Friction Loss – Pressure Drops – Fitting Restrictions – Why Compressed Air Plumbing Matters

Over the weekend I was working on a car in my driveway and I needed a large volume of air at the far end of the car to try and unplug a clogged sunroof drain line.  Rather than trying to move the car while it was mostly taken apart, I just hooked up another air line extension and started to go to the drain.   Even knowing what I know as an EXAIR Application Engineer about lengths of tubing, air restriction, and fitting restrictions, I went ahead with the quick and easy “fix”.

An example of pressure drop from a compressed air quick disconnect.

I grabbed another 30′ – 3/8″ i.d. air line with 1/4″ quick disconnects (see why this is wrong with this blog) on both end, rather than getting out the 50′ long 1/2″ i.d. air line that I have with proper fittings that then reduce down to a 1/4″NPT at the end to tie into most of my air tools. By doing so I ended up hooking up a Safety Air Gun which then gave a very light puff of air into the tube and the clog in the line went nowhere.  As a matter of fact, it was almost like it laughed because the tubing vibrated as if the clog said, “Pfft I am going nowhere.”

I then, stepped back and evaluated what I had done in a rush to try and get a job done rather than taking the extra five minutes to get the proper air line to do the job.   I then spent 10 minutes putting that hose up and getting out the correct hose.  Then, with a whoosh and a thud the clog was launched into my yard from the clogged drain port and I finished the repairs.

If only I had watched Russ Bowman’s spectacular video on Proper Compressed Air Supply Plumbing the day before. Rather than wasting time with the quick “fix” that cost me more time and didn’t fix anything I should have taken a little more time up front to verify I had properly sized my lines for the job at hand.

If you would like to discuss compressed air plumbing, appropriate line sizes, or insufficient flow on your compressed air system, please contact an EXAIR Application Engineer.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

OSHA Safety Standards for Compressed Air

Safety should always be a serious concern within industrial environments.  Walk through any production facility and you should see all kinds of steps taken to give a safe workplace to the operators, contractors, and other team members.  Whether this is through a sign showing PPE required to enter an area, an emergency exit sign, a safe walkway, or machine guards.  Safety has become a standard that should never be lowered and there is good reason for that.

EXAIR designs all of our products to be safe and they meet or exceed OSHA standards that are directed toward compressed air safety.  The first is to ensure that an operator or maintenance worker will not be injured through air impinging their skin should they come into contact with an EXAIR product.   This OSHA standard is 29 CFR1910.242(b) claiming that all point of use compressed air products must be regulated to have less than 30 psig of dead end pressure.   This directive is critical for worker safety and the way many blowoffs skirt by is to cross drill holes in the end of the blowoff.

Cross drilled holes may satisfy the dead end pressure standard but it does not address OSHA’s next important compressed air standard about noise exposure, OSHA standard 29CFR1910.95(a).  The allowable noise level standard combined with 30 psig dead end pressure will render many home made or retail nozzles near useless because few, if any, meet both standards.  Again, EXAIR has engineered and designed our Super Air Nozzles to permit 80 psig inlet pressure and still meet or exceed both of these OSHA standards so that the work can still be done by the operators while remaining safe and retaining their hearing.

For a better explanation and demonstration of how our nozzles meet these standards please see the video below.

While I use nozzles and cross drilled pipes as examples within this blog these safety features are designed into every product that EXAIR offers.  This is due to the fact that OSHA, NIOSH, and the CDC do not delineate between a blow gun, blow off within a machine, or even a Cabinet Cooler System.  If the device is powered by compressed air then the two key OSHA standard are in effect due to the inherit dangers of compressed air.

I encourage you now to walk through your facility and try to listen or spot compressed air points of use within your facility.  Then, I ask you to call, chat, e-mail, or tweet an Application Engineer here at EXAIR and let us help you determine the most efficient and safest product to get the work done.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

Sanitary Flange Air Conveyors in Type 316SS

EXAIR currently offers a multitude of configurations when it comes to the Line Vac – air operated conveyors product line.  One of the easiest to install and best suited for food, pharmaceutical, chemical or other sanitary environments is the Sanitary Flange Line Vac¯.

