Help with Choosing an E-Vac Vacuum Generator

This is a pretty common question when it comes to Vacuum Generator use in pick-and-place application, and although we can’t boil it down to a simple table & formula based on mass (like we can with the Vacuum Cups themselves,) we can usually hone right in on it, if we have enough details of the situation. And, if questions remain, we can always test one to find out…we’ve got an Efficiency Lab.

That’s what I did, first thing this morning. I had the pleasure of speaking with a robotics instructor at a vocational school yesterday…his class was building a robot to enter in a competition, and one of the operations it needs to accomplish is picking up a golf ball and carrying it a certain distance.  This sounded like a great application for a small E-Vac Vacuum Generator, and, considering the potential leakage at the Vacuum Cup face from the dimples on the golf ball, my first instinct was to consider our Model 810002M E-Vac Low Vacuum (Porous Duty) Generator w/Muffler, and a Model 900766 Bellow Style Vacuum Cup, with a 0.73″ diameter face…our smallest, and ideally sized for a golf ball.  They, however, have a VERY limited supply of compressed air, so the difference between the Model 810002M’s compressed air consumption (2.3 SCFM @80psig) and the Model 800001M E-Vac High Vacuum (Non-Porous Duty) Generator w/Muffler (1.5 SCFM @80psig) was worth considering.  Also, we figured that they might be able to use a Model 900804 Check Valve, so the only time they’d need to supply air was to pick it up, and, possibly intermittently to maintain the vacuum.  So, golf ball in hand, off to the Efficiency Lab I went.  I also took our trusty video camera:

As you can see, it locked on to the golf ball instantly, and the Check Valve allowed the Vacuum Cup to hold the ball for over 13 seconds with no air flow to the E-Vac, proving that there isn’t much leakage at all past those dimples.  I suspect we’ll be seeing this robotics class team in the winner’s circle at the competition.

In most cases, the difference between 1.5 SCFM and 2.3 SCFM consumption may go unnoticed when picking a short-duration pick-and place vacuum generator.  The higher usage product’s supply pressure can always be regulated down to reduce compressed air consumption and use only what’s necessary to do the task…we, in fact, recommend that on ANY compressed air application.  In this case, though, it was worth finding out.

If you have a pick-and-place application that you’d like help with in selecting the right system, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
(513)671-3322 local
(800)923-9247 toll free
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Safety Air Gun Improves Aluminum Extruding Machining Process

I was doing some work around the house Saturday when I heard my wife shouting out from our laundry room….”Something is wrong with our dryer. This is the 3rd time I’ve restarted it and the clothes are still wet!”. Now having been in this situation before, I knew this meant that the exhaust was probably clogged with lint (again).

See, our laundry room runs parallel to our family room and the exhaust ducting goes up and then across the laundry room, across the family room and then exhausts on the side of the house. (I would like to find the person who thought this was a good idea!). I have thought about re-routing the ducting but the only other option would be to have the exhaust on the front of the house which will “never happen” (per my wife). So I usually end up taking my vacuum and attaching as many extensions as possible to reach as much of the ducting as I can. I have tried a few other methods with no success – like taking my leaf blower and, from the outside of the house, blow the lint back towards the laundry room and into a garbage can. (hint: make SURE your wife is not in the laundry room when attempting this…. They don’t react too well when they get covered in lint!)

This made me think of an application I worked on last week with an aluminum extrusion company. The customer cuts lengths of aluminum siding from 1’ up to 10’ in length and, standing at one end of the material, are using a standard blow gun to try and blow out the chips but are unsuccessful. They reviewed our website but were still unsure what product may fit their needs best, so they gave us a call.

We discussed their application and the customer was able to email pictures. After reviewing the pictures I recommended using one of our Soft Grip Safety Air Guns with our Model # HP1125, 2” Flat High Power Super Air Nozzle and a 72” extension.  The Soft Grip Safety Air Gun is constructed of cast aluminum and includes a hook for hanging in a convenient location. The Model # HP1125, 2” High Power Flat Super Air Nozzle, produces 2.2 lbs. of force @ 80 PSIG and utilizes 37 SCFM with a sound level of 83 dBA. This would also meet or exceed the OSHA standards for safety, per Standard 1910.242(b) for 30 psi dead end pressure, and allowable noise exposure per Standard 29 CFR – 1910.95(a).

HP1230

An EXAIR model HP1230 Soft Grip Safety Air Gun

To discuss your application or help with selecting the right product, contact an application engineer.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer
justinnicholl@exair.com
@EXAIR_JN

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

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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