LAS VEGAS - If organizers with the AHR Expo had any remaining qualms about holding their event here, they probably were over by 11 a.m. Jan. 31. 

According to the International Exposition Co., over 54,000 individuals attended this year’s AHR Expo Jan. 31-Feb. 2 in Las Vegas. Image courtesy of Oscar Einzig and the International Exposition Co.

LAS VEGAS - If organizers with the AHR Expo had any remaining qualms about holding their event here, they probably were over by 11 a.m. Jan. 31. After a frenetic first hour, with some aisles at the Las Vegas Convention Center so packed they were difficult to navigate, show officials could probably rest easy: The location of the 2011 AHR Expo was going to be a hit with exhibitors and attendees alike.

“We had a great first day,” said Mark Handzel, the building services market director with exhibitor ITT Residential and Commercial Water. “Our booth was constantly busy with people coming in to see our new energy-efficient products. We didn’t know what to expect with the show being held in Las Vegas for the first time, but we are very happy.”

The International Exposition Co., the Westport, Conn., organization that has long managed the show, had been uncertain about holding its event in southern Nevada. Most expo attendees drive to the event, and they weren’t sure the region or state had enough population to sustain a successful three-day HVAC show, even though the city is one of the nation’s top convention locations.

It can pay to be incorrect

They were happy to point out they were wrong.

“It’s really exceeding the expectations we had,” said Clay Stevens, president of the International Exposition Co. “We had kind of steered away from Las Vegas in the past because we felt there wasn’t enough industry and population … since we rely so heavily on the local state where the show is being held. But apparently, Las Vegas is that good a location.”

Officially, an estimated 54,000 attended the Jan. 31-Feb. 2 event, including visitors and exhibitor staff. And that’s good enough to put it as the biggest AHR Expo ever held in the Western U.S. Organizers pointed out that the 1,938 exhibitors was the second-largest for any expo, including those held in Chicago. The Windy City is typically the expo’s best location.

“The challenging economy of the last two years has created pent-up demand for new products and technologies,” Stevens added.

Whatever the reason, a lot of exhibitors said they could not be happier with the traffic at their booths.

“The show has been excellent for us,” said Peter Harper, a vice president of brand development with General Tools and Instruments. “We normally go through two rolls of paper in the sales lead machine and we (were) already on our fifth roll with one day to go.”

Vicon Machinery’s V-PSC-V516, a patent-pending Pittsburgh seam closer, was a popular item at the company’s booth.

New products

Out of the thousands of products shown by exhibitors these are some that may be of most interest to sheet metal and HVAC contractors.

Spiral Helix Inc.officials were excited about the WS-400, a “wide strip” spiral tube former that the company says is the fastest tube former in the world and can increase production speeds 58 percent. The other item was the Fittingshaper 1250. It can form grooves for rubber gaskets and stop beads, and clap gaskets onto fittings.

Armacell LLCpromoted its AP Coilflex conformable duct liner. The patent-pending, factory-applied foam conforms to fabricated corners and is engineered for sheet metal shops, company officials said. Fiber free and noise reducing, it works with water-based adhesives.

A round motorized takeoff damper was one of the new products introduced at the show from New Jersey’sZonefirst. It easily attaches to the sides of main trunks. The damper can be controlled by switch or thermostat and eliminates the need for a start collar and separate zone damper.

The Mighty-Right, a right-angle impact driver, is billed byMalco Products the smallest, lightest, most maneuverable impact driver available. The company says it is ideal for driving or removing sheet metal screws in tight spaces like ductwork or blind spots.

ISAAC is the acronym for a new HVAC inspection system fromCarlisle HVAC Products. The Inspection, Sealing and Advanced Cleaning is a robotic vehicle with a built-in video recorder. It can clean, coat and seal ductwork from 8 by 6 inches to 24 by 24 inches in a single pass, according to the manufacturer.

Canadian companyCliplight Manufacturingshowed the Quick 7-Step, a three- to five-minute installation procedure for applying its Super Seal vacuum-packed leak sealants to HVACR systems.

