Air Operated Conveyor helps Aluminum Smelting Process

An aluminum smelting plant had been using our model 150300 Heavy Duty Line Vac for over a year.  They wanted to share how extremely satisfied that they were with this product.  They were expanding their operations, and it was easy for them to contact EXAIR to buy two more units.  In this blog, I will share why they initially contacted EXAIR and why they continue to do so.

This company had a reactor that would melt 10 mm aluminum granules for die casting parts.   They had a portable hopper that was filled with aluminum pellets (reference photo above).  Before they started using the Heavy Duty Line Vac, the operators would have to use shovels to move the aluminum from the catch bin located below the hopper to the crucible inside the reactor.  This operation was tedious, back-breaking, and time-consuming.  After filling the crucible, they would have to do some housekeeping for the granules that fell during transport.  With safety concerns and slow operations, they needed a better way to move the aluminum granules to the reactor.  Hence, the reason for the first purchase of the model 150300 Heavy Duty Line Vac from EXAIR.

To expand a bit more on their operation, the hopper was placed roughly 10 feet (3 meters) away from the reactor, and the reactor used a hatch door that was 2 feet (0.6 meter) in diameter to expose the crucible.  Since the crucible was inside the reactor, they wanted to govern the velocity to feed the aluminum pellets at a controlled rate.  From flow and speed calculations, I found that the model 150300 would work the best for this particular application.  As an added feature to the EXAIR Air-Operated Conveyors, the Heavy Duty Line Vac is easy to control with a simple compressed air regulator to balance the speed and vacuum to move the material in a manageable way.  With the compact design, it worked well to attach a conveyance hose that would move the aluminum pellet directly through the hatch door and right into the crucible.  This was a benefit for quick filling without much manual labor or cleanup.

The reasons that EXAIR continues to grow as a business are the quality of our products, the enormous stock that we carry, and the exceptional customer service.  For these reasons, customers continue to return to EXAIR for solutions to pneumatic applications.  The quality of our products is second to none.  For the Heavy Duty Line Vacs, they are made from a hardened alloy material which makes them resistant to abrasion and wear.  They also do not have any moving parts or motors; so they are reliable and long-lasting.  The smelting company above have used the Heavy Duty Line Vac for over a year, and it is still working.  Can you imagine the number of shovel scoops that was eliminated with the purchase of this air-operated conveyor?  And, the work environment was safer ergonomically by removing the shovel loads and reducing cleanup.  As for customer service, EXAIR is staffed with Application Engineers that are Subject Matter Experts.  We can make recommendations to give you the best EXAIR product for your application.  With our technical support, fast deliveries, and problem-solving products; it was an easy decision for the above company to purchase two more model 150300 Heavy Duty Line Vacs.

If your company relies on moving product from point A to point B, EXAIR has a range of Air Operated Conveyors to do this type of operation for you.  From Threaded Line Vacs to Sanitary Flange Line Vacs to Heavy Duty Line Vacs, EXAIR stocks a variety of materials, types, and sizes to fit into your application.  An Application Engineer is sitting by to help improve your system as we did with the smelting company above.

John Ball
Application Engineer

Email: johnball@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb

Cold Gun Aircoolant System™: Overview

EXAIR Cold Gun Promotion

Many machining companies like to use coolant to flood their parts for drilling and milling operations.  But what if there was an alternative way?  EXAIR has an interesting technique by using cold air instead of coolant.  This would help save time by eliminating cleaning and drying of parts as well as reducing coolant waste.  EXAIR calls this product our Cold Gun Aircoolant System™.

How the Cold Gun Works

The Cold Gun Aircoolant System uses a Vortex Tube to produce a cold air stream at 50oF (28oC) below supply air temperature.  Heat is one of the major causes for dulling and premature failures for tools, and by blowing cold air, it will reduce the heat buildup in tools while also removing the chips from the surface.  The EXAIR Cold Guns are very compact, portable, and easy to use.  Just attach compressed air to the unit, and it will produce cold air.  Since they do not have any moving parts, Freon, or electricity to operate, it is maintenance-free and long-lasting.  And, EXAIR offers a 5 year “Built To Last” warranty against defects in workmanship and materials.  These systems will extend tool life, improve tolerance control, and increase production rates by replacing coolant during milling, cutting, and drilling operations.

