A Spacer Bar that Offers the Best of Both Worlds

The TGI®-Spacer bar combines impressive thermal performance with cost effective production – an ideal combination for any IGU manufacturer.

Following amendments to Part L of the Building Regulations in October, news that windows are likely to be included in the Green Deal initiative and the emergence of the Passivhaus standard, it’s no surprise many of the UK’s IGU manufacturers are moving away from aluminium spacer bars and looking towards warm edge technology in a bid to offer their customers more ‘eco friendly’ sealed units.

Despite being a relatively small component designed primarily to separate the two panes of glass within a double glazed unit, spacer bars have a big say in the overall energy efficiency of a window and U-Value / WER results are very much dependant on IGU manufacturers choice in spacer bar.

Yet choosing the right spacer bar is not as simple as comparing the thermal performance of each product. As any IGU company will know, the manufacturing procedures and cost implications are critical. While being very energy efficient, some spacer bars require the IGU manufacturer to invest in specialist machinery, a factor that won’t appeal to every company. Meanwhile other warm edge spacer bars rely on the cut and key manufacturing method, a process that can slow production down considerably and require additional man-power.

TGI recognise gap in the market

Recognising a gap in the market for an energy efficient spacer bar that can be bent on standard machines, German-based window component manufacturer the Technoform Group set about developing a solution. In 1998 the group set up a specialist spacer bar division, Technoform Glass Insulation (TGI), and in 2001 launched the ‘TGI-Spacer’ into the market.

The German engineered TGI-Spacer bar can be processed on all standard forming machines, meaning the IGU manufacturer does not need to invest in specialist bending equipment, and the bar’s low heat transfer enables the window to achieve excellent WERs / U-Values. With these factors in mind, it’s no coincidence the TGI-Spacer bar has become one of the world’s best selling warm edge solutions and is the preferred spacer bar for the many of the world’s leading IGU manufacturers.

UK headquarters established

Despite TGI’s global presence, the company is still relatively unknown in the UK, but following the establishment of the company’s headquarters in Birmingham, this is already beginning to change.

Headed by product manager Simon Rawlins, ‘TGI GB and Ireland’ has more than doubled in size over the last twelve months, and the TGI-Spacer bar has already been adopted by some of the UK’s major IGU companies. Simon comments: “TGI is starting to gain recognition in the UK, and it is a very exciting time for the company. We offer IGU manufactures a great all round package in terms of product performance and manufacturing efficiency and we are already making headway into the UK market. Our goal is to educate the UK on the benefits of the TGI-Spacer and help IGU manufacturers become more efficient and offer higher performing sealed units utilising our product.”

The TGI-Spacer

So what makes up a TGI-Spacer? TGI-Spacers are manufactured using stainless steel and high quality plastic polypropylene, which is used as a strengthening and insulating material due to its low heat conductivity. The combination of the two materials allows only a very low heat transfer while guaranteeing extreme impermeability against gas diffusion and humidity. What’s more, whatever the frame material, TGI-Spacers offer low Psi-values for the glass edge and as a result offer significant improvement to the windows U-Value.

“The TGI-Spacer can even help lower material costs,” Simon comments. “When using the cut and key method of production, manufacturers need to apply extra sealant to ensure argon gas does not escape through the joints. Because the TGI-Spacer is bent around the frame, the gas cannot escape which means the manufacturer can use much less sealant, saving considerable material cost.”

Cost-effective production

TGI-Spacers can be processed on all standard forming machines. Whether angular or round, any shape can be realised in the frame manufacturing process and procedures. Connectors specially designed and ideally matched for use with TGI-Spacers can be used in the assembly process.

“The fact that our customers don’t have to invest in any new machinery is a major plus,” Simon explains. “And because it can be processed on existing machines, it means IGU manufacturers can sample the product in small volumes before they commit to a big order. This means they can see the benefits for themselves before they invest.”

With competition tough in the warm edge sector, Simon appreciates that breaking into the UK market may take some time. But when you weigh up the capabilities of the TGI- Spacer bar and list everything it can offer IGU manufacturers, it’s no surprise he is very optimistic about the future.