Golden days for the Steel Window Association
It was back in 1967 during the “Summer of Love” that the Steel Window Association was born after a breakaway from the Metal Window Federation; now 50 years later, the group remains an absolutely vital tool for the UK’s steel window industry which collectively upholds the association’s constitution of establishing standards of quality and performance in collaboration with the British Standards Institution. This is no mean feat when you consider the need for exhaustive testing of various products in addition to the never-ending development of the product range to ensure compliance with the latest building regulations.
The Association has seen a sizeable shift in both its processes and product range since its conception 50 years ago when UK fabricators then produced large batches of standard metal windows; all manufactured in feet and inches and calculated from the structural opening sizes created by standard brick courses. In addition there were window frames from the small, medium and large range of universal window sections. Indeed, even 50 years ago, some manufacturers were employing the then recently-launched W20 range of profiles.
This new and exciting range of twenty individual sections, hence the title W20, was the first series of steel window profiles that incorporated a weather-strip groove. These profiles could also accommodate a double-glazed unit which many considered at the time to be nothing more than a passing fad! As the years rolled by, the Steel Window Association modified the bead to allow larger glass units to be glazed into the W20 sections. Currently, members employ (4:8:4) 16mm krypton gas-filled units to offer a building regulations-compliant, centre pane U-value of 1.2 W/m2 Deg K.
Even during their early years, W20 frames were galvanised to help banish the spectre of rust and, during its continued development over the last five decades, the Steel Window Association supported many advances including the application of polyester paint to coat the frames which, when properly maintained, can offer a life expectancy of some 25 years on the surface finish alone with the galvanised frame offering a near 80-year life expectancy.
At the end of the last century, the Association developed, tested and launched the evolutionary range of exclusive W40 profiles which offered continuity of style whilst accommodating double glass units up to 28mm thick. This system is exclusive to SWA members.
Today, the product range has been extended further with SWA exclusive W30, a WERS energy-rated B window which is ideal for both domestic and light commercial applications; plus a selection of tubular steel profiles suitable for large heavy duty doors, screens and curtain walls. The latest addition to the Association’s product range is a slim-line fully-thermally broken steel window system which still retains the elegant contours of its W20 predecessor.
The members of the Association look forward to the next 50 years as they continue to manufacture windows whose slender sight lines offer a lightness to the frames with an elegance that is impossible to match with the bulky profiles of alternative materials. A steel window’s characteristic strength provides a robust durability to survive not only hard knocks but also changing fashion; they outlive trends and have become a concept which lasts; all in addition to the barrier they can offer for security and fire resistance.