The benefits of using the Cold Gun Aircoolant System extends beyond reducing tool wear, finishing with dry parts, and surface smearing.  It can be used in applications where liquid coolant cannot be used.  This would include wood products, MDF, and plastics.  As insulators, cutting tools will get extremely hot as the material will not remove any heat like with metal chips.  Thus, machining can soften, gall, or burn the surface of the material; allowing only slow speeds for operations.  The cold air from the Cold Gun can keep the tools sharp and the materials hard and firm.  With plastic materials, this is very beneficial as it will keep the plastic rigid for tight tolerance machining.  If burnishing or scoring is occurring, the Cold Gun Aircoolant Systems can help to improve the surface finish of your product.  Other applications would include surface grinders, laser cutters, hot melt setting, and band saws.  The Cold Gun Aircoolant Systems are a low-cost solution that can do a lot of great things to improve processes.

Cold Gun Aircoolant Systems

EXAIR offers two types, the Cold Gun and the High Power Cold Gun.  The High Power Cold Gun blows twice the amount of cold air as the Cold Gun which doubles the cooling capacity.  They come standard with either a Single Point or a Dual Point Hose Kit with a cone and flat nozzle.  All systems come with a magnetic base and a filter separator.  The magnetic base makes this device simple to attach to your machine and start using.  The four models that EXAIR stocks are in the photo above.

EXAIR is running a promotional offer on the Cold Gun Aircoolant Systems.  From now until the end of yr2019; if you buy a Single Point Cold Gun System or a Single Point High Power Cold Gun System; model W5215 and model W5230 respectively, we will include a free model 5902 Dual Point Hose Kit, a $39.00 value, with your system.  And as always, EXAIR offers a 30-day unconditional guarantee for our customers in the U.S. and Canada to try them out.  If you have an application that you believe would be better served with an EXAIR Cold Gun Aircoolant System™, contact an Application Engineer.  And take advantage of our promotional offering by receiving a FREE Dual Point Hose Kit.

 

John Ball
Application Engineer

Email: johnball@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb

Super Air Wipe Dries Micro Tubes for Drip-Type Irrigation Systems.

Speed is everything.  A micro tube manufacturer was extruding a polyethylene tube for drip type irrigation.  This type of irrigation is very common in the desert to confine the watering near the plants in arid regions.  The plastic tubes have an 8 mm (0.315”) outer diameter with a 5.5mm (0.217”) inner diameter (reference photo below).  They were looking for ways to increase the speed of production.

Micro Tube

Their extrusion application included a water bath to cool and harden the material as it came out of the extruder.  After the bath, the tube travels directly into an inkjet marking machine.  They were using a home-made circular blowing device to remove the water after the dipping process.  When they tried to increase their line speeds, this blow-off device was not able to remove enough water from the surface.  Thus, the printing was poor, and sections would have to be scrapped.

Super Air Wipe

When they searched for a tube blow-off device, they came across the Super Air Wipe from EXAIR.  Unlike the home-made device, this engineered design blows compressed air at a 30-degree angle toward the center in a 360-degree air pattern, just like a cone.  It uses a Coanda profile to maximize the entrainment of ambient air into the compressed air stream to produce a strong force.  As a non-contact wiping device; the Super Air Wipe is very efficient and very powerful.

For this application, I recommended the model 2450 ½” Super Air Wipe Kit.  This kit includes our Super Air Wipe, a Filter, a Regulator, and a Shim Set.  With the ½” or 13mm opening, it gives ample room to allow the 8mm tube to travel through without touching.  For the rest of the kit, the Filter will remove bulk liquids and debris from the compressed air to keep the unit performing optimally and keep the tubes from getting dirty.  The Regulator is used to control the amount of force.  This helps to not over-use the amount of compressed air required for the job.  With a Regulator, you can make fine adjustments to get the proper amount of air while the shims in the Shim Set will give you coarse adjustments.  With the Regulator and Shim Set together, you can “dial” in the correct amount of force required for the different speeds.  The Super Air Wipe Kits will give you the most versatility in your system to optimize the 360-degree blow-off.

