Compressed air is a necessary utility in any manufacturing environment. When used improperly, this compressed air can pose very real and serious dangers to your personnel. It’s imperative that you’re aware of the potential risks… More
I’ve mentioned it before and I’ll say it again. You can’t teach experience. This was told to me by a mentor at a previous job and of course, younger me thought, “Yeah, yeah I know all I need to know.” Well, younger me was an idiot and learned many things through experience. Sometimes I am still a slow learner and eventually, I remember those experiences and make decisions based on them. So what does this have to do with o-rings, seals, and gaskets?
I’m in the midst of a light construction project in my house and have reached a stage where some tools that I do not have would come in handy and make the job faster. Younger me would have justified purchasing a new one, experienced me understands a budget and reached out to my network of friends and a good friend said they had the tool I needed. This was a compressed air powered framing nail gun. Straight through nailing, no-problem, toe-nailing, no-problem, this thing won’t break a sweat and your arms will be stronger by the time you are done using it while your thumbs are screaming thank you for not smashing me a hundred times.
This loan did come with two conditions, one was, he didn’t have any nails to give with it. This was not a problem as I wouldn’t expect a friend to give me free fasteners with a tool loan. The second is the one that concerned me, he said, it does leak a little air but it should still shoot just fine. After working in the compressed air industry for over a decade I have experienced this many times. At that point I knew if you could hear it, chances were it was a bad leak. Upon further inspection, there was a cylinder gasket and rubber spring that were in pieces.
Nothing that a trip to a local business couldn’t take care of. A few new parts and discussion with their knowledgeable staff and I had the information needed to rebuild this nail gun to functioning status.
Oddly enough, my experience and expertise with how the EXAIR products like the No-Drip Air Atomizing Liquid Spray Nozzles operate and how to rebuild them, provided a good foundation about how this tool worked. This repair ended up being very similar to the rebuild on a No-Drip Spray Nozzle.
This story is two-fold, filtration could have prevented a lot of the damage to this gun. This gun uses a good amount of air volume at an expedient pace so keeping it clean and clear of debris helps extend the lifetime of internal parts. See my video on what happens without filtration below.
The second part is that maintaining and understanding processes to clean/rebuild are crucial to sustainable function of a machine. The cleaning process for this gun was fairly straightforward and using the correct lubricant for reassembly was another critical role. This culminated in a framing nail gun that can now be used to further my project and will more than likely live another decade before needing a rebuild again. That is if filtration and proper lubrication are followed.
Had I not obtained experiences throughout my career that helped me to understand how this tool functioned, the worth of a reliable network of vendors, and the necessity to complete tasks that take me out of my comfort zone I wouldn’t be in the place I am today. Because I have the experience and the network to ask for help it enables me to keep machines running that could have cost valuable production hours had this been a production environment.
EXAIR stocks rebuild kits, gaskets, shims, and parts for all of our product lines which may require a repair. For products which need to be cleaned in order to return back to new performance, we have the instructions or can do it for you here. From time to time they may need a repair or refurb in order to keep functioning at peak performance. If you want to build your trusted network or learn more about how to rebuild or clean EXAIR products, contact us.
Pressure drop comes in different forms, and it causes inefficiencies within your pneumatic system. EXAIR writes statements in the installation manuals to help find the correct pipe sizes to supply the different products. (Reference Super Air Knife Installation Manual above). But there are other areas that can affect the performance. These can be fittings, tubing, valves, and accessories. In this blog, I will cover some pitfalls that can minimize the potential of your EXAIR products.
Pressure drop by definition is a difference or loss in pressure. A properly sized Filter Separator will typically have a pressure drop of 5 PSID (0.3 bar) at the rated conditions. So, if you start with 100 PSIG (6.9 bar), the air pressure after the filter separator will be 95 PSIG (6.6 bar). But what happens when a filter separator is undersized or too small? The pressure drop will be much higher. So, if the pressure drop is 30 PSID (2 bar), then the downstream air pressure will only be 70 PSIG (4.8 bar). At that pressure, you may not be able to get the performance that is required to do the job.
The first thing in determining these potential issues is what I like to call forensics. If you can install a pressure gage at the inlet of any EXAIR product, then you can deduce if a potential problem is within your setup. For example, if the Pressure Regulator is at 100 PSIG (6.9 bar), and the pressure gauge at the inlet is reading only 60 PSIG (4.1 bar), then there is a pressure drop of 40 PSID (2.8 bar) between these two points. You can look in this area for the problem or problems. If the gauge on the Pressure Regulator goes down as well when you are operating, then the problem area is upstream of the Pressure Regulator. This can be from the pipe size or the air compressor.
The most common issues are fittings and tubing. With fittings, small openings may not allow enough air to pass through. Above is a photo of some typical fittings. You notice that the right side of the chart has large enough openings to decrease pressure drop. In some instances, quick connect fittings are commonly used to easily connect or disconnect pneumatic devices; but if you use too small or too many of these fittings, they can cause a large pressure drop.
The other problem is with the inner diameter of tubing, hoses, or pipes that are not properly sized. Russ Bowman, a colleague, created a video showing the issues with improperly sized plumbing. It is a very interesting video that shows the effect on a Super Air Knife.
If you want to get the most from your EXAIR products, you will need to reduce the amount of pressure drop in your system. Pressure drop is wasted energy and can affect your pneumatic system. You can follow my recommendations above. Or if you would like to discuss your setup with an Application Engineer, we will be happy to assist.
