The increased demand for fire-rated glass and doors was the main driver behind Safti First’s $8 million investment into an expansion at two of its facilities in Merced, Calif. The expansion began mid-year 2019 and is slated to be completed in January 2020.
The first phase, a 17,000-square-foot expansion of the company’s door manufacturing facility, is already complete. Diana San Diego, vice president of marketing, says the company saw a need to expand because of an increased demand for fire-rated temperature rise doors with full vision glass. She explains that, usually, 60- to 90-minute doors can only have a vision area of 100 square inches.
“Due to code changes, for the vision area of 60- to 90-minute doors to go above 100 square inches, the fire-resistive glazing must be tested to ASTM E119,” she says, adding that the company manufactures a 60- to 90-minute temperature rise door with full vision glass with the company’s Superlite II XL glazing. These doors are typically used in one- to two-hour stairwell enclosures and one- to two-hour fire barriers.
“One reason for the increased demand is that the code community is realizing the devastating effects of radiant heat in critical areas and is trying to enforce the use of fire-resistive materials,” says San Diego. “Another reason is that architects would still like all the benefits of glass such as full vision and lines of sight in a changing world where we have to protect against fire and other threats, both natural and manmade. There’s a trend to harden facilities without compromising on aesthetics. Our products give architects both, meeting code and design requirements for transparency, daylighting and lines of sight.”
The original door manufacturing building was 50,000 square feet. Now it is 67,000 square feet. The company also purchased new automated seam welders, automated door sanders, paint booths and additional door hanging bucks to ensure that each door functions as it should in the field before sent out to the jobsite.
Phase two of the expansion involves adding 45,000 square feet to Safti First’s glass manufacturing facility, bringing its total size to 130,000 square feet. The company also raised the roof of the facility. The reason for the growth is to keep up with demand for the company’s new products, SuperClear 45-HS and SuperClear 45-HS-LI, and the demand for larger glass sizes, according to San Diego.
The company will also purchase new equipment for this facility, including larger aluminum racks, automated washers and a tempering line.
“The reason we’re investing so much into our facilities is to make sure that as we grow we keep high product quality consistent and keep up with the lead times that the building community demands,” says San Diego. “We also want to ensure safe working conditions. We’re very proud of the safety record we have in our factories.”