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issue: May 2005 APPLIANCE European Edition

Glass Technology
Nano-Layer System for Interior Oven Doors


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For years, the research and development department of the Mainz, Germany-based Schott Group has been working to refine and advance the functional surfaces of household appliances.

Figure 1. Schott AG has developed glass material that is easy to clean and prevents food from scorching the glass surface of an interior oven door.

Last fall, the researchers and engineers who work for the company achieved a breakthrough with the glass that is used inside ovens. They came up with an oven door entirely made of glass that is extremely easy to clean and prevents food from scorching the glass surface of an interior oven door (see Figure 1).

“Our intensive research and development efforts made it possible for us to come up with this innovation in the area of surface coatings during the fall of 2003,” explains Bernd Schultheis, an engineer responsible for strategic development projects at SCHOTT Home Tech. “Because of the thin nano-scale composition, it allows the cook to enjoy an unimpaired view of the food inside the oven. The surprisingly powerful self-cleaning capability is based on a system that consists of inorganic and hybrid layers. This results in the combined advantages of the inorganic matrix and the functional organic components.” According to Mr. Schultheis, the nonorganic, glassy network delivers a high mechanical stability, while the organic components help make the material easy to clean.

Answering Market Needs


Figure 2. Long-term Comparison of Clean-ability

In Europe, being able to provide surfaces of household appliances that are easy to clean represents a major competitive advantage and a unique selling point for manufacturers. This is why Schott worked closely with international appliance manufacturers in developing and launching the material for use in interior oven doors. The coating, which is applied to the completely glass SCHOTT® Flat Glass door, covers the entire surface of the inside oven door, leaving no crevices.

The new glass technology was developed to address the specific requirements of both the market and consumers. Fulfilling the various national and customer-specific demands of the various appliance manufacturers represented the largest challenge. “We had to work closely with our partners in determining the right measurement techniques for defining success,” Mr. Schultheis says. “These can be determined by either technical criteria, such as contact angle values, or in a more practical manner by actually baking or grilling food,” he adds.

The results of market research revealed that consumers generally view cleaning the kitchen to be difficult. In fact, the oven is regarded to be the single most difficult kitchen appliance to clean by consumers. Therefore, ease of cleaning becomes an extremely important purchasing consideration. The household appliance industry also places significant emphasis on how easy it is to clean the inside of an oven. The demands that must be met by such a glass pane are extremely high. In addition to being easy to clean with normal cleaning products and offering resistance to heat, the inside doors of an oven must also satisfy food related regulations.

“With its so-called ‘easy to clean’ coating for glass, Schott now offers the only solution on the market that can also be applied to a low E warmth-reflective coating,” Mr. Schultheis notes. “Thanks to this advanced glass refinement technique, the coating retains its easy cleaning characteristics over time, as well as all of the other necessary traits.”

During the extensive application tests that have been performed by Schott customers thus far, the new coating has lived up to the strictest of requirements. It not only offers substantially better ease of cleaning than other established products (see Figure 2), it resists temperature cycles and staining to the satisfaction of household appliance makers that make panels for ovens. The visual appearance also remains the same. The coating offers yet another advantage in that it already complements and in part rounds off existing “easy to clean” programs. “In addition to the coating used for the oven interior and related accessories, we now offer a useful addition to the inside door made solely of glass,” Mr. Schultheis says. The market introduction of this additional feature, he adds, represents an increase in value and completely new positioning of the model series. Temperatures of up to 300°C are possible.

Mr. Schultheis is also convinced that the successful development, market evaluation, and introduction of the easy-to-clean inside oven door will also have a positive impact on the development of other functional surfaces in the future.

This information is provided by Schott AG, Mainz, Germany.

Suppliers mentioned in this article:
Schott AG
 

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