As they removed their home-made unit and attached the Super Air Wipe, they noticed some great things.  The speed of production was increased by about 10% which matched the maximum speed of the inkjet printer.  They also noticed that the Super Air Wipe is much quieter.  With a decibel rating of 77 dBA, the nearby operators are very happy with this choice.  One of the top features that they noticed was the cost savings that the Super Air Wipe gives.  Because the design uses the “free” ambient air, less compressed air is required.  This saves them a lot of money in their electric bill.

Many applications use water in the process, and it can negatively affect printing and labeling on products.  EXAIR offers a range of efficient, safe, and effective blow-off devices to remove water from the surface in a non-contact way.  For the customer above, the Super Air Wipe was their solution.  Speed is everything, but without the proper tools, it is lost.  If you have a printing or labeling application, an Application Engineer at EXAIR can help you to maximize that speed.

John Ball
Application Engineer
Email: johnball@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb

 

Photo: Drip Irrigation by Nate Steiner.  Public Domain: CC0

EXAIR Super Air Knives: Customized for You

In a recent blog “EXAIR Super Air Knives: Overview”, I shared the features and benefits that puts the “Super” in the Super Air Knives.  But, let’s not define ourselves by our widest range of lengths and materials that we stock.  EXAIR can also customize the Super Air Knives to fit your requirements.  Many manufacturers like to make their standard items and expect the customers to adapt to their design.  But at EXAIR, customer service is our primary focus.

EXAIR manufactures our products at one location in Cincinnati, Ohio.  So, this gives us the flexibility to do many things like making adaptive configurations with our Super Air Knives.  Here are some examples that our customers requested.

  • Special lengths: EXAIR stocks standard incremental lengths from 3” (76mm) up to 108” (2.74 meters) in aluminum, 303SS, and 316SS materials; or 3” (76mm) to 54” (1,372mm) for PDVF Super Air Knives. But sometimes, the Super Air Knife has to fit into a specific area where a standard length will not work.  This is where EXAIR exceeds, and we can make any length metric or imperial between the ranges above.

    PVC Super Air Knife
  • Other materials: There isn’t a single material that is inert to all chemicals. In some rare cases, the environment can chemically attack our Stainless Steel or PVDF Super Air Knives.  So, a different material may have to be used.  For the customer above, they required a PVC material for a phosphorous environment.

    Curved and Thin Super Air Knives
  • Critical Dimensions: When the Super Air Knives have to adapt inside machines or in tight areas, we can modify the profile.  We have two special applications (reference above) that needed a design change for fit and function.  A curved Super Air Knife was used to hold tubes on a rotary table; and a thin Super Air Knife that was only 11/16” (17.5mm) thick cleaned a mold for circuit chips.

    Super Air Knife special mounting
  • Add-ons: EXAIR understands the importance of connecting to our Super Air Knives to get the greatest performance.  Our stock product has ¼” NPT inlet air ports along the bottom and one at each end.  We have ¼” – 20 threaded holes for mounting along the bottom as well.  But if you want threaded holes in a specific location for mounting or need the inlet air ports to be metric threads, EXAIR can accommodate these features.

    Double-sided Super Air Knife
  • Situational Applications:  Super Air Knives can have complex or simple changes depending on the application.  As an example, EXAIR created a design for a double-sided Super Air Knife to blow a laminar stream of air 180 degrees apart (reference photo above).   A simpler proposal was to replace the cap screws in a 316SS Super Air Knife with hygienic screws for food applications to remove crevices for bacterial growth.
  • OE Protection: In today’s market, it is important to protect your business.  At EXAIR, we can make a special Super Air Knife to blow, dry, or cool in your custom machines.  With a unique model number, EXAIR can help support and protect your business for future and replacement business.

Remember, your imagination is the beginning of creation.  If you cannot find a specific design to be used in your compressed air application, don’t give up.  Contact an Application Engineer at EXAIR to see if we can help you.  We have a team of engineers that can evaluate the fit and function to create a “Super” blow-off solution.  For the customers above, we were able to propose a unique Super Air Knife to work in their application; not the other way around.

