Super Air Knives Save The Day, a Saw Blade, and Production Schedule

A large manufacturing shop recently purchased a high speed band saw to cut aluminum. It was equipped with a mechanical rotating brush system to clean the blade as it ran, but this was unable to keep up with the volume of coolant-soaked chips that were produced at higher speeds. They had two options:

*Run the saw at a slower speed (and actually, their production schedule would not allow this, so technically there was only one option…)
*Come up with a reliable method of cleaning the saw blade (this is where EXAIR comes in.)

The Maintenance Supervisor was familiar with the capabilities of the Super Air Knife from past career experience, so he got two Model 110003 3″ Aluminum Super Air Knives installed:

Super Air Knives remove chips and coolant from high speed band saw blade.

Super Air Knives remove chips and coolant from high speed band saw blade.

This has made a “night-and-day” difference for this sawing operation:
*In the first week they had the saw, they went through four saw blades…when the teeth get clogged with chips, they don’t cut right; they get hot; and they fail.
*The inability of the brush system to remove the chips caused them to accumulate in the belt pulley housings…operators were spending 2-3 hours A DAY just to shut down the saw and clean them out.
*The excess of chips also caused the blade’s guide bearings to fail, which caused almost a day’s worth of down time to replace.
*The Maintenance Supervisor was called to the saw repeatedly during the work day to address these, and many other minor, malfunctions due to the inability to remove the chips.

This saw is now operating at the capacity they intended when they purchased it.  All for about $400, and that includes the door hinge they used to install it and allow for precise positioning (how cool is that?)

EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products have a long reputation for saving the day…thirty-three years and counting.  How can we help you?  Give me a call and let’s find out.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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A Super Air Knife Improves Bagel Operations

Plain Bagel

Plain Bagel

Did you ever wonder how that deep brown crust is created on pretzels and bagels? There’s just a little more to it than toasting them under a burner.

A process engineer from a well-known bagel company contacted me about a problem in their operation. They were having issues containing the lye solution in a dip tank that the bagels are run through. Lye, also known as sodium hydroxide, is a very corrosive, alkali substance.  When handling this liquid solution,  personnel protection equipment (PPE) is required to protect skin and eyes.  The engineer found evidence of the lye solution dripping from the conveyor onto other components in the process.  For safety, maintenance and cleanliness, he needed to find a way to contain the lye in the dip tank area.

The conveying system used a gear-driven sprocket to move the conveyor. The conveyor was a 30” wide open-mesh belt with chain links attached to the outside for the sprocket.  It was used to move the bagel dough into a dipping station which contained the lye solution.  As you can imagine, there are plenty of areas for the solution to collect into these voids of the belt and drip downstream.  The dough would soak up the solution and then travel into the oven for baking.  As the dough is heated, the lye will start to react with the steam and bagel proteins, turning it into something safe to eat. This Maillard reaction creates the browning of the dough and that yummy crust on the outside.

SS Super Air Knife

SS Super Air Knife

To keep the process safe and clean, they had to keep the lye solution in the dipping area. Because the concentration of the lye was very low, we recommended a stainless steel Super Air Knife.  (EXAIR offers a variety of materials for different types of chemicals)  The engineer ordered model 110030SS Super Air Knife, mounted it above the conveyor, and aimed it in a counter-flow direction to the conveyor travel.  As the belt exited the solution, the Super Air Knife would blow the excess from the mesh and the links back into the dip tank.  This kept the area clean and safe from the caustic solution.

If you have similar processes with caustic or corrosive chemicals that need to be contained, we would be glad to discuss your application and determine which of our products would be helpful to keep your processes, personnel and facility safe.

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

 

“Plain bagel” image courtesy of dreamcatt115Creative Commons License

Practice Makes Perfect

2016 Eagles

NEW Eagles Football Jersey for 2016

Last year, I wrote a few blogs about how I was an assistant coach for my oldest son’s youth football team. We had an amazing season that ended with a 2nd round playoff loss and a 3rd place finish overall. Not too shabby for a new group of players and coaches. Now, the new season is upon us with practice beginning next Monday. Our new roster is pretty much the opposite of last season, as we now have 11 returning players from last year’s team and 4 newcomers. The coaching staff has stayed intact as well, so we are hoping to improve on last year’s successes and bring home the championship this year! But hey, we are talking about 7 and 8 year old boys here, so ANY type of success is a win in itself.

After a brief coaches meeting over the weekend, we have decided to hold practice 3 days a week this year, compared to 2 days last. We are hoping the extra practice will help us implement some more pass plays in the offense and work on extending our defensive sets, which cost us at the end of last year. For me personally, I am excited to see how my own son has grown from his first season of learning how to block and tackle the right way, to being more involved in the offense. He is one of the fastest kids on the team but got a little nervous whenever we tried to get him the ball on a rush or pass play. He and I have spent A LOT of time this spring and early summer, throwing the ball and working on his ball carrying skills. From what I’ve seen in our yard, I am pretty excited to see what unfolds on the football field. I keep telling him that he’s going to have some dropped passes and fumbled balls, but the important thing is to not get discouraged and keep trying. After all, practice makes perfect.

