Cooling Efficiently

Last week, I had the opportunity to work with a customer who was trying to cool a thermoformed film from 85° C (185° F)  down to room temperature, 21° C (69.8° F) or low enough for the package to be handled by an operator. This container was 270 mm X 170 mm X 100 mm (10.63″ x 6.69″ x 3.94″)

Thermoformed packaging

In applications like this, the customer often calls in with the idea of using a Vortex Tube to produce the cold air.  There are two reasons to use a different product than a vortex tube in this application. First, a vortex tube is only going to cool a small area, so to cool anything this size would take several vortex tubes.  Second, the cold air is going to mix with the ambient air very quickly. When the ambient air mixes with the cold air from the vortex tube, the air will lose the cold temperature generated by the vortex tube. To counter act this mixing, we have had customers create an insulated container to hold cold air from a vortex tube close to a product, similar to a cooling tunnel. This works in some applications, but my customer had a continuously moving line. He did not have time to stop the line and install insulation around each product.  He also didn’t have the length of conveyor needed to put a cooling tunnel over the line.

Super Air Knife Promo

Instead of using the vortex tube, I suggested that he use a 12” (305 mm) Super Air Knife to cool the thermoformed container. The 12” Super Air Knife moves significantly more air than a vortex tube over the surface of the part. Thanks to the 40:1 amplification ration of the Super Air Knife, it creates more cooling to the product and use less compressed air than a series of Vortex Tubes.  By mixing a large volume of free ambient air, that is the same temperature he needs to cool the part to, and a small amount of compressed air over the product they can easily cool their part to close to ambient so the operator can handle the part. The best benefit for this customer was they would not need change their manufacturing line.  The air knife is the best choice when cooling a very hot, fairly flat, large surface part to a temperature close to ambient. If you need to cool a product to a temperature lower than room temperature, then a vortex tube would be a great product to do the job.

Dave Woerner
Application Engineer
DaveWoerner@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_DW

Cooling An Overheating Pneumatic Positioner

Pneumatic positioner

What can you do when the pneumatic positioner in your high temperature application is overheating?  Call EXAIR!

Or email (and call), as was the case in this application.  An end user in an overseas power plant uses a pneumatic positioner in their steam bypass system.  A pneumatic positioner can best be correlated to a PWM (Pulse Width Modulated) linear actuator.  It will take a supply signal of various forms and provide an output to an actuator or valve, most often to regulate pressure/flow.  So, why not just use a pressure regulator?  Because a pneumatic positoner can be programmed to respond differently to different inputs, and it can function in real time.  Meaning, that when the supply signal reaches a certain threshold the output action can be preset, adding precision to a pneumatically controlled application.  And, as application needs change, the adjustments can be automated.

Some pneumatic positioners are pneumatically controlled (the input signal is a compressed air pressure), but most are electronic.  The end user in this case was using an electrically controlled unit that was experiencing shutdown due to the high ambient temperatures.

When cooling in an application like this it is important to consider the needs (and restrictions) of the application.  To blow ambient air was not an option because of the high ambient temperature, so a Super Air Amplifier, Super Air Knife, or Super Air Nozzle weren’t viable options.  And, the pneumatic positioner was exposed to ambient conditions, with no intent to place within an enclosure.

The lack of an enclosure ruled out a Cabinet Cooler, but a Vortex Tube based solution was still possible.  When considering the heat load and required cooling capacity, the end user determined that with less than 200 BTU/hr. of cooling, the application should run flawlessly. This customer also expressed they may have fluctuations in there pressure supply, and ambient temperatures which would create the need to provide a larger Btu/Hr Vortex Tube in order toake up for lower pressures and increased temperatures. Our smallest Vortex Tube is capable of producing 550 Btu/Hr and was recommended for a successful application.

If you have an application problem in need of compressed air solutions, call an EXAIR Application Engineer.

Lee Evans
Application Engineer
LeeEvans@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_LE

EXAIR Does The Ice Bucket Challenge

Many of us have had the opportunity to take the ALS ice bucket challenge outside of work. Once our own Professor Penurious took the challenge, EXAIR made it a bit more interesting for us…in exchange for our own cold selves.

Thanks EXAIR.

