We’ve just been notified by “Plant Engineering Magazine” that their readers have named our new Chip Trapper “Product Of The Year”! That’s a very prestigious award and on behalf of all of us at EXAIR, thanks to all of you who voted for Chip Trapper. We also thank the people at “Plant Engineering” for their consideration.
Each year, “Plant Engineering” assembles a group of engineers and technical experts who review a long list of products that were made available in the past year. They narrow the list to come up with 112 finalists – companies they feel have offered something new and innovative. They show the 112 products in their November print and digital issues of the magazine and provide only the subscribers of the magazine a ballot to vote on their favorite product. (Of course, companies with entries don’t receive ballots to keep it fair and honest.) Their circulation is almost 87,000 recipients!
If you haven’t seen Chip Trapper in action, please take a few minutes to watch our video. Anybody who works in a machine shop understands why this product is a big deal. When the coolant that flows from those coolant nozzles slows to a trickle, you can easily end up having to take half a day (of lost production) to find the clog, clean the machine and replace the coolant. It usually ends up happening at a time when parts need to be finished by a deadline too! Using the Chip Trapper for only several minutes each week can make coolant that used to last only 6 weeks now last 6 months or more. Equally important, it gets rid of that nasty rancid coolant smell that can make you feel nauseous.
Are there other products out there that solve this problem? Not exactly! Most don’t work very well and can easily cost twice that of a Chip Trapper. We’ve tried a number of the other products in our own production and were never really satisfied with them. A lot of you who work in machining environments have probably arrived at that same conclusion. We took the problem into our own hands and developed the Chip Trapper to satisfy our own needs and those of our customers.
Is coolant management a big problem? To many we have spoken with, it is. The technical publications who have their fingers on the pulse of what is going on in industry understand this too. My January copy of “New Equipment Digest” just arrived and it has a large photo of the Chip Trapper on the front cover. They’ve also put a demo of it on their web site. We appreciate their magazine getting the word out that EXAIR has solved a major coolant problem. If you know somebody who works with coolant, we’d appreciate it if you’d let them know too!
We receive inquiries every once in a while for an ‘air amplifier’ where the customer is looking for a way to boost the pressure in their application so that they can do some specific task. The application is not anything special that requires some unusually high working pressure. The situation is that the customer’s compressed air system is poorly designed or the application using compressed air is hugely inefficient which results in an excessive pressure drop at the point of use. If you get enough applications trying to run with poor plumbing and poor set-up in place, the compressed air system can easily become over-taxed which can result in an overall system pressure drop.
An Air Amplifier, as we call it, would be a bit different from what these customers assume about the nature of operation. With our product, an Air Amplifier is a device that takes compressed air and exhausts it out, through an annular orifice, toward a target. In the process of exhausting, the Air Amplifier pulls in surrounding air volume (we measure it in SCFM). The rate at which the Air Amplifier multiplies the air volume moved is the amplification ratio. So, they amplify air volume (SCFM) and not air pressure (PSIG).
The next question becomes, “How would I use your Air Amplifier?”. In many cases, customers will need to move air toward a target for the purposes of cooling that target down fairly quickly. Another use might be to create an airflow in a duct to remove dust, fumes or other light particles. Click here for some interesting application photos
In many cases, customers will be using their compressed air to spot cool some specific area within a process and they are using an open-ended pipe to do so. This condition is extremely wasteful, unsafe and not as effective as it could be. For example, if a 3/8 NPT open pipe were blasting away on a target at 80 PSIG, that pipe would be consuming roughly 95 SCFM to do the task at hand. If that pipe simply had a 2″ Super Air Amplifier screwed right on the 3/8 NPT pipe thread, the air consumption would automatically drop to 15.5 SCFM and the customer would be moving 341 SCFM out toward their target; more than 3 times the air volume they were moving with just the open pipe; and with just 16% of the original compressed air as compared to the open pipe.
Air savings like this single example are an everyday occurence for customers who call in and get help with their cooling, blow-off and drying applications. The really interesting part is that 80 SCFM of air volume is saved from this one application and can now be used in other areas of the plant or just claimed as straight forward air (energy) savings. And so, if we can solve an individual application like this one that frees up compressor capacity for other applications, the other kind of “air amplifier’ (read pressure booster) really becomes un-necessary for the customers original assumed purpose.
As much as I enjoy my job, if I would have to choose another, it would be in special effects. These guys get to play with some neat stuff and on occasion they call us for help. A special effects artist contacted me wanting to show how a third of the Mount St Helen’s mountain top blew away. He needed to create an explosion followed by dust and lava.
The lava part was easy, backlit orange mylar. The eruption took a little more thought. We came up with making the top half of his scale model from a layer of thin paper mache with a layer of sand an drywall dust underneath. To effect the first explosion, a simple firecracker breached the paper mache. Then an EXAIR Air Amplifier was turned on sending the dust followed by the orange mylar into the air. Really Awesome!
