GlassBuild America got off to a spooky start Tuesday, as exhibitors leaned into the event’s overlap with Halloween. Quanex used the occasion for a pre-show reveal of its new Meshtec security screens, introduced by none other than Freddy Krueger. The character choice (replete with bladed glove) was fitting for a cut- and puncture-proof product. With a five-point locking system and frame that withstands impacts and prevents lifting, the company’s screens are capable of withstanding repeated impacts from a baseball bat, said Adam Wilson, vice president of product development.

“They’ve been using these in Australia for 20 years now,” Wilson said. “More than 70% of homes already have them.”

Quanex debuted a new security screen by leaning on the character (and claws) of Freddy Krueger.

In Australia, homeowners found a purpose for security screens that goes beyond their original intent: their ability to deflect and prevent embers from nearby wildfires, keeping them from entering a home. Though the materials are different, the concept overlaps with another of the company’s product segments—fireplace screens.

A version that’s designed to prevent damage from pets includes the same Meshtec screen material, minus the five-point locking system for security.

Screens are a prevalent topic at this year’s show, with a number of companies debuting new concepts for products and machinery. Winpro demonstrated its Screen Express SS—a machine that produces a standard window screen in as little as 18 seconds. With labor issues that persist after COVID-19, hand assembly is difficult to accommodate, suggested Charlie Burgess, the company’s sales and application engineer.

“Screens are the bane of the window industry,” Burgess suggested. For that reason, companies often look to automate or outsource their production. Among his company’s biggest customers is Quanex, which uses Screen Express to produce as many as 1,200 screens per shift, Burgess said.

Erdman Automation Corp. and FlexScreen teamed up this year, co-hosting a booth to show off a new manufacturing line that produces FlexScreen’s proprietary screens at a rate of one per every 13 seconds. That’s two seconds faster than what FlexScreen inventor and president Joe Altieri challenged Erdman to accomplish, when the company agreed to develop its machinery. The machine on hand was headed to PGT Innovations in Florida—one of the latest companies to license FlexScreen and purchase Erdman’s equipment for in-house production. After debuting the option earlier this year, a total of 23 window manufacturers have signed on for licensing, Altieri said.

“The partnership with Erdman has pulled us probably five to six years ahead of where we would otherwise be,” he said.

Leaning into the occasion, companies decorated their booths for Halloween.

The machinery took about a year to develop, said Morgan Donohue, Erdman’s owner and president. Donohue’s company produces the line at a rate of one machine per month, he said.

Door component manufacturer NovaPlastech debuted another screen concept at the show, introducing a concealed system for its sliding- and French-style doors that builds a bottom track as the screen is pulled into place. The track design resembles a plastic bike chain. The system folds links into place, concealing them in a hollow extrusion, laying down the track as the screen is extracted.

Another option that’s found its way to sliding doors includes a soft-close feature that resembles those found on kitchen cabinets.

NovaPlastech’s retractable screen includes a soft-close function completing the final phase of closing. CRL demonstrated a similar feature for its sliding glass doors and room partitions—many of which are migrating from commercial projects to residential homes, said Mirjana Komadina, the company’s vice president of product design and development.

“In higher-end homes, people want to see into certain spaces, like wine rooms,” Komadina said. For this reason, architects and designers are utilizing exterior doors with insulating glass for conditioned interior rooms and spaces. Other uses include office areas where sound insulation is desired for work-from-home arrangements. A proprietary hardware system retracts a bottom seal when CRL’s door is open, lowering it into place when doors are latched shut.

With 10- and 12-foot doors on display, “I always say, everything keeps getting bigger,” Komadina said. But the industry is approaching its limits, she suggested. For now, the focus is on engineering narrow stiles and rails for maximizing glass.

GlassBuild runs through Thursday, November 2. Watch for additional coverage on social media and in [DWM]’s newsletter.

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