Compressed Air Safety with EXAIR’s Intelligent Compressed Air Products

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 associated with the use of compressed air and educate yourselves and your operators to ensure you’re operating safely.

OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) provides standards designed to mitigate the risks of compressed air usage. If not adhered to, fines can be administered for each infraction. Fines are given out for each individual infraction. Meaning, if you have unsafe blowguns that are used in your facility you’ll get a notice for each individual gun that is identified during an inspection. Inspections aren’t something that happen often, but they will show up unannounced and often at the worst possible times.

OSHA Standard 1910.242(b) discusses the use of compressed air for cleaning and blowoff. It states that the use of compressed air for cleaning purposes is prohibited if the dead-ended pressure exceeds 30 psig. This phrase means the downstream pressure of the air nozzle or gun, used for cleaning purposes, will remain at a pressure level below 30 psig for all static conditions. In the event that dead ending occurs, the static pressure at the main orifice shall not exceed 30 psi. If it does exceed this pressure, there is a very high potential for it to create an air embolism. An air embolism, left untreated, can quickly impede the flow of blood throughout the body. This can lead to stroke, heart attack, and sometimes death.

With this in mind, there are only two options for staying within compliance of this standard. Either install an engineered solution that will reduce the air pressure to less than 30 psig if dead-ended, or regulate the pressure below 30 psig. For the vast majority of operations, regulating the input pressure below 30 psig is useless. The force and flow from the nozzle at this pressure is greatly reduced and likely not enough to be effective in most applications. All of EXAIR’s Safety Air Guns are designed so that the flow cannot be dead-ended. The fins on the Super Air Nozzles are not only useful in amplifying the force by drawing in ambient air, but they also prevent an operator from completely obstructing the airflow.

In addition to being concerned about dead-end pressure, OSHA 1910.242(b) also states that compressed air used for cleaning should include effective chip guarding. By this, they mean that some method or equipment must be installed that will prevent chips and particles from coming back into the eyes or skin of the operator. In addition to offering OSHA compliant nozzles and guns, EXAIR also has Chip Shields that can be installed onto any of our Safety Air Guns. The polycarbonate shields protect the operator from any flying debris while performing a drying or blowoff operation. Simply add a “-CS” to the end of any Safety Air Gun Model number to have a Chip Shield installed on the gun.

Hearing loss due to high noise levels is another common problem in many industrial facilities. Without the use of proper PPE, hearing loss can occur quickly. This is a serious concern as hearing loss is permanent and once the damage is done there’s no way to reverse it. Due to this risk, OSHA strictly enforces standard 29 CFR-1910.95(a).

Hearing loss is the best known, but not the only, ill effect of harmful noise exposure. It can also cause physical and psychological stress, impair concentration, and contribute to workplace accidents or injuries.

This directive discusses the effects of noise and limits exposure based on the dBA. The table below indicates the maximum allowable exposure time to different noise levels. Sound levels that exceed these levels should first be addressed by proper engineering controls such as isolating the source of the sound from personnel or replacing the cause of the sound with something like an engineered compressed air nozzle. When such controls aren’t feasible, proper PPE must be worn to protect the operator.

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 does not contain any provisions that allow for the approval or endorsement of equipment. Alteration or the misapplication of what was once a safe piece of equipment would create a dangerous scenario that is out of the control of the original manufacturer. Any nozzles or guns marketed as “OSHA approved” should immediately throw up a red flag. Identifying and implementing a safe, OSHA compliant solution rests in the hands of the manufacturer themselves. If you’ve got questions about compressed air safety or have an existing blowoff in place that does not adhere to this OSHA directive, give us a call. We’ll be sure to recommend a solution that will keep your operators and wallets safe!

Tyler Daniel
Application Engineer
E-mail: TylerDaniel@EXAIR.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_TD

EXAIR’s Flat Super Air Nozzles Serve a Variety of Applications

EXAIR’s line of 1” and 2” Flat Super Air Nozzles are rugged, efficient, and ideal for applications that require a wide forceful stream of airflow. The patented design utilizes a special shim to maintain the critical position of the component parts. The result is a laminar, high velocity blast of air with minimum air consumption and sound level.

