I was recently contacted by an engineer for a large car manufacturer looking for a better solution to protecting the glass lens on their laser welding machine. During the weld process, there is a large amount of excess slag that rises and breaks the glass lens that houses the laser. They are currently using a very expensive, bolt-in air cartridge, supplied by the machine OEM based overseas but it doesn’t produce a high enough velocity of airflow to protect the glass. The existing design incorporates a replaceable glass lens with the hopes that if the slag is able to get past the airflow, the spare lens would break and signal a failure. The problem they were experiencing is the spare lens is being broken during almost every weld, causing major backups in production not to mention the money being wasted on replacement lenses and spare parts shipping from overseas. They went as far as adding additional homemade nozzles and other blowoffs to the process hoping for better containment but these failed as well. The customer is somewhat local and was able to bring the existing cartridge and other devices for us to flow test and see what recommendations we might have for a solution.
Upon flow testing the cartridge, we noticed that the output flow was not forceful and the air was just blowing around inside the housing, there was no directional airflow to blow away from the lens. The design of this cartridge was poor and did not effectively use the compressed air.
To replace the poorly designed cartridge, I recommended the customer use our Super Air Wipe. The Super Air Wipe provides a 360° uniform, high velocity airflow that is typically used to treat the outside of a hose, tube, extruded shape, etc. as it passing through the center. Since the existing unit isn’t producing much airflow, the idea was to mount the Super Air Wipe in front of the main glass with the airflow blowing down. This would not only keep the slag from contacting the glass but would also blow the slag away so they could maintain a clean weld.
They also were able to bring the homemade nozzles and an air knife used at different areas of the machine system supplied by the OEM. When we started the test, the customer commented that “these don’t really produce much airflow either but I thought I would have them tested”. Fair enough, so that’s what we did and boy were we surprised! The units actually produced a VERY high velocity airflow but were very loud, inefficient and provided much more force than they would need in a blowoff application further down the line. At the customers facility these existing units were being supplied by a 12mm header tube which was restricting their performance. I recommended our 2″ Flat Super Air Nozzle and our 6″ Super Air Knife as possible replacements. These products would provide a much lower sound level, a decrease in their air consumption and a more suitable force for their particular needs – it resulted in a win-win situation.
We understand that not every customer has the capability of visiting our facility for this kind of testing. For this very reason, we offer our Efficiency Lab – a free service where you can send us your existing product, we will test it’s performance and provide a detailed report. We can then make a possible recommendation for an EXAIR replacement.