DALLAS — Organizers of the 2013 AHR Expo say it was a show of records. The most attendees, exhibitors and exhibit space ever for a Southwestern U.S. HVAC event.

An estimated 52,000 attendees, including 35,000 visitors, came to the Dallas Convention Center Jan. 28-30 for the country’s largest industry event.

They saw 1,951 companies taking up 397,000 square feet of trade show floor space.

“We were very pleased with the attendance and the enthusiasm on the show floor,” said Clay Stevens, president of the International Exposition Co., producer and manager of the AHR Expo. “The aisles were packed for almost all three days of the show.”

Many exhibitors said the show’s first two days were especially busy, noting that the final day typically sees a drop-off as people who came in for the expo start to head home.

Nevertheless, it was a good event, said Kevin Stamets, strategic marketing director for Trane.

“The show has been incredible — standing room only for us,” he said. “I had no idea we would be packed in our booth the way we were for two days.”

Brendan Sullivan of software company FieldAware agreed.

“AHR Expo has been a tremendous success for us,” he said. “We gained a wealth of new business leads.”

Busy, busy

Foot traffic Jan. 28 especially impressed John Coakley, national sales manager with fabric ductwork manufacturer DuctSox Corp.

“The turnout on Monday was tremendous,” Coakley said. “We’ve had nice feedback from many engineers on DuctSox’s new SkeleCore line, which prevents textile duct sagging and wrinkling.”

Day two was no slouch either, according to officials with sheet metal contractor Semco and hydronics manufacturer Taco Inc.

“Traffic has been strong all day, mainly with consulting engineers,” said Semco President Nick Agopian. “Interest has been very high in our new eQ energy recovery ventilator for applications under 15,000 cfm (cubic feet per minute).”

Taco brand marketing director Mark Chaffee said his company’s booth display continued to be a crowd pleaser.

“It’s great to be back in Dallas,” he said. “Through day two, Taco is experiencing a great response at the show. Once more pushing the technology envelope in what we can bring to our booth, our giant video screen and iPad stands allow us to showcase our new innovation and development center and the range of products, software and educational opportunities Taco provides the industry.”

ASHRAE report

Officials with the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers were also pleased with the attendance at its winter meeting, which was held in conjunction with the expo. ASHRAE said 2,840 people came to its meeting, representing countries as far as India, Latvia, Romania, Uganda and Thailand. Society sessions included presentations on energy consumption, maintenance and efficiency.

Overall, the success of this year’s show makes Stevens look forward to next year.

“We believe the enthusiasm on the show floor bodes well for the economic outlook of the HVACR industry overall, and AHR Expo 2014 next January in New York,” Stevens said.

Of course the AHR Expo included dozens of products of interest to sheet metal and HVAC contractors. Here is SNIPS’ list of many of the products that may be of greatest interest to readers.

The latest

Shurtape Technologies LLC was showing HW300 Housewrap Tape, a solvent-free tape designed to prevent air and moisture infiltration. The company says it can also be used by HVAC contractors in tight areas such as crawl spaces.

Plasma Automation and Vicon Machinery displayed a number of products at the expo. The newest machine, which took up the most space at the booth, was the Vicon liner cutting system that is integrated with the company’s coil line system. The machine also incorporates two high-speed pinspotters from Duro Dyne or Gripnail. According to the company, the machine can cut any liner associated with metal ductwork.

The company also demonstrated its Vicon sheet metal cutting table for processing HVAC duct fittings. The table features a standard 5-foot by 10-foot cutting area with options for up to 6-foot by 20-foot cutting areas. Traversing speed is up to 2,000 inches per minute. The company also showed its coil line and liner cutting tables.

General Tools & Instruments had several new products on display, including the RLD400, a digital refrigerant leak detector, and the Predator series of thermal imaging cameras. The leak detector is designed to find all commercially available refrigerant gases. The U.S.-made product offers long sensor life. The Predator thermal imaging cameras offer HVAC technicians a quick recouping of their costs as well as exceptional performance, officials say.

Armacell LLC was showing its ArmaTuff and ArmaTuff SA, fiber-free outdoor insulation that protects against mold, moisture, condensation and energy loss. The 12-mil-thick white laminate does not require painting and is available with a self-adhesive backing.

Duro Dyne Corp. used the expo to unveil its newest pinspotter. The high-speed, multi-head pinspotter provides full capacity from half-inch pins on light-gauge material up to 10-foot sheets of 16-gauge material with 2-inch pins at 6-inch centers at 50 feet per minute. The pin feed system accommodates half-inch to 2-inch pins with no change of bowls required. The machine is available in five-head and six-head versions for 5-foot and 6-foot lines. An open-air design allows the operator to see the material as it passes through the machine.

Duro Dyne also gave attendees a look at several other products, including its latest duct corners, venting products, Duro Zone air control products and insulation adhesive.

