Readers’ Choice Awards 2020August 18th, 2021 by Nathan Hobbs
In a Year Like No Other, the Race Was Neck and Neck
From doors and windows to sealants and glass, each year [DWM]’s staff works to research and gather the industry’s best products to keep our pages—and our readers— refreshed. Come December, we compile products from every issue, packaging them into a survey to discover which our readers found most significant throughout the year. In 2020, with trade shows falling by the wayside, [DWM]’s editors aimed to make its survey more than just a questionnaire. With full-sized photos and product descriptions, the latest installment proved to be a showcase for the industry’s best, doubling as a “shopping” experience, while asking readers to weigh in.
In a year that’s destined for the history books, the race was tight—often separated by just a few votes. For machinery, not surprisingly, it was all about automation—designs and features that allow door and window makers to do more with fewer hands (while socially distanced). Meanwhile, wins for high-performance products and those with unique, thermal breaks point to renewed interests in energy efficiency. Lastly, the industry proved that it’s ready to focus on the days ahead, with innovations like door and window automations and doors that levitate along their tracks.
Without further ado, following are the top ranked products from 2020:
Doors – Slide/Fold
Sunview Leggera Glass Wall System
This year’s survey showed that Sunview’s Leggera Glass Wall System was a clear choice from 2020. According to readers, among the product’s most eye-catching features was the use of magnetic levitation for a rollerless, sliding (or gliding) design. Key benefits include no size limitations for panels, no rollers or sills and ADA compliance. “Using a magnetic operating system is very unique to the fenestration industry,” one reader commented.
Doors and Windows – New Designs/Features
Amid this year’s online shows, Veka previewed AluConnect—a complete reimagining of the aluminum window that officials say will first be available in Europe. With profiles that are produced to order, including powder coating and pre-installed gaskets, [DWM]’s readers valued the ability to assemble high-quality aluminum windows nearly as fast as PVC-U. Most fittings and connecting profiles used for PVC products can be used for AluConnect.
Doors and Windows – Series
United Window and Door 7400
With ¾-inch, warm-edge, insulating glass, readers said it was the ability of United’s 7400 Series to meet requirements across every climate zone that they found most enticing—ultimately earning the product nearly a third of all votes. It can’t hurt that the series comes with a lifetime, non-prorated warranty that covers both residential and commercial applications.
Doors and Windows – Thermal Control Features
Glenview Doors Euro Technology
What a year 2020 turned out to be for Glenview’s unique Euro Technology. In November, the company’s design netted a [DWM] Green Award. Weeks later, our readers tagged the company’s technology as a favorite thermal control feature.
Glenview’s hybrid design incorporates a top-layer of wood in order to provide the look and feel of solid-wood doors, while allowing for a rigid polystyrene core. In addition to U-values of less than 0.3, the company says these doors also weigh on average 20% less than their solid-wood counterparts, helping to conserve fuel for transport, also conserving wood. “Getting under 0.3 is admirable,” one reader said.
Equipment – Screening, Finishing, Misc.
Winpro Screen Express
With a full redesign, Winpro’s Screen Express answered the call in 2020 for hands-off automation. Fully automatic frame fixturing eliminates labor-intensive, manual processes. The unit handles assemblies up to 38 by 80 inches in size and can accommodate screen doors up to 48 by 96 inches.
When asked what makes the unit a standout, one reader felt the need to say no more than: “Thirty second cycle time.”
Equipment – Glass/Glass-Related
Erdman Automation One Operator U-Shaped IG Line
In the year of COVID-19, it comes as no surprise that nearly half of all respondents voted for a machine that, among other benefits, allows for greater automation and social distancing. Readers valued the machine’s ability to produce 2-foot by 3-foot insulating glass units (IGUs) with just one operator and 45-second cycle times.
“Automation that tackles the labor shortage = Brilliant!” exclaimed one reader.
Equipment – Cleaning, Cutting, Welding
Stürtz Fully Automated Welding and Cleaning Line
Stürtz grabbed the spotlight with a fully automated welding and cleaning line. Among the features readers found attractive is a newly designed, four-head CNC pass through cleaner. The company further enticed with a concept dubbed “See What I See,” for remote maintenance and troubleshooting.
Equipment – Forming, Machining, Pressing, Routing
Pertici by Stürtz P527 5 Axis Machining Center
Stürtz also struck a chord this year with [DWM]’s readers through a machine that’s designed to tackle numerous functions, including milling, drilling, routing, threading and cutting. Among the machine’s many features, readers said they value its ability to handle “many different materials,” including aluminum, steel, light alloys and PVC. www.stuertz.com
Equipment – Storage/Handling
Tube Lifters, Lifting Devices and Handheld Grabbers
In a category that ended in a tight race, Eurotech drew the most attention, partly due to “one-hand ergonomic control,” as one reader said. Among the products that netted attention in 2020 were two new versions of its eT-Lift tube lifter and the eT-Hover-univac, including a more compact and lightweight version with a two-circuit system and four suction plates. The company’s portable, electric vacuum handheld grabber, Nemo, can attach itself to virtually any surface, applying holding force of up to 375 lbs.
