Decorated and Innovated
In a maturing yet fiercely competitive market, it’s essential to look ahead. Stephen Porter, production director of North Western Lead Co - the industry leader in decorative film and lead - talks about the developments in decorative glass and reveals some exciting new products from NWL.
Although the decorative glass market is maturing, it has seen many developments over the years which have brought greater choice to the end user and convenience to the applier. One major shift has been to self adhesive lead which is a clean and quick method of applying lead. Self adhesive lead products, like the market leader Decra Led®, are now widely used.
Whilst uncoated natural lead is in decline, the demand for coated lead has risen dramatically. Two methods of coating are now commonly used - powder coating and electro-phoretic coating. Seeing a gap in the market several years ago, NWL was the first company to offer leads with both coatings and we continue to be a clear market leader in powder coated lead to this day.
A cut above
The way that lead is cut to the correct width has also evolved over the years as companies seek ways to speed up cutting time, whilst improving the quality of the edges of the lead. NWL recently invested in state-of-the-art new cutting blades. They bring even greater accuracy when cutting and a neat and crisp edge to the lead, particularly for the narrower lead widths, where we have two unique products - 2mm twin strand lead and single strand 3mm lead.
Our 3mm single strand is revolutionary as it means that the user no longer has to pull apart two twin strands of lead before applying them to the decorative glass, thus saving valuable time.
Trends in lead vary greatly from one country to the next. Our antique coloured lead is popular in this country for instance, whilst brass and gold are in great demand overseas. Leads in bright, vibrant colours are also becoming more popular and they complement fused tiles perfectly. Both are used widely on composite doors, which have been in great demand in recent years.
The market always wants more choice however and we are planning to bring an exciting new collection of lead colours and finishes out later this year to satisfy this demand.
Decorative film has seen a surge in popularity in this more design led, but cost conscious era. At NWL, our film is in such demand that we are taking on more staff to help us fulfil the orders and develop new designs. We anticipate that production will double over the next year as a result.
Our Spectrum Film range already includes 140 plain and effect films, making it one of the most extensive ranges available today. We will shortly be adding even more patterned designs to the range to take the collection to almost 200 films. Films are available in both 50 and 75 micron thicknesses, with our Decra Glow and Rainbow Film ranges, to bring even more choice to the market. This increases our total film products to over 500!
We are also working towards bringing our lead and film products into the realm of the craft enthusiast so that they can create their own stained glass effects at home. Our narrow 2mm and 3mm leads will be ideal for this application.
Innovation has been essential in the decorative glass sector. Our business has a long heritage for development and we will continue to bring the market a broad range of products that offer exceptional quality and value for money. The recession has added a burden to the industry but it has also been an opportunity to anticipate change and stimulate the market with new products. With a 100 per cent dedication to getting the product and service right, NWL is well placed to maintain its position as the industry leader.