A Dull Knife Is A Dangerous Knife

Anyone who’s ever cooked, hunted, crafted, fished, whittled, opened a well sealed package, or sharpened a stick for roasting marshmallows knows what I mean. A dull knife requires more force to cut your material, which means that you’re using less of your muscle strength to control the blade. If you’re not sure of where the blade is going, that’s a heck of a thing to leave to chance, especially if you’re holding what you’re cutting in your other hand.

Even if (I might even say “especially if”) you don’t use a knife for cutting every day, the conventional wisdom dictates that you should keep its blade sharp. Not only is this imperative for safety reasons (see above,) but you’re going to make a MUCH higher quality cut as well.

Sharp blades result from high quality material that is professionally crafted, and expertly maintained. The cheaper the material, the easier the blade will dull. High carbon stainless steel blades cost a little more, but they’re also easier to sharpen, and they stay sharp longer. A decent stamping machine can turn out hundreds of blades an hour, but forging a single piece of metal results in a level of hardness that is much more conducive to maintaining a sharp edge. Speaking of maintaining a sharp edge, that’s going to be left up to the user. A lot of hardware stores provide sharpening services, but it’s not all that hard. Expert results can be obtained by following what the experts do, and the Boy Scouts of America have taken pride in doing stuff like this for over a hundred years now. Full disclosure: I’ve been a Scout Leader for over nine years now, so I may be biased, but I am unapologetically so. I use these tips, and my pocketknife is VERY sharp.

High quality material, professionally crafted and expertly maintained, is, of course, a successful recipe for a great many products other than knife blades. EXAIR applies these principles to every single item in our 168-page catalog of Intelligent Compressed Air® Products. Here are just a couple of examples:

*The Super Air Knife (no relation to the cutting tools discussed above) is available in a range of materials: aircraft grade aluminum, types 303 or 316 stainless steel, or PVDF. They’re engineered for maximum efficiency, minimum noise level, and manufactured to exacting quality standards.

Capture
*The Heavy Duty HEPA Vac System turns your open top drum into a powerful, high capacity, dust free, industrial vacuum. It’s made of a hardened alloy for superior abrasion resistance, and, with no moving parts, it’s virtually maintenance free.

Exair-heavy-duty-HEPA-vacuum

I could go on, but these are the two products, and the benefits they provide, that I’ve actually discussed with potential users just today. If you’d like to know more about how EXAIR products can keep the use of your compressed air sharp, effective, and safe, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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Vac-u-Gun Makes the Job Easier and Safer

I worked with a customer this week who was wanting to use one of our small Light Duty Line Vacs to remove plastic chips from their small machining operation. The Light Duty Line Vac  is a lesser version of our more powerful Line Vac models and provides an alternative solution for conveying smaller volumes of material over a short distance.

Light Duty Line Vac

Our family of Light Duty Line Vacs are built for use with 3/4″ to 6″ hose or pipe.

The customer is currently using an ordinary blow gun to blow out the chips onto the floor which was creating an unsafe work area. Another concern was the decrease in production, as the operator would need to stop machining, find a broom, sweep up the chips and dump them in a receptacle. To eliminate this, they were thinking that the operator could manually use the Light Duty Line Vac to vacuum the chips and convey them to the collection receptacle which was only about 5 feet away.

The Light Duty Line Vac would have worked well in the application, but since the process of vacuuming the chips would remain a manual operation, I mentioned our Model 6292 Vac-u-Gun Transfer System. The Vac-u-Gun is a hand held product, with a trigger valve built in. It is a more ergonomic and efficient solution than the Light Duty Line Vac. The Vac-u-Gun can be used as a vacuum gun, blow gun or transfer tool providing the customer with a single tool for a variety of different jobs. Utilizing only 13 SCFM @ 80 PSIG, it creates a vacuum of -29.5” H2O and produces a force of 9 ounces. By changing the orientation of the nozzle insert, the unit can be easily changed from a vacuum gun to an efficient blow gun.

Vac-u-Gun orientation

Offered in 3 different systems to cover several applications:

Vac-u-Gun Systems
By choosing the Vac-u-Gun rather than the Light Duty Line Vac, the customer was able to keep the manual operation, eliminate the unsafe working conditions, perform the job with less compressed air and improve their overall production. I was happy to assist them with the information to make the best decision.

At EXAIR, we have many different intelligent compressed air products that may fit your application. For help selecting the best option, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We are always willing to help!

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer
justinnicholl@exair.com
@EXAIR_JN

Video Blog: Effectiveness of Filtering Your Compressed Air

The video below will give a brief demonstration on the importance of point of use filtration in order to remove unwanted material such as water, scale, particulate and oil from your compressed air stream. Point of use or end-use filtration will keep your air clean and your compressed air products running smooth.  If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to contact us.

 

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

What’s an EXAIR?

Sometimes taking customer’s phone calls remind me of an Abbott and Costello bit (but I have to be Costello). Conversations can feel a bit like twenty questions. Instead of opening with mineral, vegetable, or animal, customers call in wanting more information on an “EXAIR”.  For our brand manager and marketing department, it is a clear sign that what they are doing is working, but to me can be a bit confusing.

