John Sorna (left) and John Junker show how to attach ProGuard, a duct-protecting film cover from Ductmate Industries.

NEW YORK - “If the AHR Expo can make it here, it can make it anywhere” could be the slogan for the 2008 show, which racked up some large numbers and erased negative memories of the last time the expo hit Manhattan. Official numbers say the Jan. 22-24 event at the Jacob C. Javits Center attracted 39,298 attendees, who joined 19,824 exhibitor staffers to transverse the convention hall and see the 1,885 companies whose products were on display.

Organizers announced the totals as a record.

“We are thrilled to surpass so many major milestones at this year’s event,” said Clay Stevens, president of the International Exposition Co., which manages the annual event. “As it has been 17 years since the show was last held in New York, HVAC and R professionals took full advantage of the city’s accessibility to visit the world’s largest HVAC and R event and see the thousands of new products and technologies on display.”

It was the first time since 1991 that the expo and its accompanying American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers’ winter meeting had been held in New York City. That time there had been some grumbling about the city’s cost and the weather was especially brutal, even by New York’s winter standards.

But this year the weather was cold but dry, and many exhibitors were happy with the numbers and levels of interest from booth visitors.

“The traffic has been excellent,” said Mike Ruff, senior vice president and chief operating officer of Intellidyne, in an interview Jan. 23. “I haven’t seen this type of traffic in several years at any show. We are seeing all the people we want to meet: contractors, distributors, end users and vo-tech (vocational/technical education) students.”

Mike Gunion, president of AspenAir, maker of an electronic air cleaner, had similar comments.

“It’s been great - again. We exhibited at Dallas for the first time last year and we are seeing much better traffic this year,” he said.

Next year’s show is Jan. 26-28 in Chicago, one of the expo’s most popular locations.

Products aplenty

Here are some of the products on display that may be of greatest interest to sheet metal and HVAC contractors.

ProGuard, a dual-polyethylene sticky film for protecting ductwork, was introduced at the expo by Ductmate Industries Inc. It’s designed to keep dust, dirt and debris out of interior ductwork. Placed over open duct ends, it stays in place during transportation and leaves no residue.

Sturgis, Mich.-based Midwest Tool and Cutlery Co. has added the Duct Tightener to its Midwest Snips line. A patent-pending design makes connecting duct runs easier and quicker, company officials said. Tap the tool into place and a V-notch pulls and holds ductwork together, making drive cleat installation easier.

Sheet metal machinery maker Advance Cutting Systems was showing its AutoFold Space Saver, a machine that includes a 5-foot by 16-gauge shear, a 5-foot by 16-gauge folder, a leveler and beader, and notchers for “S&D” duct or “TDF/TDC” duct. It can produce cut-to-length metal, L-shaped duct sections and fully wrapped duct sections. The company was also demonstrating its Profile-Master software, which includes a full library of fittings, nesting and other features.

Banner Sales Inc., a manufacturer of labels, tools and HVAC hardware, promoted its full line, including shop replacement parts, its Condu line of insertion tools, studs and “claws” for fastening, clips, bushings and colored labels.

Formaldehyde-free duct board was being explained at Johns Manville’s large AHR Expo booth. Made of fiberglass, it has an anti-microbial agent applied to fight mold growth. The airstream side has a fiberglass mat for use at velocities up to 6,000 feet per minute, while the opposite side has a fire-resistant facing made of foil, scrim and kraft.

Officials with Rams Sheet Metal Equipment of Kenosha, Wis., were talking about the Rams-2011-C, a 16-gauge slitter. A THK bearing side rail allows one-handed adjustments. An easy-to-read scale and adjustable top cutter eliminates the need for shims, officials say. Powered by a 1-horsepower electric motor, its cabinet is made of heavy-gauge steel in a green finish.

