Energy codes push changes in aluminum windows
Codes requiring lower U values push manufacturers of aluminum windows and other fenestration products to look at alternative thermal break products, says Mark Silverberg, president of Technoform, headquartered in Germany.
His company was one of several exhibitors promoting thermal struts for aluminum profiles at GlassBuild America: The Glass, Window & Door Expo.
“The next generation of curtain walls and storefronts will have to meet 2009 codes. Struts require specialized modifications to meet the needs of architects and designers. We’re helping them get ahead of the curve,” Silverberg said. “Technoform is prepared to put its engineers to work to help window manufacturers and extruders come up with holistic solutions to the emerging challenges in the marketplace. When the market changes to new technology, they need a partner to help them get set up.”
Other suppliers of the reinforced polyamide strips included Alfa Solare and Mazzergrip, both from Italy, and Pennsylvania-based Ensinger Inc., a longtime supplier of the Insulbar products in the North American market.
Paolo Ferro, sales director for Alfa Solare, also reported that the need to lower U values creates new demand. Noting that polyamide strips are the standard in Europe, he said that benefits include improved energy performance, the ability to offer different colors on the interior and exterior of a product, and enhanced structural capabilities.
Several European suppliers of machinery for inserting the strips into aluminum profiles, as well as related manufacturing equipment, were exhibiting in Las Vegas. Belgium’s Aluro and Italy’s Oemme joined CMS Industries of Caledonia, Mich., and the latter company also exhibited this type of equipment at GlassBuild in 2005. Based in North America, CMS represents the Fom Group from Italy.
Fabio Osti, Oemme’s export sales manager, noted that North American aluminum window and door makers voice interest in the enhanced performance offered by polyamide strip thermal breaks, and “they also want automation,” therefore looking more closely at European equipment.
One residential window manufacturer, International Window Corp. of South Gate, Calif., recently made the move to a thermal break system. It was promoting window and door products using its ThermoTech aluminum extrusions.
The design was prompted by development of energy codes in California and elsewhere, reported Tom Muñoz, a sales representative for the company. “Aluminum couldn’t meet the requirements with traditional designs.” Since their introduction, demand has been very strong for the new product in the Arizona market. The desire to make buildings “green” has emerged as another factor, he added.
The thermal break system enables products to carry the Energy Star label. In gas-filled, warm-edge insulating glass units, a thermal break system can do that in all four climate zones under the Energy Star program, Muñoz said.
International Window Corp. has not started to promote two-tone products, but Muñoz predicted demand would grow even stronger once that happened. Homeowners often have to replace bronze windows with bronze windows, due to rules and ordinances associated with many housing developments. “When the wife discovers she can have a white interior—that’s going to be a big hit,” he said.
Aluminum window manufacturers have other options too, and many have been looking at pultruded fiberglass, reported Konrad Schellenberg, manager of technical services for Omniglass Ltd. in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
“They’ve been saying they want to do something with fiberglass for the past couple of years. We’re still working to actually get them to make the jump," he said.