White is not always white. This fact is made quite clear when Gregor Grosse spreads printed glass samples next to one another in front of him. “Every customer has a preference for a special white when it comes to their home appliances. And for the glass fronts needed, they must match perfectly for an entire appliance family. Because for every uniformly designed kitchen front, and especially when appliances are standing side-by-side, our eyes pick up immediately on even the smallest of variances,” explains Grosse, responsible for Global Business Development and an innovation manager for flat glass at SCHOTT. We are not talking about having a few white (or even black) nuances available, but rather something in the vicinity of 3,000 active color tones. “It is our job to ensure that home appliance manufacturers always get their desired color tone for every glass front they need and it has to be so over a period of several years.”
To accurately imprint flat glass, whether it is for a customer‘s individual color preference, uniformly across a large area or very precisely fine structures like lines and logos, for metal or mirror impressions – these are the process capabilities SCHOTT Flat Glass utilizes to support the development teams in the home appliance industry with their design concepts. And more often than not, the manufacturers pick up awards for their home appliance solutions with glass components and know-how from SCHOTT. Take Whirlpool for example: The American home appliance manufacturer equipped its KitchenAid dishwasher with a viewing window. The idea: At the end of the wash cycle, an internal light comes on, providing a view of the dishes. The design can be combined with other kitchen appliances from the same series. The concept received “Best Design” from the Digital Trends Home Award 2015. However, “a great design must also have a perfect technical functionality,” asserts Mark Delp, responsible for sales and marketing Home Appliance at SCHOTT North America, when discussing the special challenges. His team was involved early on in the research phase and developed a special insulated glass unit, which reinforced the impermeability of the new design solution over several rinse cycles. “Before an appliance is actually ready for the market, there are a lot of hurdles that must be overcome,” admits Grosse. “When it comes to the glass components of an appliance‘s design creation, we are constantly pushing the limits even if the implementation initially appears to be difficult”, he assures. R&D departments and product managers from a home appliance manufacturer can draw from a rich pool to get the functional and design features they need. Joint innovation workshops provide new glass design impetus. Our motto: “We will do what we can to achieve it”.