September '18

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132 • RV PRO • September 2018 rv-pro.com O R I G I N A L E Q U I P M E N T shield," but the glass also is laminated for safety and strength. Game-Changer vs. Dollar-Saver Whetton says LCI is well-aware of the interest in acrylic windows because of their lighter weight. The company offers its glass products in Europe through its Ireland-based Taylor Made Glass Products, and so it knows the hold acrylic has on that market. "We've been hearing statements here in the last eight months or so of more interest in the acrylic side of things," Whetton says. "We're investing within our company in the European market, but there are also concepts that we're looking at, so we can stay ahead of that here." The main thing, of course, is that weight is not nearly the issue here as it is in Europe, where gas prices can run three times higher. Instead, he says OEMs in this country remain focused more on the bottom line. "Certainly, it's an issue that's come up in the past, and we're trying to be proactive and see how it could fit in the future," Whetton says. "We're looking at things we can bring to the market that might be a game-changer for our customers. Still, everybody here is trying to figure out how to shave a dollar or two here and there to lower the cost of their units, and that does affect us a little bit. When we bring something new to the market, the first thing we're asked is: 'What's the cost?' So, we have to develop things that are cost-sensitive to the market, too." There has been evolution in glass windows over the decades the RV industry has advanced. In the old days, the windows were square, much like those found in a regular home. How- ever, cracking in the fiberglass shell of the units as the corners were cut led to the development of the radius windows, which coincidentally, are also faster to manufacture. Today, the market is split between framed and bonded – or frameless – windows. "You're going to see more of the bonded windows in high- er-end units," says Whetton. "We're still trending a bit toward Above: LCI employee Israel Gonzalez operates a Crippa automated bending cell, producing RV window frames. At right: An employee handles printed glass, which OEMs use for backsplashes in galleys.

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