Here at EXAIR, we adopt the same philosophy. We are dedicated to putting in the time and effort to develop new and useful compressed air operated products. The following is a list of some new products now available:

  • New 2.5″ and 3″ Line Vac and Threaded Line Vac in 316SS and High Temperature construction

    Standard Line Vac: aluminum or SS

    Standard Line Vac in aluminum or stainless steel

  • New 2.5″ and 3″ Heavy Duty Line Vac with smooth or threaded ends. Hardened Alloy Construction for better abrasion resistance.

    Heavy Duty Line Vac: Hardened Alloy Construction and High Performance

    Heavy Duty Line Vac: Hardened Alloy Construction and High Performance

To discuss these new products or any EXAIR product, please contact an application engineer for assistance.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer
justinnicholl@exair.com
@EXAIR_JN

EXAIR Has Solutions For Skin Problems (Really)

The EXAIR Chip Trapper filters solid debris from your coolant that can not only clog the supply lines to the tooling, but also provide a LOT of surface area for the growth of bacteria. This can really foul the air in a machine shop, and sometimes, it can mess with your skin, causing a rash or infection. Honestly, this isn’t a HUGE problem…I’ve fielded a handful of calls about it over the years, though, so when I got the call from a machinist last week who wanted to talk about a possible solution for a skin problem, I immediately thought of the Chip Trapper.

Well, immediately after I thought about this old commercial (I’ve written before about how I watched way too much television growing up. Don’t judge.)

Turns out, though, his problem wasn’t bacterial – it was an allergic reaction he was having with a specific additive in the coolant used on a particular machine tool. He mentioned that it was a mist coolant application, so I immediately thought of the Cold Gun Aircoolant System.

Of, course, right after I thought about this commercial (seriously; stop judging.)

To my knowledge, it’s the first time we’ve ever applied a Cold Gun to solve a skin problem – we’re almost always looking at them to avoid the mess of coolant spray, or to increase tool life in situations where traditional machine tool coolant is impractical (or impossible) to use.

With four distinct models to choose from, we've got a Cold Gun System to meet your needs.

With four distinct models to choose from, we’ve got a Cold Gun System to meet your needs.

If you’d like to find out how EXAIR products can save you from:

*Excessive compressed air consumption
*High sound levels
*Static charge problems
*Heat damage to your electronics
*Labor intensive “bucket and ladder” bulk conveyance operations
*Trips to the dermatologist (no, really)

Then give me a call.  We can even talk about vintage TV commercials (I won’t judge either.)

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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Will Water Move Through EXAIR Air Knives and Air Wipes? (Images included)

Today, I would like to discuss a question that comes up time and time again over the years.  “What happens when I put water through a Super Air Knife?” That raised another question from myself of what about a Super Air Wipe?

The answer is quite simple, it will come out, just not as good as compressed air does.   The engineering and design for Super Air Knives were all based around compressed air use.  With any good product of course comes the question in time, how else can we use this?   A number of applications for the Super Air Knife is blowing moisture off a part that has been applied through a series of wash/rinse nozzles.  What if the knife could apply the liquid and then a second knife could remove the liquid.  Below are some images from testing that was done on a Stainless Steel Super Air Knife at various gap sizes and various pressures.    The “best” performance visually was from operating the air knife with .004″ gap and approximately  a 17 PSIG inlet pressure (this is for a 12″ Super Air Knife).

Water flowing through a 12" Stainless Steel Super Air Knife

Water flowing through a 12″ Stainless Steel Super Air Knife

As you can see in the photos, the water does flow fairly well immediately out of the knife, and becomes more turbulent as it gets further away from the knife.   The stream actually begins to break up and thus the effective distance of the knife may be reduced when using it to flow liquids.   This is not going to perform like a pressure washer, the maximum distance for the stream of liquid before it completely fell off was around 10′ from the discharge point.   If this were to be used to remove loose debris or to cover a part in water to help cool the part the stream would be more than enough to perform.

As noted above the operating pressure was fairly low, and the gap was at a .004″ thickness.  I recently tested a 1″ Stainless Steel Super Air Wipe as well.  The shim gap was once again set to .004″ thick to permit a better flow and a low pressure, approximately 10-12 psig inlet pressure.  As you can see the flow of water is not as smooth as the air flow out of a Super Air Wipe but if a light rinsing process was needed, or a water cooling process, this would work well.

