Inglas Vetri is a Tuscan company that has specialised for almost 30 years in curving glass. Craft skills and technique and the ability to respond to custom requirements in the production of curved and flat glass have led to collaboration with leading yachting companies.
A long time has passed since the only ways to let in natural light and air on yachts were portholes: small, round openings covered with tough glass in the sides. Today on yachts and super yachts huge windows of every shape and size appear on the sides, rectangular windows stretch from stern to bow without interruption, hard tops feature intelligent crystal glass that illuminates without warming, windows that protect from indiscreet eyes on the quayside without blocking the light. They are openings that offer a breathtaking views of the sea directly from the bank in our cabin, designed to offer maximum contact with the natural elements around us. But the application of glass is not limited to the exterior, and it is common today to see companion ways, ceilings, doors and bulkheads in glass.
All this is possible thanks to the variety of products and the types of glass available on the market, but thanks above all to the technologies used to manufacture it.
We met Graziana Abruzzese, one of the owners of Inglas Vetri, a company in Pisa that is leader in curving glass and operates in several sectors, from furnishing for public buildings – they were the first in Italy to produce heated curved glass for ice cream displays – to construction and yachting.
When and why did you open up to yachting?
For almost 15 years now we have been producing both carved and flat glass for yachting, our workers progressed both in technical and qualitative terms. Our craft skills and ability to work on individual items with great ability and our ability to respond to extremely customised requirements in the sector have certainly helped us. Today we collaborate with some of the most important Italian yachting companies.
What characteristics must glass used in yachting have compared with that for the construction sector?
In producing glass for yachting and transport generally you must first guarantee maximum safety. Above all in the maritime sector glass is applied in various ways thanks to its resistance to corrosion, its size stability, light weight and flexibility.
Obviously to the kinds of glass are different, since glazed surfaces on boats must be chemically treated to give them greater mechanical resistance and ensure the maximum safety on board.
There is also the substantial difference that in yachting there is particular attention to detail and above all quality control that must be almost maniacal.
What evolution has the been in quality and characteristics in recent years?
Our strength has always been that of creating added value for the glass we produce, offering customers details that improve and customise our glass. The fact of operating in several sectors has allowed us to apply techniques and know-how acquired in the construction and furnishing sector where we have always operated also to yachting. But above all, we have tried to adopt in our production cycle all possible techniques to perfect the optical and technical quality of our products.
What are the prospects the technical improvement?
The glass sector is continually evolving. Glass has remarkably improved the quality of life, so, once you overcome the only defect it had, its fragility, our houses and environments have become increasingly well lit. The sector is in continual ferment, techniques are being studied to improve heat insulation, cut down reflection, and offer self-cleaning, not to speak of the various techniques designed also for furnishing, to create particular effects and decorations that architects ask is for to make their creations unique. For us it’s important always to accept challenges.
What are the problems and developments on the strength/light weight ratio?
The main defects of glass have always been its fragility and weight, and these problems are obviously very important in yachting.
Researchers led us to strengthen glass with heat but above all chemical tempering, which is made it possible for us to temper any kind of curved glass without altering its optical qualities and giving it greater strength than heat tempering, but also the use of glass layered with rigid plastics has allowed us to increase the strength of our products and as a result to reduce the thickness of the glass.
What do you currently produce?
Currently we produce glass for flush windows, windshields, side windows but also glass for the interiors of cruising ships and yachts.
Vessels have increasingly large glazed surfaces, could we see a boat completely and glass in the future?
I hope so. It seemed impossible in the past that we would see buildings almost completely in glass, and yet…