Conquering the French insulated glazing market with its innovative Warm Edge range:

Owned by a North American group of building products companies, Edgetech tells us about its experience of CSTB assessment as the basis for establishing the quality of its Warm Edge products in the French insulated glazing market. This manufacturer of flexible Warm Edge spacers has been submitting its Super Spacer range of products for assessment for ten years now. Today, their high thermal performance is widely recognized in the warm edge glazing market. Michel Viguerie is the person responsible for assessment at Edgetech.

When did Edgetech begin the assessment process for its Super Spacer products?

Michel Viguerie: Edgetech was founded in the USA in 1989, expanded into Europe in 1996, and arrived in France in 2004. At that time, its Super Spacer products complied with the new European standards, but that wasn't enough. "Cekal certification is more demanding than the European standard, so you need to have that, if you're going to meet the needs of the French market": that's what we were being told by French insulated glazing manufacturers.

So having taken that on board, I came to the CSTB. Gérard Delsahut, Head of the Glazing and Windows Department, helped me to gain a clearer understanding of the French insulated glazing market. He also guided me through the process to obtain our first Technical Assessment, followed by Cekal certification for the Super Spacer Premium, which was the first Warm Edge product launched by Edgetech in France.

Our involvement in the assessment and certification process seemed hard work at times, but it was also extremely interesting and essential. Edgetech really benefited from that, and has continued the process over the last ten years for all its Super Spacer product ranges.

What precisely do you as a company get out of your commitment to assessment and certification?

Michel Viguerie: The Technical Assessment (or Technical Application Document) evaluates the quality and durability of products, and is accepted by insurers as the basis for providing a 10-year warranty. Better still, it gives our new products credibility amongst window specifiers. The Technical Assessment or Technical Application Document (DTA) is also a necessary precondition for requesting the Cekal certification that promotes high-quality glazing in the French market, and sets it apart from competitor products from other parts of the world.

We needed these 10-year warranties at a time when our potential customers in the market were not familiar with warm edge technology, and had yet to become confident about this innovation. The ability to provide them with a favorable Technical Assessment and Cekal certification was even more important when they themselves had to comply with increasingly demanding energy performance standards for buildings, as a result of changing thermal regulations, energy savings targets and higher expectations in terms of resident comfort.

So it was thanks to these Technical Assessments and Cekal certification that our Super Spacer products (see visuals) gained credibility amongst specifiers and users. Over the past five years, our Warm Edge spaces have become the product to use in the French insulated glazing market. We are also seeing that our European Warm Edge window manufacturing customers are using the Technical Assessment and Cekal certification as a mark of quality to enter the French market, and for French companies to expand into the wider Europe.

Where does Edgetech go from here in terms of its growth?

Michel Viguerie: Edgetech is now part of the North American Quanex building products group, which is committed to research projects focused on the development of high-quality innovative products. These projects are designed to respond effectively to the energy and environmental challenges faced by the construction industry worldwide. As a result, Edgetech will be expanding into new Warm Edge spacers for use in double and triple glazing.

So to offer these products in the French market, we will be embarking on new assessment processes, and will therefore be relying on the active cooperation of the CSTB. The assessment pathway can be demanding, but it is very much a positive investment. We have really enjoyed working with the CSTB on these assessments over the past ten years. We also appreciate being supported in our commitments to secure recognition of our innovations, and look forward to continuing doing so.