Glass is one of the most basic materials used in many industries and various purposes. Most global markets demand high volumes of standard goods and flat glass, being one, enjoys an accordingly high demand. The global flat glass market is driven by the growth of its end users such as the automotive and construction industries. Flat glass finds its application in the construction industry massively and is used for making glass doors, glass windows, transparent walls, etc. In the automotive industry, it is used majorly for manufacturing windshields. Even though flat glass is widely used in the automotive industry, the construction sector holds a share of more than 50% in the global flat glass industry presently.
Around 90% of Flat Glass is Manufactured Using Float Process
Flat glass is also referred to as plate glass, sheet glass, or glass pane. Silica, magnesium oxide, calcium oxide, sodium oxide, and aluminum oxide are some of the most important constituents of flat glass. According to manufacturing methods, the flat glass market is segmented into float glass, rolled glass, and sheet glass.
The float glass technique is one of the most widely adopted methods around the world. This technique held the largest market share in 2013. Presently, there are over 300 float lines worldwide.
The float technique involves melting raw materials in a furnace. This molten glass is then fed into the float bath via a delivery canal. The amount of glass that enters the tin bath is controlled through a gate. A mixture of gases protects this bath from oxidation. The glass on the tin surface forms a floating ribbon with a smooth and glossy surface on both the sides. The width and thickness of the flat glass is controlled in the tin bath by machines. As the glass flows down the tin bath, the temperature is steadily decreased till the flat glass sheet can be lifted from the tin and onto rollers. The reduction in temperature has to be controlled, as rapid temperature changes can shatter newly formed glass.
Product-wise, the global flat glass market is divided into seven main categories. These include laminated glass, toughened glass, coated glass, annealed glass, patterned glass, mirrored glass, and extra clear glass.
Asia-Pacific Flat Glass Industry Ruled by China with 50% Market Share
Geographically, Asia Pacific holds the lion’s share of the market, followed by Europe and North America. China in the Asia Pacific flat glass market alone covers over 50% of the regional market, followed by Japan. Germany holds the largest market share in the European flat glass market. Asia Pacific will demonstrate the fastest growth till 2020 in the global flat glass market, due to the tremendous urbanization and increasing demand of passenger cars from developing countries in this region.
Flat glass offers energy saving, cost benefits, noise control, luxury design, chemical inertness, fire resistance, and self-cleaning properties. This makes it ideal for the construction industry. Furthermore, the use of flat glass is growing rapidly in modern architectural design. Additionally, the accelerating original equipment manufacturing sector in the global automotive industry is further driving the global flat glass market. However, the growing cost of raw materials along with the lack of the required logistic supply chain management in emerging economies will suppress the global flat glass market.
Trakya Cam Sanayii A.S., Taiwan Glass Group, Pilkington Group Limited, Nippon Sheet Glass Co., Ltd., Gujarat Guardian Limited, Carlex Glass Company, Companies De Saint-Gobain, and Asahi Glass Co., Ltd. are some of the top players operating in the global flat glass market. Companies in the global flat glass market will benefit from the accelerating demand for renewable energy sources such as solar panels, photovoltaic cells, and E-glass.
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