Smart glass on the way to the front - the 12th ICCG in Würzburg shows new trends for glass and plastic
Glass windows, which can also act as displays and play a current information, resource-saving lightweight membrane cushion construction with highly functionalized films or the future of packaging materials – at the "12 ICCG - International Conference on coatings on glass and plastics" in Würzburg, Germany 280 experts from industry and academia discussed these possible future trends. More than 30 exhibitors at the accompanying exhibition in the Würzburg Congress Center showed what can already be achieved with functional coatings today. Exhibitors included the Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC with highlights such as electrically colorable windows, printed sensors and biodegradable coatings for compostable packaging films.
"This year's event in Würzburg was truly perfect," said Prof. Dr. Günter Bräuer, Chairman of the International Organizing Committee of the Trend Show and Director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Surface Technology IST, Braunschweig. The level of scientific contributions is very high, as well as the industry's expectations of research into new solutions. This time, the ICCG, which meets every two years in different locations, was organized locally by the Fraunhofer ISC in Würzburg in cooperation with the renowned publishing house Vincentz Network.
The automotive industry also presented itself on this platform as an important driver of innovation. "We can clearly see a new trend here," Bräuer continues. Driven by electric mobility, innovative glazing is needed in cars. Accordingly, glass and coating solutions that make glass components more functional, stable, smarter and lighter are in demand - requirements that are also interesting for applications beyond the automotive industry. The experts regarded achieving multi-functionality with as little material and technology as possible via coatings as a primary challenge. "Many things are already in the drawer, but are not gaining acceptance," Bräuer has been observing for years. Some things may have been too expensive or too complex, but some simply are not known where they are needed. This makes events such as these all the more important in order to facilitate an exchange on the state of research and the future options.
Another major trend for the coatings sector is digitization - in development and design on the one hand, and in production on the other, in order to implement fast, efficient and customizable production lines. In the field of architecture, lightweight materials and constructions will play a greater role in the future. However, lightweight and resource-saving membrane cushion façades pose new challenges for material development - the films used are extremely stretchable and require new functional coatings in order to avoid excessive heating of the rooms below and the associated energy consumption for air conditioning.
The further development of films for plastic packaging was also discussed. Prof. Dr. Gerhard Sextl, head of the Fraunhofer ISC in Würzburg, emphasized in his presentation the necessity of rethinking towards environmentally and resource-friendly alternatives: "We will only be able to tackle the problem of packaging waste and microplastics in the environment with biodegradable, compostable new plastics in the future," Sextl continued. Only at the beginning of the year, the development of bioORMOCER®s from the Fraunhofer ISC was awarded the internationally renowned New Plastics Innovation Prize of the Ellen McArthur Foundation. The material serves as a compostable barrier lacquer to make bioplastic packaging impermeable to oxygen, aroma-tight and moisture-resistant, so that it can also be used for food packaging.
At the end of the three-day conference, the participants from all over the world honored the five best scientific contributions to the conference, including two posters from the Fraunhofer ISC, and drew a very positive conclusion.