Q. What will be the “next generation” in soft-close hinges?

A. Matteo Fragosi, general manager, Salice America: The next generation of soft-close hinges is going to involve a dampening mechanism integrated into the hinge itself, thus eliminating the soft-close adapters and giving the cabinet a much cleaner look. Salice presented a complete line of fully integrated soft-close hinges two years ago. Next, we are going to try to adapt this mechanism to the face-frame one-piece hinges and to make it compatible with any door thickness.

A. Dean Bradshaw, marketing/customer relations manager, Ferrari America Inc.: Soft-close hinges and drawer slides are definitely the industry trend right now. During these tough economic times, however, many cabinet makers and homeowners are looking for upgrades such as soft-close, but still want economically friendly options. So Ferrari has just introduced Karma, a soft-close mechanism that mounts to the arm of its Compacta face-frame hinges. The Karma soft-close is available for our six-way adjustable ET64 hinges for smaller overlays and ET88 series hinges for larger overlays. The system features a screw for tension adjustment of the damper.

A. Daniel Tripp, product marketing manager, Häfele America Co.: The next generation of soft-close hinges has already arrived. It has the dampening integrated into the hinge, rather than an added clip-on mechanism which requires extra clearance in the cabinet opening for pullout trays, etc. Some manufacturers integrate the damping unit into the cup of the hinge, and some hide a piston in the arm of the hinge. Both seem to work fairly well, but when it is in the cup, it does not interfere with the hinge clipping onto a standard mounting plate.

A. Mark Mrozik, national sales manager, Hettich America: Integrated soft-closing Euro-style hinges have grown in popularity. The trend is certainly to match the soft closing of drawers with soft-closing doors in cabinets. Integrating the soft-close mechanism into the hinge arm allows the hinge to take on a new look with softer lines and a more aesthetic appearance. The use of a separate “add-on” soft-closing mechanism adds installation time to cabinet production and obstruction in the cabinet opening. The integration into the hinge offers flexibility and maintains current assembly time. Hettich offers a complete line of European-type hinges called Sensys with its Silent System dampening.

A. Susan Kearns, creative services specialist, Accuride International: The soft-close feature is likely to become more sophisticated as it evolves, perhaps with “smart” capabilities to enable the soft-close performance to change, based on the load and/or speed of usage. Other enhancements may include easier activation or automation methods, along with options that allow operation to be customized to a specific application. Aside from variations on function, new hardware applications may emerge that make use of soft-close technology.

A. Dennis Poteat, marketing communications, Blum: We showed our new CLIP top Blumotion hinge at Interzum and at AWFS Vegas. This will be released to the market in 2010, and we think it will be very successful. The smooth function, ease of installation and the ability to disable it are all being well received by the people that have seen it. Over the next few years, we plan to release integrated Blumotion versions of many of our CLIP top hinges, creating a full line of CLIP top Blumotion hinges to be used throughout the kitchen in a wide variety of applications.

A. Matthias Bulla, OEM sales manager, Grass America: The next generation of soft-close hinges will include the soft-close action integrated into the hinge itself. There can be no dimensional changes to the hinge, meaning no add-on accessory to create a larger arm or protruding piece to change the shape of the hinge or a deeper drilling dimension for the cup. The hinge will have everything concealed with nothing protruding, and it will be able to utilize the existing machinery in the customer’s shop today. From a function standpoint, the soft-close action should be a continuous, easy flow of motion. It should be able to compensate for large and small doors, for thicker doors and doors with added weight. Adjustability is an added bonus and needs to compensate for at least 80% of door sizes and weights.

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