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Creating Captivating Cabs with Metals Beyond Stainless

Louis "LJ" Blaiotta, Jr. on Monday, May 6, 2019 at 12:00:00 am

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Cab by Columbia elevator, installed at the Philadelphia Museum in anticipation of a visit to the facility by Pope Francis. Rimex Metals contributed the side and back panels, consisting of T22 Platinum Nickel Hairline FPR (Finger Print Resistant) finish with a 3-inch Diamond Pattern.

Cab by Columbia elevator, installed at the Philadelphia Museum in anticipation of a visit to the facility by Pope Francis. Rimex Metals contributed the side and back panels, consisting of T22 Platinum Nickel Hairline FPR (Finger Print Resistant) finish with a 3-inch Diamond Pattern.

Stainless steel is not the only metal design finish we use to create captivating Columbia Elevator cabs. Advanced cab design with metals can include the use of woven wire.

  • Woven wire incorporates stainless, bronze and other metals wires in shiny and dull finishes, which can be produced in wide-open or closed-weave patterns, often to dramatic effect.
  • Woven wire walls are extremely durable, not easily vandalized, and, when bumped or scratched, show hardly if any noticeable damage.

Yet another leap forward in metal-based cab design is the emergence of upgraded polishing techniques that produce the faux impression of three-dimensional elements on a flat surface.

  • Polishing techniques can create the appearance of raised panels or patterns on metal. This is achieved by sanding the surface to create illusions that, from a slight distance, appear to be 3-D.
  • Such treatments can be further enhanced by combining the etching, polishing, and plating of different materials in different patterns on a door skin, using, for example, bronze, silver, and chrome to create visually striking patterns.
  • Metal punching techniques have also been upgraded to create actual, precise 3-D patterns and effects.

Back in the day, we created various effects by manually striking the metal sheet with a hammer, and/or implementing the best look we could with the then-available punch press equipment. Today’s advanced technologies and materials reduce the need to manually create patterns.

  • A pre-textured material with a distinctive hole pattern punched into it can now be purchased and installed in a car.
  • Tonnage and punching pressure can be controlled and applied to the sheet metal without deforming elements of the sheet with the currently-available servo-controlled punching equipment

In the past, when we bought a sheet of diamond plate, and specified a cutout where the buttons were to go, there was no way to prevent cutting through one or more of the diamonds, thereby resulting a rough, unbalanced look. Today, with the tooling we have in the industry, we

  • can precisely position our own bumps around the cutouts.
  • have exact control of the pattern to eliminate issues such as half diamonds.
  • can avoid bumps on flat spots where we’ll later want to engrave notices, such as ‘No Smoking,’ or create cutouts for digital displays.
  • can create effects such as precisely-positioned flat areas behind handrails, and flat surfaces around the perimeter of a textured metal floor where it meets the side panels.

Bottom line is that the advancements in punch press equipment allow us to create all types of nuanced, rather than overall consistent, finishes. Still, we don’t have to use metals or glass to finish a cab. Have you seen marble, tile, and stone finishes in elevators? Come back for our next lesson about how the industry can operate elevators safely using these ‘heavy’ materials.

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Creating Captivating Cabs with Stainless Steel

Louis "LJ" Blaiotta, Jr. on Monday, April 8, 2019 at 12:00:00 am

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Columbia Elevator is an industry leader in the manufacture of elevator cabs, entrances and door systems, serving OEM’s, Independents, Mod Managers, Construction Managers, Maintenance Supervisors, Architects and Consultants. Columbia was voted as Best Supplier-Cabs and Best Supplier-Doors, and awarded two “Ellies,” in the 2018 Elevator Industry Awards.

Columbia Elevator is an industry leader in the manufacture of elevator cabs, entrances and door systems, serving OEM’s, Independents, Mod Managers, Construction Managers, Maintenance Supervisors, Architects and Consultants. Columbia was voted as Best Supplier-Cabs and Best Supplier-Doors, and awarded two “Ellies,” in the 2018 Elevator Industry Awards.

Metal traditionally has been a popular, adaptive medium for the design of cab interiors, with widely-differing applications that can reflect the varied tastes and trends of the day. Past decades have seen the use of various metal treatments in cabs and their surroundings, including oxidized bronze, bright brass, nickel-silver, aluminum, and, of course the mainstay, stainless steel.

Stainless, as it is commonly referred to, can be shiny, which is highly subject to fingerprints and scratching, or matte, which also shows scratches but not fingerprints.

