Maker of bifold doors offers assorted options and custom designs for aircraft hangars.

Anyone who regularly visits airports has most likely seen bifold hangar doors, a space-saving alternative to doors that roll open laterally or swing outward and up. While folding doors existed as far back as the Roman Empire—they’ve been discovered in archaeological digs from the ancient city of Pompeii—large vertical doors have proven to be a valuable asset for aircraft operators in the modern age.

Schweiss Doors got its start as a farm equipment manufacturer in Hector, Minnesota. Its best-known product in the 1970s, a chicken plucker, helped expand and support the company in its early days. Then one day in 1980, a friend of owner Mike Schweiss said, ‘Mike, you build a lot of different things. Why not a door that folds up, too?”

The company’s first bifold door, installed on a county highway shed, measured 12 ft. high by 12 ft. wide and remains in operation today.

Currently, Schweiss manufactures three styles of doors: a one-piece hydraulic door, a nylon strap bifold door, and a custom designer door.

Lift-Strap System
Schweiss Doors is the only bifold door manufacturer with a patented lift-strap system, according to the company.  The nylon straps, which have a tensile strength of 29,000 lb., operate quietly and last longer than steel cables, the company says. Schweiss also manufactures a lift-strap conversion for any make of bifold door.

“The bifold doors work great,” says Schweiss customer Craig Uliasz, office manager of Morton Buildings, which constructed aircraft hangars at Meriden Markham Municipal Airport (KMMK) in Meriden, Connecticut. “I like the safety features, like when you take your finger off the control button, the door stops completely when in motion.” As a bonus, Uliasz adds, his installer said the instruction manual that came with the doors was very clear, making the installation process such that “you couldn’t go wrong.”

Schweiss Doors’ latest creation is a one-piece hydraulic door. It features heavy-duty hydraulic cylinders for stability, spherical bearings for longevity, and grease fittings on each of its wraparound hinges.

Custom Designs
Schweiss Doors designer doors are available as hydraulic or lift-strap bifolds and can be designed to match exterior siding or other existing designs, including glass, windows and trim, stucco, rock-face material, and more. Custom designs are popular for private hangars on private airstrips where the hangar door can blend with the architecture of the building.

While popular in hangars, Schweiss bifold doors have caught on in other industries, as well, including at colleges, stadiums, museums, retail stores, restaurants, private residences, and barns. They were even installed recently as window walls for a luxury restaurant in a new $250 million Ritz-Carlson Hotel in Shanghai, China.

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Jen Boyer

Jen Boyer

Jen Boyer is the principal of her own firm, Flying Penguin Communications. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and holds commercial, instrument, flight instructor, and instrument instructor ratings in helicopters and a private rating in airplanes. She has worked as a professional journalist and marketing communicator in the aviation industry since the early 1990s.