Model 161200-316 – 316 Stainless Steel Sanitary Flange Line Vac

These are offered in four standard pipe sizes, 1-1/2″, 2″, 2-1/2″ and 3″.  The models are only available from stock in 316 stainless steel.   The sanitary flange is designed to be compatible with ISO 2852.  These can easily be used with a “Tri-Clover” clamp and gaskets of varying materials to fit your needs.  They have no internal moving parts and offer a compact, high throughput, quiet conveyance for parts, gases or ingredients.

EXAIR’s Sanitary Flange Line Vacs are offered from stock in four sizes.
Easily install into existing pipe runs for improved process performance.

With the sanitary flange design installation or removal are simplified in order to remove the unit for cleaning or reversing.  If you would like to discuss just how easy these are to upgrade your existing system or to install into a new system, please contact an Application Engineer.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

Next Level Customer Service

I recently spoke with a customer who is a casting / machining manufacturer.  They had an automated cell that was finish machining a feature on a cast aluminum part then placing it on a conveyor belt for an operator to pick up and continue processing.

The parts were placed 3 pieces wide per row and the conveyor would index with every three parts.   The operator would pick three pieces up and transfer them to another station during the machining time.  These parts were carrying residual machining coolant and debris onto the outbound conveyor.

The operator would blow them off with a handheld blow gun and all the coolant and chips would generally end up on the floor in the area causing a slip hazard.  The focus of the project is to eliminate the safety hazards and leave the parts as clean as possible for the inspection and further process.

The metal parts were positioned similar to the parts I placed in the mock up picture below.  The conveyor the customer has is an open mesh conveyor so the process will work better than if it was a solid belt like in the mock up.

The bulk of the concern from the customer was the outside of the part and they stated that anything to blow out the internal is a bonus.  The objective is to get as much coolant off as possible.   For that we recommended they span the conveyor with a Super Air Knife Kit to blow all the parts off at once.  This is mounted closely in the mock up because the customer had space restrictions.

The Super Air Knife Kit with Universal Air Knife Mounting System will firmly mount the knife over the parts and leave adjustment if needed.
The model 1103 Mini Super Air Nozzles with Stay Set Hoses of various lengths easily bend into place and hold their positioning for the side hole on each part.

Then, because the parts are always placed in the same location with the same orientation we can locate the ID hole with a Mini Super Air Nozzle on a Stay Set Hose of varying length to reach each set of parts as they come through.  Once I had the idea and the products in place I delivered the customer  a quote and dimensional CAD file for each part.

Another recommendation was to use a regulator and filter to control just the knife then operate the three nozzles off their own regulator and filter so that the forces between the two can be varied and the performance of the other is not effected.  Accompanying the models were installation sheets for each item as well.   Followed by the pictures of this mock up for their application.

Needless to say the customer was amazed that we would go to such lengths just to give them more assurance than our 30 day guarantee.  They were extremely thankful and are pleased we shipped from stock and met their installation window.

If you are looking for a creative solution, next level customer service, same day product availability, or just a nice human to talk to about compressed air, contact us.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

Applying a Vortex Tube and Adjusting Temperature

Throughout my tenure with EXAIR there are may days where I have tested different operating pressure, volumetric flow rates, back pressures, lengths of discharge tubing, generator compression, and even some new inquiries with cold air distribution all on a vortex tube.  These all spawn from great conversations with existing customers or potential customers on different ways to apply and applications for vortex tubes.

Many of the conversations start in the same spot… How exactly does this vortex tube work, and how do I get the most out of it?  Well, the answer is never the same as every application has some variation.  I like to start with a good idea of the area, temperatures, and features of exactly what we are trying to cool down.  The next step is learning how fast this needs to be done.  That all helps determine whether we are going to be looking at a small, medium, or large vortex tube and which cooling capacity to choose.   After determining these factors the explanation on how to adjust the vortex tube to meet the needs of the application begins.

This video below is a great example of how a vortex tube is adjusted and what the effects of the cold fraction have and just how easy it is to adjust.  This adjustment combined with varying the air pressure gives great versatility within a single vortex tube.

The table below showcases the test points that we have cataloged for performance values.  As the video illustrates, by adjusting the cold fraction lower, meaning less volumetric flow of air is coming out of the cold side and more is exhausting out the hot side, the colder the temperature gets.

