DALLAS - It appears the AHR Expo’s return to Dallas - the first time the city has hosted the show since 2000 - roped in plenty of HVAC professionals.

Show organizers say more than 47,000 people packed the city’s main convention center for the Jan. 29-31 event. That eclipses the official count from the last show here seven years ago by 2,000 people.

The 2007 AHR Expo attracted 28,000 visitors, including 5,270 from outside the United States, and 19,000 booth staffers.

This year’s show also used more exhibit space - 354,057 square feet versus 314,932 in 2000 - and more exhibitors - 1,789 this year compared with 1,044 seven years ago.

“We are delighted with this year’s record-breaking event, as it reflects the growth of various industry segments within the AHR Expo and our ongoing efforts to add several enhancements,” said International Exposition Co. President Clay Stevens. The exposition company produces and manages the annual event. “AHR Expo is the only HVAC and R-exclusive event in the world that offers industry professionals such an extensive overview of all segments of the marketplace.”

Many exhibitors also seemed pleased. A few who were exhibiting in Dallas for the first time said they weren’t sure what to expect, but told Snips they were very happy with the crowds.

“I’ve seen a lot of international traffic in the booth and that has a significant impact on a global company like us. We could not get this contact with potential customers anywhere else,” said Bill Spohn, a licensed professional engineer and the HVACR product manager for instrument maker Testo Inc.
With almost 1,800 exhibitors, it’s impossible to cover all the products at the AHR Expo. But here are what some of the companies of greatest interest to sheet metal contractors had on display, including some of the latest in sheet metal machinery.

Plasma Automation Inc. employees Bill Leverton (left) and Paul Villar demonstrate the Vicon Slip-and-Drive roll former and the Vicon coil-line system.

Plasma Automation Inc. displayed its line of liner-cutting systems. The company’s Vicon SL-8000 duct-liner-cutting system is a stand-alone machine for cutting duct liner in low- and high-volume shops. The tables are available in 5-foot by 10-foot or 6-foot by 10-foot lengths.
Features include a synthetic table surface for smooth liner cutting, built-in duct liner decoiler and a traversing speed up to 1,000 inches per minute. The machine comes with Vicon HVAC cutting software with automatic liner downsizing.
Plasma Automation’s similar Vicon DL-8000 cuts both sheet metal and duct liner on the same table. The Vicon DL-8000 has several of the features of the SL-8000, including a variety of available table sizes and cutting software.

Tennsmith Metal Tools had information on several of its sheet metal machines, including hand brakes, mechanical shears, slip rolls, notchers and benders. The company’s fabricating machines include the Titan press brake, which has a 100- to 250-ton capacity. The company reports that the machine has accuracy even on off-center tooling. The machine also has fewer valves to maintain, it adds.
The Tennsmith T-Series Shear has a welded steel box-frame construction, which the company says eliminates deflection. The machine has an adjustable blade clearance, 40-inch retractable back gauge, and quarter-inch through half-inch mild steel shearing capacities.

Ductformer displayed a number of its roll-former machines. According to a representative, the Flat “S” Drive Cleat Roll former is one of the company’s most popular machines. The machine is an eight-station roll former with a new computer-aided design. Sealed roller bearings keep metal particles out of the bearings and eliminates external thrust bearings. A full oil bath gear reducer provides strong power transmission and quiet operation, according to the company.
The company’s Flat “S” roll former is available in 16-gauge to 28-gauge capacity, with speeds up to 85 feet per minute.

Vermette Machine Co. Inc. gave attendees a look at its new No. 6516 material lift system. The machine allows a user to take loads up to 650 pounds and lift them up to 15 feet. The company says the machine has a new fold-and-storage design, allowing one person to load the lift from a truck or van. The lift also features reversible platform forks to easily change fork positions. It also features Vermette’s all-needle roller-bearing winch. A spring-loaded handle anti-spin winch is also available.

Norlok Technology Inc. showed off its Surelok II series. The company says its machines will fasten material as thick as 14 gauge and as thin as 32 gauge. The machines feature a rigid steel frame, 18-inch or 25-inch throats to provide greater reach for larger parts, a direct-acting power stroke, and a small footprint.

Dan Milhon (right) with Lenox explains the company’s newest aviation snips to expo attendee Chad Sloan.

