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November - December 2003

AAMA Analysis
Carl Wagus


AAMA’s R & D Efforts
Ensuring That Window Technology Marches On
by Carl Wagus


The American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) is again leading window technology toward a new pinnacle of achievement. Following are some updates concerning our research and development efforts. 

Energy performance software leads to suite of advanced design tools. AAMA’s Aluminum Materials Council is working with a consultant to develop software that aids designers in customizing a fenestration system to meet specific thermal performance targets or to predict performance of such a system based on building details. Work is now progressing to combine this capability with structural and glass information to develop a suite of programs that will integrate thermal, structural and glass considerations to optimize project-specific glazing systems.

Insulating Glass
Insulating glass (IG) gas retention methods are compiled. AAMA’s Glass Materials Council (GMC) is developing a technical paper—potentially a design guide—to capture industry best practices, including work done by the Insulating Glass Manufacturers Association, for the design of IG units to ensure reliable retention of insulating gas.

The insulating glass durability study will yield predictive design tools. The GMC is also supporting a research program dealing with seal failure in insulating glass. Funded by DOE, the program is working toward a predictive model, by which a manufacturer could use sealant performance information to predict durability in the environmental conditions of the intended installation site. 

In the first phase of the effort, Failure Mode and Effects Analysis and Event Tree Analysis techniques were applied to several different types of IG designs. Environmental stress factors were quantified and translated into seal stress. Their effects on primary seal strength properties were analyzed to determine if and when failure occurs.

In the second phase of the study, data from phase one will be used to develop predictive durability design tools and develop accelerated life-testing protocols.

Door Standard
New side-hinged entry door standard accommodates real-world leakage parameters. The Wood and Cellulosic Composites Materials Council of AAMA has developed a new performance standard for side-hinged entry doors for incorporation into the new 101/I.S.2/A440. 

The first all-encompassing standard for rating such products, it introduces an allowable “limited water” exception for side-hinged door systems in terms of real-world water leakage performance where rain impacts the door but is not driven inside under a significant pressure differential. Other associated testing requirements (open-close cycle testing, hardware water testing, vertical load testing and forced entry resistance testing) are included.

Vinyl Windows
Effects of heat build-up in vinyl window frames is quantified. Given the surging popularity of darker colors for vinyl window profiles, which absorb solar heat more readily, AAMA’s Vinyl Materials Council undertook a study to quantify the extent of the resulting distortion due to such heating.

Results indicate that, while most vinyl profiles indeed get hot, they do not warp or distort. For the few that did experience such effects, the problems were related to the shape of the profile rather than the nature of the material. The researchers were able to isolate the design factors and techniques that will avoid such shapes and thus prevent instances of excessive heating.

This is just a snapshot of part of the spectrum of what’s going on in fenestration research and development today. Not only is it exciting to those of us in the trade, it is absolutely necessary if we are to stay ahead of the curve in dealing with the challenges of energy efficiency, environmental compatibility, structural performance and durability which seem to ratchet up a tick almost daily. 

Carl Wagus serves as technical director for the American Architectural Manufacturers Association in Schaumburg, Ill. 


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