10 Years of Innovations
by Tara Taffera
If your company has ever introduced a new product or if you’ve distributed
a new product, you know that it takes time for a new innovation to ingrain
itself into the market and realize growth. Look at some of the products
introduced over the past ten years—many of them are just now getting increased
exposure. Read on for a look at the top innovation categories of the past
ten years and our predictions on what’s next for these product categories.
1. Energy-Efficient Products
If you read the feature on
page 24 about the top stories of the past ten years (see numbers six,
seven and ten), you’ll see that there are a multitude of factors that
contribute to the rise of this product category. As an example, R-5 products
would fall into this product category, and these windows are being driven
by the DOE’s R-5 program.
“The demand for high-performing products will only grow in coming years,”
says Gary Delman, president of Sunrise Windows, who also participates
in the DOE program.
What’s Next: As energy-efficient codes and standards become more
stringent and the Energy Star® criteria is tightened as well, suppliers
will continue to develop innovative efficient products that will help
their customers get where they need to be in terms of energy efficiency.
“I hope R-5 becomes the rallying cry for better performing windows,” adds
Sunrise’s Mike Mooney.
2. Multi-Point Locks
Hardware companies have been unveiling multi-point locks in increasing
numbers in the past few years. David Johnson, patio door business unit
manager for Truth Hardware, says that while multi-point lock systems have
been around for a number of years, they have become increasingly more
popular with the progression of the energy codes, wind zone requirements
and the consumer’s demand for greater security.
“Within the segment we are seeing an increasing number of vinyl manufacturers
offering hinged patio doors with multi-point locks,” says Johnson. “This
trend was clearly evident during the recent GlassBuild show when I had
the opportunity to visit with several vinyl manufacturers that will be
offering a hinged patio door with multi-point locks for the first time
in the coming year.”
What’s Next: “The hinged patio door segment is one of the fastest
growing in our industry and that alone will contribute to the growth of
multi-point lock systems,” says Johnson. “Outside of the hinged patio
doors we are seeing more and more entry door manufacturers using multi-point
locks. In Europe, multi-point locks are used in almost every exterior
door in the home, we certainly hope to see that trend continue in our
market, but with a North American flair.”
3. Glass Walls
The category of opening walls systems have enjoyed significant growth.
In September 2007, DWM featured an article on the growth of this product
category and at that time Nana Wall Systems reported its sales had gone
up more than 50 percent in the past few years, and other suppliers echoed
those same sentiments.
What’s Next: If you’ve attended any of the past several International
Builders’ Shows you’ll see that this product category is alive and well—whether
marketed as wall systems, or lift and slide products. When DWM magazine
visited Panda Windows and Doors in September 2010, marketing manager Cooper
Buranen reported that the company just introduced its largest lift-and-slide
product yet, which is targeted at the high-end market (for more on Panda
look to the January-February 2011 issue of DWM).
4. Expanded Color Options
It’s a safe bet for dealers that the window company you do business with
just added new color options. Or, for manufacturers, maybe your hardware
supplier just added a new finish. And it’s not just what you would think
of when it comes to standard colors. If it’s different wood finishes you’re
looking for suppliers make that easy as well. American Renolit’s FAST
system offers the capability to add wood grains on the interior of vinyl.
From purchasing profiles in a variety of colors to painting them in house,
manufacturers have even more options available. At the 2009 GlassBuild
America show GED Integrated Solutions offered its ColorTRU decorative
foil bonding system, which allows manufacturers the ability to offer unlimited
graphic, color and design capabilities. The machine automatically transfers
the foil, while heat and pressure bond it to the vinyl profile.
Royal’s John Vucanovich echoes the sentiments that customers are indeed
looking for expanded color options.
“We are seeing a clear trend towards expanded color options for vinyl
windows and patio doors,” he says. “Homeowners are using color both outside
and inside the home, so beyond solid colors we are seeing demand for textures,
finishes (for example, metallic) and various wood grains.”
What’s Next: It’s clear that expanded color options will continue
to be a focus of suppliers and manufacturers, and, in turn, dealers, will
continue to have an expanded color palette from which to draw.
5. Vinyl Window Improvements
It’s almost impossible to talk about the rise of fiberglass, composites,
etc., and not talk about innovations that have occurred in the vinyl category.
When conducting focus groups for one of its new products, Mikron’s Rich
Anton said the company learned valuable insights from its customers regarding
“From the focus groups, an almost universal impression among the trades
was the belief there had been few major innovations in vinyl windows in
the past 20 years,” he says. “Beyond vinyl being the lowest cost option,
often of varying quality and at the cheap end of the spectrum, right or
wrong, the impression was that not much innovation or added value had
been designed into vinyl window systems.”
Mikron sought to change that through the introduction of its EnergyCore™
window system (see October DWM, page 38)—and the company isn’t alone.
Companies such as VEKA, Royal and Chelsea (see
page 38) all have been working to develop innovative products in the
vinyl windows category, all of which also are designed to meet the requirements
of the Department of Energy’s R-5 program.
What’s Next: The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
Agency is tightening its Energy Star standards. Suppliers in turn are
taking the time to create products that will help its customers meet more
stringent requirements and help them be successful in the current economy
and competitive marketplace.
6. Wood Window and Door Improvements
While it’s no secret that vinyl has dominated the market in terms of overall
market share, wood doors and windows continue to be very popular in certain
markets. As the vinyl industry has improved its products in the last ten
years, Brad Loveless, marketing and product development manager for Simpson
Door, says the same is true for the wood industry.