In real life, the Mt St. Helen’s decapitation demonstrates earth’s ever-changing landscape and that nothing is permanent. In a split moment tons of mountain blew away in the wind.
Takes me to mind Bob Dylan’s lyrics:
“How many years can a mountain exist Before it’s washed to the sea?
The answer my friend is blowing in the wind”
Like everyone else in the manufacturing sector, I’ve struggled with ever-changing regulations. When all the groaning and moaning was over, we always seemed to have worked our way through it. At first, compliance is not cost-effective but the drive to bottom line profitability made us think outside the box and ways to turn a negative into a positive.
Back in my machining days, we were forced to change from petroleum-based coolant to water based coolant. The stuff turned rancid, stunk worse than road kill, and presented a disposal problem. This gave birth to a new industry building in-house filtration systems so that the coolant could be cleaned and used again. These in-house systems were time-consuming to get up and running and they were expensive.
EXAIR recently introduced a product that I wish I had available back then. It is the Chip Trapper . This product not only sucks out the machine sump, but filters the coolant and returns it back into the machine. Cost is modest and the return is high.
One of our customers manufactures glass containers and drinking glasses. They run a high-speed, high production line and sell these products all over the world. This application concentrates on their drinking glass production line.
The molten glass goes into a mold and the drinking glass in pressed into shape. The cooling process begins immediately after the glasses exit the mold. Cooling the glasses quickly minimizes the chances for warped product. To begin cooling the glasses they simply use air circulation by using assorted nozzles to move the warm surrounding air.
The problem was dead spots produced by the nozzles and low air flow areas created by the way they were mounted. The tight spaces and interference from other machine parts left dead spots in the cooling air flow which resulted in hot spots on the glasses. These hot spots did result in warped product.
After discussing the application and gaining an understanding of the process, EXAIR recommended our 12″ stainless steel Super Air Knife. The low profile of the knife allowed it to mount in a tight space where the air can blow on to the glasses. The uninterrupted air flow of the knife is a better solution than a bunch of nozzles because it will produce even and consistent results without peaks and vallies in the air flow. And the stainless steel material is well suited for an elevated ambient temperature environment found in the glass plant.
Many times in circulation applications like this it is not necessary to run the product at full pressure, a simple pressure regulator will allow customers to turn the pressure down as low as possible which keeps the efficiency maximized. The number of products EXAIR has which can offer air circulation is huge! This maximizes our ability to solve your application, and minimizes your time in locating a solution.
This blog entry is a bit of a follow-up to my entry from last week concerning web site features. With the advent of live chat and embedded videos one might thing that the Frequently Asked Questions page may have gone the way of the rotary dial phone or the fax machine (almost).
The Frequently Asked Questions page can show a lot about a company and about their products that perhaps you were afraid to ask on one of these newer communication forums. Have you ever thought, “I’d like to ask a question, but it is probably a dumb one!”. You can click on the FAQ page and look through the various topics to see if someone else has already asked your question. If you don’t see it, you can click on an e-mail and send your question. We are happy to answer your questions and contrary to popular thought, there are no dumb ones.
As Application Engineers it is our job to answer questions of all sorts about products and applications from, “What material is it made of?” to “How much cooling power can I generate with model 3240 with 80 PSIG and 60% cold fraction?” Your question can be anywhere in between and we will do our best to give you a complete and honest answer.
So, I invite you to look round in our FAQ page and ask away.
I recently had arthroscopic knee surgery. I was referred to a leading surgeon who does our NFL football team, colleges, and high schools. I was excited to have the best of the best and confident the surgery would go without a hitch. My expectations were not realized. First of all I never got to see the doctor, only his staff, and it was a different person each time. I was not given the doctor patient rapport that I had become accustomed to with other physicians. I felt more like being processed that being cared for.
I developed some unusual swelling which raised suspicions of a blood clot. Again, not seeing the doctor but only one of his staff, I was directed to have a ultrasound and return to the waiting room. I did as told, had the tests done and returned to the doctor’s office. Eventually a woman came out and said the tests were negative. I queried about what could be done about the swelling and the excruciating pain. She conceded that she was only a secretary. I requested to talk to someone who could answer that question. Another woman came out and simply said to keep it elevated.
Being laid-up for a week and time on my hands, I thought about the new year and how I could be better applications engineer…the best of the best. I was jolted out of my thoughts with a sharp pain from my leg. As if by inspiration, I realized that being the best of the best was not the answer as exemplified by my experience with my doctor. When customers approach me for answers to their applications they are not only seeking an answer but a degree of confidence in my being there for them. Although I have a solution that I know will work, and EXAIR backs it up with a 30 day evaluation, they need to feel confident. So my new years resolution is not to increase my technical skills but my “bedside manner”. Along with listening to the customers description of his application, I am going to concentrate on the tenor of their voice to discern any apprehensions they may have and do what I can to make the customer feel good about himself and confident in the decision he is about to make implementing EXAIR products.