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Volume 7   Issue 5               May 2006

Looking Through Available Screens
More Customers are Looking for What They Can't See

Maybe it’s the doors and windows that get the most attention from homeowners, but it’s likely because these days the preferred screens are the ones that aren’t noticeable. More and more screen manufacturers are looking at options to keep their product from being noticed. These include a wood grain veneer that blends the screen frame with the window frame, retractable screens that can be removed from sight when not in use and even “invisible” screens that offer a less obstructed view than ever before. However, these options, and others—from components to new software—are definitely being noticed by screen manufacturers and are reflected in some of the new products below. 

GranDeur Swings into the Market
Elizabethville, Pa.-based RiteScreen has introduced its GranDeur swinging screen door. The hinged out-swing screen door features an ultra heavy-duty 4-inch-wide by 1 ¼-inch-thick extruded aluminum frame, with a wall thickness of 0.048 inches. The GranDeur can be used as a single or double out-swing application, according to information from the company. The door features a stylish mortise handle with a deadbolt lock, which is available in a choice of five finishes: black, white, brass, satin nickel or oil rubbed. 

A removable screen panel, with a choice of fiberglass or aluminum mesh, is one standard feature. Other features include two closers, four extruded hinges, an aluminum bottom expander with flexible vinyl sweep and a complete weatherstrip package. A removable tempered glass panel is optional. 


Aluminite Electronic Order Processing System Delivers
Aluminite, headquartered in Chehalis, Wash., has introduced an electronic order processing, manufacturing and delivery system for its door and window screens. The “Aluminite Advantage” ordering process begins with any common delimited text file, sent to the company via e-mail. The electronic files are merged into the ordering system, which reads all specifications. With a few clicks of a mouse, order processors create the files that guide the manufacturing, packing, shipping and billing of each customer order, including line cut sheets, pricing details, customized labels, packing lists and billing information.

Operators insert screen frames into Tiger Stop saws that read the data, adjusting automatically for each cut. Operators never need to touch the keyboard or adjust the machines. 

After frame cutting and assembly, the screens are labeled and packaged individually to exact customer specifications. The system allows screens to be manufactured and delivered in the order that they are needed rather than by size. This is important for window manufacturers serving the new construction industry. Finished screens are delivered directly to the customer’s manufacturing facility. The average turn-around time, according to a company news release, is 48 hours, with same-day delivery available for special circumstances. 


Roll-Away Screen Doors Disappear When Unused 
The R. Lang Co. of Visalia, Calif., is offering the Roll-Away screen door, which can be rolled out of the housing when the main door is open and rolled back in away from dirt, damage and view when the main door is closed. According to the company, because the Roll-Away screens are not continually exposed to the elements, they can outlast fixed screen doors by years. 

All of the frame components are extrusions with baked on thermal setting polyester enamel finish. Smooth guiding adjustable roller guides lock in place. A specially formulated charcoal fiberglass screening ensures full ventilation without tearing or sagging. The door also features a new Magnalock™ seal on the Roll-Away exterior handle, designed to keep the screen door securely closed.

The door has a low profile designed to blends with existing doors, with a spring system and impact bumper intended to provide trouble-free operation. The screen door is available in six colors. 


Corner Key Features Three Uses
Magnolia Metal and Plastic Products Inc. of Vicksburg, Miss., is offering a newly patented external or partially internal screen frame corner key that, according to a company news release, combines three necessary components. The corner is also to be used a pull/lift tab, and a safety warning is printed directly on the pull/lift tab. 

According to information from the company, the safety warning/ tab corner allows for increased productivity and lowered inventory, since manufacturers will not need to place rolls of adhesive safety warning label and secondary application pull/lift tabs. The corner can be inverted for top of screen application if need be. 


Fiberglass Insect Screen Offer Translucence 
Fiberlink Inc. of Toronto offers a fiberglass insect screen for windows, doors and patio doors to allow airflow but resist insects.

