Innovation and sustainability in the railway sector with transparent glass 2.0


Isoclima Group has 7 production plants, 120 patents, 1,000 employees, over 500 customers and more than 500,000 m2 of glass produced. In particular, it provides transparent solutions for glass, polycarbonate or acrylic protection for applications ranging from armored vehicles to helicopters, from luxury cars to yachts, from rail and tram to aerospace and security architecture.

The railway sector, in particular, is becoming of primary importance for Isoclima. In recent years, the company has in fact concentrated its efforts on making it a core business. “This is a strategic path, driven by the need to adapt our product portfolio to market fluctuations - explains Daniele Santi, commercial director of Isoclima -. While the nautical market is volatile, the railway and aeronautical markets are more stable and long-term. In particular, the railway sector allows significant series production right away and the duration of a project can be 30 years, thanks to the continuous demand for spare parts, which makes it an excellent business line. A trend that is also supported by macroeconomic trends that show greater interest in the concepts of "people movers" and sustainability. The term "people mover" refers to the rapid movement of large masses of people in urban centres, which fits perfectly with the railway sector. Furthermore, sustainability is an important feature of rail transport, as it has low environmental impact, and this attracts funding.

“Isoclima has extended the concept of 'people mover' to also include ropeways, or urban cable cars, which are widely used in large metropolises in China, Japan and South America. The sector requires increasingly important transparent surfaces, characterized by challenging geometries that can transform them into 'transparent vehicles', significantly optimizing the impact on urban aesthetics. As a result, they are becoming real design catwalks for mobility, arousing growing interest from important architecture and engineering firms worldwide,” explains Santi.

To strengthen the market line, Isoclima has created a business plan, taking into consideration every single technical-financial detail, and has decided to position the production center for the railway sector in Croatia. This choice was motivated by the automotive culture and the systems already present in the Croatian plant. In Italy, however, Isoclima focuses more on the production of transparent bulletproof glass solutions or large curves.

Isoclima's objective is to provide added value to the railway sector in Croatia, creating a distinctive path thanks to technological innovation. In fact, the company exploits cross technology, i.e. the technological contamination between the different sectors of expertise, based on its experience in complex sectors such as, for example, that relating to technical solutions for yachting or the military sector, for the design, integration of frames, gaskets and, in general, fastening and sealing systems.

Among the technologies adopted by Isoclima there are, for example, the deposition of transparent electro-conductive coatings through the mobile cathode magnetron sputtering technique. The coating thus obtained is a treatment that allows the surfaces of the lenses to be heated without the use of wires, guaranteeing a clear vision and eliminating the risk of ice or condensation forming even in adverse weather conditions. On the sides of the trains, insulating glass, frames and special treatments are able to improve acoustic insulation, thermal insulation and protection from solar radiation, reducing overheating and internal temperature by up to 10 degrees. The company is also focusing on improving the characteristics of the windshield. In the railway sector, safety is indeed a priority. Clear glass must meet rigorous ballistic strength and safety standards to protect passengers and crew in the event of high-energy impacts, accidents or attacks.

“The objective is to quadruple turnover within five years, with the introduction of a dedicated business unit - declares Santi -. Investments are already underway, also supported by the significant growth prospects presented by train manufacturers globally. Starting from Europe, we want to produce in American and Mexican factories. A key element for success will also come from strong control of the supply chain."

Isoclima also aims to transform "transparent railway glass" into a 2.0 product, with intelligent technological content. Transparent glass is in fact becoming increasingly interactive. Innovations include “switchable” glass that can adjust transparency depending on external weather conditions, integrating touch screens and interactive displays that also provide information to passengers. There is also the idea of integrating web connectivity solutions into the windows. These technologies, which also eliminate the need to pull the curtain to protect from the sun and, in general, from external light, improve the traveler experience and offer new opportunities to provide services and entertainment on board.

Photovoltaic glass will also play an important role in the railway sector. In fact, it will improve the design and aesthetics of trains. This type of glass also allows the production of energy for the train's internal services such as, for example, air conditioning and Wi-Fi.

Furthermore, Isoclima aims to create interactive glass, which will project maps and navigation information on the train, and transparent LCD displays, also with a view to future autonomous driving automotive applications.

Finally, the company is able to offer customers already tested technologies, such as the possibility of making structural glass without the use of a frame. This would make it possible to combine an important aesthetic advantage with a technological content in the design of the carriage which would reduce the weight of the components and the use of materials whose production lies in the Energy Intensive category, increasing, once again, and in a significant, the sustainability content of the technical solutions.

“The rail sector is rapidly evolving, driven by trends towards sustainability, advanced technology and comfort. Transparencies intended for railway applications are subject to attention to reduce the environmental impact, essentially in compliance with the standards of aesthetics and efficiency. As a leading company in the production of high-tech transparent solutions, we will have to project ourselves towards these new challenges, seizing all the opportunities, offering innovative and cutting-edge solutions to meet the needs of both customers and travelers, today and tomorrow", he concludes Santi.