January 27, 2023

How to design the right product

Deceuninck’s new aluminium flush casement window went through 49 design iterations before it was launched. Director Nigel Headford explains why.
Deceuninck Doors

When we launched in 2019, we hit the market with a desirable product that met future thermal requirements, was easy to install, and reduced stock holding – the Decalu88 Bi-Folding Door.

Since then, we have launched an entrance door, a lift and slide door, and windows for light commercial and high-end architectural applications – all of which benefit from the Decalu modular design and which encourage companies to buy into the Deceuninck Aluminium family.

A key attraction was the uniform appearance. Today’s market is dominated by homeowners specifying high-end products that suite across a whole project, and as a result, we always knew that we needed a casement window – we needed to be able to offer that full suite of products.

We launched first with the Decalu88 Bi-Folding Door because we knew that as a standalone product, it would help fabricators and installers win work, and the feedback we’ve got from the industry has been outstanding.

But we were coming up against some prospective customers who loved the Decalu88 Fi-Folding Door, the Decalu88 Entrance Door, and the Decalu163 Lift and Slide Door, but they weren’t ready to commit until we had a casement window in place – as part of that family.

So, we sat down with our R&D guys and got them to really understand what we needed – what our customers wanted, and what our customers’ customers wanted.

Having already worked closely with fabricators and installers, we knew they were sold on the ease of production, the pre-inserted gaskets and the glazing bead. But we still went through a long design period, coming up with 49 different variations of the product, before we came up with something that was flush/flush – flush on the inside, flush on the outside – and was easy to fabricate.

The hard one was thermal performance. How do we design an open-out casement window that performs to – and exceeds – the new regulations? And can we do a 400mm drop with an 88mm deep window?

This meant working with hardware manufacturers and other suppliers at a very, very early stage, to ensure that our window worked.

Another part of the design brief was to design just one window, which can go into newbuild and perform at one U-value, and go into refurbishment projects and perform at another U-value.

Traditionally, you would have a basic window design and add elements that would allow it to perform at a higher level. But we just decided to make a top-performing window, and if you needed to enhance it further, you could just change your glass specification.

That way, you don’t have to worry about what your window is costing you. You’ve got a simple cost base, and you don’t have to worry about getting additional parts, which fits our philosophy of reducing stock holding and making life simpler for both fabricators and installers.

The result is a headline U-value of 0.8W/m2K, achievable in a triple-glazed configuration. But – more importantly, in my opinion – it can achieve a U-value of 1.2W/m2K with a double-glazed unit with a centre pane U-value of 1.0W/m2K.

That means it will meet Part L requirements for new build, double-glazed. And with a ‘standard unit’ with a centre pane U-value of 1.2W/m2K it’s 1.4W/m2K, which meets Part L requirement for home improvement. 

Since our customers predominantly fabricate PVC products alongside aluminium, we wanted to incorporate a true PVC groove within our product, but we didn’t want a groove all the way around the frame. So, we designed a patented solution that allows you to expose the eurogroove when you need it but hides it when you don’t.

This means the window profile is flush on the outside, flush on the inside, and flush inside the window frame. I like to think we’ve turned up the design element to ‘11’ – giving them exactly what they wanted and a little bit more.

We knew that we were losing some business because we didn’t have an open-out casement window. Now, our customers have got a full suite of products that allows them to diversify into other marketplaces. Not only can they maintain their margins, but they can also actually grow their businesses with fresh opportunities.

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