Digital engineering and testing

By Andy Holland, technical and marketing manager at Rapierstar.

Designing and manufacturing fit-for-purpose fasteners that deliver on their promise is a complicated business; from a fastener’s pull-out strength and driveability to its corrosion resistance and structural strength, its design has to tick multiple boxes in terms of performance, otherwise it could be the cause of a door or window failure, with potentially costly consequences.

New product development for fasteners has traditionally been a rather lengthy process, due to the need to test a number of physical samples in order to arrive at an end product ready to launch to market. In addition to a time cost, developing new products this way has also been relatively expensive too, which may in the past resulted in some system and hardware manufacturers thinking twice when considering a bespoke fastener for their products.

This is no longer the case thanks to digital technology. This has been key to many of the major advances that we have seen in hi-tech industries over the past two decades, particularly motor manufacturing and aerospace, and now it is the window and door sector that is benefiting.

Rapierstar is at the forefront of this technology by being one of the first companies of its kind to use the latest version of Solidworks advanced 3D engineering modelling CAD software. It is a technology that enables us to bring a mechanical fixing concept,which has origins dating back 400 years, well and truly into the 21st century.

Following the introduction of this technology by Rapierstar early last year, continuous investment is equipping our technical team with pioneering new ways of designing and testing fasteners. But you might ask: what’s in it for me?

Any window and door manufacturer supplying products to the new-build and commercial markets will already be familiar with the adoption of building information modelling –BIM for short – in building design. This approach to designing and constructing buildings uses the rapid advances in technology of recent decades to enable the creation and construction management of buildings in a virtual environment in great detail.

Being able to reliably assess and predict the performance of the combination of building materials and components through digital modelling within a proposed building design has given rise to a new way of working: digital engineering. And, this is exactly the same principle that forward-thinking product manufacturers like Rapierstar are adopting.

Digital engineering is transforming the way we can help customers develop better finished products. Digitisation in 3D enables advanced simulation to provide us with insights into physical screw behaviours, such as kinematics, dynamics, stress and deflection, on a complete window or door construction, with no need to make physical prototypes. This means we can ask the all-important ‘what if?’ questions and get some pretty reliable answers.

So, if you are manufacturing and/or installing windows and doors, choosing fasteners that have been digitally engineered ensures you have access to a reliable product that is among the best in its class.

For example, Rapierstar’s recently launched LFG fastener, which is designed to attach friction stays in casement windows, was developed using digital engineering. The result is a low-profile pan-head screw that reduces the likelihood of opening windows scraping, catching or sticking. So, by using the LFG, there is less likelihood of customer complaints or metal components failing after only a short period in-situ.

In addition to making improvements to more established types of fasteners, digital engineering will enable us to develop entirely new approaches to fastener technology; for example,improved self-drilling tips and thread forms with increased holding. This could result in new ways of assembling and installing windows and doors, making these processes quicker and safer while generating less waste and delivering a better-quality installation compared to today’s standards.