“I think there has been more product innovation in the last decade than
in the 90 previous years we’ve been in business,” says Loveless.
Innovations have been made regarding water infiltration as well as wood
doors that can better withstand the elements and that in turn offer longer
What’s Next: Technology will continue to develop and wood will
continue to have its place in the door and window industry. Wood also
receives recognition in the USGBC’s LEED for Homes program, and wood is
often chosen for those participating in LEED projects.
7. Gas-Fill Detection/Fill Products
There has been much discussion in the industry in the past ten years about
how to detect, in a non-invasive way, how much argon (or krypton) is in
an IG unit. When Finland’s Sparklike introduced its GasGlass device in
2001 it received a lot of interest in the industry. It still hasn’t received
widespread use, but it will be interesting to see if that will change
now that Edgetech IG announced that it will distribute the device in the
In 2002, DWM devoted a feature article to the subject of argon detection
and looked specifically at the GasGlass. At the time some industry experts
believed in the product so much that they said it should be placed on
the end of every production line so each unit can be tested.
“This is the first practical, non-destructive test method used to determine
argon content,” said Jim Plavecsky, vice president of marketing and sales
for Edgetech IG, at the time. “It’s the methodology we’ve all been looking
Eight years later and the argon detection device still is getting attention,
along with some other related products. While the GasGlass is for argon
detection once the unit is filled, the OptiGas gas filling system was
introduced in September 2010 for gas-filling of an IG unit, and also is
generating buzz. The product was developed by Integrated Automated Systems
which reports that it reduces the labor per unit for gas filling by up
to 90 percent and krypton loss per fill from 50 percent to essentially
What’s Next: With competitive pressures continuing and pricing
pressures remaining, products that will help companies maintain consistency
and save costs only have room to grow.
8. Fiberglass Products
In 2004, Ducker Research reported that fiberglass accounted for .9 percent
of the total windows market. In 2013 it is forecast to comprise 2.9 percent
of the market. That’s a 300 percent increase in nine years—a definite
growth area and one in which many companies are expanding.
“With vinyl windows, machinery was readily available in Europe for its
manufacturing,” says Tom Prince, vice president for SureView fiberglass.
“So as the major extruders set up fabricators those customers could buy
the machines, then tool them accordingly to manufacture vinyl windows.”
He says for fiberglass windows, though, it isn’t that easy. Another reason
he cites for its comparable slower growth is lack of supply from pultruders.
“The key factor is pultrusion capabilities,” says Prince. “The biggest
element is that there aren’t many companies who can pultrude thin wall
When it comes to doors, some companies are now offering innovative fiberglass
products. At the recent AMD trade show (see
page 32), many companies featured fiberglass doors including GlassCraft.
The company’s Matthew O’Shea says, “The look has certainly made it possible
for companies to look at fiberglass.” Indeed, many fiberglass doors can
have the look of a wood door.
What’s Next: There is no doubt that fiberglass door and window products
will continue to grow, but a big question is whether or not more regional
companies will start making fiberglass windows.
“If you removed several of these challenges [for windows], you would see
it growing as much faster pace even though the economy is where it is,”
9. Composites and Other Alternative Materials
Like fiberglass, composites and other alternative materials are catching
the eyes of companies that are looking to offer something new to their
customers. In 2004, Ducker Research reported that “other” materials constituted
.7 percent of the total windows market and forecasts that it will comprise
1.2 percent of the total market in 2013.
It is still a small percentage of the overall market, but growing nonetheless.
What’s Next: Companies aren’t just using composites for their
window systems, manufacturers are looking at composites as an option for
many of their hardware needs as well and hardware suppliers are offering
such products and this category is poised for growth as well.
10. Improvements in Adhesives
Sally Groome, national market manager, window and door products for Adhesives
Research Inc., says many advancements have been made including the introduction
of glazing tapes that enable manufacturers to achieve higher DP ratings
as well as products that help manufacturers become more energy-efficient.
“As manufacturers expand into new materials there is a need to create
an adhesive that bonds to low surface-energy materials,” says Groome.
She also says there have been advancements in product testing, including
the Z-tensile test and dynamic shear test to help window manufacturers
more realistically evaluate SDL tapes by re-creating the actual application
Mark Toth, sales manager for HB Fuller, says while the above products
don’t easily lend themselves to automated applications, for those that
have added automation there have been significant innovations over the
past ten years.
“Glass is made much differently than it was ten or 15 years ago on a grander
scale,” says Toth. “A lot of the processes for insulating glass manufacturing
have become automated (Sashlite, for example). And many of the sealant
suppliers participating in this market have developed products to be adapted
to these automated processes such as GED, Edgetech and others.”
Toth says the adhesive upgrades have helped glazing come a long way as
well. Gone are the days when you had to wait days to let a window cure.
“Quick-cure two-part or hot-applied products make it possible to ship
a window within hours,” he says.
What’s Next: Toth says he sees the trend continuing towards even
more automation, and not just for the large manufacturers.
“Small to mid-sized companies can also upgrade their productivity with
newer equipment being developed along with improvements in hot-applied
IG sealants,” he says. “Standards and codes continue to become more demanding,
so better quality sealants will be even more in demand.”
“New developments in raw materials, along with adhesives manufacturers’
ever-increasing technical capabilities, will enable us all to offer our
customers new technology to build the high performance products today’s
homeowners and builders demand,” adds Groome.
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