Volume 7 Issue 2 February 2006
New Guidelines Enhance
Integrity of Welded Vinyl Corners
by Rich Walker
Extended research into the integrity of welded corners in vinyl windows concluded recently. As a result of these studies, a comprehensive resource has been published by the AAMA Vinyl Material Council titled, AAMA 320-05: General Guidelines for Troubleshooting Welded Vinyl Corners. This resource should help window manufacturers identify and correct the many factors that can affect the durability of welded corners, which range from ambient environment in the plant and manufacturing processes through post-manufacturing testing, packaging, shipping and installation practices. While information of this nature has been available in bits and pieces from welding equipment manufacturers, a single comprehensive document on the subject has never existed.
Specific quality issues identified at each step of the fabrication process resulted in the following recommendations:
Check outside dimensions and surfaces that will contact machine fixtures at multiple points against die drawings to ensure they are within accepted tolerances;
Check for moisture or contamination from debris; and
If cold, acclimatize the extrusions gradually to at least 59° Fahrenheit before processing.
Ambient Factory Conditions
Maintain factory temperature between 65° Fahrenheit and 70° Fahrenheit;
Keep voltage supplied to processing equipment at ± 10 percent of nominal;
Keep incoming compressed air dry and at a pressure between 87 and 116 psi; and
Keep storage areas clean.
Sawing and Processing
Verify dimensional tolerances of cut lengths and notches and that cut angles (typically 45° and 90°) are within ± 1/4° of the specification;
Prevent inaccurate length or angle dimensions that can cause weak welds by checking fixture surface for wear or damage, keeping the saw blade free of dust accumulation and properly clamping the material; and
Reject profiles that have burrs, chipping or burning of cut edges.
Verify quality of sawed parts before welding;
Check for proper seating in the welding fixture. Pieces should not move when weld pressure is applied;
Check that burn is even using a weld block or precision-measured reference line;
Verify squareness of the finished product by comparing diagonal dimensions;
Check visually for a uniform seam and evenly matched corners;
Perform a melt test to verify welder performance; and
Perform destructive tests at set intervals daily.
Ensure adequate cooling before cleaning;
Check scarfing knives for sharpness; and
Keep cleaning area free of debris and dust accumulation.
Assembly and Glazing
Avoid undue stress on welded corners by ensuring proper removal of weld seam material in the glazing pocket, observing proper setting block placement practices and avoiding sealant application too close to corner joints (so that expansion during curing will not add stress).
Warehousing and Shipping
Avoid heat build-up during shrink-wrapping;
Stack units vertically with adequate ventilation between them;
Utilize shipping blocks to protect corners from impact; and
Use air ride shipping trailers with climate control if warm weather is expected.
The guidelines provide details on how to implement these and other measures by identifying methods for inspection and offering solutions for quality issues.
Manufacturers experiencing weld integrity problems should review the entire production system when hunting down quality issues. Quite often, a quality issue shows up further down the production line. The cause of a detected problem may, in fact, be related to an earlier process or ambient conditions in the factory.
Last, but not least, windows should be installed according to InstallationMasters specifications. InstallationMasters, based on ASTM E 2112 installation protocols, is an independent program (originally developed by AAMA) that trains and certifies window installers in proper installation methods to minimize future field failures and callbacks. For more information, visit www.installationmastersusa.com.
The new guidelines were reviewed and approved by a wide mix of welding process and materials specialists, including equipment manufacturers, window manufacturers, vinyl extruders, test labs and other material suppliers.
For more information on AAMA 320-05, visit the Publications Store at www.aamanet.org.
Rich Walker serves as executive vice president for the American Architectural Manufacturers Association in Schaumburg, Ill. He may be reached at email@example.com.
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