Powder on Fiberglass: A Clear Choice for Durability

Posted on Wednesday, July 4, 2012

By Sharon Spielman

For half a century, Milgard Manufacturing, owned by Masco Corp. and located in Tacoma, Wash., has been designing and fabricating windows and doors. The company offers several different lines of windows and doors to their customers, each with its own unique features. In 2011, though, Milgard introduced its Essence™ Series wood windows and that same year was awarded a Crystal Achievement Award as the most innovative window by a large manufacturer. The Crystal Achievement Award program from Window & Door Magazine, a publication of the National Glass Association, honors significant innovations and achievements in window and door technology, manufacturing and marketing.

What makes the Essence line award-worthy? Among its many features is the durable exterior, which is made from powder coated fiberglass. Designed to meet the expectations of the wood window market, Essence Series combines the warmth and architectural beauty of natural, solid wood on the interior with the strong and durable exterior required for harsh environments. This durability is why Milgard says they can offer a full lifetime warranty with glass breakage coverage that includes parts and labor.

According to Keith Dashofy, product manager for Milgard, “Essence Series offers everything the industry has been waiting for in a wood window, and we couldn’t be happier with the final product.”

With more than 2,000 employees, the company has several plants located on the west coast. Milgard fabricates window and door products from several materials, offering aluminum, vinyl and fiberglass product lines. According to Mark Bamford, director of composites technology at Milgard, the company is known for innovative product features, and an industry leading lifetime warranty. He says the company also excels in the level of customer service that is offered on the products that it supplies.

When asked why Milgard chose powder coating for the exterior finish of its Essence line, Bamford told Powder Coated Tough that when the line was developed in 2009, the company wanted to create a product that would stand up to diverse market geographical conditions but also offer aesthetic appeal and color choices on tight lead times. Using a quick color change powder coating booth has allowed Milgard to offer a range of 15 colors on a tight time schedule.

About the Line

Milgard’s powder coating line is designed to coat products ranging from assembled frames and 16 foot lineals. The line is conveyer fed, and can run a single part or perform batch processing for their volume colors.

The line utilizes two overhead conveyer systems that carry the parts through the process. The Gema (www.gema.us) powder booth is highly automated with an array of 30 Gema guns in operation. “We also have system in the booth if required,” Bamford says. The system is a full recovery type of system. “The product passes through the line, is cured in a convection oven and exits the process in minutes,” Bamford says. Then the product is cooled to the point where it can be packaged straight off the line.

“The system has been up since 2009 and is in the same state as installed,” Bamford says. “We have two Gema Magic Centers and are considering moving to the new single unit system. The system is complex due to the small footprint requirement and the stringent health and safety requirements in our plants. It is more likely that we will place additional powder coating lines in locations like California, which is somewhat easier to do with a powder coat system than a wet coat system, from a permitting perspective.”

As soon as Milgard installed its powder coating line, they realized the benefits of association membership and joined The Powder Coating Institute.

“We plan to PCI certify as well,” Bamford says, “as soon as the options for fiberglass are developed. We do test to AAMA standards, and meet the quality assurance steps detailed in PCI’s technical bulletins.”

Sharon Spielman is editor of Powder Coated Tough magazine. She can be reached via email at sspielman@powdercoating.org.