John Ball
Application Engineer
Email: johnball@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb

The Life of a Coffee Bean

Many of us get up in the morning, and start our day with a fresh cup of coffee.  I do.  I enjoy the taste of that warm beverage as it hits my lips.  But, have you ever thought about the journey of a coffee bean from the fields to your cupboard?   I would like to share a little insight on this journey and how the EXAIR Line Vacs could be a helpful tool for coffee production.

There are over 70 countries that pick coffee beans for export.  In 2018, the International Coffee Organization reported almost 170 million bags of coffee had been exported around the world.  That is a lot of coffee.  Each bag of coffee beans weighs 60 Kilograms (132 lbs.) and is difficult to handle manually.  Line Vacs could be that vital instrument to help speed up the processes and reduce that back-breaking work.

Let’s start at the beginning.  Coffee beans are seeds that are produced on small trees or bushes.  During harvest time, the cherries (coffee seeds) are picked when ripe, and they need to be dried.  This can be done in two ways; the dry method or the wet method.  Each process has to be done quickly to prevent spoilage.  With the dry method, the beans are spread out on a table or grate to be dried by the sun.  In most cases, the beans will have to be stored in bins at night or during rain.  This drying process can last for several weeks, and the continuous movement of the beans is labor intensive.  For the wet method, this process uses water channels to isolate the heavier ripe beans, so that they can be separated by size in rotating drums.   They are then placed into large fermentation tanks to remove the outer skin layer.  The wet beans are then placed inside large driers to remove the excess water content.  In both methods, the green coffee beans are packed into sacks for exportation.

When the green coffee beans arrive to their destination, they will have to be roasted.  This will convert the green coffee beans into the aromatic brown beans that are sold at your favorite market or coffee shop.  In large operations, the green coffee beans are screened and stored in bins waiting to be roasted.  The roasting process uses hot air to “cook” the green coffee beans.  The temperature range and time will create your different types of roasts; light roast, medium roast, and dark roast.  Industrial roasting machines have loaders on top to drop the green beans into a preheated rotating drum.  Some machines can roast 100 kg (220 lbs.) of beans at one time.  The time for roasting is between 12 – 15 minutes, depending on the type of roast.  At this frequency, you can tell the “need for speed” to keep the coffee roasters operating.  Once finished, the roasted beans are dumped into a cooling tray until they can be handled.  From there, the beans are tested, qualified, and packaged for sale.

For coffee brewing, the roasted beans will need to be ground.  Grinding is an important process to get the most flavor from your coffee beans.   Commercial sized grinders will blend multiple kinds of roasted coffee beans and grind them to a desired grain size.  The grind size is very important and has to match your type of brewing.  For example, espresso uses fine grinds, drip-type coffee uses medium grinds, and cold brews and French presses use coarse grinds.  Grinding is an art as you have to match the coarseness with the contact time in hot water.  As a rule, if your coffee tastes too bitter, then the grinds are too fine.  If your coffee tastes flat, then the grinds are too coarse.  You have to experiment with different blends of roasted coffee beans, grind particle sizes, and brewing types to get that perfect cup of java for you.

Line Vacs can convey many things.

So, if you are reading this article while sipping on a cup of coffee, let me tell you a secret about the journey of the coffee bean.  For every stage above, an EXAIR Line Vac has been sold and used to transport the coffee beans.  From the coffee fields to the grinding house, Line Vacs are a great device for companies to move beans quickly and safely without manual labor.  The life of a coffee bean is only successful if it is able to reach your cupboard.  And Line Vacs can be beneficial with that success.  If you would like to discuss the types of materials that we stock, the sizes, connections types and conveyance rates, an Application Engineer at EXAIR will be happy to help you.

John Ball
Application Engineer
Email: johnball@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb

 

Photo:  Coffee Beans Cafe Roasted Caffeine Brown by Alexas_Fotos.  Pixabay License.

Photo: Still Life Coffee Beans Coffee Powder Coffee Cup by Myriams-Fotos.  Pixabay License.

Factors in Selecting an Air Knife – Size, Materials, Stock Levels, Accessories

Super Air Knife Family

EXAIR has been manufacturing Intelligent Compressed Air® products since 1983.  In the beginning, the Standard Air Knives and Full Flow Air Knives were very effective at that time.  But as leaders in this market, EXAIR did not want to stop there.  We were able to engineer a more efficient, more powerful, and much safer air knife, the Super Air Knife.  In this blog, I will discuss the features and benefits that the Super Air Knives can offer.