The Novaflex Group had several different venting products on display for attendees, including the NovaVent line for gas-fired tankless water heaters and other gas-fired categories. One of the newest products in the NovaVent line is the NovaVent White, which is made from 100 percent recycled material. The company said the product is environmentally safer than PVC venting.

The manufacturer also showed its Z-Flex Pellet Chimney for high-efficiency heaters that burn wood pellets, bio fuels, natural gas and low-temperature oil. The products are made with double-wall construction and have a 3-inch clearance.

Malco Products Inc. demonstrated one of its latest Turbo X tools. The C5A drill attachment is a crimping tool that can be inserted into the chuck of a drill. The product can crimp 24- to 30-gauge galvanized steel duct, spiral duct, aluminum pipe and black stove pipe. The company also showed its TurboShear HD. Like the C5A, the shear can be attached directly to the chuck of a drill. It can cut through mild steel, galvanized steel and spiral duct. The tool is suited for applications involving metal roofing, building panels and metal ductwork.

Advance Cutting Systems displayed two of its machines. The Cutter II Pro is a CNC cutting machine for cutting geometrical shapes and ductwork fittings. Fitting are programmed through software and sent to the machine where they are cut with a plasma torch. The company also demonstrated its i-Fold machine for creating flat sheet cut to length blanks. It can also create L and U sections, as well as fully wrapped duct sections.

Covertech had its rFoil Big 8 on display. The product is reflective bubble duct insulation with an R value of eight. The company said the insulation is designed to reduce radiant heat gain and loss in residential and commercial duct applications. The insulation also helps to control condensation by providing an airtight thermal break around the ductwork. Covertech said rFoil Big 8 will increase system efficiency and lower utility bills.

Caddy Pyramid equipment supports was the latest product on display from Erico. The supports elevate chillers, air conditioners and other mechanical systems on rooftops. The equipment kits come with post-base assemblies, frame and equipment support clamps. The Pyramid can be assembled and adjusted to specific height or size. According to the company, the design of the Pyramid helps to evenly distribute loads to help prevent damage to the roof membrane.

M&M Manufacturing provided attendees with an overview of its fabrication products and capabilities. The company supplies single and double-wall round spiral pipe in various gauges, diameters and materials. The company also supplies oval duct fittings, spiral pipe couplings, reducers, tees, elbows, Ys and taps. Rectangular duct and fittings are also available, along with other products ranging from shop drawings to roof accessories.

Attexor Clinch Systems provided information on three of its products. The Spot Clinch 0404IP is a clinching tool that can join metals without fasteners. The company said this handheld, portable tool is 100 percent pneumatic and is suited for jobsite assembly. It is actuated with a built-in mechanical amplifier which allows the tool to accurately clinch joints.

The company provided information on its Spot Clinch Filter clinching assembly station. This station uses up to six clinching tools to secure filter strips to a filter frame. The frame is moved under the clinch heads where a controller activates a downward motion to attach the strips to the frame. The frame moves down the line until all strips are secured.

Attexor also displayed its Spot Clinch 4006 P50 MAS multi-purpose clinching machine. The machine is just over 5 feet tall and features a manual approach stroke. This lever at the top of the cylinder is used to manually move the piston up and down for pre-positioning the tooling closer to the area where the metal is being joined. A foot pedal at the bottom of the machine can also be used for full force clinching operations.

MultiCam once again demonstrated its V series plasma cutter. The computer-numeric-controlled plasma cutter is designed for companies looking for a larger cutting surface, higher volume cutting and the ability to cut thicker sheets of metal, according to company officials. The CNC machine can be used with ShopData Systems’ Quickduct CAM. The software allows for automatic fitting layout for rectangle, round and flat-oval fabrication. The operator programs the patterns into the system and the ShopData software sends the information to the table to make the cuts. Quickduct has over 66 commonly used shapes programmed into the software for use.

Majestic Steel USA Inc. used the expo to educate attendees on its steel products. The company carries galvanized, galvannealed, galvalume, aluminized, cold rolled and pre-painted steel. The company has headquarters in Cleveland, with service centers in Atlanta and Florida.

The Alligator line was the latest spot clinching machines on display from Norlok Technology Inc. The clinchers are capable of stud-to-track joining in both load bearing structures and for partition walls. It has a cycle time of 0.6 seconds to 1 second, and can handle mild steel and aluminum at a max thickness of 0.120 inches. The company says the tool has a low investment price, and with rigid punches and robust dies, the tool has minimal operating costs. There are no separate fasteners to purchases and no thermal stress around the joined area.

Norlok also showed its two-stroke clinching Power Line. The company explained that in two-stroke clinching, the material to be joined is first deformed plastically in a die. Next, the joint is created through squeezing between the punch and anvil outside the die. Officials said this process will create a high-quality joint. They also said that the product is ideal for large work pieces for joining more than two layers.

