Interfacing seamlessly, Quickduct CAD and Quickduct CAM (www.shopdata.com) streamline the drawing of sheet metal duct layouts and the lay out and cutting of metal ductwork based on drawings. By sharing information, these two programs can boost productivity dramatically and substantially minimize waste of sheet metal.

Quickduct CAD eliminates much of the manual effort required to prepare shop drawings for sheet metal fabrication. It features automatic dimensioning, tagging and duct routing to deliver pattern layouts for nesting and cutting of sheet metal duct components. Quickduct's editing features such as Ripple Edit and Grip Move form a very efficient system in terms of change orders and any required manipulation of drawn duct or equipment, making the CAD software truly BIM accessible.

A system for duct fabricators, Quickduct CAM, is designed to take all the inputs for various fittings from the Quickduct CAD drawings without manual intervention, saving time and effort. No re-entering of data is needed. The CAM software transfers the inputs into the component parts and drives plasma cutting machines to optimize the number of parts and calculate the best layout for each sheet to minimize scrap. All fittings and shop standards are completely compatible.

Quickduct CAD is AutoCAD compatible and uses all standard AutoCAD tools, including undo, move and copy along with the nomenclature and objects used by duct manufacturers. Just as someone using AutoCAD draws lines, a Quickduct CAD user draws ductwork.

The program's HVAC Fittings library includes hundreds of rectangular, round and flat oval fittings that can serve as time-saving prototypes for all levels of drawings, including those required for complex designs. The fitting shapes are all accessible from a dockable picture toolbar or drop-down menu. Contractors can customize the library and create a catalog of dozens of commonly used fittings for even faster selection. Program capabilities include mitering, reducing, concentric/eccentric dimensioning, dual wall and inside/outside diameter material compensation.

The automatic routing utility accommodates elevation or offset changes for rectangular and oval duct lines, and both elevation and offset for rolling round offset routes. All routes allow an elevation override that enables users to utilize 2D snap points to facilitate drawing above existing layers or overlays. Any change made to a drawing ripples throughout the whole duct line.

Other features that expedite the drawing process give users the ability to automatically connect between two ducts and dimension the size, length, offset, angle and elevation changes. All dimensions are individually selectable and movable for easier identification on tightly cramped areas. Any dimension on the drawing can be deleted, edited or changed. Additional non-standard dimensions/comments can be placed and associated with any fitting, so if a fitting is moved, the dimensions, tags and comments will move with it. The software also includes automatic adjusting of elbow throat sizes in routes up to a user specified maximum, eliminating the need for additional small, short joints and automatic tagging with user-defined preferences for tagging sequences.

The CAD solution sells by the seat, and the CAM software sells per machine. QuickDuct CAM can also be run with or without other CAD systems as long as the contractor has a compatible plasma cutter. Quickduct CAD can also interface with multiple CAM systems.

Both programs interface with QuoteExpress Sheet Metal (www.quotesoft.com), a solution-based program for commercial and industrial contractors that extracts critical data for estimating, production, shipping, inventory management and purchasing. It can be server-based and is networkable and scalable.

The software, which comes pre-installed with customizable industry-standard labor and material figures, uses advanced real-time database technology. Exact labor hours and material dollars for each item is shown as the information is entered. Estimators can see and adjust the labor hours and material dollars during the take-off process.

Using the software for estimates can be four times faster than manual estimating, suggests the program developer. In addition, estimators can e-mail takeoffs directly to participating fabricators, saving even more time.

The software comes with an extensive library, including files for rectangular duct and fittings, round and spiral pipe, oval pipes and fittings, accessories such as snap-lock pipe and fittings, grills, diffusers, access doors, volume dampers, fire dampers, louvers and equipment such as roof top boxes, VAV boxes, terminal units, exhaust fans, furnaces and filters. Users can maintain unlimited assemblies files containing any type of fitting, accessory and equipment. QuoteExpress Sheet Metal also has sample files for most ductwork material types such as galvanized, aluminum, stainless steel, duct-board and cold roll. Over 40 reports are available, including 20 customizable bid summaries and reports.

While the program supports input via a digitizer pen and table, it also offers QuoteExpress On-Screen for doing takeoffs without using a digitizer. This tool allows a sheet metal or piping estimator to view an electronic version of the blueprint on a computer monitor. The estimator can then do a takeoff with the mouse while lines appear to show what areas have been already stripped.

Bill and Patti Feldman are freelance writers for magazines, trade associations, building product manufacturers and other companies on a broad range of topics. They can be reached at productpad@yahoo.com.