Bernoulli’s principle explains how a high velocity fluid can generate a low pressure.  The EXAIR Super Air Knife creates a high velocity air stream to produce a low pressure to entrain ambient air.   What does this mean for you?  It will save you much money by using less compressed air.  The mass of the ambient air is added into the air stream to give a strong blowing force.  The Super Air Knife has an amplification ratio of 40:1. For every 1 part of compressed air, 40 parts of ambient air is drawn into the blowing air stream.  Ambient air is free, and compressed air is expensive.  EXAIR was able to engineer a design to use the Bernoulli’s principle to make one of the most efficient air knives in the market place.

EXAIR Super Air Knife model 1100108

What else makes EXAIR unchallenged?  We manufacture and stock the widest range in lengths and materials.  To start, EXAIR has Super Air Knives ranging from 3” to 108” (76mm to 2,743mm) in three different materials; aluminum, 303 stainless steel, and 316/316L stainless steel.  There is no-one else in this industry that can manufacture to those lengths.  EXAIR also offers Super Air Knives in PVDF material with Hastelloy hardware for chemical resistant applications from 3” to 54” (76mm to 1,372mm).  Depending on the temperature requirement, chemical resistance, OSHA and FDA regulations, or application details, we probably will have one on the shelf for you.  If EXAIR does not have it, we can make special air knives in different lengths and materials to best fit your application.

Some interesting features for the Super Air Knives are as follows.  They have a compact design that can fit into tight places for blowing and cooling.  The footprint is very small compared to blower-air knife system.  They do not have any moving parts to wear or maintenance to do.  They only need clean compressed air to work.  They blow a laminar air stream which reduces noise levels and create a consistent force along the entire length.  An even force will give you tighter control for blowing applications which will cut compressed air usage unlike the inconsistent and turbulent air flows caused by drilled pipes.

To adjust the force and air usage, this can be easily controlled with a regulator.  The advantage that EXAIR Super Air Knives have is the replaceable shims.  So, you can increase or decrease the gap to get a variety of force ratings.  The Aluminum version uses colored plastic shims for visual verification.  They come stock with a 0.002” (0.05mm) red shim installed.  We have other thicknesses in our Shim Sets which includes a 0.001” (0.03mm), 0.003” (0.08mm), and a 0.004” (0.10mm) colored as amber, green, and tan respectively.  The Stainless Steel Super Air Knives come with a stainless steel shim for higher temperatures and chemical resistance.  Stock units have the 0.002” (0.05mm) thickness as well.  The Shim Sets come with three additional 0.002” (0.05mm) shims to stack.  Similarly, the PVDF Super Air Knives use a PTFE shim for maximum chemical resistance.  It is also 0.002” (0.05mm) thick, and there are three more shims in the Shim Set.  This unique feature of using shims allows for the most flexibility in creating forces for different applications ranging from a blast to remove rocks from a conveyor to a breeze for light duty work.

Super Air Knife Kit

We also offer the Super Air Knives in kits as a more complete system.  The kit includes a filter, regulator and the above-mentioned Shim Set.  The filter removes the debris and water from the compressed air line to optimize the performance of the air knife as well as keeping your product clean.  The regulator is used to make the “fine” adjustment to the blowing force while the shim set is used as the “coarse” adjustment.  EXAIR sells this kit as one model number for simple ordering, and the accessories are properly sized to not hinder the performance of the Super Air Knife.

To optimize the system even more, EXAIR offers a Deluxe Kit for the Aluminum and Stainless Steel models.  This includes the accessories in the kit above, plus an Electronic Flow Control, or EFC.  This exclusive instrument uses a photoelectric eye to start a timing sequence to control a solenoid valve.  So, when a part is not in front of the Super Air Knife for cleaning or cooling, the compressed air is turned off.  This will save you even more money and maximize your efficiency to only blow air when needed.