The screen is constructed of vinyl-coated fiberglass yarns which the company says gives the screen low-maintenance features and a translucent appearance. The fiberglass screen is also durable and corrosion-resistant. According to information from the company, the fiberglass screen offers good ventilation, high color stability and stable dimension. It is available in a choice of several mesh sizes, widths and colors. 


LCS Precision Locks in Corner Keys
LCS Precision Molding of Waterville, Minn., is offering “locking” screen corner keys as a solution to improve the manufacturing process. A locking screen corner key can be inserted into an extrusion and, once inserted, will not allow removal of the corner key. According to information from the company, locking screen corner keys eliminate the need to screw or stake corners. 

The company offers a custom design around an existing extrusion or an adaptation of an existing locking corner key.


Phantom Screens Stay Out of Sight
The newest addition to Phantom Screens of Abbotsford, British Columbia, is the retractable Serene Screen for windows. The exclusive mesh retention system built into this product prevents the mesh from “blowing out” of the track. According to the company, this screening solution can be adapted easily to fit a variety of window applications including, push out, tilt and turn and sliding windows where a conventional screen application may not be an option. 

These retractable screens retract out of sight when not in use. The professionally-installed screens can be customized to fit almost any application for both standard and oversized openings. Backed by a lifetime warranty, these screens offer full ventilation, shading from the sun and harmful UV rays, protection from pests and enhanced privacy. 

The company says all of its screens are available with extensive mesh options, from simple insect protection to complete block out, and a limitless number of colors and Decoral® wood grains through its Custom Coatings program. 


Near Invisible is the Goal for New Genius Screens
Genius Retractable Screens of Northport, Ala., has introduced a retractable screen door specifically for vinyl gliding patio doors. According to company information, this is the first retractable screen designed specifically for use on vinyl/composite gliding doors. The vinyl sliding door screens feature a low-profile cassette for a nearly invisible appearance. Snap-in-place vinyl glide rails virtually disappear once installed, to look like part of the original door design. In addition, there is no bottom rail to trip over. 

The company has also introduced the Sheer Screen retractable screen. This design uses a pleated screen. The low-profile bottom glide rail is nearly flat at 1/8-inch tall, making it suitable for handicapped access. According to information from the company, the screen returns smoothly without spring action and may be stopped at any desired position. In addition, the Sheer Screen is designed for openings as wide as twenty-eight feet, and a maximum of three panels per opening.


New Wood Screens Match Custom Casements 
JELD-WEN of Klamath Falls, Ore., has introduced new wood screens for its Custom Wood casement windows. The wood screens are designed to blend smoothly with the profiles of custom casement windows, including radius-style. 

The new screens are available in pine, vertical-grain Douglas fir, mahogany and Pacific Coast red alder, allowing builders and homeowners to match wood finishes with the Custom Wood windows. Wood—and aluminum—window screens are made of durable charcoal fiberglass screen cloth with an 18-by-16 dent-resistant mesh. In addition, the screens are designed to be interchangeable and can easily be removed, according to information from the company. 


Screens In Demand
"Disappearing" Screens Among New Trends Now Appearing
by Megan Headley

Door and window manufacturers are picking up on the demands of consumers and taking advantage of new technology to push new trends in the screen industry. 

The first trend that comes to mind for Chad Kegans, vice president of sales for Aluminite of Chehalis, Wash., is a push toward invisible screens. He says that several window manufacturers have asked him for information about incorporating an invisible screen into their products. 

“The outside diameter of the fibers in the cloth is actually smaller and, consequently, they have to be stronger so they don’t break,” Kegans explains. 

Indeed, making screens that can’t be seen, or which can be removed when the door or window is shut, is in demand. 

“The most important trend in the screen industry is the shift in consumer demand away from the traditional flat screen and toward the retractable screen,” says Randy Deering, senior vice president of Genius Retractable Screen Systems. “More and more manufacturers are finding that they must offer a retractable screen because of the strong consumer demand for this feature. This is really a grassroots effort by the consumer. As consumers are becoming aware of the retractable screen (and the features and benefits), they are the ones who are driving the OEM’s in this direction. In effect, they are demanding that the OEM offer the option or they are going elsewhere.”

