People that live in glass houses and cast stones are probably customers of Cardinal Glass. The company manufactures residential glass for windows and doors, and caters to domestic and international markets through six operating units: Cardinal AG (manufacturing equipment for the solar panel industry), Cardinal CG (coated glass and optical mirrors), Cardinal FG (float and tempered glass), Cardinal IG (insulating glass), Cardinal LG (laminated glass), and Cardinal ST (solar technologies). Its value-added panels include self-cleaning coated "neat glass," smooth enough to loosen dirt and enable water to sheet off, and "LoE3," designed to cut solar heat gain. Cardinal Glass began in Minneapolis in 1962.
Cardinal Glass operates more than 25 manufacturing plants throughout the US. While the company is involved in the manufacturer of different types of glass, including laminated, insulating, and float, as well as coatings and protective film, it is Cardinal's production of solar glass that is in the center spotlight. According to the US Department of Energy, US consumers still use petroleum, natural gas, and coal for 93% of their energy usage; they use 6% renewable energy and only 1% solar. For now most of the solar installations are currently being done in Europe, with other customers in Canada, Japan, and Mexico, but Cardinal is optimistic that the US will be jumping on the solar bandwagon in time.
Based on that optimism, the company opened its 180,000 sq. ft. Cardinal Solar Technologies facility in Mazomanie, Wisconsin, in 2009 that is equipped with a $5.5 million gas convection furnace (fired at 1,200 degrees) and cooling chamber (each are 120-ft. long) that tempers 2 x 4 ft. glass panels. The plant grinds, drills, and tempers two types of glass for use in photovoltaic solar panels. The glass components are sold to other companies to assemble and install. Because of its involvement in alternative energy solutions, the company is a potential recipient of federal grant money. In early 2010 Cardinal received almost $8 million from the US government to convert a residential glass coating plant in Minnesota into a facility that will apply transparent coatings to solar panel glass. The company was also awarded a $500,000 loan from the Minnesota governor to expand Cardinal's facility in Portage, Wisconsin. – less