Holding it all together
With more than 50 processes involved in the manufacture and supply of fasteners used every day in window and door manufacturing, there is more than meets the eye to the smallest components used by the industry. Andy Holland, technical & marketing manager at Rapierstar, explains more.
With the average cost of a window screw just £0.0081, you could be forgiven for thinking their tiny cost means these products are fairly inconsequential and they are all ‘much of a muchness’.
That couldn’t be further from the truth – what is often taken for granted is that Rapierstar fasteners are actually precision engineered components that play a crucial role in many areas of window and door manufacturing.
When Rapierstar started in the early 1990s, window and door fasteners were generally at one end of the scale or the other. Fabricators were faced with either using cheap but poor quality screws, or very expensive, over-engineered fasteners that made the cost of finished windows and doors needlessly high.
Hence why Rapierstar was founded by owner and current MD David Furness, who seized an opportunity to fill the gap, and today the majority of fabricators now choose the brand.
What criteria do window fasteners need to meet? Cost is one, of course. Here we have been able to keep costs to customers as low as possible because we have invested significant time and resources over 30 years to identify the right manufacturing partners in the Far East, and developed strong relationships with them.
Given the superior capabilities of manufacturers in China and Taiwan in particular, it is no surprise that these two countries produce over 50% of all the fasteners used in the global market, not just in fenestration.
But cost is only one of the factors that matter to fabricators. Fasteners must also be well designed and capable of creating a strong, reliable attachment or join to ensure the finished unit meets quality expectations, and that it is able to meet the most demanding performance standards.
This is why Rapierstar designs all screws using the latest digital technology here in the UK, ensuring the head, thread and tip are optimised for PVC-U profiles, metal reinforcement, timber and even the latest generation of plastic reinforcing materials that our sector is increasingly using.
We also have strict quality control procedures in place to make sure the fasteners being manufactured do ‘what it says on the tin’. That means working closely with factories to undertake checks throughout the manufacturing process and testing every batch arriving in the UK to ensure the products meet the specification.
Everything from the dimensions of the fasteners and their ductility, to the quality of coatings and resistance to corrosion is tested, as well as how well the screws insert into the materials they will be used with. Batch failures are rare, but doing these best practice tests ensures we are able to identify any potential issues before products are distributed to customers.
Fasteners that work effectively in the applications they are designed for also benefit fabricators in a number of other ways. Firstly, they ensure productivity and safety are maximised in the factory – and through Rapierstar’s supply chain expertise we are also able to make sure stocks of fasteners are available when they are needed.
But there are far more important ‘bigger picture’ benefits too. If a homeowner, tenant or commercial customer experiences an issue with a finished window or door, the root cause can often be traced back to the fastener.
Often the wrong type of screw or one that is not inserted correctly will result in hardware such as friction stays and door hinges becoming loose, which can make opening and closing a problem and usually results in a call-back or warranty claim.
Suddenly that 0.8 pence component can cost an installer a lot more in time and remedial work, not to mention the longer term reputational damage that may result when average or negative online reviews are posted.
To find out more about the important role of fasteners, training and technical support, as well as guidance on how to choose the right screws for your profile system or manufacturing processes, visit www.rapierstar.com