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Supplement, November 2000



Promoting the Benefits of Aluminum


In recent years, aluminum—a traditional material of choice for many construction products—has lost significant market share to other materials. Proponents of competing materials have been very successful in lobbying government-supported energy code and specification bodies, such as the National Fenestration Rating Council, an effort that has proven detrimental to aluminum’s market share. Suppliers and manufacturers of these other materials are well-funded and organized in their marketing efforts. These companies have done a good job telling their story, sometimes at the expense of aluminum fenestration products.

But in reality, all fenestration materials have benefits, including aluminum. That’s what creates a competitive marketplace. The important thing is to educate industry professionals about the benefits of aluminum so they can make informed decisions. And this education is the responsibility of aluminum producers, extruders, suppliers and product manufacturers. As an employee of an aluminum window manufacturer, I recognize that aluminum producers have been absent from the scene with respect to marketing, promoting and lobbying. For aluminum, the past efforts of some have been fragmented and feeble at best. We cannot afford to stand by as our businesses continue to erode and jobs are lost. It is time to make a change and that change must happen now.

 Aluminum Materials Council

In the spring of 1998, the American Architectural Manufacturers Assoc-iation (AAMA) approved the formation of the Aluminum Materials Council (AMC), which functions as one of nine primary product and material councils within the AAMA organization. This development provided an excellent forum from which aluminum companies could launch a unified effort encouraging the use of aluminum products. Under the direction of the AMC, several committees and task groups have been formed to address technical, legislative, code and marketing issues. We are appealing to all who have a stake in the future success of aluminum in fenestration products for support of the AMC efforts. Your participation in upcoming AAMA meetings will provide a meaningful contribution and help turn the aluminum market trend around.

Overall, the AMC is dedicated to promoting aluminum as the preferred material based on the many benefits it provides in the manufacturing of fenestration products. The council is determined to act as a resource, providing information about the use of aluminum in the fenestration and related building products industry. It also acts as a provider of technical, regulatory, legislative, marketing and certification support to ensure that the appropriate standards are established, maintained and communicated for the benefit of the users and suppliers of aluminum products. Furthermore, the council works to report and promote the interests of AMC members by establishing and distributing marketing materials for the education of architects, specification writers, builders, homeowners and consumers on aluminum

Aluminum offers many benefits. It is energy-efficient, lightweight, strong, accepting of virtually any color and capable of being extruded into any shape or design. These are all points that the AMC marketing steering committee is working hard to make known. This committee supports the AMC by establishing and monitoring timely and effective marketing programs. For instance, under the leadership of chairman Brett Randall of TRACO, this group has funded, developed and placed ads portraying aluminum as a viable material for construction. In addition, an educational presentation designed to communicate to architects and specification-writers the benefits of aluminum has been completed and will be used for the upcoming AAMA AIA/CES continuing education presentations.

Other key issues that the AMC is currently working on include thermal performance and deflection limit criteria of fenestration products for commercial construction. These issues are addressed through the volunteer efforts of AMC committee members—individuals representing aluminum companies just like yours. The technical steering committee offers support to the marketing steering committee by providing information and data that demonstrate aluminum’s attributes, therefore providing evidence proving that aluminum is an excellent material choice.

The AMC has also formed a legislative/codes committee, which reviews and monitors new and changing legislative acts and codes that may be punitive to aluminum products. The committee also reports to the AMC with its findings on issues of concern and with recommendations on how to communicate these issues to all stakeholders. Soliciting and promoting a diverse membership for the AMC, to include aluminum producers and extruders along with component part suppliers and manufacturers is the responsibility of the AMC membership committee. Plus, this group also promotes and assures substantial attendance at AMC meetings.

Now is the time to get involved. Join AAMA, support the AMC and take a proactive position against the deteriorating market share of aluminum fenestration products.

For a full package regarding the AMC and how you can get involved contact me at Graham Architectural Products Inc. at 909/587-9700 or AAMA at 847/303-5664.

R.C. Goyal serves as director of business development for Graham Architectural Products, based in York, Pa. He also serves as first vice president of the AAMA Aluminum Materials Council.


Patio Covers, Sunrooms
and Solariums

by Jim Dibacco


For more than 40 years, patio covers, sunrooms and solariums have been constructed with extruded aluminum framing. The unique versatility of aluminum has enabled manufacturers and contractors to provide the homeowner with an attractive addition to his or her home, that is erected in a matter of days at an affordable price.

High consumer demand drove the industry to what it is today. The flexibility of constructing a room that meets the needs of an individual and enhances the existing architecture has created great popularity.

 Vinyl Versus Aluminum

This strong demand and growth has not gone unnoticed by competing materials, particularly vinyl. One might say vinyl extruders are licking their chops to take a bite out of aluminum’s market share.

The aluminum extrusion process is inherent to design flexibility, enabling production of complex profiles, while incurring low tooling costs. As an example, tooling for a typical aluminum window jamb would costs less than $1,000. The same profile would cost 40 to 50 times more to tool up for vinyl extrusions. Developing a room with aluminum gives a manufacturer the ability to design his own unique room rather than committing to a “vinyl room program” that is available to many different fabricators and contractors.

Because of aluminum’s inherent strength, it does not require any type of reinforcing as vinyl does. Its ideal machining characteristics enable tight tolerance fabrication, allowing parts to fit snugly and operate smoothly. Additionally, while some materials degrade or deform with time, sunlight, moisture or temperature changes, aluminum is well-known for maintaining its structural integrity under all climatic conditions, so energy-saving features remain intact.

Aluminum is rated non-combustible on ASTM fire tests and resist flame spread under incendiary conditions, while vinyl outgases dangerous fumes when exposed to fire. Aluminum has played an important role in the evolution and growth of the formidable market. Why gamble and become a testing ground for another unproven material? Aluminum has proven to be an investment for a lifetime.  


Jim DiBacco serves as vice president of Astro Shapes. He is also a member of the Aluminum Extruders Council building and construction marketing committee.


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