In the 1960s, the automotive industry started installing windshields as a supporting construction part of the vehicle’s mechanics by utilizing adhesives. To conduct this procedure, special and highly viscous 1-C polyurethane adhesives were developed. As a result, they improved and accelerated the production process on the assembly line significantly and greatly contributed to automation.
Although the adhesive class of polyurethanes counts among the old adhesive solutions (after all, it dates back to Otto Bayer in 1937), it still required particular formulations and manufacturing to meet the high production line demands of automobile manufacturers to this day.
In the late 1960s, the development of a sealing system for insulating glass began, consisting of a primary sealing that was based on polyisobutylene, as well as polysulfide or silicone, which acted as a secondary sealing. Thanks to this 2-stage system technology, it was possible to design a fully automatic insulating glass production for the first time: From cutting the glass to the washing process, frame placement, gas filling, to connecting to insulating glass, with the so-called sealant plus secondary sealing depicting the final production step.
In the mid-80s, Dr. M.V-R – founder and CEO of IGK insulating glass adhesives – had the idea of applying the positive experiences with polyurethanes from the automotive industry to that of insulating glass. During both developments, the focus had always been on glass and the respective adhesion structure of the sealants used. Thus, he recognized the potential to start developing polyurethane sealants there. Back then, the insulating glass market accounted for about 90% of polysulfide, while silicone, hot-melt, and polymercaptan polymers were subdivided into the remaining market shares.
In 1988, he founded IGK-GmbH, which is currently located in Hasselroth in the greater Frankfurt area, convinced of the concept of using 2-Cpolyurethane sealants to develop better and cheaper compounds for insulating glass that were more efficient than its predecessors. Because the formulations and application technology of these industries differ significantly, it was crucial to conduct extensive development efforts, since not much from the adhesive technology of the automotive industry could be transferred.
Thus, the laboratory was and remains to be the core, even to this day. Here, numerous raw materials such as polymers and catalysts were tested with sustainability and resolve in order to find the famous “needle in a haystack”. Furthermore, the various side reactions in polyurethane chemistry needed to be controlled, while ensuring the desired reaction process, both in IGK’s own manufacturing as well as that of the customer. Additionally, the synergy of application-specific and final properties in the insulating glass industry represents a distinct challenge. It is required to “pack” the longest possible pot life into a formulation with quick curing. Those requirements are supposed to lead to good sealing properties concerning gas retention as well as moisture inlet and resistance to UV radiation.
That these high standards were met can be explained by the fact that IGK was enhanced, rebuilt, and automated several times. Due to these measures, IGK has established itself as the market leader for polyurethane sealants in the insulating glass industry while remaining to be active in many European countries. In the past two years, IGK internationalized sales further, which led to new branches in the USA and Russia.
In retrospect, it is no exaggeration when one says that the sealant market for insulating glass in Europe has changed by approximately 75% towards polyurethane – mostly due to the visionary idea of Dr. M. Vollrath-Rödiger!
Dr. R. Karrer 28.12.20