Amir Sharify of Air-Duct Manufacturing Inc. returned to the AHR Expo to show off the SPIRAmir self-sealing spiral-duct system.

CHICAGO - In a time when the nation is experiencing its worst recession in decades, the AHR Expo is doing pretty well. Estimated attendance was 54,000 - almost 35,000 attendees and 19,000 booth staffers - for the Jan. 26-28 show at Chicago’s McCormick Place convention center.

That was less than the 57,000 who came to Chicago in 2006 and the 59,000 the 2003 Chicago show attracted, but considering the recession and the tough time many shows are having now, AHR Expo organizers were happy.

“Even though the economy is struggling, the crowd that came out for the 2009 show exceeded our expectations,” said Clay Stevens, president of International Exposition Co., which produces and manages the expo. “The aisles were crowded and exhibitors in general were very pleased with the turnout at their booths.”

That sentiment applied to Gerald Longinetti of Asco Numatics, a fluid controls and power company owned by Emerson.

“We were concerned that with the economy, attendance would be down, but we’ve found that it’s been comparable to other very successful Chicago AHR expos,” Longinetti said. “The quality of leads has been the best we’ve seen.”

Other exhibitors with positive comments included Jeffrey J. Kanel, business development manager at Circul-Aire Inc., and Karen Jackson of Jackson Industries.

“We’ve been very, very busy,” Kanel said after the show’s first day. “There has been a lot of interest in indoor air quality and green products.”

Jackson said her first impression was a good one.

“This is our first HVAC show and we are amazed at the amount of interest we’ve received. It was phenomenal,” she said. 

Show organizers announced they gave $8,100 in entry fees from the annual Innovation Awards to HomeAid Chicago, which erects housing for homeless families. The money will be used to install a climate-control system at a domestic violence shelter in the city’s suburbs.

As always, the show floor was packed with products, even if the numbers of those browsing were a little lower than past shows. Here is a list of some of the sheet metal machinery, equipment and other HVAC-related items on display or promoted at the show.

Kenosha, Wis.-basedRams Sheet Metal Equipment was showing its Rams 2014 auxiliary machine, which allows operators to change complete roll sets in less than five minutes. The nine-station roll former has quick-release drive shafts, a 56-inch by 25-inch hinged table, quick jam clearing and a five-horsepower motor.

Air-Duct Manufacturing Inc.returned to the AHR Expo to show off its SPIRAmir self-sealing spiral-duct system. The maker says the system is easy to use, reusable and works with almost any spiral ductwork. No calibration is required.

Officials withEngel Industrieswere happy to talk about the ValuePlus Line, a fully hydraulic, unitized, compact coil line that offers a lot of features in a reliable package. The line runs at up to 55 feet per minute and includes a 16-gauge shear and “L” or full-wrap brake, and 18-gauge capacity low-profile notchers and beading rings.

Meyer Machine & Equipment Inc. of Antioch, Ill., showed off the Ranger, a gas-powered duct-cleaning machine that comes with a 31-horsepower V-twin engine, electric starter and a 10-foot-tall cloth filter bag. The machine is ideal for insulation removal and cleaning up industrial debris, officials say.

Gary Chappell of Ductmate Industries holds the Repeater Pro, the company’s newest product.

Ductmate Industries Inc.said it was “proud to present” the Repeater Pro, a pneumatic fastener. Designed for fastening slide-on flanges to ductwork, the lightweight machine works on a variety of metals. Air pressure can be adjusted with a dial - no need to change pressure from the air line.

The I-Combo plasma table fromAdvance Cutting Systems includes a 5-by-10 or 5-by-20-foot cutting area, a floating head Hypertherm plasma torch and rotary cutting head twin tools, a downdraft cutting table and other features. Options include a 6-foot cutting width, larger plasma units and programming software.

A high-efficiency takeoff with a built-in damper was the newest idem on display fromGary Metal Manufacturing LLC. It features a 1-inch flange, adhesive gasket, the correct duct-to-pipe airflow, a crimped and beaded collar and an optional insulation standoff. A variety of sizes and gauges are available.

