Window Manufacturers Make Their Way to GlassBuild

Las Vegas—Despite challenging market conditions, window and door makers are coming to GlassBuild America, which finishes up today. Many attendees are here to find out what they need to do to get ready for new, more stringent Energy Star requirements, but many suppliers also note particularly strong interest in new products.

Given the troubling economic news, there was definitely apprehension about turn-out prior to the opening of the show.  Officials report there were 7,300 attendees in the aisles, as of Tuesday, however, with more expected today.  As a result, most exhibitors are saying they are pleasantly surprised about the traffic levels in their booth.

Two of the busiest booths in Las Vegas belong to Edgetech IG and Truseal Technologies. Both suppliers of IG spacer systems are focusing their exhibits on the new Energy Star requirements, with information designed to help window manufacturers get ready for changes in the Department of Energy program. Manufacturers of all types visiting the Edgetech booth were finding the educational offerings useful, reported the firm’s Erin Johnson. They ranged from manufacturers looking to get started in IG production to those with questions about moving to triple-glazed construction.

In addition to providing information on IG certification and testing, Energy Star requirements and numerous other issues facing window manufacturers, Edgetech is demonstrating spacer application in its booth in Las Vegas.

In talking to manufacturers, Truseal’s Rick Jackson reported that manufacturers are fairly confident they will be able to meet the first round of proposed Energy Star requirements. “The U-values aren’t that much of a challenge. SHGC is more of an issue.” The bigger challenge will be the 2013 numbers—and the company was showing a triple-glazed window to illustrate one alternative to meeting the requirements for much of the Northern half of the country, he added.  The changeover to triple-glazing is likely to require a window re-design because of the added weight, and new equipment to handle the added IG production requirements, but despite the challenges facing them, Jackson reported that some manufacturers are anxious to make the jump much sooner. “They want to offer the window of the future.”

Southwall Insulating Glass is also on the show floor, promoting the ability of Heat Mirror IG units to enable windows to meet the 2013 standards today, according to Bruce Lang, president of the operation. Given the fact that Heat Mirror units can enable window makers to meet new more stringent numbers without going to triple-glazing and its additional weight requirements, the company sees a huge opportunity, he noted. Manufacturing issues have limited its Heat Mirror’s penetration, but through its new joint venture, Southwall plans to implement new processes to increase manufacturing efficiency and better meet the new demand, he continued.

Drawing numerous visitors to its booth is Glasslam, which is featuring both its foam spacer product, as well as its system for manufacturing impact-rated IG units with only two lights of glass. The company is demonstrating how its spacer is applied around the perimeter of the first lite of glass, and then its resin laminate material is applied. After it levels off on its own, the second lite of glass is applied to the spacer.

Not all the activity is focused on glass. Numerous exhibitors report strong interest in new products as many window manufacturers—given the current market—are looking for better ways to differentiate themselves and target new markets. Mikron’s Rich Anton reports many more manufacturers are showing serious interest in its MikronWood replacement products, as well as its new swing door using the composite material, at this year’s show. The company has offered the composite technology for a number of years, but manufacturers haven’t seen the need to make the leap to a new system. “They are really looking for an edge now,” Anton stated.

Royal Group’s Ken Lazor offered a similar perspective, noting strong interest in a new hybrid window system his firm is offering. Combining a rigid vinyl frame with a cellular PVC sash reinforced with fiberglass, the new line is generating “a lot of good feedback” from manufacturers at the show.

An electronic multipoint locking system is attracting numerous visitors to the Amesbury booth at GlassBuild.

Manufacturers are also looking at new hardware options to better differentiate their lines. Amesbury’s Amber Grayson reported that much of the activity in her company’s booth surrounded the new Locca electronic multipoint locking system. Manufacturers are also coming to the Interlock booth to see its new magnetic sash lock that can be used in wood, vinyl and aluminum windows, according to the company’s Steve Gledhill. The firm also used the show to announce an agreement to represent the Siegenia and Aubi hardware lines from Europe in North America. “We want to offer a more complete line for manufacturers and these additions will round out our offerings,” Gledhill noted.

Products offering potential cost savings are also attracting attention at this year’s show. Frank LaSusa of Vinyl Link reported that numerous manufacturers came to learn about his company’s Notch Above system, which made its debut at GlassBuild. With the system, lineals are notched rather than cut and brought to the welder as a single piece. The system cuts down on material handling as well as waste. While the notching equipment could require a significant investment, the firm is seeing strong interest in a program it is developing to place its equipment in the extruder’s plant, so it could be used to process lineal for several fabricators. If manufacturers commit to the system, they don’t have to invest in the notching equipment and can still achieve significant savings, LaSusa noted. Vinyl Link hopes to set up an initial program with an extruder and fabricators in the near future.

GlassBuild America ends today. Look for additional coverage of the show and educational programs in next week’s WDweekly and in the November issue of Window & Door. Click here to see a photo gallery highlighting some of the products on display on Las Vegas this week.