1" Stainless Steel Super Air Wipe w/ Water

1″ Stainless Steel Super Air Wipe w/ Water

 

So the answer to the main question at hand is yes, a Super Air Knife and Super Air Wipe will both operate with a pressurized liquid source under the correct circumstances.   While they do not operate exactly like they do with compressed air, the results still prove useful in certain applications.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer Manager
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

How to Get the Most From Your EXAIR Super Air Knife

I had a customer contact me about the performance of his EXAIR Super Air Knives. They were painting panels using an electrophoretic process. This process uses an electrical voltage to put a charge on the steel panel for coating.  As the parts get dipped, the oppositely charged coating is attracted to the surface.  The parts then get rinsed before going into an oven to cross link and set the paint. They purchased two 48 inch (122 cm) long Super Air Knife Kits, model 110248, and he mounted one on each side of the steel panels to blow water off after the rinse cycle.  The 46 inch (117 cm) long panels were attached to a rack hanging on an overhead conveying system.   As the panels left the rinsing system, the Super Air Knives would blow the water off both sides.  The customer saw some visual defects caused by water droplets and had concerns about the effectiveness of the Super Air Knife.

In these cases, we have to do some forensics to solve the problem.  Usually poor performance is caused by undersized fittings, tubing, quick disconnects, improperly sized pneumatic accessories, and/or too small of an air compressor.   As we went through the checklist, he did have the correct sized pipe, fittings, and compressed air requirements to operate the Super Air Knife properly.

E-Coat Painted Panel

E-Coat Painted Panel

I then went back to the basics in the setup of the Super Air Knife. I found out that he positioned the Super Air Knife to be perpendicular to the panels.  With the air flow hitting the surface at a 90 degree angle, it was allowing the water to be splashed back onto the cleaned areas.  I had a few suggestions to help improve the drying process.

  • Angle – EXAIR machined a chamfer on the cap of the Super Air Knife, and it can be used as a starting position for a mounting angle. The chamfer should be parallel with the target. This will create an air flow angle at about 45 degrees. This angle will increase the contact area and contact time which is very beneficial for removing water, debris and/or heat. See the below picture in showing the chamfer.
Super Air Knife Chamfer

Super Air Knife Chamfer

  • Distance – For optimum performance, the Air Knife should be between 3 inches and 12 inches (76mm to 305mm) from the target. If you are too close, the amplification ratio is sacrificed, and the force is reduced. If you are too far, the air pattern will start to morph, and the velocity and force will begin to decrease. It can still work, but the efficiency is reduced.
  • Counter-Flow – The air flow should be blowing against the target, in a counter-flow direction. Example; if the parts are moving from left to right, you would want the Super Air Knife to blow from right to left. This will allow the contamination to be blown back away from the cleaned surfaces, and it will increase the impact force to remove contamination i.e. a head-on collision vs. a rear-end collision.

Many customers like to start with their Super Air Knives aiming directly at the target, as described in the above application. This can decrease the efficiency for blowing off contamination or removing heat.  The diagram below shows how the angle can really help to improve the performance.

 

Poor Position Good Position

Poor Position                               Good Position

With these few simple steps in your installation, you can begin optimizing the performance of the EXAIR Super Air Knives. You can position the air knives to better suit your application. but with a good starting point, it can make it easier to maximize the product effectiveness.

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

A Unique Application For An Air Knife? – Our Custom Solutions Have You Covered

The EXAIR Super Air Knife is the best compressed air operated blow off product ever made. That’s a bold statement, but we can stand behind it:

*They’re the quietest and most efficient on the market. We’ve tested them rigorously, and have verified data from actual users who have replaced competitors’ product with them.
*They come in (16) sizes, from 3 inches to 9 feet in length.  And they can be coupled together for even greater lengths.
*We make them in different materials:

  • Durable, lightweight aluminum for a variety of general purpose applications
  • Type 303 Stainless Steel for environments subject to chemically corrosive elements; also good for temperatures to 800F (427C)
  • Type 316 Stainless Steel for even higher corrosion resistance and strength. Ideal for food, pharmaceutical and surgical product applications.
  • PVDF (with PTFE shims & Hastelloy hardware) for the most aggressive environments: electroplating, solar cell manufacturing, lithium ion batters, caustics, brines, etc.

*We have them in inventory, ready to ship quickly. All of them.

As the title intimates, calls regarding “unique applications” are fairly common, and the Super Air Knife provides a great solution to many of them.  Consider these situations:

*A machine builder had to fit an air knife in a 43″ channel.  We had it covered: we made them a custom (non-stock) 43″ 303SS Super Air Knife and shipped it in three days.
*A user needed 15″ (and only 15″) of air flow.  A Model 110018 18″ Aluminum Super Air Knife, off the shelf, would provide an “overflow” which would disturb product in the vicinity of the blow off.  We had it covered…a custom shim can be made to provide 15″ (and only 15″) of air flow out of an 18″ Super Air Knife.  It only takes a couple of days to get the special shim. We can make shims to center the airflow, keep it all on one side of the knife, have it come out two separate areas etc.

We’ve also made a variety of special Air Knives, when more than just length is a consideration.  So, even if your application is “Unique” (with a capital “U”,) it’s very likely that we still have you Covered (with a capital “C”.)  If you don’t believe me, give us a call.  We’ve got you covered.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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