Before you start thinking I don’t know my product, please remember an “EXAIR” can be quite few things. We make the broadest variety of problem solving end-use compressed air products for industry which equates to many possibilities of what an “EXAIR” may be. Is it an Air Nozzle, an Air Knife, an Air Wipe, an Air Amplifier, an Atomizing Spray Nozzle, a Safety Air Gun, a Static Eliminator, a Vacuum Generator, a Line Vac, an Industrial Vacuum, a Vortex Tube, a Cold Gun, or a Cabinet Cooler?   Unfortunately, with no moving parts to wear out, our products sometimes will outlast their labels, so the customers don’t have anymore information. Then, I have to ask what the product does.

So I ask the customer, “does the EXAIR blow off, vacuum, clean, dry, cool, convey, evacuate, coat, divert, dust, float, open, lift, purge, or spray?”

And then I wait for the customer’s detailed and eloquent response…”It works”, they sometimes say. But most of the time they respond with all of the details or enough to determine what product they have. In, in the end, an “EXAIR” is generally a Cabinet Cooler or a Vortex Tube (though it may be any of the above selection) – and we won’t complain that our company name can be so closely associated with our products.

We have so many products because compressed air is so versatile and useful.  We have taken our expertise in compressed air and used it to solve numerous problems for our customers. This is not as easy, as it sounds.  First, you need to know how well our compressed air products can perform. Second, you need to know what kind of performance the customer needs to get the job done. For instance when working on a Cabinet Cooler sizing exercise: A customer has a control box that is 24″ tall by  36″ wide by 12″ deep.  This box is reaching temperatures that cause the electronics to fail. Generally, this temperature is going to be between 110 degrees Fahrenheit to 130 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature in the plant was 95 degrees Fahrenheit, when it failed.  The customer would now like a Cabinet Cooler System to protect his enclosure from future temperature failures.

To calculate the heat load of the electronics, first we need to calculate the surface area in square feet. In the example above that would be 22 square feet. Second, we need to calculate the temperature differential between the outside and the inside of the cabinet.  The maximum temperature differential is 130 F – 95 F, which is 35 degree differential. With the temperature differential chart from our website, we can calculate the BTU/HR per square foot.

Temperature Conversion Table

For our example, it would be 13.8 BTU/HR/ft^2. Multiply this by our surface area. Our Cabinet Cooler needs to cool at least 303.6 BTU/HR. Our 4308 Cabinet Cooler System would be a good cabinet cooler for this enclosure. It can cool 550 BTU/Hr. It is rated for a NEMA 12 enclosure to prevent dust and oil from entering the cabinet.

To help the customer, you have to first ask the right questions. Most of these questions are listed on the Cabinet Cooler Sizing Guide on our website. What is the internal air temperature in the cabinet? What is the ambient air temperature? Are their any fans in the cabinet? What is the NEMA rating for the Cabinet? Sometimes it is best to speak with an Application Engineer to know for sure you have your bases covered.

Dave Woerner
Application Engineer
DaveWoerner@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_DW

What Type of Compressor Is Right for EXAIR Products?

Which One

A frequent question (and rightfully so) for compressed air products is “How much compressed air does it use?”  Fortunately for EXAIR, we can provide these values with confidence, knowing the research and development, testing, and quality control that goes into the products we make.

For many applications, this question is cut and dry.  For others, particularly those that do not currently have compressed air on site, the question leads to further conversation.  One of the questions that is often asked, is “What type of compressor should we use with these products?”

While the end-use products (EXAIR products) will operate regardless of the compressor type, there are benefits and advantages to various compressor types in different applications.

For short-term or intermittent use, a reciprocating compressor can be an excellent choice.  The size and weight, maintenance requirement (relatively low), and ease of procurement make them very suitable for small demand applications.  They are also suitable for high pressures. Keep in mind that reciprocating compressors typically have higher noise levels and higher cost of compression when compared to screw compressors.

When the compressed air need is high volume, and the demand requires a continuous supply of compressed air, a rotary screw compressor can be a better choice.  Rotary screw compressors are designed for more regular use in industrial applications, are (generally) more maintenance intensive, feature partial load capability allowing to align supply and demand, and can be found in a variety of sizes. You can expect to pay more for these models than the reciprocating compressors.

From an engineering standpoint, reciprocating compressors are dynamic devices, and screw compressors are positive displacement devices.  Click here for a more in depth look at screw compressor operation.

EXAIR manufactures many, many compressed air driven devices with a concentration on solving problems, conserving compressed air and making it safe by meeting OSHA standards.  And, although we do not supply or support any specific compressor manufacturer, our Application Engineers are well versed in compressed air generation and suited to discuss those needs with our customers.

If you have a compressed air related question, contact an EXAIR Application Engineer.

Lee Evans
Application Engineer
LeeEvans@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_LE

Vortex Tubes Make Hot Air Too

Back in the spring, my good friend and co-worker Neal Raker wrote a great piece, titled “Can I Use A Vortex Tube For Heating?” which I will try my best not to borrow too much from or outright plagiarize in the blog to follow. I only mention it because I had the pleasure of helping a customer with one of the “usually few and far between” Vortex Tube heating applications recently.

