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Schweiss to the Rescue

The bi-fold roof in the open position from an upward angle. The bi-fold roof in the open position from a downward angle.

SMS Millcraft was in need of a retractable roof to cover their sand blasting chamber, their first call was Schweiss Doors.

What looked like a near impossible situation without some totally new engineering design instead turned out to be a remarkable solution to an extreme challenge. The challenge? How to fit a "roof door" over a 20’ by 30’ sandblasting chamber used by SMS Millcraft, Oil City, PA. This firm specializes in refurbishing component parts for various Pennsylvania steel mills.

SMS Millcraft uses a heavy-duty gantry hoist to position these component parts into its huge sandblasting chamber. But unless all sides, and roof, of this chamber were closed, employees were continually being challenged by the dust created by the sandblasting process. The answer was obvious: "roof doors" that quickly and conveniently closed over the chamber prior to each sandblasting procedure. But who makes such a door?


“It's remarkable how this is all working out. It was a learning curve for both of us, Schweiss and Overhead Door. We had some minor challenges for this most unusual application of bifold doors. We worked through those and gave our customer a really good product. This system definitely exceeded their expectations of what they were looking for.”


- Jason Peterson
Sales Agent with Overhead Door
Franklin, PA


Comments Jason Peterson, sales agent with Overhead Door of Franklin, PA, "It started with our firm simply calling Schweiss to inquire about a unique roof-door system for this particular sandblasting chamber at SMS Millcraft."

"I told the Schweiss people that SMS Millcraft is a key customer of our firm. I explained that they rebuild steel mill furnaces and various component parts so sandblasting is a key function of their operation. When they asked us about a retractable roof system for their sandblasting chamber to contain the dust, we started with Schweiss."

Continued Peterson, "That's where the Schweiss Design team really went to work. Because of my construction background, I had at least a mental image of what kind of a roof door might work. But it was the creative minds of the Schweiss team that actually made it work."

The bi-fold roof in the open position. The bi-fold roof in the open position.

The bi-fold roof shown in the closed position, a new take on a classic design.

"They (SMS Millcraft) are 100 percent pleased; we are 100 percent pleased with how well these bifold roof doors are working. For me, even better than I had anticipated. And perhaps even better than the Schweiss guys thought it would work. They were concerned with how the door would close. Was there enough weight to shut the doors? We even considered designing a pusher spring system to help close the doors. But the first time we ran it we could see there was enough weight pushing on that door system that it literally closes without any assistance. The motor does its job of keeping the doors in place while keeping tension on the straps. It just simply runs very, very smooth."

In reviewing the project Peterson voiced his concern about the longevity of the electric motor because of the dust situation. He thinks a totally enclosed unventilated motor would be a better alternative in this harsh environment.

When asked about the Schweiss warranty on this unique application of bifold doors, he admitted that he doubted Schweiss would offer the usual 3-years on the lift straps working in this condition. "However, much to my surprise, we got their new 10-year warranty on the lift straps. I think that is amazing because I suspect over time sandblasting could potentially do some damage to the straps too."

Installers attaching the bi-fold door to the sand blasting chamber.

Installers attaching the bi-fold roof to the SMS Millcraft's sand blasting chamber.

"They (SMS Millcraft) are 100 percent pleased; we are 100 percent pleased with how well these bifold roof doors are working. For me, even better than I had anticipated. And perhaps even better than the Schweiss guys thought it would work. They were concerned with how the door would close. Was there enough weight to shut the doors? We even considered designing a pusher spring system to help close the doors. But the first time we ran it we could see there was enough weight pushing on that door system that it literally closes without any assistance. The motor does its job of keeping the doors in place while keeping tension on the straps. It just simply runs very, very smooth."

In reviewing the project Peterson voiced his concern about the longevity of the electric motor because of the dust situation. He thinks a totally enclosed unventilated motor would be a better alternative in this harsh environment.

When asked about the Schweiss warranty on this unique application of bifold doors, he admitted that he doubted Schweiss would offer the usual 3-years on the lift straps working in this condition. "However, much to my surprise, we got their new 10-year warranty on the lift straps. I think that is amazing because I suspect over time sandblasting could potentially do some damage to the straps too."

He said SMS Millcraft doesn't seem concerned that the operator of the sandblasting machine will have any issues with the doors. But the easy and reliable bifolds haven't slowed the sandblasting process and have definitely provided a cleaner working atmosphere for all employees.

Summed up Peterson, "It's remarkable how this is all working out. It was a learning curve for both of us, Schweiss and Overhead Door. We had some minor challenges for this most unusual application of bifold doors. We worked through those and gave our customer a really good product. This system definitely exceeded their expectations of what they were looking for."

Installers placing the bi-fold door over the sand blasting chamber.

Installers lowering the bi-fold roof onto its new home over SMS Millcraft's sand blasting chamber.

Admitted Mike Schweiss, CEO, Schweiss Doors, "Yes, this was indeed a bit of a challenge. But custom-made doors is what we're all about. Get creative minds on both sides of the table and amazing things can happen. We thank Overhead Door of Franklin for this unique opportunity."

Since their patented Lift Strap was introduced 12 years ago, they have yet to replace a system because of mechanical failure. Remarkable considering that Schweiss Doors have now been marketed across America and into other countries worldwide. With its 29,000-lb. tensile strength, this nylon strap is virtually fail-safe.

Initially marketed with a 3-year warranty, Mike Schweiss said, "Engineering competence and structural integrity are trademarks of our products. Extending to a 10-year warranty on our Lift Strap units is simply showing our customers that they can expect total performance on a Schweiss door system."

Schweiss continues to be the popular door manufacturer always on the cutting edge offering both Hydraulic and Bifold choices.

Photo of the Day Story

What looked like a near impossible situation without some totally new engineering design instead turned out to be a remarkable solution to an extreme challenge. The challenge? How to fit a "roof door" over a 20' by 30' sandblasting chamber used by SMS Millcraft, Oil City, PA. This firm specializes in refurbishing component parts for various Pennsylvania steel mills.
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