Canadian companyNorlok Technology Inc.was exhibiting the Fitting Machine, designed to accommodate most standard HVAC fittings such as elbows, boots, adapters and pipes. A high-speed control option allows the machine to run up to 160 cycles per second. It includes an optional safety stroke and even closer tooling access than the company’s Surelok II. Air-powered, it needs no electricity to operate. The company also showed its Seam Flanger, which it says is a low-cost option for edge clinching, standing seams and close-access uses. No hydraulic booster is required. A 360-degree rotating hanging bracket is included.

Venture Tape Corp.promoted its 1581A duct board tape, which it says is the only cold-weather tape for duct board. Designed for use as a vapor seal, it has a pressure-sensitive adhesive designed to work in all weather situations.

Thermo Manufacturing Inc.showed the Thermo-Pan, its noiseless sheet metal alternative for return-air ducts. Easy to install and lightweight, it does not require shop fabrication.

Everhard Products’Klenk Tools line was showing its adjustable-length nut drivers, which allow operators to change the nut driver shaft length, depending on the situation. Officials say it works great for reaching into awkward spaces. The retractable shaft changes from 3 inches to 6 inches with the push of a button. A magnetic end makes placement easier and prevents dropped screws.

Heating & Cooling Products Manufacturing Co.touted the energy savings of its Model 101U ultra-seal pipe. With a self-sealing gasket, it exceeds Sheet Metal and Air-conditioning Contractors’ National Association standards, the company says.

Malco Products Inc.showed the UC1, an uncoiler for polyethylene crossed-linked or PEX tubing. It allows contractors to easily coil or uncoil the tubing, and move it with the built-in carrying case.

Dyn-O-Wrap was among the AHR Expo products on display fromDuro Dyne Corp.It’s a self-adhesive film to protect uninstalled portions of duct from dirt and debris. Applied over duct openings, it keeps out unwanted particles during transportation, officials say. They add that it is 40 percent stronger than similar products, ensuring greater resistance against punctures.

Big Ass Fansintroduced its Pivot Fan, a 6-foot-diameter package allowing users to position the fan in a variety of directions. The fan can be installed around mezzanines, narrow aisle ways, around ceilings and confined workspaces. A mounting system features two pivot points, giving the fan 73 different hanging positions. A proprietary airfoil and winglet combo helps to maximize performance at smaller sizes. The product also comes with a touch-pad controller and an optional cage that can be placed over the unit.

General Tools & Instruments demonstrated its Video Borescope system. The portable, handheld device allows technicians to inspect the internal workings of HVAC systems. If problems are found inside a furnace or air conditioner, the technician can use the tool’s camera or video capabilities to take still photos or real-time video. These videos can later be used to diagnose problems within a system. The borescope also has rechargeable batteries and can continuously record for four hours.

Rotobrush displayed its air duct cleaning system, which features the company’s patented “brush and vacuum” technology. The company also showed its Roto-Vision video inspection system that can be mounted on top of the Rotobrush cleaning system. The video inspection system has a lighted camera that can record video or take pictures inside a customer’s ductwork. The product features a 10.4-inch LCD screen, and its battery can last for more than seven hours, officials say.

Another recent video inspection system from Rotobrush is the i2Cam, which can also take video to record the inside of ductwork before and after cleaning. The i2Cam has a 7-inch LCD screen and 12-inch camera cord.

Multicam’s 1000 Series CNC plasma machine was on display at the company’s booth. According to officials, the plasma machine is suitable for HVAC applications ranging from light-gauge sheet metal to a half-inch plate metal with the appropriate torch. Advanced technology on the machine includes dual X-axis drives for automatically squaring the gantry and engineered extrusions for high-velocity cutting. Product options include the EZ knife, which can cut closed cell foam or fiberglass duct liner material. A pneumatic scribe can provide engraving for part numbers.

The machine is also compatible with ShopData software, which can create both sheet metal parts as well as duct-liner parts in one program.

