Removing Static in Pharmaceutical Packaging

Static Eliminators

Variety of Static Eliminators from EXAIR

A pharmaceutical company contacted EXAIR about static issues in their packaging area. When static is created, it can become a real nuisance.  For this pharmaceutical company, it was greatly affecting the tablet filling station.  They actually had four major areas generating static in their process.  The first area was the preformed plastic trays at the start of their process.  They would purchase many sheets of plastic from their supplier and as they started to unpack the sheets, a large amount of static would shock the operators.  Another area was when the blister pack was being thermally formed.  As for the tablets, they too were generating static when they were being separated from the forming process and transferred to the delivery chute.  Like the same poles on a magnet, static charges with the similar polarity, will repel each other; causing the tablet to be rejected from the blister tray.   The fourth area that had static was at the rotating brush.  The brush was used to knock down any raised tablets inside the blister cavity.  As the plastic bristles were rubbing against the tray and tablets, static was being generated.  In order to keep this process running smoothly, they had to eliminate the static.

In evaluating the target areas to remove the static, I recommended the following solutions:

  1. Unpacking of the preformed trays: As the operators started to unpack the plastic trays, they would get a big shock. Static is being generated as the sheet are moving and sliding across each other. I recommended the model 111224 Super Ion Air Knife Kit.   The Super Ion Air Knife blows ionized air onto the surface. It can remove static and dust as far away as 20 feet. The operators could still perform their operation as the Super Ion Air Knife could perform its job. This will remove the static and also remove any plastic fragments or debris off the surface. Dirt and contamination is attracted to the material by static, and if the tray is not completely clean, the company has a potential to lose an allotment of product.
    Plastic sheets before EXAIR

    Static on Plastic sheets before EXAIR is 13,300 volts

    Tablet packaging after

    Static on Plastic sheets after EXAIR is 100 volts

     

  2. At the thermal forming machine: This machine uses a heated die to press cavities into a plastic film. As the tray is being made and pushed along, static is being created. I recommended the model 7012 Ionizing Bar.   This would neutralize that static before the tablets are being inserted.
    Thermoformed trays before EXAIR

    Static on thermoformed trays before EXAIR is 4,900 volts

    Tablet forming trays after

    Static on thermoformed trays after EXAIR is 200 volts

     

  3. At the tablet chute: As the tablets are being moved and transferred, a static charge is being generated on the surface. When the tablets are about ready to be dispensed, the repulsion forces would cause either a delay by sticking to a prior tablet or a shift in alignment; both causing the tablet to miss the cavities of the blister pack. I recommended the 7012 Ionizing Bar to mount near the end of the chute. The Ionizing Bar creates both positive and negative ions to remove any type of static that passes underneath it.
  4. The rotating brush: After the tablets are placed in the blister pack and before the foil is applied to enclose the package, a rotating brush with plastic bristles would rub on the surface of the plastic tray and the tablets. This would ensure that the tablets are lying flat in their cavities. This operation would regenerate the static. As you can see with the picture below, it was creating 1.5 Kilovolts of static electricity on the surface. I recommended another model 7012 Ionizing Bar to remove this buildup of static.
Tray/tablet after brushing before EXAIR

Static on Tray/tablet after brushing is 1500 volts

Tray/Tablet after brushing after EXAIR

Elimination of Static after using EXAIR results in no static charge

With any type of static issues, it is best to have a quantitative result of your process. The EXAIR model 7905 Static Meter can do this.  This pharmaceutical company was able to determine how much static was being generated in their process, and how effective in removing the static.  They were so happy with the results of the EXAIR Static Eliminators, they sent pictures to show.  As you can see, we were able to remove all static before their last step of applying the foil.  The rejection rate went way down and their process ran very smooth.  If you start seeing issues with static in your process, you can contact EXAIR and speak to one of the Application Engineers.  We have a large range of Static Eliminators that can help you.