EXAIR does not shy away from an application or solution that doesn’t involve a stocked or catalog product. We often provide customized solutions for a wide variety of customers across nearly each and every industry. Sometimes the cataloged products we stock on the shelf doesn’t quite fit the application as best as it could. If we can modify them or make something custom from scratch, we absolutely will!
Recently I worked with a customer who was looking to solve a new application related to the current COVID-19 pandemic. He owned a cleaning company that contracts with a variety of local businesses to provide cleaning and sanitation services. Typically, that would consist of a bi-weekly visit to tidy up the office spaces and provide a general cleaning. With the current risks of COVID-19 running rampant, he’s seen a dramatic increase in businesses looking to implement a daily sanitization of common surfaces throughout the office.
While this is a service that he’s offered for some time, the current crisis has led many more companies to request additional cleaning within their offices. To perform this disinfecting procedure, the droplet size of the mist is critical. The spray gun that he was previously using did not provide a fine enough mist to reliably decontaminate the area. In addition, this gun was consuming too much liquid that would puddle up on various surfaces that would have to be later wiped down and dried. He was looking for a handheld solution that provided a fine enough atomization to both effectively eliminate any pathogens as well as prevent the unnecessary step of having to come behind and dry everything off.
Our line of Atomizing Spray Nozzles is an ideal solution for applications where a fine mist of fluid is required. But, these aren’t designed to be used in a handheld operation. Fortunately, we do have a variety of Safety Air Guns, extensions, and fittings that allow us to install an Atomizing Nozzle on the end of a handheld gun. In the photo below, we used a Model SF2020SS No-Drip Siphon Fed Atomizing Nozzle to produce the atomized flow of disinfectant. With standard fittings that we have in stock, we’re able to connect the nozzle to the end of a gun with a 24” extension. The operator carries a jug of disinfectant that is then drawn into the nozzle without the need for a pressurized tank or pump.
This is just one example of a custom product designed specifically for a particular application. A quick search here on the EXAIR Blog will show a variety of various special products we’ve created over the years. Even though we regularly roll out new products and have been in business for nearly 37 years, there are still cases that we encounter for something we haven’t done before. If you have an application that you believe may be better served by something a bit customized, give us a call. An Application Engineer would be happy to discuss your application and help to determine the best solution.
I had the pleasure of helping a caller out with a cleanup problem not long ago. Normally, calls involving cleanups involve a discussion of how our Industrial Housekeeping Products might replace an electric shop vacuum or sump pump, but this one was about replacing a broom…with a Super Blast Safety Air Gun.
Now, I need to mention that the folks at Compressed Air Challenge have a list of Inappropriate Uses Of Compressed Air. Using compressed air for cleaning is on that list, and I couldn’t agree more…as a blanket statement, that is. Of course, the last paragraph of their document makes it clear that good judgement can, and should, always rule the day: “if safety enhancements, significant productivity gains, or labor reductions will result,” they say, a compressed air solution is certainly worth considering.
That’s exactly what the caller and I did.
See, he works in an equipment service shop. Their technicians make the company money through billable labor – the time they spend fixing their customers’ equipment. Of course, they have to spend time on tasks that aren’t billable to jobs…like tool maintenance, paperwork, and keeping a clean shop. A particular item from a shop audit that caught his attention was the amount of time spent sweeping the floor in the welding area. Not only did slag & dust get all over the floor out in the open, it accumulated under tables and behind the welding machines themselves. This meant that technicians had to get down on their hands & knees, and reach brooms under those tables. Not only was this cumbersome; it wasn’t even 100% effective…when replacing a machine recently, they discovered a surprising amount of debris in a “blind spot” that the broom just couldn’t reach.
After a discussion of the engineered Super Air Nozzles that are available on the Super Blast Safety Air Guns, the caller liked the idea of the Model 1213-7-3. The hard hitting, tight air flow pattern of the Super Air Nozzle Cluster at the end of a 3 foot extension gave the perfect combination of power & reach for his application.
So, at the end of the day, (literally…that’s cleanup time, right?) a task that previously took about 10 minutes for them was reduced to just under two minutes. Of course, that doesn’t figure in the cost of the compressed air. The Department of Energy uses a thumbrule that states it costs $0.25 to generate 1,000 Standard Cubic Feet of compressed air. At 98 SCFM @80psig, the Super Blast Safety Air Gun’s Cluster DOES use a decent amount of compressed air, so we did the math:
98 SCFM X 2 minutes X $0.25/1,000 SCF = $0.049
We didn’t need to get in to payroll records, employee benefit packages, etc., to realize that an 80% reduction in labor, improved cleanup (air reaches where the brooms couldn’t,) and worker satisfaction (no more crawling along the floor beside the tables) was worth a nickel a day.
The Super Blast Safety Air Gun can be fitted with a variety of Super Air Nozzles, from our Model 1112 3/4 NPT Super Air Nozzle (4.5lbf at 12″) , to our Model 1120 1-1/4 NPT Super Air Nozzle (23lbf at 12″).
As an Application Engineer, I’m always looking for the best ways to apply our products, and quantify the benefits. If you call me to discuss an application and the math doesn’t prove it out, I’ll let you know. If you have a task you’re considering a compressed air solution for, give me a call.