I like jigsaw puzzles. I start with the outside…there’s something to be said for establishing the boundaries of any project…but I don’t necessarily work my way in from there. Oftentimes, a number of same-colored pieces go together quickly, and I make a little part of the big picture somewhere in the middle. If it’s a big enough picture and/or if there’s a sufficient number of pieces, I might get a few of those little parts going on, until some of them get joined together. Once that happens, the big picture develops faster & faster, and before I know it, the puzzle is solved.
As an Application Engineer for EXAIR, a jigsaw puzzle is an apt analogy for assisting a customer in selecting the right solution to an application. A recent situation proved what a good analogy this is: a caller from a custom label making shop needed to eliminate static from a bunch of thin Mylar film that was die cut into special little shapes so they could be laid out in specific arrangements. You know…like a jigsaw puzzle!
Now, there aren’t many better ways to generate a static charge than doing ANYTHING to Mylar. The magnitude of static charge created by the cutting process is downright vicious. As difficult as it was to put the first piece in place, it was IMPOSSIBLE to keep it there when they put the NEXT piece down adjacent to it. Same thing with the piece after that, and the piece after that, etc. They needed something to remove the static, and that something turned out to be an EXAIR Ion Air Knife. By installing a Model 8106 6″ Gen4 Standard Ion Air Knife along one side, they were able to gently blow a ‘whisper’ of ionized air that moved the freshly cut pieces from the die cutter’s platen so the operator could then lay them out to make the desired label design.
So, how did we arrive at the Gen4 Standard Ion Air Knife? Wouldn’t the more efficient & quieter Super Ion Air Knife be the “go to” solution? In an awful lot of cases, it certainly is. A couple of things made the Standard Ion Air Knife more attractive here:
- Size: the Standard Ion Air Knife has a smaller profile than the Super Ion Air Knife. While this isn’t critical in every application, some installations do have limited space, and the compact nature of the Standard Ion Air Knife can make all the difference in the world:
- Compressed air consumption: if this were an application for a continuous 36″ wide ionized air curtain in a fast moving product application with a high static charge, we’d have talked about the difference in consumption, at a high pressure (like 80psig) for the two different Ion Air Knives:
- 36″ Super Ion Air Knife: 104.4 SCFM, or 12,528,000 standard cubic feet per year*
- 36″ Standard Ion Air Knife: 123 SCFM, or 15,350,400 standard cubic feet per year*
*Eight hours a day, five days a week, 52 weeks a year. Assuming a compressed air cost of $0.25 per 1,000 standard cubic feet, that’s an operating cost difference of:
(15,350,400 – 12,528,000) SCF X $0.25/1,000 SCF = $705.60 per year.
- In this case, though, it’s a 6″ Ion Air Knife, blowing a short puff of ionized air a few times a minute, at about 5psig supply pressure…anything more would blow those small mylar pieces all over the place:
- 6″ Super Ion Air Knife: 1.85 SCFM, or 23,088 standard cubic feet per year*
- 6″ Standard Ion Air Knife: 1.5 SCFM, or 18,720 standard cubic feet per year*
*Three 2-second cycles per minute, eight hours a day, five days a week, 52 weeks a year. Assuming a compressed air cost of $0.25 per 1,000 standard cubic feet, that’s an operating cost difference of:
(23,088 – 18,720) SCF X $0.25/1,000 SCF = $1.09 per year.
- Sound level: again, this would be a prime consideration if they were operating at higher supply pressures. But, at the lower pressure necessitated by this application, the Standard Ion Air Knife’s 66dBA, a second or two at a time, is hardly noticeable.
- Price: The purchase price (2021 pricing) of the Standard Ion Air Knife was ~17% less than the Super Ion Air Knife. Normally, we’ll talk about the operating cost…but not when the difference (see above) is just over a buck a year.
- Air flow pattern: Since a curtain of ionized air was a good fit for this application, an Ion Air Knife (Super or Standard) was the logical choice. If a more concentrated flow was called for, we’d have used an Ion Air Cannon or Ion Air Jet. If they were looking for something handheld, a Gen4 Ion Air Gun or Intellistat Ion Air Gun would have been offered. For static dissipation on the entire circumference or perimeter of a part, we’d have talked about a Super Ion Air Wipe. The size & shape of the air flow, in fact, is frequently where we “start the negotiations” on product selection…sort of analogous to starting with the outside border pieces of a jigsaw puzzle!
EXAIR Corporation has a broad range of Static Eliminators, that are just one part of our diverse offering of Intelligent Compressed Air Products. If you’ve got questions, we’ve got answers…give me a call.
Russ Bowman, CCASS
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Jigsaw Puzzle (detail) photo courtesy of James Petts Creative Commons License