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Silk-Screen Glass vs. Dynamic Glass: Heat Gain, Glare Control and Aesthetics

By Tyler Hall, Regional Sales Manager

Nov. 17, 2017

Silk-screen glass is an architectural glazing material used to add definition, depth or patterning to a building’s façade. Low-e glass with silk-screened and fritted patterns can be used as either an artistic solution or an attempt to control heat gain and glare on highly glazed facades.

Although there are times when both the artistic “form” and the “function” of heat gain and glare control are achieved with silk-screen glass windows, there is oftentimes a tradeoff.  Buildings achieve pattern and depth, but the silk-screen is permanent, constant and quite possibly visibly uncomfortable, often times blocking or distorting building occupants’ connection to the outdoors.

Designers should ask themselves: Are we utilizing glass surface treatments for form or function, and can dynamic windows offer a better glazing solution?

Common Silk-Screen Glass Applications

Glass is one of the most rapidly growing building materials and architectural design mediums in today’s construction industry. Hundreds of glass products offer options to provide various colors and degrees of contrast. You can enhance views and connection to the outdoors, provide greater daylighting for interior spaces, and even protect a building and its occupants from the negative side effects of sunlight.

Fritted glass and silk-screened solutions are one option. Most often, these glass surface treatments are combined with high-performing low-e glass products on either clear or tinted substrates. The finished product is often utilized to provide an element of heat gain and glare control in exterior windows. Standard patterns include dots, lines or holes, with some manufacturers providing more standard options, patterns, and colors than others.

The question is: Are architects utilizing fritted glass designs for form or function, and can dynamic glass offer a better solution?

Silk-Screen Windows vs. Electrochromic Glass

When contemplating the use and added costs of silk-screen glass solely for the purpose of heat gain and glare control, a team should thoroughly review the potential benefits electrochromic glazing can offer in lieu of traditional options.

Let’s compare the data.

The comparison chart below details two rather standard high-performing low-e substrates in today’s marketplace: PPG’s Solarban® 70XL Clear and PPG’s Solarban® z75, which has a slightly bluish/gray hue. By themselves, both products offer fine performance, but we know other means of solar control would need to be added to combat common heat gain and glare control concerns. When a standard line silk-screen pattern is added to the inboard lite, we achieve a nice bump in solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) performance and lower the visible light transmission (VLT).

Performance derived from Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope® GlasSelect® tool as of October 2017

SHGC is improved slightly by the fritted pattern, and the VLT is lowered, but the VLT is not nearly low enough to negate the negative side effects of glare. Now the design team is faced with nearly double the interior and exterior reflectivity levels, and the building’s design and aesthetic have a permanent pattern and theme to manage. Not to mention that in times of dark or cloudy conditions, the design is now stuck with the silk-screen pattern and may cause the interior space to be darker than desired.

Let’s take a look at how these conventional silk-screen solutions compare to SageGlass dynamic glass.

Daylight Glare Probability Credit: Jeff Niemasz MD

The key differentiator for SageGlass is that when the product is activated, it far exceeds any VLT and SHGC performance of static low-e glass products. This includes outperforming the added silk-screen solution. SageGlass is clear when wanted but tinted when needed, blocking nearly 99% of VLT for optimal glare control and nearly 91% of heat gain for thermal comfort and building performance, all without the reliance on a silk-screen pattern. Even in its tinted states, SageGlass provides an unobstructed view and connection to the outdoors.

So when heat gain and glare-control concerns or design challenges arise, ask yourself if the intention is form or function and how can dynamic glass help you achieve optimal performance, comfort and aesthetics. 

To learn how to incorporate SageGlass into your building design, contact us today.


SageGlass installation at Hostellerie am Schwarzsee in Switzerland