  • Vandalization and accidental damage are an eternal problem, but “pre-vandalizing” the finish – by using a grinding wheel to intentionally scratch the surface in a random pattern – can eliminate concern about future appearance issues and possibly-expensive repair work.
  • Non-directional stainless can create a consistent, less edgy look via a hand finish that, if damaged, can easily be ‘re-blended’ in the field with hand tools.
  • Classic Satin #4 is a machined finished product, but it can be field re-finished by hand if damaged. With its straight up-and-down lines, #4 can be fashioned into an elegant long-grain look.
  • These finishes are often topped with a clear coat of lacquer to add a deeper luster, resembling the appearance of nickel-silver.
    • Nickel-silver itself can be used
      • if budget allows for the generally three to five times cost of stainless,
      • to provide a dullish finish looking somewhat like platinum.
    • So-called ‘super-mirror’ finish on stainless steel is one of the more stunning recent additions to the elevator design palette, yielding a reflection virtually equivalent to high-end glass.

The quest for the perfect metal mirror has been an ongoing pursuit, and recent technological advancements are allowing this to be achieved. While in the past, upon close inspection, one could perceive visible brush strokes in the finish, now there are no such strokes to be seen. This is accomplished via the use of new-generation buffing wheels and rosins finished by machine rather than by hand. Since such a finish is very easily scratched, it is best deployed in out-of-reach locations such as a ceiling. Next time I’ll talk about how we can create cabs using metals other than stainless.

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Creating Captivating Cabs with Glass

Louis "LJ" Blaiotta, Jr. on Monday, March 4, 2019 at 12:00:00 am

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Glass and mirrored stainless-steel residential cab by Columbia Elevator Products, featuring Columbia’s ALURE® linear door operator for LULA and home-lift applications. As with early open-design birdcage elevators, today’s residential glass cabs revive the concept of passengers enjoying dynamic views of the elevator’s exterior architectural surroundings. Photo courtesy Chad Jordan, Residential Elevators.

Glass and mirrored stainless-steel residential cab by Columbia Elevator Products, featuring Columbia’s ALURE® linear door operator for LULA and home-lift applications. As with early open-design birdcage elevators, today’s residential glass cabs revive the concept of passengers enjoying dynamic views of the elevator’s exterior architectural surroundings. Photo courtesy Chad Jordan, Residential Elevators.

From the elevator’s very earliest days, the new technology impacted not only the look of cities but also of people’s homes. Ornate “birdcage” cabs, found primarily within the grander residences of the early 20th century, were designed to please the eye while providing dynamic views from within as they traveled through the elaborate stairwells in which they were often set.

In the subsequent decades, cabs were designed largely for safety reasons as “enclosed boxes;” however, today, with the advent of glass cab designs, attention has refocused on leveraging the view out from the cab to delight elevator passengers. How has technology advanced to give us this new – and still evolving – view out?

  • The development of extremely strong, laminated, shatter-retardant glass, advanced ventilation techniques – plus UV filtering and gels to manage exposure to the sun – collectively are enabling creation of previously undreamt-of elevator designs on interior installations and outside the building.
  • Safety continues to be the overarching concern as these new glass creations evolve into the mainstream of elevator architecture.
  • Current code, ANSI Z97.1, mandates the use of lamination to keep the glass intact if it should break, while Section 2 of the code governs the structural integrity required to keep riders inside the cabin in the event of a failure.

Not all use of glass in cab design is simply to enable exterior views. Glass can be used inside the car:

  • overlaying sensitive decorative materials to avoid damage
  • keeping those materials visible while enhancing them with depth and luster
  • becoming a decorative element unto itself.

A growing trend, for example, is back-painted glass, featuring patterns, artwork and scenes, augmented by special lighting effects and all manner of sensory treatments.

  • Different types of glass in a wide range of custom and standard aesthetics can be installed in today’s cabs making for captivating appearances, including
    • unlimited colors, antique finishes, and a variety of fire-polished, matte and luminous semi-matte surfaces.
  • These non-porous, durable glass surfaces are easy to maintain and ideal for high-traffic elevator applications.

While glass is a major factor in today’s advanced elevator design across all environments, both indoors and out, this newly envisioned use of glass is only one of many aesthetic contributions to the highly experiential elevator ride of 2019. Next time, I’ll talk about stainless steel, including how it can yield a reflection almost equivalent to glass.

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