Glass, Frames, Treatments and Screens
Cardinal Glass Industries Quad LoE-452+
In a category that was packed with competitors, Cardinal’s glass snuck away with the win via a four-layer, silver coating. With nearly a third of the votes, the company’s glass produced a win for energy efficiency and specialized features, by blocking 99% of UV rays and providing a solar heat gain coefficient of 0.22. It also comes standard with Neat+, a feature that’s designed to keep glass clean. The product is said to repel 40% more dust than uncoated glass.
Tie: Films, Coatings, Colors and Finishes
1 Renolit Exofol FXTrue Acrylic/PVDF Film with Pitch Black
It doesn’t happen often, but this one ended in a dead tie. With recent trends toward dark colors, it comes as no surprise that Renolit’s Exofol FX with Pitch Black was a clear choice among readers. Officials say the product is the only true acrylic/PVDF film on the market and a number of new options appeared in 2020— including some of Renolit’s all-time popular colors and finishes, and a new, contemporary smooth-emboss.
2 Novatech Decorative Accents
Novatech proved that the industry had an appetite for something new in 2020 by snagging a win for several new options. The company introduced simple and bold stained-glass, sandblasted finish patterns and new additions to its Design Collection. The company’s decorative accents also turned up with improved design and quality via Alunox, which combines the look of brushed stainless steel with the advantages of aluminum.
Roto North America X-Drive Evolve OP08 Operators
This year’s survey proved to be a tight race in numerous categories, leaving [DWM]’s editors to implore every possible vote. Every reader could be a tie breaker and that was the case for Roto, as the company won hardware by a single vote. Ultimately it was the split-arm option for egress that readers said made the difference for this product. X-Drive Evolve OP08 Operators give window company’s a new option to offer for egress, while the increased length of its connect arm provides a better mechanical advantage for easier operation.
Hardware – Automated
A win for Caldwell’s Enginuity technology proved that the industry is ready to do more than just lock and unlock doors via automation; it’s also time to get them moving. A “no-touch COVID solution should be a hit,” one reader commented, while another said, “The voice command option is wonderful.”
Company officials say that by tying into home automation systems, the possibilities are endless for single-panel patio sliders and slider or hung windows. The system is also an effective solution for meeting ADA requirements.
Hardware – Components for Big Doors & Windows
AmesburyTruth Heavy Duty Hinge and Heavy Duty Encore Operator
Every year, doors and windows grow larger. The year 2020 was no different, and that must have been the edge for AmesburyTruth’s Heavy Duty Hinge and Heavy Duty Encore Operator. The company’s Max Casement system is engineered for weight-carrying capabilities—including support and operation for sashes of up to 140 lbs.
Hardware – Finishes
Nostalgic Warehouse Brass Doorknobs and Hardware
Who’d have thought that in the year of COVID-19, an age-old material would offer up a solution? But that’s exactly the angle that worked for Nostalgic Warehouse in 2020, leaving readers to cite “the ability to neutralize certain viruses” as a key factor.
According to the company, copper and copper alloys were recently registered as the first solid, antimicrobial material, while brass and bronze pose a natural ability to kill certain viruses on contact.
Hope’s Jamestown175 Series
Hope’s enticed readers’ votes in 2020 by announcing that its Jamestown175 Series pivot doors were certified for use within hurricane and impact zones. Doors adhere to Miami-Dade County, Florida Building Code (FBC) and High Velocity Hurricane Zone (HVHZ) standards, including 6-foot by 11-foot single panels.
Parts and Components – General
Great Plains Pultrusions Ready-to-Assemble Fiberglass Entry Door Components
It was an overwhelming victory for Great Plains Pultrusions in this category. The primary allure, as it turns out, was the ability to offer a top-to-bottom, complete fiberglass entry door system. The company offers ready-to-assemble components that allow door and window manufacturers and millwork suppliers to offer true, all-fiberglass systems. All products are cut and routed on precision CNC equipment.
Parts and Components – Glass/Windows
Technoform Spacer M
Readers said it was the ability to cold bend Technoform’s new Spacer M that lured them to the product. A hybrid composition of engineered thermoplastic and low-conductivity stainless steel is available with wire for high-profile rigidity in medium to large frames, or with no wire, for flexibility that’s suited to radius shapes and bent frames. Both versions have a no-glare, smooth matte finish.
Ultrafab Ultra Cell Micro-Cellular Foam Seals
In addition to their long-lasting compression set resistance and predictable performance amid low-force closing, readers said a full spectrum of colors also made the difference for Ultrafab’s Ultra Cell Micro-Cellular Foam Seals. You should expect those colors to last, officials say, as the microcellular foam used in its products is made of UV-stabilized materials for long-term weatherability and color stability that doesn’t absorb water.
As remote work became the norm in 2020, voters picked software that allows numerous systems to connect by “speaking the same language.” FENml combines data from users’ enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems directly with the machines on the shop floor, also allowing them to leverage historical data to make automatic decisions during production planning.
EDTM Low-E Coating and Edge
With the votes in, it’s safe to say that EDTM made a rock star out of its latest detector this year—even nicknaming it The Edge (like the Hall of Fame rock guitarist). The ergonomic tool is designed for use in window manufacturing and as a glass processing instrument, where it can be used for testing single panes of low-E glass. Tests can be conducted from center of glass, as well as for edge deletion around perimeters.
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