John Ball
Application Engineer
Email: johnball@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb

EXAIR Vortex Tube Used In Camera Cooling

VT used in camera cooling

An EXAIR Vortex Tube supplies cold air to a camera housing in a steel production facility

Not long ago I found myself lost in thought, watching a power hammer being used in a sword forging process.  I was thinking to myself about how intricate machines are, and how viewing machine components as singular items can be mind boggling.  For example, considering the process of mining various metals and then combining them in just the right “recipe” to produce a specific component of a machine, which is then used to create something entirely different – it’s a rabbit hole of a thought.

But, it does lend weight to the complexities and intricacies found in manufacturing, which is something we encounter every day in Application Engineering at EXAIR.  Case in point, the photo above shows an EXAIR Vortex Tube being used in a steel production facility.  This application needed a way to cool a camera used to check the thickness and quality of steel plates produced in the plant.  Due to temperature and space constraints, a compact and industrial solution was needed.

So, we turned to a High Temperature Vortex Tube, using the cold air produced by the Vortex Tube to cool the camera housing.  Without proper cooling the camera faced an overheating condition, creating a shutdown of the visual inspection, and a subsequent shutdown of the quality control process.  By installing an EXAIR High Temperature Vortex Tube, this quality control disturbance was corrected.  And, due to the maintenance free nature of EXAIR products, consistent cooling performance is guaranteed with a supply of clean, dry compressed air.

In a given day we can encounter applications needing cooling, cleaning, conveying, static removal, or a litany of other specific solutions.  If you’d like to discuss your application with an EXAIR Application Engineer, give us a call.  We’ll be happy to help.

Lee Evans
Application Engineer
LeeEvans@EXAIR
@EXAIR_LE

Vacuum Generators: Adjustable E-Vac Holds Parts To Work Station

I’ve written before about the diversity of applications that EXAIR’s compressed air products can be used for – the Super Air Knife and the Line Vac come to mind – but of all the products in our catalog, none have a longer list of applications than the E-Vac Vacuum Generators:

While they're probably most popular for "pick and place" (as evidenced by our catalog photos) the EXAIR E-Vac's boast a wide variety of uses.

While they’re probably most popular for “pick and place” (as evidenced by our catalog photos) the EXAIR E-Vac’s boast a wide variety of uses.

I had the pleasure of helping a customer specify a product another popular application recently: clamping and chucking.  This caller had a machining center with a vacuum table – if you’re unfamiliar, it looks like an air hockey table, and works like one too, only in reverse: instead of using blowing air through all those little holes out to “float” the puck on the surface, it pulls air in through them to pull the part down and hold it in place.

This was for a relatively small table surface…about 9″ x 14″…and some of the holes could be blocked, if smaller parts were to be held down.  It was originally equipped with an electrically driven vacuum pump, but it had seen better days, and a replacement was going to be a little pricey.  They already had compressed air running to the machine, and were keenly interested in something small, inexpensive, and with no moving parts – like the Adjustable E-Vac.

After some discussion of the specs on their vacuum pump, we provided a Model 840008M Adjustable E-Vac & Muffler.  This not only gives them the ability to easily change the vacuum level & flow for different sized parts, but it also has a larger throat than the In-Line E-Vacs, meaning it won’t get clogged by the finite amount of dust & small particulate that can make it through the vacuum table’s holes.

EXAIR has four sizes of Adjustable E-Vac Vacuum Generators in stock.

EXAIR has four sizes of Adjustable E-Vac Vacuum Generators in stock.

By my count, we’ve still got fourteen E-Vac applications that I haven’t discussed in a blog yet.  If you’ve got one that you’d like to talk about (and give me something to write about,) feel free to call me anytime.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Super Air Wipe Helps in Testing Wire Insulation

A cable manufacturer sent me videos of his operation as they needed to improve their efficiency in removing water from the surface of the insulation. Their system began with the insulation being applied to the outside of the wire cable, being dipped into a water trough to harden the insulation, travel through the blow-off device, then into a spark tester.  The spark tester checks the insulation for imperfections.  Also called a hi-pot tester (high-potential), a high voltage is used to create a large potential across the insulation.  Any defects in the insulation can be detected, but it is very sensitive to surface contamination.  Being that the water is very conductive, it had to be removed or it would give a false result.  They were using a home-made circular blowing device (photo below) to blow the water off after dipping.  When they were at the higher line speeds, the blow-off device was not removing the water completely from the insulation.  This would cause the spark tester to alarm and stop production.

