Steel bounces back
By Ian Latimer, managing director of Emmegi (UK).
Towards the end of 2020 and already in 2021, Emmegi (UK) is seeing a real increase in enquiries from manufacturers of steel windows and doors. The numbers are relatively small of course because this is such a niche sector of the market, but there is a growing trend for investment in our specialist saws and machining centres driven, I think, by social as well as design trends.
Anecdotally, we hear that much of the new demand for steel entrance doors is coming from customers who want the ultimate security protection. That includes both wealthy homeowners alarmed by recent high profile aggravated burglaries and local authorities looking to protect tenants and service users in high crime areas. There is also continuing demand for steel fire-rated doors, particularly in the wake of the ongoing uncertainty around the alternatives post Grenfell.
Steel windows have always been more common in the south of England; in Art Deco style buildings and traditional 1930s suburban semis, and that part of the market remains fairly robust. Where things are really increasing though is in high-end new builds and refurbishments where buyers are choosing the slim sightlines of steel for bespoke screen assemblies incorporating both windows and doors.
Our customers tell us that they are also benefiting from the growing trend towards ‘broken plan’ rather than ‘open plan’ living, which essentially means using glazed steel screens to divide larger living spaces. This has long been a feature of the commercial office environment obviously and we are the key machinery supplier to Optima Facades which specialises in this partitioning market, but it is now working its way into the domestic arena as well.
Emmegi (UK) offers what we think is the ideal package of machinery for steel window and door fabrication in the form of our Twin Ferro double mitre saw and Phantomatic T3Star four-axis machining centre. Competitively priced and with compatible software that can accommodate bar code scanning, it’s an easily scalable solution for fabricators of almost any size.
This is the combination we supplied to Robust-UK a few years ago for its Glas-Dor branded steel profile glazed doors using the Swedish Stalprofil steel sections. More recently, we supplied a Twin Ferro, and no fewer than three T3 Stars, to Premier Security and Fire Consultants in Ilford, Essex for its range of steel security and fire doors, and we are lining up to supply the same machines to two additional steel fabricators during the course of this year.
The Twin Ferro double mitre saw features a horizontal blade feed and electronic cutting heads, which can be programmed to move automatically on recirculating ball guides. Both cutting heads can be set at 45° and 135° on the horizontal X-axis, including intermediate angle setting, with an accuracy on each degree of 240 positions. The saw can be used with particularly short workpieces if required, because the movable cutting head works as an automatic positioning unit.
The accompanying Phantomatic T3 Star, with a choice of four or eight-piece tool magazine, can machine steel pieces up to 3mm thick. Users can work at any angle from -90° to +90° to provide maximum flexibility.
The big advantage for customers, and part of the reason why they are fast becoming the default option for steel fabricators, is that these machines are proven to work together. They also, of course, come in an affordable package with full installation, training and servicing support from our UK based team.