The Gripple Spider was just one of the products that Gripple Inc. had on display at its booth. The concrete insert hanger kit is a cast-in-lace insert for hanging mechanical HVAC systems, lighting and conduit racks. Officials say the Spider is designed to prevent accidental movement before or during the pouring of concrete. A hanger kit includes the Spider, cable hangers with swivel toggle and end fixing, and a Gripple fastener. Four separate dimensions are available for the Spider.

Production Products Inc. showed off its Plasma Pro 3. The manufacturer said this version of the Plasma Pro is a more affordable version for contractors who want the same cutting power at a lower cost. It also has a low-mass gantry, which officials said will allow for faster acceleration and deceleration. The modular platform of the table also allows for easier upgrades and modifications, the company said.

Duct Direct was on hand to educate potential customers on its capabilities. The company says it has the capacity to manufacture most any job at its 162,000-square-foot facility in Houston. The company’s warehouse has plasma tables, coil lines, fabricating machines, press breaks, liner cutters and much more. They are capable of producing rectangular, round, oval and double-wall ductwork. A staff of project managers can use AutoCAD to detail any size project. And shop drawings can be offered in 2-D and 3-D.

ACL Machine Inc. provided a look at its fabrication machines. The company offers a variety of Pittsburgh lock machines, five grooving machines, TDF flange machines, foot power shearers, motor drive shearers and more. Some of the machines were available with special show prices.

KitchenSox and UnderfloorSox were two of the newest offerings from DuctSox. KitchenSox can be used for commercial and industrial kitchens that need high volumes of supply airflow with minimal drafts for nearby exhaust hoods and equipment. UnderfloorSox offers fabric air dispersion for under-floor plenums. The manufacturer said that this new DuctSox product offers improved comfort, reduce energy costs and improved IAQ. The system delivers conditioned air in offices and other buildings by using a raised-floor design, as opposed to overhead systems. By using fabric, DuctSox says even air dispersion is accomplished.

Semco showcased its eQ, an enthalpy recovery ventilation system. These modular systems are created to ensure optimal indoor air quality. Variable-frequency inverters are used to control the direct-drive fans and wheel. The systems can be suspended or installed flush mounted to a ceiling. It can also be integrated with a building automation system. The company said the eQ requires minimal installation labor.

Ductmate’s latest addition to its green products lineup is PolyArmor, a polyester duct liner. The fiberglass-free product is made from a hypoallergenic material made into a thermal blanket and bonded with an FSK facing to prevent damage. It offers excellent airstream durability, noise reduction and air quality.

Metu-Streimer provided a look at its wide range of access doors for rectangular ductwork. The GX and the LX are the latest access doors, both for rectangular duct and other flat surfaces. The GX is designed with knobs, which the company says eliminates the possibility of brushing up against bolts that might be sticking out. The LX uses two levers for opening and closing the door. Both models are made with a polyethylene gasket.

Gray Metal Products Inc. officials were on hand to discuss its pre-fabricated air duct and fittings. The company manufactures several different components, including vents, flexible duct, angles, boots, caps, collars, dampers, elbows and much more. Products are available in a range of sizes and gauges.

Ecco Manufacturing displayed its air movement products, including round spiral duct, flat oval duct and rectangular duct. The ductwork is available in varying gauges and materials, including aluminum, galvanized steel, PVC coated, stainless steel, and more. The company also showed its spiral elbows. The elbows feature an airtight four-ply lock construction that meets Sheet Metal and Air-Conditioning Contractors’ National Association gauge requirements. The elbows are 26 gauge galvanized construction. They are available in 45-degree and 90-degree angles from 4 inches to 18 inches in diameter.

HFC Enterprises showed its DuraFlange connection system products. The manufacturer claims that DuctFlange allows contractors to quickly connect and install ductwork. They also said that it ensures a leak free HVAC system. The system includes oval and round duct connectors, as well as a closure ring. The design is meant to reinforce even the lightest gauge of spiral pipe in an effort to save on installation time and efficiency.

The DP 1090 low-volatile organic compound solvent-based duct sealant is the latest product from Design Polymerics. The manufacturer said the product is a high-pressure and high-velocity duct sealant for commercial and industrial supply and return-air ducts. It is recommended for sealing joints, seams and duct-wall penetrations. It can also be used for rectangular, round, oval and metal flexible ducts. The company also said the sealant is qualified to receive points under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program.

Midwest Metal Products answered questions about its services. The company manufactures custom angle rings and rolled structural shapes. The family-owned company can supply standard angle rings from 3 inches to 96 inches in carbon steel, stainless steel, aluminum, hot-dipped galvanized and electro-plated. The company’s rings have a true 90-degree heel with no gaps, leaks or possibility of germs and debris. Midwest Metal can also punch hole patterns of any shape or size. The company is located in Michigan City, Ind.