Trumpf’s latest sheet metal tool is the TSC 1 slat cleaner. The tool is capable of cleaning the slats on most conventional flatbed laser machines. The 1,200-watt motor has a working speed of 26 to 33 feet per minute.  Trumpf says the cleaner will crush slag from the slats and straighten twisted spikes. The cleaner will automatically adjust to different slat and slag thickness. On flatbed laser machines with a pallet changer, cleaning takes place while production is still running. The TSC 1 cleans steel, copper and stainless slats.

A redesigned foam board stapler was on display from Malco. The company claims that the stapler has a non-jamming operation and includes new multi-barbed 2 1/2-inch staples with more holding power for 2-inch foam board. The stapler is compatible with most other brands of foam board stapling systems. It also includes an ergonomic “D-grip” handle, which keeps hands in-line for applying downward pressure while stapling or lifting and carrying the tool.

Midwest Ducts introduced its T1 One-Step Snap & Seal pipe system. The system allows contractors to seal the longitudinal joint on a pipe and provides a tight seal without foil tape. The company reports that it has integrated the properties of 3M-brand VHB tape mounted in the snap-lock seam to produce a permanent seal that will not separate like foil tape. Installers just remove the liner tape, eliminating the labor involved in applying foil tape.

Ductmate Industries Inc. showcased its latest “green” product called the GreenSeam snap-lock pipe. The pipe is a self-sealing snap lock pipe that has a pre-installed gasket that seals the longitudinal seam once it is snapped together. The company said that the pipe is used in construction of residential and light-commercial ductwork, and was developed to target high-efficiency systems to achieve a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating. Ductmate also claims that the GreenSeam pipe will reduce leakage, which will create higher efficiencies and lead to lower fuel costs.

Hand-tool manufacturer Lenox showcased its latest line of snips and HVAC tools. The tools are part of its premium line, designed to provide longer blade life. The new Lenox aviation snips feature precision-formed blades ground to a point for long, even cuts. Lenox reports that its offset snips are designed with bi-material blades with Type No. 1074 high-carbon steel upper blades for sharpness and forged lower blades for strength. The snips are also equipped with a reinforced silicone valve-quality wire for longer performance, over-molded handles, and color coding on blades and handles for tool recognition.
Lenox snips are available in right, left and straight cutting aviation; right and left offset; and bulldog snip models to cut 16-gauge cold-rolled steel.

Duro Dyne Corp. President Randy Hinden (left) shows the company’s latest products with David Krupnick, territory manager.

The latest product from Design Polymerics is the new DP 88 edge-coating “Duct Butter.” The company claims that the coating is a quick way of “buttering” cut or damaged fiberglass insulation. DP 88 combines quick drying aerosol adhesives with the tack-free properties of duct sealants and liner adhesives.

Miracle/Kingco reports that its Ultraseal 970 duct sealant is the first duct sealant to earn GreenGuard certification. The product combines the company’s fast-tacking, water-based Ultratack duct liner adhesive. Both the Ultraseal 970 and Ultratack system meet LEED standards.

Polyguard Products Inc., manufacturer of self-adhesive weather and vapor barrier membranes, introduced the new Alumaguard Lite. The product is a companion to the company’s Alumaguard 60 for the bottom of ductwork. The company says that the product is lightweight and has no sag, which alleviates the need to pin the bottom of the ductwork. The company’s other Alumaguard products include Alumaguard Cold Weather, which can be installed down to minus 20ºF without using an activator. Alumaguard-EE has an extended asphalt edge for an asphalt-to-asphalt seal on the joints.

Thermaflex provided information on its line of flexible-duct products. The duct is GreenGuard certified and is available in several specifications. The flexible duct comes in a variety of diameters, temperature ranges and velocities. Insulated flexible duct from Thermaflex includes a chlorinated polyethylene core, which can be found in the company’s M-KE and G-KM models. According to the company, this core provides for better acoustical properties. The company says that its Pro Series materials will not support mold and bacterial growth.

Duro Dyne Corp. displayed several new products at the AHR Expo, including its latest dampers. The 24-Volt Spring Return Multi-Size Damper features an aluminum frame, DuroZone Mid-Torque Spring Return Motor, and gaskets for a high-integrity seal. The damper is available in 10 models in various heights and widths. The 24-Volt Return-Multi-Blade Damper is placed inside ductwork to control airflow in warm air and air-conditioning systems. The company says the exterior side-mounted linkage ensures quiet operation and a smooth in-duct airflow. It is stocked in 66 sizes. Duro Dyne also highlighted its new Perforated Galvanized Strap for hanging HVAC equipment. The 24-gauge strap is coiled and perforated with alternating hole sizes to accommodate sheet metal screws and as well as nut and bolt combinations. The company also introduced the Nova Strap, a 1 3/4-inch strap for hanging duct. It is designed for flexible duct, PVC vent duct, duct board systems, and lighter-weight steel for duct applications.

