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Steen Ipsen's “Tied-Up” sculptures integrate ceramic parts with mass-coloured PVC strips linking them. They are unique in their use of both stoneware and long, multi-coloured PVC strips.

PVC Carpentry

How can the performance of window frames be improved both in terms of rigidity and insulation? AMCC may have found the answer with a brand new double-reinforced PVC carpentry. Leopold Franken, marketing & products manager at Altrya’s subsidiary, recently presented the new product to French magazine Batiactu.
AMCC, a branch of Altrya Group, recently unveiled a physically and thermally hardened PVC carpentry which can do without any reinforcement steel – a long time must-have which decreases thermal performances. The company’s secret lies in a coextruded foam which contributes to the product’s structural rigidity and insulation.
“We wanted to develop a more insulating PVC carpentry, available in white and various other colours. But our main objective was to do that while using a reinforcement system other than steel and maintaining the product’s airtightness over the long term,” explains Leopold Franken, marketing and products manager at AMCC. 
Bringing this idea to life was a real challenge for the company. “We had to think about improvements to the profiles themselves, which could only resist use-related deformations and wind pressure when being filled in part. The injection of polyurethane foam allows for better isolation but does not solve the rigidity issue and makes the recycling process more difficult.” 
One solution: coextrusion
The team finally coextruded a PVC-based foam along with the profile itself. “This eliminates the recycling issue, and the foam brings along rigidity and thermal performance,” says Franken. The foam fills the entire profile, adding structural performance and greater angles for a greater welding surface. “We also added fiberglass rods in the carpentry, which make coloured carpentries more rigid. With PVC foam in the openings, we finally obtained a structurally resistant carpentry, which performs well in terms of air penetration and has a good thermal coefficient.” The product, named “A80”, can be recycled using standard setups discriminating crushed fibres according to their density.
The research and development phase for the foam formulation required two years of hard work at the Alphacan extruder and is currently being evaluated by the French Scientific and Technical Centre for Building (CSTB). “In the meantime, we worked on the processing and welding and invested in a complete dedicated production line. Between six and twelve months were necessary, with an investment plan of EUR 11 million between 2011 and 2014. The expansion of our buildings in Châteauroux and the new production machines already cost EUR 7 million. The remaining EUR 4 million will be used for the automation of glass laying and the hardware”. This is a major change for the carpentry manufacturer which currently employs about 150 people on site and expects 25 new long term contracts by 2014. The new range of PVC carpentry, which the company started producing in the summer of 2012, now accounts for about 25% of sales.
A growing market
How will this product evolve over the coming years? “We will consider a larger choice of colours. Black and anthracite models work best for now and our main concern is to meet this existing demand. Taupe and rose champagne are also progressing, so the range of colours will continue to expand with increasingly resistant coatings”, says Leopold Franken. The estimated extra cost, of 10 to 15% for white carpentry, would come down to 5-10% for coloured carpentry which is usually more advanced from a technical point of view. 
“We are currently developing an additional central seal to make our carpentries compatible with the German label Passiv’Haus. It consists of an additional heat shield on the frame which brings the Uw down from 1.2 to 0.8 and comes with triple glazing and adapted laying,” the marketing manager concludes. With all these upcoming improvements, A80 undoubtedly has a bright future ahead.