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Gold medal. NTB7L BreakFree Power Tubing Bender.

BEND DON’T BREAK: With the NTB7L BreakFree Power Tubing Bender, HVAC technicians can protect the future of their hands. (Courtesy of NAVAC Inc.)

NTB7L BreakFree Power Tubing Bender

The Gold award in the Hand Tools category goes to NAVAC Inc. for its NTB7L BreakFree Power Tubing Bender, which grants HVAC technicians a new tubing option that focuses on fatigue and job site time.

“Continuing off the momentum and success of the NEF6LM Power Flaring Tool and NTE11L Power Tubing Expander, NAVAC brings a third player to the now ‘trifecta’ of automated tubing actions utilizing the same 7.4-V battery platform,” said Andrew Greaves, director of customer experience at NAVAC.

The NTB7L BreakFree Power Tubing Bender weights just 6 pounds while still maintaining enough battery-driven power for bending and large-size tubing.

The product is useful in any circumstances where HVAC tube bending is needed in seven sizes (¼- to ⅞-inch) using only one selector to switch to different tubing size settings.

Four years of research went into to design of the NTB7L, where the NAVAC product team observed, shadowed, and analyzed every action and movement that is conducted during tube bending practices. The company also conducted market research in the form of surveys and focus groups with HVAC technicians to better understand their tube bending needs and challenges.

“In jobs like multi-head VRF jobs, where there is a massive need for bending, fatigue is a real issue that any current manual bender cannot solve,” said Greaves. “Larger tubes are usually harder to bend and release from the tool.

“As a result, NAVAC designed a releaser baffle to push the tube out after bending,” continued Greaves. “NAVAC prototyped and tested the product for several rounds to refine the design of the BreakFree Power Tube Bender and ensure we deliver the right product to our dear technicians.”

The NTB7L features a push and hold method to achieve 90° bends or to stop at any time for customized angles, an automatic tube release, quickly connectable mandrels and crossbar, and a large lithium battery that provides 100 bends per its quick 30 minute charging session with a battery power indicator showing technicians the remaining battery life.

“By providing a fatigue-free, accurate, and quick automated process for bending ACR soft copper, NAVAC is helping contractors embrace tube bending practices by making them practical to achieve in the field,” said Greaves. “The single-button design and ‘auto ejection’ of the tubing from the mandrel after bend completion help ensure this.

“For contractors bending tubing in scenarios requiring a bend that’s ‘pushed’ away from the body — think bending around an outside building corner — the NTBRK Reverse Bending Attachment is available to purchase separately and add to your kit for those situations,” continued Greaves. “By designing the NTB7L to handle AHR soft copper diameters from ¼- to ⅞-inch OD, we have cast a net large enough to assist contractors with most residential and light to medium commercial applications.”

Luis Loza, owner of Oceanview Mechanical LLC, enjoys being able to use a battery-powered bender.

“I don’t have to use my hands,” he said. “A lot of people were asking me why I was using a battery-powered bender over a regular one, and I tell them that later on in the future, my hands are going to thank me. I like tools that make my job easier and then, eventually, later on in life, they’ll make my life easier too.”

Part of the way it makes his job easier right now is the way it protects him from overdoing it.

“Using a regular hand bender, if you overdo it, you’ll kink the pipe,” Loza said. “And if you kink the copper pipe, you can’t use it, because eventually it’ll burst when the unit’s running. What I like about the NAVAC bender is that it stops at 90°, so it won’t damage the pipe.”

Andy Aluminum Handled Offset Left Snips.

ERGONOMICS: Malco’s offset left snips reduce technician fatigue, and saves times and effort with its sleek head design. (Courtesy of Malco Products)

Malco Products SBC
Andy Aluminum Handled Offset Left Snips 12” (MC12L)

The Silver award in the HVAC Hand Tools goes to Malco’s Andy Aluminum Handled Offset Left Snips 12” (MC12L). The new offset 12” Andy Offset Left Snips are lightweight, ergonomic, and designed with easy blade replacement and offset handles. These features are designed to make it a more versatile HVAC tool, so HVAC trade pros can make longer, tighter, higher-quality straight and left curve cuts in many types of materials, including sheet metal, metal roofing, aluminum, stainless steel, steel siding, and vinyl.

A sleek head design improves maneuverability, and the snips feature a full 3-inch (76.2 mm) cutting length that reduces the total number of cuts and repetitive motions, saving technicians time and effort. The handles of the Andy Snips feature multiple openings to fit a variety of hand types and also feature replaceable blades that can easily be replaced in the field. The handles also encourage fast, long cuts when operating one-handed. High maneuverability for continuous cut radii with improved cut quality and a lower jaw made of investment-cast tool steel allow for starter holes as small at ½-inch. The sharp, bottom-cutting jaw is constructed of tough tool steel, while the upper-cutting blade can be easily replaced every 20,000 cycles to extend its overall life. In Malco’s internal life cycle testing, the Offset Andy Snips blade did not wear out until after 88,000 cuts.

The Offset Andy Snips were built with the technician’s daily job in mind with strong, lightweight aluminum for ease of use and durability, plus an ergonomic offset handle that provides a safer and more comfortable angle for cutting to reduce hand fatigue.