term for our industry. It allows them to look at glass versus other materials and ultimately helps us to build the next generation of glass specialists,” Ross said.
Lipetz agreed, stating the conference has gone from no student attendance to 45 students at this year’s event, which included a tour of Owens Corning’s glass plant.
“Most students have not seen an industrial glass furnace and it’s a real eye opener for them,” Lipetz explained, adding the networking opportunities at the evening hospitality booths and salons were also a bonus.
Andrew Balassi, an undergraduate at Missouri University of Science and Technology, was a recipient of a $500 student grant. GPC was the first conference he had attended, and he said it lived up to his expectations with exhibits, lectures, and meeting people. He underestimated the networking aspect, however.
“I believe this was a great networking opportunity for me,” Balassi said. “I graduate in two semesters and will be looking for a job. I met with several people here that I will be able to follow up with, and I think that was very beneficial for me.”