That’s Using Your Metal

After nearly two decades of writing about and reporting on the architectural glass and metal industry, I’ve been to many, many trade shows and conferences. These are a great way to keep up with and learn about new products, companies, trends and more. While much of what we cover is about glass, metal is also a part of our industry, as well as what we feature in the magazine—USGlass Metal & Glazing. So I decided to check out Metalcon, an event I’d never before attended.

The show took place October 16-18 in Pittsburgh. It was small compared to the other trade shows I attend regularly, as was the number of exhibitors truly relevant to our markets. But I did get to meet some new companies, catch up with some familiar faces and see a few new products. Here’s a quick recap on some of my takeaways.

Custom Colors: Helping architects design and create unique metal projects was the focus for PPG, where they’ve seen a shift away from standard colors toward specialty coatings. The company introduced a new Mineral Series color line that allows them to offer design options that can blend into urban landscapes with semi-transparent earth tones that subtly shimmer when exposed to sunlight. This is done with a pigment in the coating that changes colors depending on the angle.

PPG introduced its new Mineral Series color line that shimmers and sparkles in the sunlight.

“When sunlight is on the coating, it dazzles and sparkles,” said Scott Moffat, market manager for coil and extrusion building products. “Architects are looking for something that will complement stone and masonry … they are becoming more creative with color.”

Hip to be Square: Petersen Aluminum isn’t cutting corners with some of its new developments. Until now, none of the company’s panels had a 90-degree agree. That’s changing with the addition of four new Box Rib Wall Panels, which will all have 90-degree angles. Rob Heselbarth, director of communications, told me this addition expands the company’s design options for architects who already specify their products, plus the 90-degree rib pattern creates a visual effect, such as shadow lines, that’s different than their other ribbed wall panels. Also, the new line’s four panels have a universal connection system that can be mixed-and-matched on the same wall to create even more patterns with varying rib spacing.

Petersen Aluminum featured its current line of architectural panels and announced it will be adding several new options, including a wood grain color and a Box Rib option.

From A to Zinc: I’d been hearing more and more about a company called RHEINZINK. This is a German company that has North American operations in Massachusetts. The company manufactures titanium zinc products that can be used in a wide range of architectural applications, including facades. Not only does it have a unique aesthetic, but it’s durable and can have an installed lifespan of more than 150 years on the façade. Lisa Colaianni, marketing manager, told me that this product doesn’t have a paint so it doesn’t fade. And if it’s scratched it can actually re-heal or re-patina itself. It’s a natural metal, she explained, so it will look different over time, depending on where it’s used.

Mirror, Mirror: Mirror Metals offers a product that looks like mirror, but, as the name implies, is metal—a #8 non-directional, high gloss, polished stainless steel to be specific. It can be used in a variety of architectural applications, such as door products, elevators, column covers and more. It can also be used artistically in sculptures and other creative projects.

Final thoughts … I thought the David L. Lawrence Convention Center was a beautiful facility and am always impressed when there’s natural light streaming into the expo hall, as is the case here. Designed by Rafael Viñoly, it was completed in 2003, and was the largest LEED Gold Certified convention center. It features glass supplied by Vitro Architectural Glass (at the time PPG), that was fabricated by Trulite Glass and Aluminum Solutions, as well as metal coatings from PPG Paints.

The David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh is designed to bring natural light into the expo hall, creating a bright trade show experience.
Photo: David L. Lawrence Convention Center

Metalcon may have been small compared to some other shows, but getting to meet some new companies and learn about what’s trending in this industry segment made it a valuable learning experience.