"I've got a problem."
Sometimes, no matter how many links you click, pages you scroll, or catalogs you flip through, you just can’t find that solution that checks all of your boxes. Or maybe you’ve got a very niche problem that you’ve never seen or encountered before, and none of the standard parts you’ve previously used seem to fit the bill. When things like size, fit, and dimensions are critical, there is no room for fudging your numbers or hoping a piece is “close enough” — precision is key.
This is where custom ductwork solutions come into play. Those “one-size-fits-yours” answers that go beyond the standard parts found anywhere and that fit into your system exactly how you need them to. Rather than spending time running endless searches and asking the internet where to find what you need, you can talk to a specialist about what you need and how to get it.
Types of custom ductwork solutions
There are two classifications of custom ductwork solutions: custom fabrication components and special solution products.
Custom fabrication components
Custom fabrication components are those odd or one-of-a-kind products that require truly customized design and construction. Rather than following a standard design, they are essentially made from scratch and built to your specifications. Examples include:
- Special hoods
- Uniquely sized transitions
- Peculiarly dimensioned elbows or gates
These types of solutions are particularly useful in solving issues unique to a specific installation. Physical obstacles and barriers like narrow openings, posts that you have to navigate around, or space limitations at the point of exhaust can affect the installation and require parts to be customized to fit the particular space. Fabricating custom parts can address these unique needs in ways that standard parts can’t. With products like custom hoods or customs transitions, you will likely receive a new, custom sketch or drawing (based on drawings you provide of the existing application) to go along with a quote for the product.
Special solution products
Special solutions products are designed for just that — providing special solutions. They are products that have been manufactured to handle a very specific need based on application or specification. These products do come in standard sizes and designs, but they aren’t needed on every ductwork system. Rather, they are designed to address very particular issues in certain applications and are seen more as additional components or accessories to standard pieces.
- Spark traps — collect and extinguish sparks from metal welding and cutting applications
- Oil mist accumulators — collect coolant mist from the air stream and prevent it from overloading the collector
- Oil mist curbs — reclaim leaking oil at the pick-up point and recycle it into the machine
- Exhaust stacks — reduce exhaust back pressure and prevent rainwater intrusion
- Swivel joints and ball joints — allow the flex hose/ducting connection to rotate, increasing mobility
- Diverter valves — dependably redirect air-flow and/or product between exhaust points
Things like managing oil mist leakage at the hose or duct connection point and having to mitigate sparks from cutting or welding downstream are unique requirements that come up specifically with certain applications. Such specific or niche needs can be addressed by implementing certain special solution products.
Choosing your customized ductwork solution
As always, it’s important to start by considering the application with the problem:
- Is it collecting nuisance particulate?
- Is it collecting something wet, like oil or vapors?
- Is it high-temperature?
- Are there abrasive products in the airstream?
- What’s the air velocity?
- Is it indoor or outdoor?
- Is this a new system, or are we connecting to an existing system?
While you may already have a solution for your problem in mind, seasoned consultants can guide you to think a little deeper, asking both high-level and detail-oriented questions that help determine which solution is actually best for your application and budget. Asking such questions and getting to these granular details upfront is the first step to ensuring that you get exactly what you need for your application — which might not necessarily be what you first expected. Consultants are trained to get to the bottom of what exactly you are looking for and finding the appropriate solutions.
You should also come prepared with any former drawings that you may have of the existing application so that they can be used in producing new sketches (when applicable) and assuring that what’s being prescribed is accurate.
Quality assurance in producing custom parts
The questions don’t stop there — the next step to getting the right product in your hands should occur throughout the production process, where checks and balances are key. Once the qualifications and requirements for a custom part are nailed down, manufacturers need to perform multiple quality checks — from design to fabrication to pre-shipment inspections — to make sure the product you get is the product you need for your specific application. Schedulers, fabricators, and welders alike should be trained to raise flags and ask questions when something doesn’t line up with the original order. Both shipping personnel and your salesperson should also once again have their eyes on the final product before it gets shipped out to you.
Does your perfect ductwork solution exist?
Maybe not yet, but that doesn’t mean it can’t. Get connected with one of our knowledgeable Duct Guys to find out if a solution already exists for your unique problem, or if it’s time to start designing one — just for you.