EXAIR Vortex Tube Performance Chart

This chart helps to determine the best case scenario of performance for the vortex tube.  Then the discussion leads to delivery of the cold or hot air onto the target.  That is where the material covered in these two blogs, Blog 1, Blog 2 comes into play and we get to start using some math.  (Yes I realize the blogs are from 2016, the good news is the math hasn’t changed and Thermodynamics hasn’t either.)  This then leads to a final decision on which model of vortex tube will best suit the application or maybe if a different products such as a Super Air Amplifier (See Tyler Daniel’s Air Amplifier Cooling Video here.)is all that is needed.

Where this all boils down to is, if you have any questions on how to apply a vortex tube or other spot cooling product, please contact us.  When we get to discuss applications that get extremely detailed it makes us appreciate all the testing and experience we have gained over the years.  Also, it helps to build on those experiences because no two applications are exactly the same.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

 

Remembering & Honoring This Day

Today I had the honor to participate in a local memorial event to recognize 9/11/2001.  This was the fifth year for the event in which participants climb 2,071 stairs within Nippert Statium at The University of Cincinnati.  This number symbolizes the stairs of the 110 floors each of the World Trade Center towers had.  The amount of time to complete the event is 56 minutes.  This was my first time attending the event and I must say, I was awestruck.

The calm before the majority of attendants showed up.

The number of people that attended the event was amazing.  The event started at 6:34 this morning, I arrived around 5:30 and met with a local group that were going to ruck the stairs rather than simply running / walking.   We each carried a pack, ruck sack, with us with a 30 lb weight plate.  The goal was to complete the 4 laps that the event required.

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As I was going through the repetitions up and down the stairs, they were making announcements of the events that transpired on that day in history, and the names of those that lost their lives scrolled across an electronic screen I began to recount where I was on that day.  I was actually on that exact campus just a few hundred yards away.   I walked right through that stadium on 9/11 to go to class.

The stairs began to wear on me quickly and I was only halfway through my first lap.  Then I saw a group of young ROTC students with Xavier University’s Air Force ROTC program.  That picked my hopes up for a bit  and I went on.  The harder it got for me the more details I remembered about that day. The more flights I did the more I thought about those that lost their lives, seeing the names I began to take a step for each one just to push on to the next.  At the end of the time I did not complete the 4 laps needed to commemorate the total number of stairs.  I did complete two full laps of stairs knowing that after that event was done I still get to go home and hug my family.

This day is always going to be a day of remembrance in my family.  Today, I was lucky enough to commemorate it among some amazing veterans, active duty, and future military and first responders.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

Cleaning Out Pipes, Extrusions and Blind Holes

Look at the picture below of a band saw cutting a piece of tubing.  The amount of debris and coolant that is coating the pipe on the inside diameter and outer diameter is substantial.  Cleaning off the outside of a pipe is fairly easy and straight forward.  Cleaning the ID can be difficult.  This is a single instance where one of the EXAIR Back Blow Air Nozzles can turn a cumbersome job into a quick and easy step in the process.

1 – Metal Cutting Bandsaw

The tubing in the photo appears to be around a 3 or 4″ ID tubing which makes it ideal to be cleaned out internally by the model 1006SS – 1/4″ Back Blow Air Nozzle.  This nozzle is ideal for passage ways ranging from a 7/8″ diameter up to a 4″ diameter.

1006SS – 1/4″ Back Blow Air Nozzle

While cleaning out the short section may be able to be obtained with a forward blowing Safety Air Gun, if this was being cut from a 20′ length of tube it would be difficult to remove the debris from the remnant section of tubing.  The advantage being the debris from the saw cut no longer has to be blown out or left in the longer lengths of the tube.   The Back Blow Air Nozzle can easily be inserted and remove debris back from the saw cutting end.  Lee Evans demonstrates this in a video below.

If you would like to discuss any compressed air application, please feel free to contact an Application Engineer.  We will gladly help you determine which EXAIR product may be right for your application.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

1 – Metal Cutting Bandsaw image – S.J. de Waard, Creative Commons License [CC BY 2.5 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)%5D – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Metal_cutting_bandsaw_(02).JPG