The PowerPinner 50, the newest product fromGripnail Corp., runs at up to 50 feet per minute and unlike other models, does not have to slow down to 25 feet per minute when applying welded duct liner fasteners. The machine can run at full speed while placing pins as close as 6 inches apart, the company says.

Johns Manvilleused the AHR Expo to launch a new line of fiberglass air-handling products. JM EQ, which stands for Environmental Quality, includes special Formaldehyde-free resins for better air quality, noise reduction and thermal performance. They also include U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-registered anti-microbial agents to inhibit mold. Products include Linacoustic EQ, Spiracoustic Plus EQ, EnviroAire EQ and Microlite EQ.

Attexor Clinch Systemsintroduced a new portable machine: the SC 0101FS. The company says it is very fast and light, and designed for instant sheet metal fastening of profiles with small edges.

Airtec Products Corp.introduced the WBB Series of wall brackets, designed to be a better looking, more versatile and less expensive mounting alternative to support pads at ground level. It fits most major mini-split condensers weighing up to 500 pounds and other equipment.

WideWrap is the name of the newest duct wrap product from CertainTeed Corp. It is a foil-scrim-kraft-faced flexible fiberglass blanket insulation used to protect the exterior of rectangular and round HVAC ductwork. Its enhanced thermal efficiency reduces unwanted heat loss and gain, CertainTeed says. It comes in a 5-foot width that eliminates the need for additional fabrication, reducing waste and labor costs.

Officials withVicon Machinery LLCwere excited about its model V-PSC-V516, a patent-pending Pittsburgh seam closing machine. It features a heavy-duty single-V forming roll that can close Pittsburgh seams from either side, eliminating the need to turn the duct section over to align it.

The Bohemia, N.Y.-based company was also showing its model V-TDX-B duct brake. It makes TDX flanged duct easily with 90-degree bending, officials said. It can handle up to 16 gauge and has a 5-foot bending capacity. It also includes a front support apron and foot-switch operation.

DuctSox displayed its new SkeleCore system. The product is a cylindrical system that prevents fabric duct from sagging.

Ecco Manufacturing highlighted its spiral elbows. The elbows feature an airtight 4-ply lock seam construction, which the company says meets SMACNA gauge requirements. Sizes are available in 45- and 90-degree 1½-inch centerline elbows from 4- to 18-inches diameter with 26-gauge galvanized construction. A 1-inch centerline is also available from 4-inch to 18-inch diameter in 26-gauge galvanized construction.

MFM Building Product Corp.gave attendees a look at its FlexClad 400, a self-adhering protective membrane for ductwork. It weatherproofs the ducts and preserves the efficiency of thermal insulation. It can also reflect sunlight to reduce interior temperatures. It can be used for exterior, interior or sub-grade use.

Harrisintroduced its new Inferno brazing and soldering tips. The company said the new tips provide more control and consistency to get the job done. A “swirl combustion technology” is used to create a consistent and hotter flame. The tip is constructed from type No. 304 stainless steel tube stock.

Covertech’s newest product is the rFoil Big 8, a reflective bubble duct insulation with an R-value of eight. According to the manufacturer, the product is the first R-8 insulation without mineral fiber or a fiberglass core. It improves HVAC efficiency and helps to prevent exterior build-up or condensation. Foam corner spacers are not needed for installation.

The SideLiner is a new double-wall insulating system from Namcor. The machine has a 600-pound capacity that allows contractors to insulate 10- to 36-foot spiral duct and up to 60 foot with an adapter. T-clips are attached to the perforated spiral, which allows the contractor to fasten the liner.  Just advance the spindle so the insulation wraps around the perforated spiral, cut the insulation off at the proper length and tape the butted ends together or use the clips.

DuctSoxdisplayed its new SkeleCore product. The product is meant to solve fabric duct “droop.” SkeleCore is a cylindrical tensioning device that gives the fabric duct system its shape. It keeps the fabric taut and fully round - even when it is deflated. Company officials said SkeleCore can help minimize wear and tear on the fabric and attachment points.

