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Library: Element Designs
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Aluminum Extrusions Help Element Designs Differentiate Themselves in the Market

When Nelson Wills and his business partners started their company, Element Designs, in 2003 they wanted to differentiate themselves in the North American architecture case goods market. Wills and his fellow company founders appreciated the sleek lines and modern look in European interior cabinet components. According to Wills, it is estimated that in Europe about 20 – 30% of cabinets are made with aluminum extrusions integrated in the designs. That’s not the case in North America.

Knowing that higher end European designs will continue to increase in popularity within residential and commercial environments, and seeking to fill that demand in the marketplace, Wills and his team set out to create custom high-end aluminum framed cabinet doors like those he saw across the higher end design environments in Europe, using domestically sourced materials.

Twelve years later, Element Designs’ cabinet doors for the kitchen and bath, commercial and hospitality industries are just starting to become recognized by designers and architects with an appreciation for innovative contemporary and modern designs. “In general terms, aluminum frame cabinet doors…add very dramatic design opportunities to enhance interior spaces - as a compliment to wood and other traditional materials,” said Wills, who is the V.P. of Business Development for Element Designs. “Beyond the design features allowing woodworking companies to diversify their product options, aluminum is very durable, consistent and stable when used as cabinetry doors.”

Wills and his team designed their own aluminum-frame cabinet door profiles, but they had a learning curve when it came to understanding how to design using aluminum extrusion. Unfortunately, designers and engineers receive limited, if any, exposure to aluminum and the extrusion process in school. Not knowing initially how to design with aluminum, Wills studied European products, developed their own aluminum door profile designs and then worked with industry-leading extrusion suppliers who were willing to help him improve and tweak the designs to help optimize the product for ‘manufacturability’. “That’s the way to become an expert in aluminum extrusion design, through trial and error” said Wills.

All of Element Designs’ products are made exclusively in the USA using three domestic extruders for the aluminum profiles, consuming 2,000 – 3,000 linear feet of extrusions per day in the production of their custom aluminum products.

Element Designs can be categorized as a light industrial aluminum fabrication and assembly operation from the inside. From the outside, Element Designs is the premier manufacturer of high end aluminum frame cabinetry doors for a wide variety of applications such as kitchen doors and drawer fronts, room divider sliding door systems, commercial office interior casework doors, aluminum frame LED shelving and decorative LED panels which utilize aluminum extrusions. All of Element Designs products are made to order, packaged fully assembled ready to install, completely fabricated to the customer’s exact specification and shipped across North America within two or three weeks from order acknowledgment. The company currently operates in approximately 60,000 square feet of manufacturing space and employs 70 skilled craftspeople in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Green Initiative
Element Designs is committed to sustainable practices, and using aluminum helps to fulfill that goal. Aluminum is completely recyclable, has a significantly longer lifespan when compared to other cabinetry components and the aluminum in Element Design’s products can be reused rather than discarded by simply replacing components, such as using new inserts for existing doors. The aluminum products are manufactured using materials from regional suppliers, thus reducing their carbon footprint. All of the waste generated during manufacturing operations (primary materials such as aluminum and glass) are 100% recycled. The aluminum extrusion manufacturing by-products are taken to a local metal recycling facility. None of the products contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

To learn more about Element Designs and their innovative aluminum products, visit the company website at