 

 

The Versatile Line Vac

Of all the tools that I own, my cordless drill has to be just about my favorite. I’m remodeling a bathroom in my house right now, and last night I was setting the new toilet flange onto the new tile floor. I had to drill some holes for this through the new tile. I’d never done this before, and was definitely feeling some heartburn about it. Especially after finding out just how fragile and brittle ceramic tile is…I cracked two pieces, just trying to cut a hole for the heat & AC vent register. Luckily, that was BEFORE I mortared & grouted it in, so it wasn’t a big deal…they’re about a buck a piece, and I got five extra anyway.

I know how to do this...but I have no idea how to fix this.

I know how to do this                                                 but I have no idea how to fix this.

THIS one, though, was fully installed, and, despite all the internet videos I found & watched on how to install a tile floor, I haven’t yet had the need to find one that shows me how to replace a broken tile. And I don’t really want to, so I went slowly and carefully with the drill, using the special glass & tile bit that I bought. On my first hole, when I got the bit through the tile itself, I changed to a different (smaller) bit to pilot the screw hole through the subfloor. Then, I put a Phillip’s head bit in to drive the screw. It occurred to me that I was performing these three related but separate tasks, with the same tool…I just thought that was very cool.

Over the course of the last couple of days, I’ve talked to three different callers, with three different Line Vac applications:

HDLV

 

*One wants to use a Model 150200 2” Heavy Duty Line Vac to convey cement. They’re currently hauling the bags, by hand, up to a hopper, where they cut them open and dump them in.

 

Heavy Duty Threaded Line Vac

*One needs to move small springs, one at a time, from a hopper to an automated assembly turret machine.  The springs are 5/8″ in diameter, and they’ll be fed through a length of PVC pipe.  Our Model 151100 1″ NPT Heavy Duty Threaded Line Vac will be easily installed in the pipe line using standard threaded fittings, and the springs will pass through the 0.75″ throat nicely.

 

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*One has a auger-type chip conveyor that removes machining debris from a lathe, and it’s broken…again. They needed a Model 6066 3” Stainless Steel Line Vac, in a hurry, to use until they get their chip conveyor fixed. In fact, if it works, they may not fix the chip conveyor.

 

With a wide range of sizes and materials of construction, we've got your solution.  Call us.

With a wide range of sizes and materials of construction, we’ve got your solution. Call us.

So, kind of like my cordless drill, our Line Vac Air Operated Conveyors have a variety of uses, right out of the box. If you have an application that you think a Line Vac may be able to solve, give me a call.  By the way, if you order one before the end of October, 2014we’ll give you a FREE 2″ Flat Super Air Nozzle.  Really.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Ion Bars Eliminate Static on RFID Tags

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A customer contacted me from the narrow web / label industry recently and provided the image above (please excuse the typo). They have a static problem on their narrow web processing machine. While that isn’t a big surprise, the symptom of their problem was quite interesting. The customer is applying RFID tags to this narrow web and re-winding the web back onto the roll you see bottom right in the photo above. And their problem is that the static being generated within the re-winding process is enough to cause as many as 25% of their RFID tags to go dead as a result of discharges within the roll itself. Figuring that static was his problem, the customer contacted EXAIR and we recommended that he use two model 7006 Ion Bars and one model 7907 Power Supply to treat both sides of the web just before it is re-wound onto the roll. The point where the red arrow is located indicates the suggested mounting point. The web was travelling slowly enough that simply passing through a couple of ion bars would remove the charge down to a more manageable level that would not interfere with operation of the RFID tags.

Once installed, the customer was able to eliminate the damage to the RFID tags caused by static discharge.

Neal Raker, Application Engineer
nealraker@exair.com

 

Engineered Solutions Are Cost Effective

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One of the easiest ways to solve a blow off application is to install an open pipe or tube; it’s generally quick and available. They are easy to make, mainly you just need some pipe, maybe a hacksaw and hammer, and a way to hook them up to your compressed air system.  They will provide a good amount of force but at the cost of safety, noise level, and air consumption. That’s right: it will cost you in SAFETY, NOISE EXPOSURE and COMPRESSED AIR CONSUMPTION. I’m going to go out on a limb here (not really) and wager there are a number of folks in any organization unwilling to pay those costs – if you are willing, you may want to reconsider.

I have been to many manufacturing facilities where they have used copper line to bend into a tight space and then pump 85 psi into the pipe in order to try and blow a piece of lint out of a roller or to keep trim from getting caught in a pulley system.  In some cases I have seen 3/8″ ID pipe to keep dust and lint out of a pulley.