The new Clip Line from Production Products Inc. was in action during the show. This 10-station roll former can make TDC or TDF clips from coil sheets. The manufacturer claims that the roll former can produce 1,200 clips per hour. Other machine features include batch counter with auto-stop, hydraulic shear and flying cutoff.

Vicon introduced the latest addition to its family of HVAC machinery. The Vicon Vi-Stream 510-520 water-jet linear cutting system uses a water-jet system from KMT. The cutting table is available in 5-foot by 10-foot and 5-foot by 20-foot models.

The latest product from Stamped Fittings Inc. is the Edge, a self-sealing round duct system. The system was designed to eliminate the sealing of all connections in spiral-duct systems. The company says that this helps with labor savings for the installer and it is useful for exposed systems. The Edge comes in a variety of fittings, including elbows, reducers, bell mouths and more. The system also allows for space for inserting screws because the gasket is located on the edge of the fitting.

Patriot Hardware showcased its adjustable elbows. The elbows are available in a 90-degree and 45-degree adjustable “swivel.” The company claims that the elbows are manufactured with advanced production machinery to ensure the proper radius and diameter for the finished parts. They are also available in 4- to 16-inch diameters in 26-gauge galvanized metal.

Gripple displayed its Y Pipe hanger, which can provide a way to suspend duct without the need for traditional supports and bearers. According to the company, the Y Pipe has several advantages, including the ability to quickly attach pipe brackets to half-inch stud fixings. It also replaces conventional supports, which require cutting and preparation on site. The device is supplied as a complete kit consisting of a hangar, 3/8-inch Y-Fit with metal support plate. It is designed to support two pipes from 3/8 inches through 2 1/2 inches.

The company also provided information on its Trapeze fastener system. The product is available as a kit in a range of end fixings in lengths that include 5, 10, 15 and 30 feet. Gripple says that the product is ideal for low ceilings and multi-tiered installations.

Spiral-Helix Inc.introduced its new line of Helix Fittings. The full line of stamped fittings includes elbows, saddle taps, bell-mouth takeoffs, reducers, end caps and couplings. The company can ship the fittings to contractors within 10 days, but can also provide expedited service in three days.

Reflectixprovided attendees with information on its concrete slab and duct insulation. The company’s duct insulation has two outer layers of aluminum foil that reflect 97 percent of radiant heat. Each layer of foil is bonded to a layer of polyethylene while two inner layers consist of insulating bubbles to resist conductive heat flow. The center layer is made of polyethylene.

The concrete slab insulation has seven layers. The first layer of white poly is bonded to foil to protect from lime in curing concrete. Each outer layer is bonded to a layer of polyethylene for strength. An additional two inner layers of insulating bubbles help to resist conductive heat flow, while a center layer of polyethylene is used for further strength and reliability, according to the manufacturer. The product can be used under concrete in radiate heating and melting snow

Bull Seal is one of the latest sealant products fromTVM Sealant. The product is a modified silicone adhesive sealant, which the company claims can outperform other latex, silicone and polyurethane adhesive products. The sealant is ideal for ductwork and plumbing applications. It is also 100 percent waterproof, has ultraviolet resistance, and is solvent free.

A number of companies demonstrated their sheet metal design software.MTC Softwaregave attendees a look at its Design2Fab program, a 3-D sheet metal design, layout and estimating system. The system allows users to create HVAC duct, mechanical, kitchen, industrial, roofing or specialty fitting layouts. It also provides cost-data sheets for a project, as well as cost estimating.

The TurboNest 2 from MTC Software is the company’s introductory nesting software. The company says that the program is easy to learn and use. The tool “pathing” of CAD files occurs automatically upon import. Part requirements are also assigned and a variety of features allow parts to be nested with ease, according to officials. Users can achieve consistent parts with the TurboNest program by embedding feed rate or kerf data into the CNC file and sharing nesting information using the available production reports.

