Two Common Commercial Window Defects

This blog is part of a series we created on commercial grade windows, window technology, and common defects and failures of Insulated Glass Units (IGUs).

Picture this: you are in a big city, taking in all the sights, sounds, and experiences it has to offer. As you stand on a hustling and bustling street corner, waiting for the “WALK” sign to trigger, you gaze up at a stunning skyscraper. Your eyes trace the rows upon rows of large windows when all of a sudden something small, but obvious, catches your eye. One of the windows stands out from the otherwise consistent rows of glass, because of a very noticeable defect. 

Windows & Coating Defects

Glass often has a low-e coating, which helps optimize energy flow. It is typically intended to be transparent and is often a metal or metal oxide, like tin oxide or indium tin oxide (ITO). Often these coatings go unnoticed, until there is a defect. When a skyscraper or building is composed of hundreds and hundreds of windows–a little speck, spot, or fish eye imperfection is easily identified against the otherwise flawless window surfaces.

Contaminant Analysis of Windows

Another issue that can happen to IGUs is related to the problem of an inclusion– or a microscopic contaminant. Nickel sulfide is one such example that causes problems within IGUs, when present. Essentially, the small contaminant serves as a stress concentrator. If it is caught during quality control operations at a manufacturing facility, then larger problems can be avoided.

However, if the inclusion is not discovered until after the window is installed, the problem is much more complex and costly.

When the window is exposed to an environmental stressor, such as an extreme temperature, the inclusion could potentially cause the window to spontaneously shatter. Consider the danger and expense of that occurring at the top of a high rise. IGUs can also often weigh hundreds of pounds (we just finished analysis on a 600 pound window!) so a shattered window of this type is no small matter.

Window Analysis

When it comes to windows, our analytical capabilities are expansive. For example, we perform analyses to determine the structure of windows. Some windows, such as blast proof or hurricane resistant windows, have multiple layers of glass, films, and adhesives. We can identify each unique layer, which is a similar methodology to how we perform film layer analysis for packaging.

Our team is able to provide defect analysis to help identify the nature of the defect and aid in preventing future such occurrences. To do this, we often employ FTIR, a spectroscopic method, or SEM-EDS, a combined microscopy and spectroscopy method.

We perform testing to confirm that windows, or more specifically IGUs, are made as the specifications indicate they should be. We can also test to analyze a competitor’s product to provide clarity surrounding similarities and differences.

Our team is exceptional at getting to the bottom of heavily contested and complex litigated matters involving windows and IGUs. We relish in our ability to use data to solve the debate when you need to be sure.