Plumbing Kits

For the longer Super Air Knives, EXAIR can install a Plumbing Kit, or PKI, to help attach your compressed air to the Air Knife.  They are designed to help lessen the time for install as well as to properly supply compressed air equally along the entire length, specifically for 24” (610mm) and longer.  We can offer the Plumbing Kit separately if you find that it could benefit your fabricators during installation.  EXAIR also offers a Coupling Kit for the Aluminum and Stainless Steel versions.  If you need to extend past the 108” (2,743 mm) width, the Coupling Kit is designed to mount Super Air Knives together at the ends.  You will still get that consistent blowing force along the multiple of Air Knives.  Another helpful accessory is the Universal Air Knife Mounting System.  It has a bracket and an articulated arm that can reach up to 30” (762mm).  With this system, you can position your air knife securely and precisely in any orientation.  It attaches easily to your Super Air Knife and gives you the flexibility to maximize the blowing effect at your target.

Universal Mounting System

With the today’s cost in making compressed air, it is important to use it as efficiently as possible.  The Standard and Full Flow Air Knives would be good options to use.  But the best way to conserve is with the Super Air Knife.  If you have any questions about the Super Air Knife or if you would like to discuss an application, you can contact an Application Engineer at EXAIR.   We will be glad to help you.

John Ball
Application Engineer

Email: johnball@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb

 

Super Air Knives in Agriculture

I spoke with an international agribusiness that specialized in improving processes with cutting-edge technologies in the agricultural sector.  They started a project with a company to improve their drying process for potatoes.   This company was washing 10 tons of potatoes per hour during 16-hour days.  The potatoes would travel along a conveyor that was 90cm (35.4”) wide after the washing system where they had three blower air knives to remove the water from the surface.  Since the project scope was to increase productivity, the agribusiness company targeted their biggest issue, the blower air knives.

They described the two main problems that their customer was experiencing.  First, the conveyor had to run at a slower rate to remove enough water from the surface of the potatoes before packaging.  Thus, the feed rate into the washing system ran intermittently to not overload the drying process.  The main issue was that the blower system was limited with force.  It could not generate a strong enough air stream to properly dry the entire spud at higher speeds.  Thus, the conveyor system was not at an optimal range.

The second issue was premature spoilage of the potatoes which had to be discarded.  I remember when my family would store potatoes in bunkers under the ground to keep them cool.  This would help to slow the bacterial growth which causes spoilage.  Blower systems generate hot air from the electric motors.  Since bacteria growth is enhanced with warmer temperatures, the potato company was noticing poor appearance and early spoilage.  To increase their profits, they wanted to dry the potatoes without heat.

110236SS Super Air Knife Kit

EXAIR has been manufacturing leading-edge technology since 1983, and we could offer a solution.  For removing water from the surface of the potatoes; the EXAIR Super Air Knife would be the perfect instrument.  This compact system is easy to install; and it does not have any moving parts to wear or need shutdowns for maintenance.

I recommended to replace the three blower-air knives with one piece of a model 110236SS Super Air Knife Kit.  The kit includes a 36” (914mm) 303SS Super Air Knife, a filter, a regulator and a shim set.  The regulator and shim set are specifically designed to control the force requirement and air usage to the Super Air Knife.  So, you can fine tune the correct amount of force to blow around the entire potato for effective drying.  For a stock Super Air Knife, the model 110236SS can generate 5.6 pounds of force (2.55 Kilograms) at 80 PSIG (5.5 Bar); a tough target for a blower air knife.  The agribusiness was excited about the concept and wanted to know more.

Another unique feature with the EXAIR Super Air Knife is the engineered design.  We are able to reach a 40:1 amplification ratio.  That means for every 1 part of compressed air, we can entrain 40 parts of ambient air.  What does this mean?  First, the Super Air Knife is very efficient within your compressed air system as we are using mainly free ambient air.  Second, since majority of the air is ambient, the temperature of the air is not heated; thus, a cooler air stream.   And third, by adding the mass of the ambient air, it gives a stronger blowing force.  So, the Super Air Knife was able to meet both of the agribusiness requirements.  In the end, we were able to cut scrap and increase the production rate by almost 10%.

If you need to dry your agricultural items with cutting-edge technology, EXAIR would be the manufacturer for you.   We are staffed with Application Engineers to find solutions and improvements, and we will be happy to discuss your application.  For this agribusiness company, they were excited to work with EXAIR to get a great result for the company above in the potato arena.

John Ball
Application Engineer
Email: johnball@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb