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New technologies at Fensterbau

Post Time:Nov 12,2013Classify:Industry NewsView:88

With nearly all the halls of the NürnbergMesse filled with exhibitors and crowded aisles and stands throughout, fensterbau/frontale enjoyed another record year, April 2-5. The world’s biggest window and door industry trade fair in Nuremberg, Germany, continues to grow in scope and scale as it attracted a more international audience and a broader range of products. More than 30 percent of this year’s 700-plus exhibitors came from outside Germany, according to officials at NürnbergMesse, the event’s organizer. Attendance from outside Germany was also expected to increase. Veka, the Germany-based extruder was expecting its fabricators from all over the world, reported Walter Stuckey, president of its U.S. operations. Not only from nearby countries, but the Mideast, Asia, and even Central and South America. “About the only place that won’t be that well represented is the U.S.,” Stuckey said, where “today’s market conditions aren’t exactly encouraging people to come to Europe.” Adding frontale to its moniker several year’s ago to better target the façade industry, this year’s fensterbau/frontale saw a marked increase in exhibitors featuring aluminum curtain wall and storefront products. These included first-time exhibitors Kawneer’s European unit and Reynaers Aluminum from Belgium. Their exhibits featured some of the most leading edge products. Kawneer showed a photovoltaic panel and solar energy wall system, while Raynaer showed exterior systems that could be designed to shade windows and curtain walls from the hot sun, redirect natural daylight in more effectively, or collect solar energy. Schüco of Germany, which has exited the vinyl window business to focus more on commercial and solar products, showed a window incorporating a photovoltaic panel as an awning. Vinyl extruders and window manufacturers exhibiting at fensterbau focused on energy. Many extruders showed new deeper frame depths and other upgrades targeted at numerous national and regional requirements. “Bonded glass” or wet-glazed systems designed to reduce sightlines were touted in a number of displays. Colors and finish options continued to expand. One of the most interesting offerings was a metallic finish—a look similar to anodized aluminum—on vinyl profiles produced by Gealan, a Germany-based extruder.

Hardware Door and window hardware products dominated three of fensterbau’s nine halls. The most noteworthy trend in the products on display was the continued expansion of electronic options for both operating and locking doors. Gretsch-Unitas, the parent of G-U Hardware in the U.S, featured a new electronic operator for its lift-slide door system that’s concealed in the header. The company also showed an array of remote and card-control access systems, as well as biometric openers—devices activated by a fingerprint. Demand is growing for these types of products in Europe, and it’s likely to grow in North America, suggested Pat Junker, general manager of the U.S. firm. However, many window and door manufacturers are still trying to figure out what features make sense to automate. Jeff Shilakis, president of Hoppe North America, Fort Watkinson, Wis., foresees that possibility, once consumer needs and preferences are better determined. Hoppe displayed an electronic security device powered by the cranking action of the handles. The hardware can signal a home security system that a window has been opened or left opened. Other electronic hardware on display included automatic door opening systems from KFV, Roto Frank and Winkhaus, all of Germany, and numerous other suppliers. This was not the only focus in displays of hardware suppliers. Roto and G-U featured new concealed tilt-and-turn hinges that create a clean new look to the European product design. Although tilt-and-turn windows, the dominant style of Germany and the fensterbau show, remain a niche product in North America, it is a growing business, suggested Greg Koch, president of Roto’s U.S. operation in Chester, Conn. More companies are starting to enjoy more success with these lines, particularly in high-end markets, he added.

Equipment This year’s fensterbau featured a broad array of vinyl, aluminum and wood processing machinery. Notably, Rotox of Germany, introduced a four-point welder developed specifically for the North American market. The quad-stack unit was designed from the ground-up with input from a number of the U.S.’ largest manufacturers. An even more unusual sight at the event was an American-made machine. A four-point welder built by Greller & Co., Cleveland, was on display in the booth of KMW Engineering, Germany. The welder is based on an Actual welder design—well-known and still used in Europe—although the company is no longer around, said Dennis Brady, sales manager, Greller. The fact that is has an established brand, combined with the low value of the dollar, now presents the company with an export opportunity. Other notable machines on display included a new glazing line from Urban, Germany. The company has sold a number of these machines in Europe, noted Volcker Lamprecht, president of Urban’s North American operation, and its latest introduction has potential for North American manufacturers.

New alliance This year fensterbau/frontale entered into a partnership with GlassBuild America, Istanbul Window and Fenestration China to create the Global Fair Alliance. Representatives from the four organizations gathered in Nuremberg to officially sign an agreement that would establish and support each as the “leading fenestration event” for its region of the world. While the other events are held annually, fensterbau is held every other year. It returns to Nuremberg March 24-27, 2010. More information is available at www.askfrontale.de.

—By John Swanson, editor and associate publisher, Window & Door magazine

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