New products pack aisles of 2004 AHR Expo

ANAHEIM, Calif. - Although it wasn't as big as last year's Chicago show, the Jan. 26-28 International Air-Conditioning Heating Refrigerating Exposition was still a record-setter, attracting more than 22,000 visitors and 1,600 exhibitors to the Anaheim Convention Center - the expo's best figures ever for a West Coast show.

With the nation's economy still fighting to recover from a recession, that was good news to the International Exposition Co., which manages the annual event.

"The majority of exhibitors we spoke to were pleased with their presence at the show and were able to make contacts that would lead to a positive start for their new year," said Clay Stevens, International Exposition Co. president.

Many exhibitors echoed Stevens' comments.

"It has been an unbelievable turnout so far," Jay Erickson, sales manager with Carlisle Coatings and Waterproofing's Hardcast Division, said in an interview on the show's first day. "We judge our traffic in part by the number of bags we give away and we have almost gone through more than we did in Chicago last year. We're seeing very qualified prospects from around the world: Russia, China, Australia and many other countries."

John Guthrie of Carlisle Coatings and Waterproofing’s Hardcast Products Group demonstrates the company’s new line of hardware for contractors.
Bill Wright, president of Wrightsoft Corp., said his company's booth was "so packed all day long that we (didn't) have time to eat."

For attendees, the show offered a smorgasbord of new products. Here is a sample of some of the thousands of products on display.

Carlisle Coatings and Waterproofing Inc.'s Hardcast Division held a press conference to announce the company's line of hardware for HVAC contractors. The steel and stainless steel line includes access-door hardware, multi- and single-blade dampers, flexible duct connectors, patented vane setters and weld-on, stick-on and cup-style insulation fasteners.

The hardware reduces noise and vibration, and helps balance airflow in residential or commercial use, according to officials for the Wylie, Texas, company.

"Hardcast hardware compliments our established business of mastic and rolled-duct sealants," Thomas Cloud, the company's brand manager, said in a statement. "We at Hardcast are proud of the quality and competitiveness this new duct hardware offers to HVAC professionals."

Geoff Wendt (left), Tim Greason and Tony Wintek at the Midwest Metal Products booth.
Plasma Automation Inc. was promoting its Vicon liner- and sheet metal-cutting systems. Vicon's SL-8000 duct-liner cutting system, offered with a 5- by 10-foot or 6- by 10-foot table, includes a built-in duct liner de-coiler and dual rack-and-pinion drives on both axes for part accuracy. The Vicon DL-8000 is a combination sheet metal/duct liner cutting system. The liner-cutting head is interchangeable with the plasma torch head. The Vicon HVAC-cutting software produces tailored results for sheet metal or liner.

Midwest Metal Products, which proudly promotes itself as "a woman-owned business enterprise," was touting its WonderFlange. Company officials say WonderFlanges are the strongest, quickest, safest and most economical connectors available for single- or double-wall spiral duct. The flanges go inside ductwork and can be screwed or welded into place.

Betech of Fletcher, N.C., was promoting its line of equipment, including the Spiralformer and Fittingformer. The Spiralformer SF10014 can produce round, spiral duct up to 100 inches in diameter using up to 14-gauge steel. The machine needs little lubrication, producing virtually dry duct, according to company officials. New this year is the optional Gorecutter, which produces elbow gore sections from spiral duct.

The Fittingformer FI5018 can make flanges and close standing-seam elbows and components up to 50 inches in diameter with up to 18-gauge material. The machine is available with single or twin stations.

Johns Manville Corp.’s Linacoustic XG is a formaldehyde-free fiberglass duct liner. It includes an anti-microbial coating that protects the airstream surface, according to company officials.
Wavetek Meterman Test Tools debuted its XP Series digital multimeters, designed for HVAC technicians ands others in the construction industry. They include built-in noncontact VolTect AC voltage detectors and a Magne-Grip holster that frees users' hands, according to company officials.

Duro Dyne Corp. was showing its new welding equipment, the MF-Mach I and RH Mach II. The Mach I offers standard 20-gauge capacity, while the Mach II is a high-power unit, with 18-gauge capacity and 2-inch pins. Both feature digital function display, one-adjustment controls for weld and dwell times, a manual pin-feed switch, weld-cycle indicators and more.