This is not needed at all.   The estimated flow through a 3/8″ ID tube that is around 3′ long would be roughly 109 SCFM when powered at 85 psig.   All to keep dust off and loose fiber out of a certain area.  The reason they plumbed this large of a piece of tubing into the area was simple, it’s what they had and it worked great (words from the maintenance worker). For additional reference, our 91 SCFM air nozzle produces 4.5 pounds of force which seems a bit of overkill when you can blow dust away with your breath.

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In one instance I looked over the material and scrap they were trying to keep from getting to the outer workings of the machine I made the recommendation for them to utilize a model 1100SSW, –  a 1/4 NPT Stainless Steel Super Air Nozzle w/ Swivel Fitting.   This would give them flexibility to target the right area through the swivel and require them to change the existing tubing out to a schedule 40 threaded pipe, or use a compression style fitting.

By replacing the single nozzle, the customer was able to reduce compressed air consumption in just this single blow off point from 109 SCFM at 85 psig to 14 SCFM at 80 psig inlet pressure.  This single replacement equates to saving 95 SCFM, or $11.40 per 8 hour shift that the blowoff is operated.   If the customer operated this blowoff 24 hours a day it would take a mere 4 days to pay the unit back in air savings.

The above savings do not include the benefit of being able to reduce the overall operating pressure of the compressed air system feeding this application to 80 psig, instead of 85 psig. In case you weren’t aware, if you lower the pressure value where your compressor shuts off, say from 85 psig to 80 psig, it will save an estimated 2.5% of drive energy for their air compressor.   Depending on the type and size of the compressor this could amount to a substantial savings.  This system pressure reduction will also lower the operating pressure of any leaks that may be within the system which will also be another amount of savings.  All of this is from simply replacing open pipe with an engineered nozzle.

This was just one area where the quick and easy way turned out to be the costly and dangerous path.  The best part about our engineered solution is they are all in stock, ready to ship same day.  This means you can find the problem today, have a solution waiting to be installed tomorrow.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

3 Common Mistakes in Your Compressed Air System

Every day I speak with engineers who are having trouble using compressed air products. A common problem they have is not providing an adequate air supply to their unit. I go through a basic troubleshooting technique to ensure that their pressure and flow rate is adequate. I ask them to install tee on the inlet to the compressed air product in order to install a pressure gauge right at the inlet to the pipe. This allows us to know exactly what pressure we are supplying to the product. Customers are always surprised how the gauge on the compressor or the regulator may read 120 PSIG, but the gage on the inlet to the compressed air product is significantly less.

Last year, my colleague, Russell Bowman, made an excellent video showing how the inlet pressure at the knife will have a significant impact on the performance of the Super Air Knife.  In the video, he changes the length and ID of the compressed air supply to illustrate the difference a proper supply line will have on the performance of a compressed air products.

Not providing adequate air supply is commonly caused by these three mistakes, when plumbing compressed air systems.

1. Incorrectly Sized Piping – This can be the single biggest problem. A lack of planning before installing a compressed air product. Not all compressed air systems are created equal. Though a 1/4″ shop air hose may work for a number our products, some of our products require a larger air line because they require more volume of air to be effective. We often speak with customers an illustrate this problem by stating small air lines are like trying to feed a fire hose with a garden hose – there simply is not enough volume to create the pressure necessary to reach the fire, or solve the application in our scenarios. We publish the flow rates for all of our products and make inlet pipe size recommendation in the installation and maintenance guide furnish with the products so you may avoid this common problem. We also have air data tables in our Knowledge Base or  you may consult an application engineer who will be happy to make the proper recommendation.

2. Quick Disconnects – These handy connectors are great when operating a brad nailer, or a small blow gun, but the small through diameter can severely limit the flow rate into a long air knife, large diameter air operated conveyor, or big vortex tubes.  Due to this fact it is strongly advised to use threaded fittings or over-sized quick disconnects.

3. Adding extra hose or pipe – Extra hose is never a bad thing, right? No, an extra 30 feet of air hose can significantly drop the pressure of a compressed air system. 20 feet of ½ Pipe can flow 70 CFM with a 5 PSI pressure drop.  50 feet of ½” pipe will only flow 42 SCFM with the same 5 PSIG pressure drop. Keep your hose or pipe lengths to a minimum to improve the volume of air you can deliver to a compressed air product.

Dave Woerner
Application Engineer
DaveWoerner@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_DW

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