Like Neal said, the conditions under which Vortex Tubes fit a heating application are fairly narrow, but certainly not unheard of. In this situation, a reciprocating air motor had been in place on a piece of factory machinery for years. A recent change in the part being manufactured meant that the motor had to be slowed down, which meant throttling down on the vent valve on the motor’s pneumatic exhaust. When they did this, the valve became prone to freezing up, meaning someone had to rig up a heat gun and climb up on top of the machine to the vent valve, directing hot air on the valve until it thawed. It got to be a real hindrance to the process when this happened several times a day.

The caller was familiar with our Vortex Tube products, having used Mini Coolers and Cold Guns in other parts of the plant. He knew that there was hot air coming out of the other end, and thought it could be used to thaw the vent valve, but was concerned, because it was such a low flow.

Mini Cooler (left) and Cold Gun (right).

Mini Cooler (left) and Cold Gun (right).  Cold air from one end; hot exhaust minimized on the other.

He was right: the hot air exhaust of both the Mini Cooler and Cold Gun is a small fraction of the total air supply…that’s by design. Also, it’s passed through a noise reducing muffler which further spreads it out to make it nice & quiet…also by design.

That’s when a fuller explanation of Vortex Tube operation came into play: See, the Mini Coolers and Cold Guns are all set to a high Cold Fraction (the percentage of supply air that is directed to the cold end,) so, although the hot exhaust is indeed fairly hot, there’s just not a lot of it. By contrast, our 3400 Series Maximum Cold Temperature Vortex Tubes are adjustable for lower Cold Fractions (from 20-50%,) meaning that the hot exhaust flow can range from 50-80% of the supply air flow. Additionally, the hot end of the Vortex Tube has male NPT threads, for convenient porting & direction of the hot air flow.

The EXAIR Vortex Tube.  Cold air from one end; hot air from the other.  Fully adjustable.

The EXAIR Vortex Tube. Cold air from one end; hot air from the other. Fully adjustable.

Now, back to the conditions that made this a good fit for the Vortex Tube: the machinery already had an ample and easily accessible supply of compressed air…they were able to tap a line from the air motor’s supply. The closest outlet for their heat gun was on the other side of the walkway, which meant they had to stretch an extension cord across the walkway, creating a trip hazard. The vent valve is also small enough that they could use a Model 3402 Vortex Tube, which utilizes only 2 SCFM @100psig…a tiny fraction of what the air motor uses.

With the Vortex Tube mounted permanently in place, the vent valve now operates flawlessly, without the need for manually thawing with the incredibly inconvenient heat gun.

If you think you might have a decent fit for a Vortex Tube heating application, give us a call. You may be right.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
(513)671-3322 local
(800)923-9247 toll free
(513)671-3363 fax
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Improper Installation and Associated Problems

I had a customer contact me this week wanting to replace his existing Super Air Wipe with a different product because he was starting to see a drop in the performance. He was considering a switch to one of our Super Air Amplifiers because he was familiar with another company who was using one to blow off moisture from their “all-thread” piping production line, which was somewhat similar to his application.

Rather than just pursue the opportunity for the quick sale, I decided to dig a little deeper and see what issues he was experiencing. He is using (2) of our 1” Aluminum Super Air Wipes, Model # 2401, mounted on each end of a blast chamber to remove the treatment solution on their 0.3” round wire in order to contain the solution inside the chamber. The Super Air Wipe provides a 360° uniform, high velocity airflow that adheres to the passing material surface, wiping the entire surface area clean. Easily clamping around the material passing through due to it’s split design.

Super Air Wipe

 

After reviewing the pictures provided by the customer, there were several issues that potentially could have been contributing to the decreased performance:

1)  The Super Air Wipe was mounted in the incorrect direction, causing the customer to actual blow the solution out of the chamber rather than containing it.

2) The wire was not running concentric to the throat of the Super Air Wipe, contacting the edge of the Super Air Wipe unit and removing the edge of the coanda profile for a section of the knife .

3) Since the solution was being pulled through the Super Air Wipe due to the improper direction explained in problem 1, the solution was depositing and building up near the exit of the air flow, negatively affecting the performance.  In some areas it had even bridged over the air gap causing there to be no flow of compressed air.

The decline in performance is due to the gradual solution depositing on the Super Air Wipe. Initially, it had enough performance to remove the solution from the wire but continued to lose air flow and its ability to remove the solution as it built up around and upon the exit air pathways.

I discussed these concerns with the customer and rather than changing to a completely different product, I recommended ordering replacement Stainless Steel Super Air Wipes and mounting the units in the proper direction/orientation. This would provide better wear resistance, eliminate the build-up and contain the treatment solution inside the chamber as desired.

With help maximizing the performance of your existing EXAIR product or to discuss a new application, please contact one of our Application Engineers.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer
justinnicholl@exair.com
@EXAIR_JN

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