The Gold Award in the 2015 Dealer Design Awards Hand Tools category went to the Compact Bender Kit with Reverse Bending Attachment from hilmor.
One contractor judge said the product “makes great bends and is a time saver on the job.”
Shane Loving, owner, Loving Air Inc., Locust Grove, Virginia, said, “The quality of the Compact Bender Kit with Reverse Bending Attachment is great because it’s made entirely out of metal, and I know it will hold up to the demands of the job site and last for a long time. I’ve had other bender kits that had plastic benders, and those just didn’t last.”
According to hilmor reps, the Compact Bender allows technicians to bend soft tubing quickly while leaving a quality finish. The Compact Bender utilizes ball detents instead of wingnuts, allowing technicians to quickly secure the universal crossbar and color-coded mandrels in place. The tool’s compact design allows it to handle a ¼-, 5/16-, 3/8-, ½-, ¾-, and 7/8-inch tube diameters.
When it comes time to create a bend, a ratcheting mechanism coupled with an innovative release lever allows users to bend tubes with just one hand. Once the bend is complete, the tool’s aluminum mandrels make it easier to remove the tube. The Reverse Bending Attachment utilizes the same ball detent design for setup, allowing technicians to make up to 90-degree bends in the opposite direction.
“Research on the Compact Bender began in 2007, and it was part of hilmor’s launch, but we were always looking for ways to add value,” said Brian Morrison, manager, brand marketing, hilmor. “Work began on the Reverse Bending attachment two years ago. Technicians often prefer bending because it saves money on fittings and eliminates potential for a leak.”
The attachment entered the marketplace in January.
The product itself was really driven by contractor demand and by going out to the job site and learning from technicians. “We saw this was something technicians were really looking for,” said Morrison. “Adding the detachment, which allows techs to make immediate bends, was essential.”
Direct feedback from technicians gave Uniweld Products Inc. the vision it needed to create the NitroVue Flow Indicator and earn the silver award in this category.
The unit attaches directly to a nitrogen regulator and is used to flow nitrogen through the system during brazing, preventing oxidation and the resulting scale. It allows technicians to lower the flow of nitrogen to 3-5 cubic feet per hour (CFH).
“[What sets the NitroVue apart from similar products is] It’s all contained within aluminum housing and is fully protected from brashness that technicians can have out in the field,” said Matt Foster, sales executive, Uniweld Products Inc.
The NitroVue Flow Indicator underwent more than a year of research before hitting the market.
“It is a lot more durable and connects to the regulator so it doesn’t need to change position when connected to the tank,” said Foster. “Also, the flow ball that is in the sight glass gives visual indication that nitrogen is flowing through the system. A visual indicator is lacking in other products and it’s important.”
According to Mastercool Inc., the 71675 Complete Hydraulic Flaring and Expanding Kit allows a technician the ability to flare and expand soft metals on site. Eliminating couplings, the product minimizes the number of joints and necessary brazing. The unit can also create R-410A flares with the pump of the handle utilizing its flaring accessory head.
These features helped the product win the bronze award in this category of the 2015 Dealer Design Awards.
“This kit is part of a product line that we’ve had for more than 20 years, and it continues to expand,” said Chris Carroll, HVACR national sales manager, Mastercool Inc. “The flaring component specifically was created due to innovation. It was really developed and researched over a 10-year period and is unique because it’s so easy to use.”
Carroll added the real test of tools is their durability when actually in a contractor’s hands.
“Contractors have a choice to perform a task with many tools, and flaring has always been done with a hand-held tool,” said Carroll. “This kit reduces fatigue of traditional tools and results in more consistent results.”
A QUICK LOOK AT THE WINNERS
Compact Bender Kit with Reverse Bending Attachment
Uniweld Products Inc.
NitroVue Flow Indicator
71675 Complete Hydraulic Flaring and Expanding Kit
Publication date: 7/20/2015