Emphasis on Upgraded Performance at GlassBuild

September 16, 2011
Meetings & Events

Atlanta—New ways to make better-performing, better-looking windows and doors more affordably are highlighing this year's GlassBuild America, being held this week at the Georgia World Congress Center. The annual trade show, which concludes today, suggests that while the industry continues to deal with lingering market weakness, many window and door companies are looking forward.

 Numerous manufacturers made their way to the GED display to see demonstrations of its new automated assembly line designed for high-volume triple-lite unit production.


See Snapshots of GlassBuild America
for more photos from the event

Perhaps the prime example at the event is Quanex Building Products. The supplier, which now encompasses Mikron Industuries, Truseal Technologies, Homeshield Fenestraton Products, and Edgetech, has a huge display showcasing its diverse product lines in Atlanta. “We’re definitely stepping it up a level," said David Petratis, CEO, talking about changes made at Quanex since the most recent addition of Edgetech this year. “We are excited to be on the forefront of fenestration performance, and we're ready to push the envelope with partners ready to go there with us.” 

Quanex's Mike Hovan added that one unique aspect of this year's booth is that it features products from many of its manufacturer customers. "We're proud to show off what we've done with our partners," he noted. "With our combined resources, we can deliver even more."

Triples & Gas Filling
"We're really excited to be helping the industry take the next step on performance," said Bill Weaver, president of GED Integrated Solutions, which offered one of the most notable introductions at this year's GlassBuild. Designed to produce triple-pane IG units in 20-second cycle times, the new Atlas line was developed with support of the Department of Energy, which has wanted to make triple glazing a more affordable option, explained Weaver. Not only is DOE pleased with the results, the new line was getting a "fantastic" response from attendees in Atlanta, he noted. "We've already sold the first one, and we know we'll be having some serious discussions with other manufacturers based on what's happened at the show."

In addition to sophisticated software that assures glass is fed properly into the system, the new line eliminates any manual handling of the center lite after the glass is washed. The process uses the Bernoulli principle to lift glass and move it into position for assembly, Weaver explained. He also noted that while the new assembly system is well matched with high-volume Intercept equipment lines, it is not exclusive to it and the system could be adapted for other spacer systems. Finally, he reported, the new assembly system represents a first step in enhanced triple-glazed unit production, with GED already planning the next phases, including gas-filling and sealing equipment.

 A new gas-filling station added to Erdman's automated flexible spacer assembly line attracted interest from manufacturers as well.

New equipment for high-performance IG could also be found in the booth of Erdman Automation Corp. Having launched a flexible spacer application system a year ago, the supplier has now added an automated gas filling station to the line. "Manufacturers are still hesitant to make big investments, but they are making purchases if they know they can save labor or improve quality," said the supplier's Morgan Donohue. Referring to new Energy Star criteria, tightening codes and other high performance demands, he also noted, "manufacturers know changes are coming. Many companies want to be ready or even ahead of the curve." 

Another new piece of equipment on the floor was the OptiGas 1000 high-volume gas-filling station. Developed by Integrated Automation Systems and featured in the Praxair booth, the line gives manufacturers the ability to fill units with precise amounts and virtually eliminates krypton waste, according to Mike McHugh. "We like to think it's a game changer," he stated. "Manufacturers can not only meet high performance goals, they can meet specific performance targets they need to meet affordably."

That theme was also shared in the Quanex booth, where the supplier was featuring its new Optimizer program designed to provide manufacturers with estimated performance levels of windows using various glasses, coatings, spacers and framing. “It doesn’t replace modeling or simulation, but it quickly reveals to manufacturers where opportunities lie for improvement or what options they have to meet a particular goal,” explained the firm's Ric Jackson.

 Dominating one end of the hall at GlassBuild, the new Quanex booth featured products from many of its door and window manufacturer customers.

More Color
Not all the focus in Atlanta was on energy performance. Among the vinyl extruders exhibiting at GlassBuild, white vinyl windows were hard to find at GlassBuild. P.H. Tech once again featured its DoubleNature finish options introduced last year. This year's show featured more suppliers promoting paints and laminates for vinyl products, including two first-time exhibitors, Hornschuch and Zobel from Germany. “White is still dominant, but manufacturers are seeing growth in vinyl woodgrains and colors,” reported American Renolit’s David Harris. One result, he noted, is that vinyl manufacturers are rapidly expanding the number of choices they want to offer.

Extruders highlighted a number of other new products. Deceuninck, for example, featured its new Innergy reinforcements, designed to increase structural strength of vinyl products without sacrificing thermal performance. Filip Geeraert, the company’s new president and CEO, noted that the composite material, developed in conjunction with Bayer Material Sciences, may also have applications in other window and door parts.

Not all the focus in Atlanta is on energy performance. This year's show features more suppliers promoting paints and laminates for vinyl products. New exhibitors such as Hornschuch and Zobel from Germany joined the ranks of companies providing new options to window manufacturers, including metallic-looking finishes. 

Hardware suppliers were once again introducing a variety of new products as well. Among the highlights are magnetic multipoint locking system and a new one-motion sliding pato door handle from Interlock North America. Truth Hardware has responded to increasing demand for window opening control devices with the new SafeGard device for casement windows.

Demand for WOCDs is going to increase significantly next year, when codes requiring them begin to take effect next year, reported Vision Hardware’s Luke Liang. His firm showcased a variety of window opening control devices for hung windows, including OEM and aftermarket products.

This year's event featured nearly 400 exhibitors and more than 6,000 registered attendees. It also included more than 70 new exhibitors. Among those serving the window and door market was Prodim, from the Netherlands, which was demonstrating a device for electronically measuring window and door openings. Meshtec International was on hand to introduce a variety of security screen systems for windows and doors.

Overall, this year's event featured nearly 400 exhibitors and nearly 6,000 registered attendees to date. See GlassBuild America 2011 Snapshots for a more comprehensive look at window and door industry products and equipment introduced at this year's show.  In addition, a Video Gallery features demonstrations of several of the machines shown in Atlanta, along with a few other products.

The educational events and trade show return next year, with GlassBuild America set to head west once again to Las Vegas. More information about the event, set for September 12-14 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, is available at GlassBuild America website.