Hamlin Sheet Metal Co. Inc. calls its Hamlin Flange spiral-duct connection system "the perfect match." It can join single- or double-wall round or oval duct without using conventional connectors. For single-wall duct, the flange is made from 18-gauge metal and attached with No. 10 Tek screws, 6 inches on center. The flange's inner leg is sealed internally. For double wall, the inner flange is made of 16-gauge metal. The outer flange is attached to the duct wall by tack welds and No. 10 Tek screws, also 6 inches on center. Inner flanges are galvanized unless otherwise specified.

Cathy Myers-Korus of Sheet Metal Connectors Inc. with the Double Wall E-Z Flange With Barrel Clamp.
Norlock Technology Inc. introduced the Surelok II fastening machine series. The Surelok II will join 32- to 14-gauge material with the company's patented clinching technology, which does away with the need for rivets, bolts, fasteners, heat or adhesives. Features of the air-powered machine include an "intelligent" safety stroke for worker protection, close tooling access and a small footprint.

Officials from Johns Manville Corp. were excited about the company's Linacoustic XG formaldehyde-free fiberglass duct liner. Made from glass wool using the company's formaldehyde-free acrylic binder, it sports a reinforced, anti-microbial coating that protects the airstream surface, according to Johns Manville. Sheet metal shops will find Linacoustic XG easier to work with, officials say. The binder makes the fiberglass softer, more flexible and with less dust. It is designed to meet Greenguard Environmental Institute and state of Washington requirements for formaldehyde and total volatile organic compound levels.

Minneapolis-based Sheet Metal Connectors Inc. was showing its new Double Wall E-Z Flange With Barrel Clamp. The Double Wall E-Z Flange can be shipped in sets or installed at the factory. For field installation, a worker attaches the double-wall E-Z Flange to the duct and fittings. Then he or she applies the gasket to one flange, joins the two double-wall flanges together and attaches the barrel clamp.

Klenk Tools named Bob Williams of Williams-Pollex and Associates its 2003 sales representative of the year. Roger Pollex (left), Marty Marcus of Klenk Tools, winner Bob Williams and Todd Montgomery attended the award ceremony on the expo show floor.
Officials from Everhard Products Inc.'s Klenk Tools Division said the company's new Stak-N-Totes portable trays have been a big hit. The galvanized, stackable steel trays with a built-in handle allow contractors to store their fittings and tools - or take them with them - without having to change containers. Angled sides make it easier to see what's in each drawer without removing a tray from the stack. Six configurations are available. The company also introduced the Klenk Duct Slicer, which safely cuts metal duct and works well on takeoffs, according to Klenk officials. The improved slicer now offers a beveled tip, a heat-treated steel shaft and ergonomic handle.

Iowa Precision Industries Inc. was promoting several machines. The Pro-Ductomatic is "the ideal front-end system for your notched beading duct-blanking needs," according to a product fact sheet. The power, gear-driven uncoiler is a drop-in model. A proportional valve provides a soft, smooth start and stop, officials say. A drive motor is provided for each coil station, eliminating the need to change motor position when switching coil runs.

The company was also promoting its new "robust" Precision Elbow Machine, which includes an improved tube-gripping system, a single, large-diameter bearing on the push table, head rotational control valves, a head-rotation counter, head gears with less teeth and a compressed-air free-operation.

The Bullet Band is the latest product from Ductmate Industries Inc. This self-sealing round duct-connection system reduces installation time and costs, according to Ductmate. It slides easily into the duct during installation, adjusts for minor imperfections in cut, exceeds the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors' National Association's Class 3 leakage requirements and does not need sealants or tapes to hold it in place. Only two screws are required.

Midwest Tool and Cutlery Co. of Sturgis, Mich., was showing its Midwest Snips line. Company officials say the blades are unbreakable and heat-treated for exceptional strength. The snips' ergonomic handle with a smaller, 5 1/2-inch spread is easier to grip and provides greater cutting pressure, according to the manufacturer. A center-pivot adjustment bolt is threaded into the bottom blade to keep them from needing adjustment for 30,000 cuts.

Venting and air-distribution products maker Selkirk LLC of Dallas was promoting several products, including the Direct-Temp direct-vent chimney system. Released under the Metalbestos brand, it features a stainless steel inner liner and a proprietary woven-fiberglass seal to make a secure connection, according to the company. A chamfered edge makes the system slide together easily, they add. They lock in place using Selkirk's LockTab. The locked sections can be rotated 360 degrees. The Direct-Temp is ideal for sidewall and conventional venting, officials say.

The company also said its Model DWC gas connector has been listed by Underwriters Laboratories as an "unenclosed segment of a gas system." The listing qualifies the DWC for uses other than a connector.