Home-made Air Wipe

Home-made Air Wipe

This company makes cables ranging from 10mm to 25mm in diameter. With various types of voltage ratings on the wire, the insulation was made with different types of materials and thicknesses.  So, the line speeds could range from 20 to 200 meter/minute.  Being that they needed a better way to remove the wire, they searched for wire and cable blow-off devices. They came across the Super Air Wipe from EXAIR.  The design of the Super Air Wipe blows compressed air at a 30 degree angle toward the center in a 360 degree air pattern, just like a cone.  It uses the Coanda effect to entrain as much ambient air into your compressed air to maximize force and efficiency.  Because of the variations in diameters and speeds, I suggested two different sizes, the model 2401 and model 2402.  The model 2401 has an I.D. of 1” (25mm), and it would work best with the cable diameters of 15mm and under.  The model 2402 has an I.D. of 2” (51mm), and it can handle the cables that are above 15mm in size. This pair of Super Air Wipes would give the customer the most consistent results no matter what line speeds that they ran.  With the split design of the Super Air Wipe, it makes it easy to clamp around the cable and change from one size to the other.

Super Air Wipe

Super Air Wipe

As they removed their home-made unit and attached the Super Air Wipes, they noticed a few things. The spark tester stopped getting false alarms.  This made the production process run smoother; even at the faster line speeds.  They noticed that the Super Air Wipe was much quieter.  With a decibel rating of 77 dBA, the nearby operators were very happy with this choice.  Also, they noticed that the Super Air Wipes used much less compressed air.  Because the design utilizes the “free” ambient air, less compressed air is required.  This would save them a lot of money in their electric bill and the stress on the compressed air system.  If your company needs to blow off cables, hoses, pipes, or any cylindrical type parts, the Super Air Wipe could be a great product for you.

John Ball
Application Engineer
Email: johnball@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb

Observations By The New Guy

As the junior member of the EXAIR Application Engineer Team, I have a fresh view on the differences in the EXAIR Business Model versus my prior places of employment.

EXAIR has 1000’s of items in stock, ready for same day shipment with orders received by 3 pm EDT. Here, a long lead time item is considered 1 week, as opposed to 20+ weeks, that I had previously quoted at other employers.  Imagine needing something quickly and then finding out it would be 20 weeks for delivery. Everything in the EXAIR catalog is a stock item, and ready for your order.

Our year to date on time delivery rate of > 99.9% is amazing, and even more incredible is the streak of 20 years of shipping complete, on time, and correct orders of over 99.9%.  Nothing was more frustrating than starting the day with calls and emails to customers telling them their order is going to be late, and the wasted time for everyone in determining the reason, who was at fault, what the new ship date will be and the general disdain caused by such interactions.  I sure don’t miss that part of the work day, freeing me up to truly service the customer.

The last item that truly separates EXAIR as not only an employer but a vendor is, the EXAIR Guarantee. Every application is different and it is the Application Engineer’s job to understand the application and best identify the right EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Product® to provide the benefit.  For those applications that are what we might say, on the ‘fringe’ of the capabilities, the 30 Day Guarantee is a great way to perform a real world test of the product in the actual application environment.  If it doesn’t meet expectations, then we’ll gladly take it back for a full refund.

30 Day Guarantee

In my time here at EXAIR, every day offers exciting new ways to provide service to our customers.  Each new phone call, email, and chat is an opportunity to execute the EXAIR way of business and provide the high level of performance our customers have come to expect, and can rely on, from the whole team here.