The Flat Super Air Nozzles are available in a wide range of configurations. With both the 1” and 2” sizes you have the ability to select either Zinc Aluminum alloy or Type 316 Stainless Steel for higher temperature or corrosive applications. They’re also available installed at the end of our Safety Air Guns. The 1” Flat Super Air Nozzles are ideal for our VariBlast Compact Safety Air Gun while the 2” is suitable on either our Soft Grip Safety Air Gun or the Heavy Duty Safety Air Gun. With extensions ranging from 6”-72” and Chip Shields also available, you have the ability to tailor a blowoff gun to your exact application. Since the design of the nozzle prevents any chance for it to be dead-ended, all configurations will be compliant with OSHA directive 29 CFR 1910.242(b). This means you’re able to operate at pressures in excess of 30 PSIG without risking harm to your operators.

In addition to two different sizes and materials, there’s also a wide range of shims that can be installed. Just like the Super Air Knife, the thickness of the shim installed (in addition to the input compressed air pressure) will dictate the force and flow through the nozzle. For both the 1” and 2” Flat Super Air Nozzles, shim thicknesses are available ranging from .005”-.030”. Thicker shims will increase the force and flow, thinner shims will reduce it while also reducing the air consumption. To allow you to experiment with different flows, we make shim sets available that’ll allow you to test out a few different sizes in order to determine the best solution for your application.

EXAIR 1″ and 2″ Flat Super Air Nozzles can be fitted with a variety of shims for variable performance.

New to EXAIR in 2018, the Model 1144 2” Super Air Scraper is a patent pending nozzle used to remove stuck-on debris from work or machine surfaces. It incorporates a strong corrosion resistant scraper blade to add necessary leverage to allow you to get underneath and scrape away debris. The strong airflow from the 2” Flat Super Air Nozzle then is able to get underneath and blow away the material. The scraper nozzle is great for applications involving the removal of tape from floors, gaskets, adhesive, labels and stickers, grease, paint and sealant. It’s also available on the end of our Soft Grip Safety Air Gun with durable ¾” air extensions in lengths ranging from 6”-72” and Chip Shields.

You may have seen (or used) the plastic flat nozzles that come in a variety of different colors. EXAIR’s Flat Super Air Nozzle is a safe, efficient replacement that will maintain a similar airflow pattern at a dramatically reduced operating cost. EXAIR’s flat nozzles also offer a reduced sound level compared to these styles of nozzle. Reducing sound is another directive that OSHA 29 CFR 1910.95 outlines. If you’re using an unsafe nozzle in your facility, OSHA can quickly begin assessing fines for each violation. They don’t announce their visits beforehand, so make sure you do your due diligence and assess your compressed air usage yourself!

All of these possibilities are available from stock with same day shipments. EXAIR’s wide-range of solutions allow you to customize the product to your exact specifications. Stop wasting time and money replacing cheap plastic air nozzles, get yourself a nozzle that’s Built to Last by EXAIR!

Tyler Daniel
Application Engineer
E-mail: TylerDaniel@EXAIR.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_td

Customizing Blow-off Applications

EXAIR Blowoff Systems are a combination of EXAIR air Nozzles, mag bases and Stay Set hoses. They are available in single or dual outlets and can change the length of the Stay Set Hose and/or the type of nozzle. The flexibility of this product comes in handy when an application require multiple point blowoff or requires different force values from each nozzle. Customizing allows you to fit the nozzles directly to the need of the application.

Example of an EXAIR Blowoff System – these can be customized with different nozzles or length of hose to suit your application best.

One example of this came from a customer who was running a 1950’s era Benchmaster OBI press to stamp out copper lamination and spring steel. There current set-up which can be seen bellow was not really that effective, was loose/floppy, and had been glued together. All of this made it hard for the Technician to line everything up to eject the parts. The technician reached out to us to see if we could substitute some nozzles on our dual Blow-off system with the stay set hose and dual port magnetic base (as seen above). We were able to piece together a special kit for them to swap out one of the 1103 Mini Super Air Nozzles with a 1126 1″ Flat Super Air Nozzle to match the current set-up.

The Customer’s current ejection set-up in the punch press

Customizing the nozzles in Blow-off systems can allow for better coverage on awkwardly shaped parts that might have a mix of both smooth surfaces and crevices. Also changing out the length of the Stay Set hoses that come with the kits can allow you to reach all sides when centrally located mounting is not applicable. Using two different length stay set hoses can also allow for two different blow off points to share the same mounting and air line; this means your maintenance team wont have to bring in multiple drops which I’m sure they will appreciate.

Not only can we customize blowoff systems for you, since we manufacture the products here in Cincinnati, OH, we can provide custom features and performance characteristics for you. Our wonderful team of Engineers (just don’t tell them I said that) can design special air knives, nozzles, and even air amplifiers to fit your needs. The image below shows custom Air Amplifiers (with customer specified flanges) that we have built. We can customize our products to fit your needs.