Duroseal is also available from Duro Dyne. The duct closure mastic can be used in medium and high velocity systems and is suitable for indoor and outdoor use.

Ruskin, a manufacturer of air- and sound-control products, displayed a number of dampers, including fire and smoke dampers, control dampers and more. One of the company’s latest products is geared towards helping contractors in areas of the country that deal with hurricanes. The EME520MD Hurricane Louver is Miami-Dade County-approved and designed for areas such as Florida where high amounts of rain are seen each year. The product not only resists high wind loads, but also minimizes the amount of wind-driven rain that can occur. The louver also incorporates the company’s Universal Flange Frame installation design, which is used on other hurricane models. Another benefit, according to the company, is that it is approved for use in any wall material type. Contractors do not need to coordinate multiple anchor styles for different wall materials.

Spiral-Helix Inc. displayed a number of its product lines at the AHR Expo, including its tube formers. The Helix series of tube formers allow users to produce spiral duct. The Helix 3600 includes a programmable logic controller for smoother acceleration. The Helix 3600-H is made of welded steel, including the main machine, cabinet and de-coiler. Special steel alloys are used for various parts and each roller is made from high-grade steel. The Helix 300 is the machine capable of producing the largest duct dimensions, the manufacturer says. Spiral-Helix also held demonstrations of its roll formers, including the Helix roll former, which can easily adjust to various diameters. It can roll up to 2,500 blanks or gores per hour. The Helix is equipped with remote control and an automatic feeding table, and can be used in combination with other machines such as stitch welders and lock seamers.

Texas-based MultiCam was promoting its “show specials,” which included two models of the 1000 Series plasma cutters. The entry-level machines have features normally found on more-expensive equipment, company officials say. These include dual drives, a welded steel base, an engineered aluminum steel frame and Hypertherm plasma equipment.

Johns Manville showed its Linacoustic RC fiberglass duct liner with a reinforced coating. Officials site a FMI survey that says HVAC contractors ranked it No. 1. It has a tough surface, is easy cut, adheres well to sheet metal and includes pins that attach cleanly to metal. It also promoted EnviroAire fiberglass duct board, which the company says installs easier and faster than metal ductwork and includes an anti-microbial coating for better indoor air quality.

Roto-Die Inc. was celebrating its more than 45 years of making hydraulic sheet metal-bending equipment. Its four models are as easy to work as hand brakes, but have much more capacity potential, officials say. Patented processes reduce setup time by up to 70 percent and one-person operation cuts labor in half. Speeds of up to 50 strokes per minute are possible, the company says.
The “Super HETO,” a high-efficiency, die-stamped takeoff was the newest offering from Sheet Metal Connectors Inc. of Minneapolis. Pressed from a single piece of steel, it has perfectly smooth radius corners, officials say. The design allows maximum downstream airflow, saving energy and making balancing easier. The Super HETO is available with or without dampers.

Advance Cutting Systems was promoting its Profile-Master software and the Cutter II line of machinery. The software has manual and automatic nesting and plenty of fittings, among other features. The Cutter II plasma machinery line includes a 5- by 10-foot table standard, the Hypertherm Powermax 1000, a floating head, an office computer with a two-tray laser printer and in-person installation and training.
EZ Trap Inc. has added to the Aspen miniature condensate pump line, including the Aspen Maxi Orange. The split Orange has a clear plastic reservoir directly coupled to the evaporator’s internal drain hose and connected to the pump.

Carlisle Coatings & Waterproofing’s Hardcast division now has Foil-Grip 1403-181BFX rolled elastomeric duct sealant available. Rated to last 40 years, the sealant is pressure sensitive and adheres to any duct surface, according to company officials. It also meets Underwriters Laboratories’ and California state requirements and reduces duct energy loss, they add.

Portable duct racks from Tier-Rack Corp. can reduce storage space by half, officials say. Stacking ducts horizontally using the company’s racks, instead of vertically, frees space and reduces costs. Portable racks can be stacked five-high.

For reprints of this article, contact Jill DeVries at (248) 244-1726 or e-mail devriesj@bnpmedia.com.