John Toben, vice president of Standard Sheet Metal Machinery, demonstrates the company’s new TDC-F machine.

Standard Sheet Metal Machinery was demonstrating its new TDC-F roll-former machine. The machine produces a T-25 integral duct flange profile. It is capable of handling 18-gauge galvanized steel and is available with a number of standard roll sets.

Venture Tapeprovided information on its VentureGrip 100 and 200. VentureGrip 100 is an industrial-strength contact adhesive that can bond to insulation, foam, fiberglass and many other materials. It contains no ozone-depleting substances or hazardous air pollutants. It applies to temperatures as low as 30°F. The VentureGrip 200 has all the benefits of the 100, but also has the benefit of being a low volatile organic compound adhesive specifically for HVAC applications.

Flamebarwas on hand to discuss its new BW11 fire-rated grease ductwork. The grease duct is constructed with 20-gauge galvanized sheet steel in flanged sections up to 49 inches by 49 inches. The company says the product eliminates costly site welding and fabrication. Once the ductwork is assembled, it is wrapped with the company’s FryWrap Max 2.0 duct installation, which consists of two layers applied directly to the duct surface. It can be installed at zero clearance to combustibles at all locations on the wrap. 

Officials with MultiCam demonstrated its V-Series CNC plasma machine during the ARH Expo.

MultiCamhad its V Series CNC plasma machine up and running at the show. The company said the machine is designed for contractors who are looking to get into CNC plasma cutting but are on a budget. It can cut mild steel, stainless steel, aluminum and brass. The machine also has programming software, a handheld operator interface and Hypertherm PowerMax plasma torches.

Airseal Zero is the latest sealant fromPolymer Adhesives. The product is used to pressure seal HVAC duct systems including metal and fiberglass duct board. Representatives said the sealant has no reportable volatile organic compounds. It has been formulated for indoor and outdoor use, and exceeds all pressure and sealing classes from the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association.

Snap-Rite Manufacturingwas excited to show off its new spiral pipe and fitting. The company’s product line now includes round and oval pipe fittings that are manufactured to SMACNA 95 construction standards. The round pipe comes in 4-inch to 60-inch sizes. Fittings can also be manufactured for all pipe sizes and configurations.

Ericohad several new products as part of its Caddy line. The Caddy Pyramid was developed for pipe and equipment supports. The Pyramid allows installers to install rooftop units or equipment that need to be elevated. The product is an alternative to wood blocks, which can rot when exposed to the weather

The company also showed its new Caddy Rod Lock, a threaded mounting system for installing electrical and mechanical systems. The fire-rated Caddy Speed Link was also on display, which is a wire rope system with hooks or toggles that can hold cable trays, signs or lighting.

The UVPhotoMax is the latest product fromUltravation. The ultraviolet device is installed in the home’s duct system. The company says it destroys millions of bacteria, including viruses and mold. The system also has the company’s ReFresh system, which also kills odors and refreshes the air.

Ecco Machineryhad several pieces of equipment on display, including its Slip Roll, Initial-Pinch Plate Bending Roll and the Double-Pinch Plate Bending Roll. The company is also introducing a new Power Turning Machine which is only stocked when ordered by customers.

Bob Cherveny (left), sales and marketing manager, and Serenity Abell McCaw, marketing and sales administrator for M&M Manufacturing, pose with the sheet metal man that was fabricated by the company. 

Knauf Insulationhighlighted its Earthwool 1000 Degree pipe insulation. The insulation is made from inorganic glass fibers that are bonded with Ecose technology. Ecose is a binder that uses bio-based materials instead of petroleum-based chemicals. The same technology is being used in Knauf’s insulation boards. Earthwool 1000 Degree is used to insulate iron and copper piping in commercial and industrial projects.