Brian Bergmann
Application Engineer
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EXAIR Webinar: Intelligent Compressed Air Solutions For OSHA Compliance

bWebinar_186x133blog
On September 13th, 2016 at 2 PM EDT, EXAIR will be presenting a FREE webinar. During the short presentation, we will be covering the OSHA Standards for the safe use of compressed air when used for cleaning purposes.

The first topic we will discuss will pertain to the OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910.242 (b) limiting the outlet pressure of an open pipe, tube, air gun, nozzle, etc. to less than 30 PSIG. When dead ended against the skin, air pressure above 30 PSI, can introduce air flow into the body, otherwise known as an air embolism. An air embolism can be an extremely dangerous condition which can cause serious injury, such as a stroke or possibly death.

Secondly, we will discuss the OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910.95(a) for permissible noise exposure levels. In the Standard, OSHA has set exposure limits (in hours) for varying sound levels (dBA). When employees are subjected to sounds in excess of the limiting guidelines, some type of engineered controls should be used to reduce the sound level exposure. We will provide some useful statistics, as well as help you identify some common culprits found in many processes.

Lastly, we will show you how EXAIR provides engineered solutions that address both dead end pressure and noise exposure levels. All of EXAIR‘s blowoff devices feature some type of relief so if the exhaust airflow were somehow blocked or pressed against the skin, there is always a safe path for the air to exit, so the discharge pressure never exceeds 30 PSI. In addition, we will explain how our products reduce wind shear, ultimately lowering the sound level, save energy and help you gain OSHA compliance to avoid costly fines.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer
justinnicholl@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_JN

 

 

 

Adjustable Spot Cooler Easily Cools Aluminum Plates

Cooling Unit- Iso View

This setup needed a method to cool a 400g aluminum plate (click for larger view)

When we work with our customers about cooling applications, we usually approach them in one of two ways – either with a need to cool down to ambient temperatures, or a need to cool below ambient temperatures.  If we only need to cool to ambient conditions, we can use Super Air Amplifiers, Super Air Knives, Air Nozzles, or Safety Air Guns.  But, if we need to cool below ambient temperatures, we have to use a vortex-based technology such as a Vortex Tube, Adjustable Spot Cooler, Mini Cooler, Cold Gun, or Cabinet Cooler.

One of our overseas customers reached out to me with a need to cool a 400g aluminum plate from 80°C (176°F) to 27-30°C (80-86°F) over the course of about 40-60 seconds.  They needed something repeatable, dependable, and compact, so we explored a Vortex Tube-based solution.

heat load calc process

Process flow for calculating required air volume in a cooling application (click for larger view)

We’ve shown airflow calculations for our Air Amplifiers in the past, and I used the same rationale (shown above) to determine the required air volume to cool this application.  In these types of applications, we derive a ΔT value between the desired ending temperature of the material and the temperature of the air which will be blown onto the material.  So, for this application, we have a desired end temperature of 30°C, and we have considered an outlet temperature of 0°C from a Vortex Tube device.

After determining all the required values, I performed the calculations shown below to arrive at a volume flow of 15.8 CFM.

Cooling calculations for ASC in aluminum plate application

Calculations for determining the required air volume in this application (click for larger view)

In uncovering that the ambient conditions may change, and sharing that these changes could create variance in the required air volume, the end user opted for two model 3925 Adjustable Spot Coolers to provide the required cooling.  Just like Vortex Tubes or Cold Guns, the Adjustable Spot Coolers allow for repeatable delivery of very cold air to the application, but they also have the additional benefit of easy “fine tuning” through the adjustment valve on the hot end of the unit.

Cooling Unit - Details

The cooling unit for the aluminum plates (click for larger view)

The cold air created by the Adjustable Spot Coolers are fed to the nozzles shown above in red.  By supplying an adequate volume of cold air at the right temperature, the problem in this application has been easily solved.

If you have an application with a heating concern, give us a call.  We’re happy to help.

Lee Evans
Application Engineer
LeeEvans@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_LE

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