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Industry Applications - Glass Processing

IR Sensors in Glass Processing
Infrared Temperature Measurement in Glass Manufacturing and Processing

During the production of glass products, temperature monitoring and controlling are essential for high productivity and quality of the end product. Due to the hot hostile environments and high product temperatures, temperature measurement utilizing thermocouples is often expensive and difficult to install and maintain. Infrared thermometers are the ideal instrument to measure molten glass, furnace refractory, and the final processing of the glass product because they are easy to install and maintain, and they have long term life and stability.

Our product recommendations are based on the most common applications. For specific needs, please contact our application engineers.

Melt Furnace

The production of molten glass in a glass melter requires the use of several infrared thermometers. The first application is the molten glass melt temperature, which can reach temperatures of 1550ºC (2800ºF). This temperature is best measured using fiber optic sensors that operate at 1 micron. The sensors are installed on the roof of the furnace and can operate in ambient temperatures up to 200ºC (400ºF) without water cooling. The 1 micron wavelength provides an average temperature as deep as 250 mm (10 inches) into the molten glass. Infrared thermometers are used to measure the crown, the side wall and the bridge wall refractory temperatures. The 1 micron sensor can see thru the clean flames and measure the refractory to prevent overheating and determine the heating cycle times.

The same instrument is used to measure the checker temperature to control the combustion air temperature and detect overloading the furnace with batch.

Recommended products: Modline® 6 fiber optic model with glass furnace accessories and Modline 52 with cooling accessories to control all refractory temperatures.

Glass Containers and Bottles

The molten glass travels from the melter to the glass machine in runners. The temperature of the molten glass in the runners is controlled with the Modline 6 fiber optic system. The glass exits the runners in the form of a ball called the Gob. The gob temperature has to be controlled carefully to insure repeatable viscosity, which affects the quality of the container and how much glass goes into the product. This is best controlled with a two color ratio thermometer. The mold temperature is critical to forming the container and is measured with instruments that operate at 1.6 microns. These instruments have small spot sizes and a fast response time to indicate the temperature of the mold as it opens, to allow the container to be removed.

The containers are then slow cooled in an annealing oven and the exit temperature is controlled carefully to use the residual heat to cure coatings that may be added at the end of the process.

Recommended products: Modline 6 with fiber optics and accessories for molten glass, Modline 5R ratio thermometer for the glass gob, Modline 5G for mold temperature and Modline 74 for annealing temperature.

Float Glass Process

The float glass process is used to produce the flat glass for furniture, architectural and automotive glass. The glass is produced in a melter and then flows thru a canal into the float zone. Usually 3 instruments operating at 3.9 microns measure the glass in the canal. The glass then floats on the tin bath and the temperature is controlled using 3 rows of 3 instruments to control the cooling and thickness of the glass. The glass is then slow cooled in the annealing lehr. This cooling temperature can be controlled using at least 4 rows of 7 individual infrared thermometers at the exit of various zones or as many as 5 linescanners installed at the entrance to the lehr, three zones in the lehr and at the exit. All of these thermometers operate at 5 microns and provide outputs for controlling, recording and alarming. They insure stress free glass and glass that has good “cutability” property.

Recommended products: Ircon Modline 45 for the canal temperatures, the Modline 74 for the float zone and the Modline 47 individual sensors.

Glass Fiber

The production of fiber glass for insulation usually utilizes the glass melter for molten glass. The molten glass then flows thru a platinum bushing, forming a narrow stream of glass that flows into a spinner, producing the individual fibers for the batts of insulation. The stream and spinner temperature are controlled using a two color thermometer to increase the life of the bushing and spinner.

Long Fiber glass threads used for the production of products like boats and automotive housings have the molten glass flowing though tiny holes in a large heated flat platinum plate. The small openings in the plate produce the thin fiberglass threads. The plate temperature is normally controlled using a thermocouple attached to it, but if the thermocouple breaks, the plate has to be removed and replaced. A one micron infrared thermometer can see through the fiber glass and measure the plate temperature insuring an increase in the life of the plate and improves the quality of the fibers.

Recommended products: Modline 5R two-color for the stream and spinner temperature and the Modline 52 series for the platinum plate.

Other Glass Processing Applications

Products, like windshields, side lights and rear windows for cars, trucks and buses require that the glass be bent, laminated and tempered. Mirrors for the automotive and truck industry are bent and coated, requiring accurate temperature control. Flat glass for architectural use, as well as home applications like shower doors, have to be tempered for safety. Light bulbs, fluorescent tubes and Ox lamps require that the filament be sealed inside the envelope, where the seal temperature is very critical.

Recommended products: Modline 47 and Modline 77 five micron infrared thermometers.

Every step in the glass manufacturing process can benefit from the use of Ircon® infrared thermometers. These benefits include:

  • Automated process control
  • Increased product uniformity with instantaneous feedback of operating parameters
  • Reduced energy costs, scrap and downtime
  • Enhanced personnel safety and environment control in hazardous areas


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