Dave Forrest of e-Office demonstrates a new piping-and-purchasing software program at the Wendes Systems booth.
Thermo Manufacturing Inc. of Canton, Ohio, now offers the ThermoThimble, a through-the-wall air-conditioning line set kit. The ThermoThimble creates a permanent, airtight seal, according to company officials. A temporary plug keeps out air, insects and pests, and it installs easily on siding or masonry, they add. The flange comes already marked for nails or screws.

Production Products Inc. was promoting its new Spring Lock. The patent-pending Spring Lock is up to 150 percent stronger than plastic plugs, officials say, and it installs quickly, without the need for crimping or to deburr, they add.

Elmira Heights, N.Y.-based Stamped Fittings Inc. was highlighting the Dura Flange connector for round and oval ductwork. The Dura Flange is made from 18-gauge material with a wire rod built into the outside perimeter of the flange for extra strength. To make installation faster, the base of the flange includes a pocket to allow caulking material to be added before putting it inside the duct. The connector is joined and installed with sheet metal screws. The Dura Flange comes with starting holes already punched.

At its booth, CertainTeed Corp. was celebrating the company's 100th anniversary and announcing that the company would release ToughGard II, a new textile duct-liner insulation, later this year. It was also showing the Isopure filter media, fiberglass insulation designed for original-equipment-manufacturer-made pocket filters. CertainTeed said the Isopure offers consistent performance and an excellent pressure-drop and efficiency ratio.

Mark Smith of Ductmate Industries Inc. demonstrates the company’s new Bullet Band, a self-sealing round duct-connection system.

Expo organizers name Innovation Award winners in 8 categories

A bacteria-fighting duct system and a high-efficiency, single-package HVAC system were among the winners of the second annual AHR Expo Innovation Awards.

Members of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers judged 107 new products for their value, novelty and impact in the categories of heating, cooling, ventilation, refrigeration, energy management, software, tools and instruments, and indoor air quality.

Judges said they were very impressed with this year's entries.

"It is very encouraging to see the large number of new ideas and strategies being implemented by the various members of the industry," judge Tom Hartman said. "This industry is not known for the pursuit of new ideas and the fact that such processes are at work with such vigor is very heartening."

In the heating category, the Rheem and Ruud GFD 90 Plus Gas Modulating Furnace With Contour Comfort Control was the 2004 winner. Designed by Rheem Manufacturing Co. for utility rooms and closets, the low-profile, 34-inch-high unit monitors fan speed and automatically adjusts fuel flow to run between 40 percent and 100 percent efficiency.

The SunLine MagnaDry from York International Corp.'s Unitary Products Group won in the cooling category. The high-efficiency, single-package unit includes a patented dehumidification system, designed to remove moisture without overcooling. Suggested uses include museums and supermarkets.

In the refrigeration category, the Danfoss Type TN was the winner. The Type TN is a hermetic, CO2 refrigerant compressor, designed for light-commercial refrigeration and heat pump use. It handles CO2 pressures up to 2,000 pounds per square inch and allows temperature up to 200°F.

In the indoor air quality category, Lindab Inc.'s line of Spiro duct products that feature the AgION anti-microbial was the winner. Steel used by Lindab is pre-coated with AgION's anti-microbial, ensuring all exposed surfaces are treated. The system fights the growth of mold, bacteria and microbes in ductwork.

In the ventilation category, EBM Industries Inc.'s line of EC-Giant motors were noted for their energy-efficient and smooth-running design.

The 301 IRF refrigerant monitor from Vulcain Alarm Inc. was named best in the tools and test instruments category. It includes a dual infrared sensor that can detect the lowest level of refrigerant gases. It can be placed up to 100 feet from a transmitter. It can measure gases as low as 30 parts per million and the sensor is not affected by other gases or temperature or humidity variations.

Wrightsoft Corp.'s Right-Suite Residential HVAC design software took the software prize. The software automatically converts building floor plans into system designs with diagrams and parts lists. It uses HVAC Shapes software to compute loads, size and draw two-line ductwork, and perform takeoffs, reports and proposals.

In the energy management category, the IceBear-50 took top honors. The IceBear-50 is a 50-ton-hour distributed-energy-storage product that helps commercial buildings and residences save energy. It cuts the peak demand of standard unitary, refrigerant-based air conditioners by up to 90 percent, and electricity consumption up to 30 percent.

The Innovation Awards were sponsored by ASHRAE, the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute and the International Exposition Co., organizers of the AHR Expo. Entry fees from the competition will help fund an HVACR scholarship at Southern California vocational schools.