DrawTech Inc.talked to attendees about DrawTech 7, which features 3-D duct capabilities. It combines AutoCAD with DrawTech products to create detailed shop drawings. The company also introduced DrawTech DuctCAM to take 3-D duct drawings right to production. Officials said DrawTech 3-D interfaces with the most popular CAM software available.

The spiral tube former SBTF-1602 fromLiberty Seamlesswas on display. The machine allows contractors to create spiral tubes in diameters from 3 inches to 62 inches. A patented flying slitter is used to cut the material, which includes stainless steel, galvanized steel, mild steel and aluminum. Depending on the material used, the tube former can produce material at approximately 2 inches per minute.

M&M Manufacturingshowed off its fabrication capabilities. The company has over 50 years of experience fabricating a number of sheet metal parts, including HVAC duct, round and rectangular duct for commercial projects, pipe and fittings, as well as custom sheet metal parts.

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

Society's ‘bet' pays off

ASHRAE’s educational sessions were packed, sometimes standing room only, during the association’s 2011 winter meeting in Las Vegas.

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers held its meeting alongside the AHR Expo Jan. 31-Feb. 2.

“Zero Energy Design: A Safe Bet” was the theme for the 2011 conference with a number of sessions focused on the goal of reducing energy use in buildings. During a Jan. 31 press briefing, ASHRAE President Lynn Bellenger said that 72 percent of the nation’s electrical consumption is used in buildings. With this in mind, ASHRAE is working to reduce this consumption with energy standards that she believes are a “recipe for healthy diets” for the country’s buildings.

She also provided an update on ASHRAE standards such as Standard 189.1, “Standard for the Design of High-Performance Green Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings.” The U.S. Army and California’s state green building code have adopted this ASHRAE standard. The association said it is the first code to set U.S. green building standards.

Profit efficiently

Harnessing these standards not only helps improve the energy efficiency of buildings, but they could help contractors improve their profitability, ASHRAE said. Bellenger said that the association is seeing a “slow and steady, gradual improvement” when it comes to the economy. ASHRAE is seeing “a little bit of a turnaround and feeling optimistic” she said.

To help contractors and engineers in their business, ASHRAE conducted several educational sessions. On Jan. 31, the association presented “A Practical Guide for Reducing Air Leakage in HVAC Air Systems” and “Determining Energy Savings from Performance Contracting and LEED Projects.”

Over the three days, ASHRAE provided sessions on everything from net-zero energy commercial buildings to indoor air quality problems. On Feb. 1, ASHRAE discussed another important standard, 90.1. Crowds packed a conference room for a session called “What You Need to Know about the Energy Standard for Buildings: ASHRAE/IES Standard 90.1-2010.”

Members of the ASHRAE committee responsible for Standard 90.1 spoke to attendees about additions that have been made to the standard. Standard 90.1 addresses energy consumption in all buildings except low-rise residential buildings. According to the session, 112 addenda have been added to the guideline in an effort to make buildings 25 percent to 30 percent more energy efficient.

The AHR Expo also offered numerous educational sessions during the three days. Several of these sessions were free to attendees and offered by industry associations such as the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors National Association, and the Green Mechanical Council.

The Green Mechanical Council conducted a Feb. 1 session called “Orientation to Energy Auditing.” Tom Meyer of Praxis Green Inc. took attendees through the various levels of energy auditing that can be performed on a building and the steps that need to be taken to perform them successfully.

SMACNA contributed to the educational sessions by offering “HVAC Duct Construction” and “A Practical Guide for Reducing Air Leakage to Achieve a Low Energy Design.”

Like the ASHRAE courses, the sessions offered by various industry associations were also well attended. Clay Stevens, president of the International Exhibition Co., which manages the AHR Expo, said that sustainability and green building was a major theme for this year’s event.

Sustainability was not just a topic in the educational sessions, he added. It was also a main focus on the show floor.

He said that attendees would see more than just products with higher efficiencies and higher seasonal energy-efficiency ratings.

“They (attendees) are going to see more of the exotic things like solar energy and geothermal energy and geothermal equipment and sustainable sources of energy that we haven’t had as much of in the past,” he said.