Fittings can join copper or aluminum lines without brazing, improving safety around hydrocarbons, the company says.
RLS LLC, a Shelbina, Mo.-based manufacturer of press-to-connect, flame-free fittings for joining copper or aluminum lines in high-pressure air conditioning and refrigeration applications, last week announced that it has settled its patent infringement lawsuits against Conex Universal Limited.
RLS fittings, which are joined using an RLS press tool and jaws, replace the practice of manually brazing refrigeration joints, thereby eliminating the need for an open flame. “RLS press fittings create a much safer working environment, both in a manufacturing facility and in the field,” RLS says on its website, http://www.rlspressfittings.com. “This fact will become even more important with the increased use of flammable refrigerants.” The fittings are approved for hydrocarbons R290, R600a and R600.
RLS filed a U.S. lawsuit on January 22, 2018, and a U.K. lawsuit on May 20, 2019, alleging that Conex was infringing on RLS patents related to its crimp fittings. In particular, RLS alleged Conex’s >B< MaxiPro fitting is covered by claims of the patents. Conex denied infringement and alleged RLS’s patents are invalid.
As part of the settlement, Conex has agreed, without admitting liability or infringement, that as of June 30, 2019, it will stop selling the design of its >B< MaxiPro fitting that RLS accused of infringement in the lawsuits, said RLS, which added that Conex has changed its design.
“The availability of these flame- free fittings will help with the adoption of natural/flammable refrigerants.”
– George Snyder, Direct Impact
RLS is a subsidiary of Marmon Holdings, Inc., a Berkshire Hathaway company. RLS designs, develops, and manufactures its patented “Rapid Locking System,” engineered for high-pressure connections in the air conditioning and refrigeration industries. “By replacing the time-consuming and demanding conventional practice of manually brazing copper joints, RLS’s Rapid Locking System allows for faster, more consistent connections and reduces total installed cost while enhancing safety,” RLS said in a statement.
Parker/Sporlan has a license to sell the RLS product line to the aftermarket under its ZoomLock brand. RLS sells directly to OEMs.
While technicians need to completely evacuate a system of all refrigerant before working on it, using the RLS fittings “is definitely much safer than brazing, especially near flammable gases, even in the vicinity of a cylinder,” said George Snyder, president of Direct Impact, a marketing agency representing RLS. “The availability of these flame- free fittings will help with the adoption of natural/flammable refrigerants.”
The fittings also remove potential human error in brazing that could “greatly reduce leaks,” he said.