With the Liniar ModLok™, patent is a virtue

eco chartwell green bi-fold door

If you visited the LimeLight café at the award-winning Liniar stand at this year’s FIT Show, you may have spotted a cluster of 49 lightbulbs hanging above your head.

Apart from lighting the café area itself, there was a good reason behind the inclusion of the bulbs – with each representing not just a ‘bright idea’ but a visual reminder of the 49 patents and Registered Designs held by Liniar across its product range.

Within the windows industry, arguably more than in any other, new product development has exploded over the last few years, becoming increasingly critical to both the growth and success of the companies involved. Fabricators and installers are proud to be able to offer customers the very latest designs and options, and being the first to bring new products to market is a hotly-fought contest between the leading systems companies in the UK.

Liniar has swiftly built a reputation for innovation, having launched its thermally efficient window system in the midst of the recession in 2008, at a time when others were not investing in new product development. Since then, the systems house has launched product after product, each offering something unique and setting high standards for others to follow.

Being the first to market with a new concept can often bring its challenges, and registering or patenting a brand’s designs has become critical to staying ahead of the game, as Liniar’s Design & Development Manager Chris Armes explains.

“When we’ve come up with a brand new idea, we’ve always been keen to patent it at the earliest opportunity,” says Chris. “As Liniar employs six full-time designers to create new products, legal protection is a sensible way to protect our investment from less committed competitors.”

“We know it’s very rare for a new design to remain unique for long, and there’s always someone out there who wants to produce something similar. Many fenestration products can look alike at first glance, yet it’s often the small design features that can make a massive difference – not only for consumers but also for installers and fabricators too.”

“Take our ModLok™ bi-folding door, for example. When uPVC bi-folds were first launched to the market there were certain limitations to how and where they could be fitted – we still hear horror stories today about badly-fitted uPVC bi-folds with inadequate strength for the aperture they were fitted into.

“Steel was required to strengthen the uPVC, but inserting it into the frames meant the doors lost thermal efficiency; the steel allowing more cold air to travel through the frames.

“We literally went back to the drawing board to find a way of strengthening the doors without compromising U-values. Exoskeletons, or strengthening on the outside, had not previously been used for uPVC bi-folds as they interfered with the positioning of the locks – so we decided to design our own locking system and build everything in to one piece of hardware.

“The unique modular locking system (trademarked ModLok™) that we created not only gives our bi-folding doors superior strength – rivalling similar sized aluminium bi-folds – it means they’ve sailed through testing. The first bi-fold to pass BuildCheck’s Folding Sliding Door Scheme, the ModLok™ bi-fold has also been accredited with PAS:24 and Secured by Design.  Our in-house robot has also tested a full-sized 3-pane door to more than 127,000 full opening cycles (more than 12 times that required by British Standards) – giving peace of mind that it’s built to last.

“Because our exoskeleton design was so unique, we were keen to ensure no-one would be able to copy it; so we’ve gone to great lengths to protect it, applying for a patent as soon as we could and keeping a close eye on our competitors.

“As we suspected, similar styles of bi-folding door have since made it onto the market, but no-one has been able to copy our distinctive exoskeleton concept – meaning the ModLok™’s combination of strength, security and thermal efficiency can’t be beaten by any other uPVC bi-fold. This gives Liniar and its customers an exclusive opportunity to offer a truly unique bi-folding door, building both customer and brand loyalty.”

“It’s a dream for the Liniar marketing and sales teams as there are so many unique selling points to the door, at all levels of the supply chain,” continues Chris.

“Unlike hybrid bi-folds, the ModLok™ bi-fold is made with standard fabrication machinery and processes, so it’s more cost effective for fabricators to manufacture. Its optional Part M compliant low threshold also means no trench excavation is needed on site for a seamless entrance.

“Add to that the consumer benefits of security, durability, thermal efficiency and the option to fully match their Liniar windows, and it’s no wonder the ModLok™ has been a runaway success ever since its launch in 2014.”

With Liniar’s growth and industry credibility showing no signs of slowing, it seems that protecting its investment in research, development and testing through patents and Registered Designs is indeed a strategy that continues to pay off.

You can find out more about the unique features of Liniar’s ModLok™ bi-folding doors at http://www.liniar.co.uk/doors/pvcu-bifold/modlok-bi-fold.


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