Dura-Tite Systems LLC presented its connection products, including the recently added Quick Connect Boot Grill Kit. The kit comes with an 8-inch boot and a 12-inch grill for square or round duct. It can be used on both new and retrofit products. The boot attaches to a duct run and features a flex duct retention ring. The company also carriers duct collars, Ys and grilles.

Aeroseal aimed to educate attendees on how its technology can help building owners improve their energy efficiency. The Aeroseal duct-sealing system can be used in commercial buildings to detect where leaks are in ductwork. Building diffusers are temporarily blocked while sealant is blown through the ducts.

Mestek Machinery, under its Engel brand, showcased the ValuePlus2 coil line. The line is capable of producing 16-inch by 16-inch wrap in 60 seconds. The company said the ValuePlus2 has been re-engineered for more precision. The machine can handle 4- and 5-foot coils and a maximum part size of 120 feet. It also offers a peak speed of 75 feet per minute. The coil line also offers a straightener, beader, notcher, shear, bend and Pittsburgh, all capable of handling 26 gauge to 18 gauge metal. A cleat edge former, snap lock and button punch can handle 26 to 20 gauge metal.

Mestek also showed its EZ Connector and EZ Hanger system. The company said the products make it easier to hang ductwork by reducing labor costs. The EZ Hanger works with all three types of duct suspension, including steel straps, steel wire trapeze and threaded rod. The corners of the system can be secured using the flange of the EZ Hanger or the Lance-N-Loc or EZ Connector.

Mez Industries displayed a variety of duct-connection products, including its transverse duct connectors. The company says it uses a “slip-on” flange as opposed to TDC or TDF. This design allows contractors to use ducts and connectors of different gauges. The company also carries flanges, corners, access door, brackets, and more.

VentureTape officials were happy to talk about the company’s VentureGrip line of spray adhesives. The products include nonflammable, low volatile-organic compound, solvent-, water-based and general purpose adhesives. All offer high-temperature resistance quick dry times.

Taloc USA displayed its C-7 series of clinching machines. The American-made units offer a mechanical clinching process that is faster and more reliable than other methods, a solid-state frame, a floating punch assembly and fast production.

Hilmor used the AHR Expo to introduce the HVAC industry to its large line of tools, which includes hand tools as well as gauges and electronics. The tools included compact benders, swage tools and a dual-read thermometer.

Thermaflex showed its patent-pending PHD, a flexible air duct that is energy-efficient, cost effective and green, officials say. Made from a fully recyclable inner core and vapor barrier, it is well suited for green-certified projects. A nonmetallic version works well in clean rooms, officials add.     


2013 expo packs them in at Dallas show

Trane environmental affairs director Eugene “Smitty” Smithart led a Jan. 29 session for the Spiral Duct Manufacturers Association on the green benefits of using spiral duct. 

Spiral is sustainable, group says

The AHR Expo offered several free education sessions to attendees, many of them focusing on a common theme — going green.

Whether the topic was using building automation to increase efficiency or retro-commissioning to monitor energy usage, the expo was definitely pushing sustainability.

The Spiral Duct Manufacturers Association sponsored one of these sessions to show how their members’ product can go a long way to make a building more energy efficient.

The Jan. 29 session, called “Green HVAC Ductwork Done Right,” was led by Eugene “Smitty” Smithart, a 35-year veteran of the HVAC industry and director of environmental affairs for Trane.

Smithart told attendees why spiral ductwork is an excellent choice for contractors and building owners looking to save on installation and utility costs.

First, Smithart said that spiral duct has a lower installation cost over rectangular duct because there is less material used.

“Isn’t that what green is all about?” he asked the audience.



Next, Smithart talked about duct leakage. He pointed out that with rectangular duct, there is a greater possibility of leaks to occur.

“Have you ever looked at it (rectangular duct)?” he asked. “Every few feet you have connections.”

Smithart said that if these connections are not carefully sealed or caulked, air will seep out.

So why is duct leakage so important? Smithart cited a study from the U.S. Department of Energy that looked at where existing buildings waste energy. At the top of the list was duct leakage. Leaky ducts, according to the report, account for a loss of $3 billion worth of energy a year.

Rectangular ductwork is still the primary choice when it comes to most sheet metal projects. Smithart believes this has to do with misconceptions and a lack of education. One of those is that spiral duct will cost too much or won’t fit in a certain space. Some spaces require multiple runs of round duct. But Smithart said that money can still be saved because spiral duct uses less metal. It also cuts down on the amount of sealant that is sometimes required for rectangular duct and the labor needed to apply that sealant.

He also said that for some veterans in the industry, “You will not touch their Trane Ductulator.”

Smithart said that the mission is to educate these contractors and show them that sizing spiral can be just as simple.