Volume 8, Issue 7 - July/August 2007

AAMA Analysis

For Window Profile Performance, Accept No Substitutes
by Dean Lewis

Last month, we discussed how a credible certification program for doors, windows and skylights must go beyond testing and labeling of completed fenestration units to encompass verification of the performance of key components—operating hardware, weatherstripping, sealants, paint applicators and other installation products. As a prerequisite for their use in products that bear the AAMA Certification Gold Label (i.e., some 60 percent of the windows sold in the United States), such components must qualify through independent testing for inclusion in the AAMA Verified Components List (VCL).

But, another critical element for products framed with any of today’s array of advanced thermoplastic materials is the AAMA Profile Certification Program.

A 15-Year Milestone
AAMA Profile Certification, celebrating its fifteenth year this August, began with vinyl window profile extrusions. AAMA 303-07, Voluntary Specification for Rigid Poly (Vinyl Chloride) (PVC) Exterior Profiles establishes minimum requirements for dimensional stability, impact resistance, weatherability, heat resistance, weight tolerance, heat build-up and lead content, as verified by independent laboratory testing of samples randomly selected by the AAMA inspector at the profile producer’s plant.

Selected profile samples also are sent to weather test sites at high-ultraviolet locations in Florida and Arizona and an industrial location in Ohio for 6-, 12-, and 24-month outdoor exposure tests. When laboratory and 12-month weathering performance tests are complete, products that pass then may bear the AAMA Profile Certification Label.

Profiles made of other materials also can be certified under this program: ASA or PVC-capped ABS (AAMA 304), fiberglass pultrusions (AAMA 305), reinforced thermoplastic extrusions (AAMA 310), cellular PVC (AAMA 308) and cellulosic composites (AAMA 311). As additional industry-consensus performance standards are written for new materials within the highly evolved AAMA process, the program can accommodate them readily, too.

The Importance of Third-Party Certification 
But, AAMA profile certification program participants are only halfway home when they demonstrate that their products meet the applicable material standard. They also must maintain a Quality Control Manual documenting the procedures used to ensure on-going conformance. In addition, at least two unannounced third-party inspections of the profile producer’s plant are conducted annually to determine continued compliance. More samples are selected for repeated laboratory tests and, once annually, for additional weathering tests.

Some profile producers “self-certify” by having samples of their choosing tested for conformance to an appropriate AAMA 300-series profile standard. Profile certification programs sponsored by other industry groups follow this path. However, without the quality control parameters of the above-mentioned third-party selection of test samples, independent verification of test results and follow-up surprise inspections to verify on-going product compliance, such programs deserve little credibility among knowledgeable specifiers.

What’s in it for Profile Producers and Window Manufacturers?
Profile certification qualifies profile producers as a resource for window manufacturers and makes the manufacturer’s job easier by offering a ready-made approved supplier list for profiles for the completed, assembled products it intends to certify.

AAMA’s online Profile Certification Program directory today lists a total of 68 current participating plants, operated by 50 different companies, who produce 12,600 different profiles.

AAMA Profile Certification, together with the VCL, represents an interlocked, third-party-validated quality assurance program with a proven track record of 15 years of credible “consumer protection.” 

Dean Lewis is the certification manager for the American Architectural Manufacturers Association in Schaumburg, Ill. He may be reached at dlewis@aamanet.org. Mr. Lewis’s opinions are solely his own and not necessarily those of this magazine.


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