Mesh retention systems in retractable screens are an important part of that growth. According to Meagan King, technical communications coordinator with Phantom Manufacturing Intl. Ltd. of Abbotsford, B.C., retractable screens are known to blow easily out of their tracks. Meagan King describes the system from Phantom as small brushes on either side of the track, which impale the mesh when the wind begins to blow, keeping the mesh from blowing out of the tracks. 

Another way that screens are “disappearing” is by blending into the door or window frame. Meagan King says that custom color matching is another big trend in the industry.

“There are quite a few manufacturers right now custom-matching,” says Meagan King.

In addition to being able to offer a line of colors that can match a screen to the window frame as well as the home’s interior, Meagan King says that a relatively new powder coating technique, which can create the appearance of wood grain on screens, is going to “explode” in the future. Since the technology comes from Italy, many manufacturers are still learning about the technique, but it’s beginning to be something consumers are looking for. 
RiteScreen Co. of Elizabethville, Pa., is also looking to imitate a wood grain on its aluminum screen frames. 

“One of the things that we’re getting into for new products is wood veneered wrap frames,” says Kelly King, national sales and marketing manager for RiteScreen.

She says that more of her company’s aluminum screen frames are being wrapped with a stainable wood veneer that is adhered to the frame.

Casement windows are the main product for which consumers are demanding wrapped screens.

“A lot of times when they have a wood casement, people don’t want to see a white screen or almond frame. That’s one of the trends that we’re picking up on,” she says. 

In addition to appearance, customers are also looking for a screen that can do more for them, manufacturers say. 

There’s a big push with the oversize screens toward home automation, according to Meagan King. 

“[Consumers] are now integrating them into home automation systems,” she says. “So basically they’ll be able to control the screens from anywhere in the house.” 

“Another trend is the growing demand for solar control screening fabrics.

There are many new screen fabrics that perform wonderfully, controlling solar heat gain and glare and filtering unwanted UV rays,” Deering says.

“More and more consumers are becoming aware of the benefits of solar control screening fabrics and they are using these materials in retrofit applications. As the demand for these products increases the more progressive OEM’s will recognize the marketing opportunities of these products.”

As far as the actual manufacturing process, not everyone is convinced that new technologies are affecting the industry. 

“There are a couple of different technologies out there for making screens, but I’d say about 95 percent of us are still doing them manually,” Kelly King says. 

One thing that screen manufacturers are just beginning to see, says Meagan King, is mesh welding—where the screen is heated up and the pieces are melted together instead of being sewn. The problem with sewing the mesh, she says, is there has to be the same tension on both pieces, otherwise one piece will stretch and the other will stay the same size, leading to a ripple effect. Welding is also useful in that the seams are less visible. Although it’s primarily being seen in the oversized screen applications, she says it can be found in some of the door products now as well. 

“It’s just starting to pop up now,” Meagan King says. 

Another technology finding its way into the screen manufacturing business is new software. RiteScreen, like some other companies, offers software for electronic ordering for window screens. 

“That’s saving some manual work internally,” says Kelly King.

Kegan mentions the same benefit in working with the Aluminte Advantage, a software used by the company (see Aluminite Electronic Order Processing System Delivers, page 56. )

“It cuts down on the lead times, and we deliver the products sometimes in less than 48 hours,” says Kegans. 

And Kelly King has noticed a new trend in service. She has noticed that more screens manufacturers are delivering their product to window manufacturers as needed, rather than delivering house packs of screens to the manufacturer or builder. 

“Window manufacturers used to stock screens on their floor,” Kelly King says. “Nowadays there’s a secondary process called sequenced window screens and you deliver [screens] as they’re needed and in the order of when they’re needed.”

“When window [companies] manufacture windows, they manufacture them in the order that their production dictates,” Kegans says. 

Sequencing in screens allows screen manufacturers to provide the same service to window manufacturers. 

Now it’s a matter of waiting to see whether these trends catch on and remain a part of the screen manufacturing industry or are replaced by next year’s fads. 

Megan Headley is an assistant editor of DWM Magazine.

© Copyright 2006 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.