Technical Sales Internationalused this year’s expo to announce its partnership with Trimble, a manufacturer of global positioning and surveying equipment. TSI has developed Job-Site Solutions, which specifically takes advantage of the Trimble MEP software and the Trimble SPS610 Robotic Total Station. Trimble MEP is a new software solution for mechanical contractors. By using Trimble MEP and Trimble SPS610, contractors can take a digital CAD design file or 3-D building information model into the field to simplify layout of pipe or ducts.

Job-Site will transfer CAD data wirelessly to the Trimble MEP hand held device that works in conjunction with Trimble’s robotic station. This new system eliminates the traditional method of developing blueprints in an office and bringing them to the jobsite. With Trimble and TSI, files are delivered right from the office to the palm device. The robotic station will then map out the accurate placement of ducts and pipes. If plans change in the field, data can be sent back digitally without recreating blueprints.

EastCoast CAD/CAMalso announced a joint venture. The company will combine its HVAC, sheet metal and piping fabrication software with Autodesk’s design and documentation applications. According to EastCoast, the development came about by a recent industry study on the interoperability of software programs. The study discovered that HVAC and sheet metal workers lose an estimated 30 worker hours in data re-entry for every million dollars in projects. This is due to the fact that software programs cannot communicate with each other and data must be re-entered into new programs.

ShopData Systemsshowed off its FabPro Duct-CAM software that features a complete rectangle, round and flat oval fitting library and common 2-D fabrication shapes. It also features automatic fitting layout, automatic shape nesting and CNC cutting. The company says that users can even modify finished patterns for special applications by using a “Workbench” drawing tool. Contractors can place holes, chop pieces, scale or stretch them, and even merge two patterns together.

The company also provided a look at the 2008 Quickduct CAD. The program offers automatic tagging and auto-routing. An auto-connect feature provides contractors with the ability to connect two ducts and choose the type of transitioning. Other features include picture editing and dimensioning. By teaming up with Quote Express, the Quickduct program can also provide estimating. Fab-Pro provides on-screen estimating on either the whole drawing or a specified area.

For reprints of this article, contact Jill DeVries at (248) 244-1726 or e-mail

Is ASHRAE ‘missing the bus?'

ASHRAE wanted the truth: when it comes to contractors, is the society providing them with what they need or are they headed in an entirely different direction?

That is why the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers presented “Missing the Bus: What is ASHRAE Not Doing for the Contractor?” The session brought together contractors Jan. 22 to find out what the society can do for them. It provided contractors with the opportunity to express their needs and what the society can do about it.

The session was moderated by James Fields, a director at large for ASHRAE and president of Superior Mechanical Services Inc. in Greensboro, N.C.

“I face the same problems you do,” Fields said to the contractors. “I’m familiar with the day-in, day-out contractor job.”

As a contractor and a member of ASHRAE, Fields asked what could be done to create a better connection between the society and contractors. What could ASHRAE do to gear more information toward them?

Fields opened the floor to any contractors who wanted to speak and stressed “anything on your mind is fair game.”

One attendee said he’d like to see ASHRAE provide more case studies that provide information on previous projects and what went right and what went wrong on them.

Fields said that ASHRAE has a wealth of technical information that would be useful to contractors, but it needs to be easier to find.

Another contractor said that he would like ASHRAE to investigate ways for contractors and engineers to work better together. Many of the contractors in attendance at the session echoed this suggestion.

One solution was more education and training from the society that would not be exclusive to engineers. Some of this training could be more focused towards design-build contractors.

Another possibility would be creating new guidelines that could enhance communication between contractors and engineers.

Fields also stressed during the session that by helping contractors ASHRAE can get something in return. He explained that the development of ASHRAE standards could be enhanced by the participation and knowledge of contractors.

For example, Fields said ASHRAE would like to create guidelines on developing zero-energy buildings. With the rise of green building and sustainability, the expertise of contractors will help in making this a reality, he said.