Custom Stainless Steel Sanitary Flange Air Amplifier
Special Curved Super Air Knife

If you have any questions about compressed air systems or want more information on any of EXAIR’s products, give us a call, we have a team of Application Engineers ready to answer your questions and recommend a solution for your applications.

Cody Biehle
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Benefits of Air Nozzles Replacing Coolant Lines used for Air

Over the years, EXAIR has come across many different types of blow-off devices.  We have seen copper tubes, pipes with crushed ends, fittings with holes drilled into them, and modular flex lines.  For compressed air use, these are very dangerous and very inefficient.

A plastic machining center was looking for a better way to blow compressed air.  They were using modular flex lines, similar to Loc-line, which are mainly designed for spraying coolant.  They had 14 blow-off lines in their plant that were about 18” (457mm) long and operated 8 hours a day at 40 PSIG (2.8 bar).  They liked the positioning feature of the flex line, but they could tell by the loud noises that they were wasting compressed air.  So, they contacted EXAIR.

When EXAIR started to manufacture compressed air products in 1983, we created a culture in making high quality products that are safe, effective, and very efficient.  With our Super Air Nozzles, we engineered a way to entrain the ambient air to add mass to the air stream to use less compressed air with a strong force.  This is done by the Venturi method.  We create a high velocity which will make a low pressure at the exit.  The surrounding air is drawn into the compressed air stream increasing efficiency.  We also engineered fins to support OSHA compliance in noise levels and dead-end pressure.  So, if your skin comes in contact with an EXAIR nozzle, the end will not be able to be blocked and allow air to penetrate the skin membrane; even above 30 PSIG (2 bar).  I went over the cost savings and safety solutions that EXAIR’s products could give.

EXAIR Super Air Nozzle entrainment

Since the modular flex lines had a ¼” (6mm) opening, I recommended the model 1100 Super Air Nozzle with a Stay Set Hose.  This recommendation is from experience with these types of blow-off devices.  The Stay Set Hoses will give them that possibility of manually adjusting and re-adjusting the Super Air Nozzles.  The hoses have a “memory” function and will not creep or droop until you physically move it.  They work well to direct air flows at specific target areas like the flex lines above.  For the company above, I recommended the model 1100-9218 which is a model 1100 Super Air Nozzle with an 18” (457mm) long Stay Set Hose.  It was easy to remove the flex line and replace it with a safer and more efficient product

Model 1100-9218

Now, let’s look at the savings.  The Super Air Nozzle with the 18” Stay Set Hose cost $92.00 each.  The flex line is generally around $10.00 each.  But this is not the total cost of ownership.  As an efficiency comparison, the model 1100 Super Air Nozzle will only use 8 SCFM (227 SLPM) of compressed air at 40 PSIG (2.8 bar); and, the noise level is reduced to 70 dBA for each nozzle.  At 40 PSIG (2.8 bar), the flex line had a noise level of 97 dBA and an air usage of 19 SCFM (538 SLPM).

For the annual savings and the payback period, I will look at the electrical cost.  (Since the Super Air Nozzle is using less compressed air, the maintenance and wear on your air compressor is reduced.)

  • The air savings is calculated from the difference in air usage; 19 SCFM for flex line – 8 SCFM for Super Air Nozzle = 11 SCFM savings per blow-off device.
  • With 14 flex lines, the total compressed air savings will be 11 SCFM * 14 = 154 SCFM.
  • To get into the cost, an air compressor can produce 5.36 SCFM/KW of electricity at a cost of $0.10/KWh.  For an annual savings, we have the figures from the information above; 8 hours/day * 250 days * 154 SCFM * $0.10/KWh * 1KW/5.36 SCFM = $5,746.27/year.
  • For a payback period, the model 1100-9218 has a price of $92.00 each, or $1,288.00 for 14 systems.  The flex lines were $10.00 each, or $140.00 total.  The payback period will be ($1,288 – $140) / ($5,746.27/year) * (12 months/year) = 2.4 months.  Wow, what a savings!

Not all blow off devices are the same.  With the customer above, they were able to cut their noise levels, remove the dead-end pressure concerns, and save $5,746.27 a year in compressed air.  If your company decides to select an unconventional way to blow off parts without contacting EXAIR, there can be many hidden pitfalls; especially with safety.  Besides, if you can save your company thousands of dollars per year as well, why go with a non-standard nozzle?  If you are using compressed air for blowing, cooling, cleaning or moving material; you should contact an Application Engineer at EXAIR.  What do you have to lose?

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