Joren Sits Down to Discuss Materials Science with Paul Adams, VP of Materials Innovation

Focusing on generating the highest-performing PVC materials for window and door extrusions.

Prioritizing sustainability.

Supporting the company’s global team of professionals.

For Deceuninck North America’s materials science department, these are the guiding principles.

I sat down with Paul Adams, who has served as director of materials research and development for 12 years and now serves in a global role as vice president of materials innovation. Adams and his team conduct extensive research to create new formulas and advance the performance of extrusions used to create the windows and doors installed on millions of homes and buildings throughout North America.

The formulas his team creates must meet multiple criteria, be respectful of the environment, and be recyclable at the end of their life cycle. They serve as the backbone for window and door systems installed on countless structures. Therefore, once installed on a building, their performance needs to be second to none.

Q: How has climate change affected the formulation of PVC compounds here at Deceuninck

A: Climate change and ever-increasing global temperatures have placed a greater demand on the research that goes into advancing PVC formulas. The ones previously used to manufacture windows and doors are not as effective as they once were. The environment is changing, which means higher-performing, longer-lasting windows have become a mandate.

We must create windows for today, not for an environment that existed 20 years ago. These new products must endure for 25 or 30 years, and at the end of their life cycle, must be recyclable and maintain 90% of their original physical properties.

Q: What effects do rising global temperatures across the globe have on window systems?

A: Higher outside temperatures cause window systems to undergo degradation. With this in mind, we place a greater emphasis on the development of new chemistries, which have become a large part of what we investigate on a daily basis.

Much of what we do is in response to climate change and in line with the overall sustainability model of Deceuninck.

Q: What investments in chemistry has your team made in recent years?

A: First and foremost, the demand on new color pigments and their properties has required us to spend more research and development hours on pigment chemistry. A few years ago, we explored paints and coatings used specifically for military vehicles designed to reflect heat. These same advancements can be applied to building materials and have even been employed by our team in the materials science department to reduce heat gain in the windows.

In addition, we strive to reduce our carbon footprint in all that we do. Therefore, as an organization, we are committed to contributing to a sustainable built environment. That is why plant-based additives that are locally farmed here in Ohio or imported from India or Brazil are used in the formulation of our PVC compounds.

One might not traditionally think “plants” when considering the elements used to create windows or other plastics products, but these sustainable, organic materials can be used as lubricants and serve other important functions in the production of PVC windows and doors.

Q: Any specific products or innovations you can point to?

A: Definitely. One key material chemistry advancement is our proprietary PVC compound – SunShield® Technology – which was designed specifically for window and door profiles. SunShield ensures long-lasting color retention and low maintenance, and for customers, it includes a lifetime warranty against rotting, cracking, pitting, corroding, and peeling.

Q: How does this all effect the end customer: the homeowner? Are they concerned with using or purchasing eco-friendly products?

A: Eco-conscious consumers are paying attention to the environment and want to live in homes that save energy and minimize harmful effects on the environment. Plastics of the past were not comprised of the same eco-friendly materials that help create today’s window and door extrusions.

Behind the scenes, we anticipate what homeowners will need. We want homeowners to think: “As long as I stay in this house, I don’t have to worry about the windows.”

As far as tangible benefits for the homeowner, when they choose our high-performance windows, it helps to create a comfortable interior environment and an inviting living space for their home. In addition, by reducing the amount of thermal loss through the window frames, less energy is required to heat or cool the home. This has a positive impact on the environment and can decrease annual energy costs for the owners.

Q: The COVID-19 pandemic affected our entire organization from staffing to material shortages and more. Tell us how the pandemic impacted the materials science department.

A: You’re right. The COVID-19 pandemic dealt new challenges to the industry at large, and our materials science team was no exception. Global supply chain constraints resulted in the need to shift toward alternative raw material options and, in some cases, reformulation on our end.

The supply chain over the past two years has been dynamic and unpredictable. However, as scientists, we embraced the opportunity to think outside of the box and experiment with new ways to drive innovation.

Material availability and costs continued to be moving targets during the acute phases of the pandemic. Therefore, we had to adjust and find new ways to create. Through hard work and a lot of hours in the lab, we were able to maintain the quality or even improve upon the properties of the materials that go into our PVC extrusions.

Q: What is next for the materials science team? Any new innovations on the horizon?

A: Our team continues to innovate and leverage technologies between different product areas. For example, we are harnessing material advancements used in the decking industry to improve product performance and create durable, long-lasting window systems. Being part of a global group is certainly to our advantage and allows us to further expand our access to different technologies and innovations.

To cite a specific example, our Rovex technology is a prime opportunity for future material and product development. Rovex is a bio-based composite material that integrates glass and polyurethane for superior structural, thermal, and environmental performance. We see a lot of potential here.

Overall, we are always striving for better performing products that protect our environment and make use of natural materials. Our goal is to create new compounds and technologies that exceed what homeowners and fabricators are expecting. If we’re not pushing the boundaries on innovation and keeping the promise of sustainability at the forefront of product development, we’re not doing our part.

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