The D-Max 1.25 and 2.0 fromISM Machinery Inc. of Grayslake, Ill., are spiral-duct machines that include programmable logic controllers powered by the company’s Spiral Smart Technology, which makes troubleshooting and setup easy, officials say. The hydraulically powered D-Max machines offer speed and reliability, and the flying slitting makes cuts clean and quiet.

No. 591, a self-wound liner-free foil/scrim/kraft (FSK) multilayer tape was made to seal and protect duct seams where FSK products are used as the primary insulation facing. The special rubber adhesive does not require a paper liner, allowing the tape to be applied directly out of the roll. This saves time and ensures contractor safety. The product is made byIdeal Tape Co. Inc.

The Thermo Reflect-8 is the product to use when building codes mandate R-8 duct insulation, company officials say. When installed properly, it adds R-8 insulation value to duct systems. The 1-inch-thick product has a 97 percent reflectivity rate, blocks mold and fungus growth, reduces heat loss and increases efficiency,Thermo Manufacturing Inc.officials say.

The Mestek Group, whose sheet metal machinery brands include Iowa Precision Industries, Engel Industries and Lockformer, showcased all its brands in a large booth in the middle of the floor. Image courtesy of International Exposition Co./Oscar Einzig Photography.

New Hampshire’sHypertherm Inc.was demonstrating the portable Powermax45 plasma cutter at this year’s expo. Company officials say it is ideally suited for use by HVAC and sheet metal workers because it can easily cut half-inch thick metal more quickly and easily, despite weighing only 37 pounds. It includes a CNC interface and 50:1 voltage divider to be used with a roller ball or torch-height control. The patented Boost Conditioner circuit keeps the Powermax45 running even in low-voltage conditions.

Officials with Bessy Tools North Americawere talking about two products: the super nibbler and the company’s strap cutter. The nibbler is capable of cutting a 2-inch hole and making distortion-free cuts in metal between 18 and 22 gauge. A transparent chip protection screen moves chips forward and away, protecting workers. Bessy’s strap cutter includes a holding element that keeps strap down while it cuts. The tool’s compound leverage means workers can cut with just one hand, increasing productivity and reducing fatigue.

AMS Controls’ XL220 HVAC duct line retrofit controller package works with all major machine brands and models, officials say. It allows older automatic machines, where electronic controls may no longer be working, to keep functioning. Company officials claim it can add 10 years to an existing duct line.

Attendees at the Plasma Automation booth check out the Vicon Vi-Stream water-jet liner cutter.

Venture Tape has model No. 1577CW, a tape designed to cover seams in coolers and freezers. This tape, which can be applied in cold weather, has a mold-resistant adhesive and comes in aluminum color or white. It applies in minutes and offers a permanent solution to unsightly rusting seams.

The Vicon Vi-Stream water-jet liner-cutting machine was on display atPlasma Automation’s large AHR Expo booth. The system offers fast, accurate cuts, officials say, along with a tapered flow design that allows water to collect in the strainer basin for easy cleaning. A patented, optional bar-code scanner coordinates the flow of sheet metal and duct liner. The machine’s one-piece design makes assembly unnecessary.

Knauf Insulation announced that it now offers duct board and insulation with Ecose. Ecose technology is a natural, sustainable binder made from renewable organic material instead of the commonly used petroleum-based chemicals. It reduces the product’s “carbon footprint” by up to 70 percent, according to Knauf.

Oregon’s Quote Software Inc. was promoting its latest products under the QuoteExpress line for piping, HVAC, sheet metal and plumbing contractors. The company’s cost-estimating software allows users to use an on-screen blueprint imaging module that company officials say reduces errors and saves time. Takeoffs can be done directly on the computer screen using the computer mouse, saving the need for a digitizer pen, printing or manually marking blueprints.

ToughGard R duct liner now exceeds the standards of many green-building rating programs,CertainTeed Corp. officials announced. The company added 25 percent recycled content. The product is Greenguard Environmental Institute certified, and can help structures earn points under the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design green-building rating program, CertainTeed officials add.

