A irmatic, Silent Solution, Smove, Blumotion, Soft-Close, Silent System and Dynasoft sound more like an assortment of bedding products than hardware accessories that quiet the closing of drawers and doors. But these products represent an opportunity to deliver a fun feature at a relatively low cost. Do consumers in North America want these options?
According to hardware manufacturers, inquiries about these features are increasing.
Blum Inc.'s Dennis Poteat says, "This is an add-on that everyone's going to want. When customers see it, they'll want it." He believes that the reason it has seen wider use in Europe than North America, is that it was first introduced there.
"We definitely think it will grow in North America; it will take off quite dramatically," says Grass America Inc.'s Tom Reinbold.
Blum leads off
Blumotion was one of the first quiet-closing products, introduced at the Interzum show in Cologne in 2001. It has been used mostly in drawers and pullouts, and mostly in the kitchen, but Blum sees applications in doors and wall cabinets.
The braking effect adapts to the force and speed of the closing action. According to Blum, the carcase does not have to be changed to accommodate Blumotion. If the proper elements are not incorporated in the carcase side, Blumotion can be fitted with an adapter.
It can be used with Blum's Tandembox metal drawers, or with the Tandem runner for wooden drawers. In recent product presentations it has been Blumotion in particular that has interested visitors.
Blum's Poteat says that an important step is getting it into the showroom. A visual demonstration is important; it can't be explained on paper. He adds that the relatively inexpensive add-on can be used for mid- to high-level kitchen remodels. (It can be retrofitted, but only on drawers using Blum's Tandem runner full-extension drawer slide.)
Silent System introduced
At this year's Interzum, Hettich launched its Silent System technology that can be used on everything that closes drawers, pullouts and doors. Hettich kitchen drawer systems fitted with Silent System slow down in the last phase of the closure. This cushions the way drawers and front pullouts come to rest against the carcase, which allows them to close in almost complete silence. (It can be used with wooden drawers in conjunction with Quadro runners.)
A cabinet manufacturer can choose between two versions, an air cushion integrated in the runner or an external silicone cushion screwed to the drawer base from below for wide and heavy drawers and pullouts.
Applications include clip-on, screw-on or countersunk. End users can easily retrofit the clip-on application. It clips onto the hinge, requiring no tools. The screw-on version is fastened to the carcase bottom.
New advanced fitting systems can be used for horizontal and vertical sliding doors on shelf and cabinet systems. The same technology can even be applied to large sliding doors or tall folding-sliding doors on wardrobes or hall cupboards.
Airmatic from Grass
At the AWFS Fair, Grass introduced the new Snap On 3000 Airmatic hinge system, reported to be the first furniture hinge with a shock absorber system incorporated into the hinge cup. Airmatic products introduced at IWF 2002 are available for both drawers and cabinet doors, mostly in kitchen applications. The Airmatic system is also being used on the Metro Elite undermount concealed drawer slide.
The Airmatic is now available built into the Nova double-wall slide system. The action of closing the drawer sets a plunger in motion that builds up an air cushion in the pneumatic cylinder. This absorbs energy generated by the movement and is then vented without making a sound. The drawer is pulled into the closed position by the Grass self-closing Softmatic feature.
Airmatic can be used for regular-, full- and heavy-load full-extension slides of all widths, and can be used with or without side stabilizing devices.
For its Nova Metro pullouts, Grass offers the choice of having Airmatic supplied already integrated at the factory or as a kit that can be retrofitted. The Grass Metro Wood, the drawer slide system for wooden drawers, comes with Airmatic as a standard feature.
The Airmatic installation kit includes only a few components: the compact absorber element, thumb-size plastic holder for fixing the absorber in the décor, and a stop bracket that is screwed to the wall of the cabinet.
Soft Close for pullouts
Hafele's Soft-Close is used with that company's pantry pullouts, and offers a smooth and gentle pneumatic closing action. The Soft-Close feature slows the travel of the pullout, closing it automatically and silently (the pantry is actually pulled closed by the Soft-Close piston). Soft-Close is fully integrated and can be retrofitted without tools onto existing Hafele pantry pullouts, but not on base cabinet pullouts.
Fulterer is introducing its Soft Close System (SCS) for two heavy-duty slides. Fulterer's Herb Schmidt says this technology will be appropriate for large pantry slides (450 pounds). Heavy-duty applications are a specialty for Fulterer. The technology comes originally from automotive. Schmidt says that the soft closing hardware may find a place for larger heavy-duty applications, but he sees it more as a gadget on smaller drawers.
Salice launched its Smove accessory three years ago. It is designed to decelerate the closing action of furniture doors and drawers and eliminate the slamming noise. According to Salice, the initial success of Smove has led to a greater demand, which in turn has led to further product developments and more accessories that enable it to be used by both manufacturers and end users. Smove can be installed on existing furniture with no special skills.
Titus, a producer of self-assembly connectors and media storage, introduced Silent Solutions, a new series of damping mechanisms for the closure of z-runner mounted drawers, vertical doors, horizontal doors and up-and-over doors. Silent Solutions are designed to be suitable for many applications, drawer and door sizes, and weights. According to Titus, the products are easy to use, the new mechanisms are compatible with standard drilling patterns and offer a value-added feature at a relatively low cost.
Dynasoft is a core component of the newly developed Mepla-Alfit slide system DWD-Dynamic-XP. It controls the closing action of the Dynamic-XP slides by combining it with a hollow frame system. The system is available in lengths of 275 to 650mm and can be used for drawer sizes up to 1200mm in length. The frames can be heightened by adding three types of composition systems.
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