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

Chris Zaker of Glasfloss Industries explained how filtration fits into the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design building-rating program.

Filters can help earn green credits, speaker says

There’s a lot more to air filtration than many people realize.

That’s something even the speaker at the AHR Expo’s Jan. 27 session on the topic admitted he didn’t always know.

“I thought filters were just a collection of fibers and strands,” said Glasfloss Industries’ Chris Zaker, who led the session, “Saving Energy Through Proper Air Filtration.”

“These technologies really do work in harmony,” he said.

The talk was sponsored by the National Air Filtration Association. In it, Zaker explained that not only could use of the proper filters save energy and money, they can also help projects qualify for credits under the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design green-building rating program.

He spent much of the hour-long session explaining how the LEED system, which awards points for sustainable and healthy building practices, works with the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers’ Standard 52.2, which deals with filtration.

And do not underestimate the importance of LEED, Zaker added.

“This is probably the document that has had the most impact on buildings in the last decade,” he said.

In 2004, only 119 buildings nationwide were LEED certified, Zaker said. Now there are 1,000 in just Texas.

This is a trend that is not abating.

“I know it is expensive. It does cost more to build a LEED-certified building,” Zaker said, adding that nevertheless, the certification is transforming how buildings are erected.

However, many believe that green-certified buildings will cost less to operate overall, since they are more efficient and healthier when life-cycle costs are calculated. Many studies say employees who work in LEED buildings have higher productivity and lower absenteeism.

“Every tiny, little bit helps,” he said.

When it comes to LEED and filtration, the USGBC has some specific requirements. For example, filters with a minimum efficiency reporting value of eight are required at every return grille during construction. MERV-13 filters should be used once buildings are occupied.

“MERV 13 is the first filter size that actually addresses the particles that are respirable (small enough to be drawn into lungs),” Zaker said.

AHR hands out awards in green building, IAQ, heating

Show officials named the Apexx VSH Series variable-speed scroll compressors from Danfoss Inc. as the Product of the Year during the 2009 AHR Expo Innovation Awards.

Danfoss was recognized along with other winners in a Jan. 27 ceremony.

The other winners of the 2009 AHR Expo Innovation Awards offered new technology in the areas of indoor air quality, building automation and heating and cooling.

Besides the Product of the Year honor, Danfoss won the cooling category for its Apexx VSH Series variable-speed scroll compressors. The commercial compressors increase efficiency by using the whole evaporator, even during part-load conditions.

The green building category winner was the Ice Bear 30 hybrid air conditioner from Ice Energy. It allows 3- to 10-ton HVAC systems to shift 95 percent of daytime energy consumption to nighttime while still meeting daylight cooling requirements.

Johnson Controls’ Unitary Products Group won the heating award for its 98 percent efficient York Affinity modulating gas furnace. With a 33-inch footprint, officials say it fits in a variety of situations.

AEC Design Group won in the building automation category for its ArtA BIM (building information modeling) asset-management software. It links documents and information to any 3-D model without computer-aided drafting software.

The ventilation winner was Twin City Fan Cos. Ltd. for its Aero acoustic diffuser for plenum/plug fans. It reduces noise and improves operation efficieny without added pressure drop or power consumption.

UEi’s Smart Bell combustion meter was voted most innovative tool and instrument. It simplifies combustion analysis, allowing operators to tune equipment by measuring carbon dioxide levels and flue temperatures.

In the indoor air quality category, the HygroClip2 from Rotronic Instrument Corp. was the winner. The humidity and temperature probe offers high accuracy, sensor self-diagnostics, alarms and date recording.

The software winner was the Mc4 Suite from Mc4 Software. It hastens the design process by integrating data between building systems, including the ductwork, mechanical room, fire and energy.

Entry fees for the seventh annual Innovation Award were used to fund an $8,100 donation to a Chicago-area homeless shelter. The money will be used to install a new HVAC system.