As they always say, “big things come in small packages”. Oftentimes, some of the things that have the most value or quality are quite small. Jewelry or diamonds certainly come to mind as some high-quality items that are relatively small in size. One little product we have at EXAIR is the Mini Cooler. Don’t let the word “Mini” fool you. EXAIR’s Mini Cooler packs a powerful punch while using minimal compressed air and not taking up valuable space on your shop floor.
The Mini Cooler is a proven, reliable way to reduce downtime and increase productivity on a wide variety of operations involving small parts where heat is causing a problem. With just an ordinary supply of compressed air as the power source, the Mini Cooler uses Vortex Tube technology to produce a 20°F (70°F compressed air temp) stream of cold air. This cold air can be directed to the part to prevent heat build-up that can cause premature tool wear, affect part tolerances and improve product finish. The Mini Cooler consumes just 8 SCFM of compressed air when operated at 100 PSIG, making it an ideal solution when available compressed air is at a premium.
The Mini Cooler can be used for a wide variety of applications, many of which we’ve blogged about here before. This application discusses a manufacturer that made surf casting bags used by fishermen fishing straight off of the beach. They had problems with the needle overheating and breaking which in turn damaged the finished product. Not only were they wasting materials, but also time spent periodically replacing the needles on the sewing machines. A focused stream of cold air from the Mini Cooler was all it took to remedy the situation.
Another application that I had the pleasure of seeing while visiting in Hungary was at a manufacturer of cataract lenses. They were using both the Adjustable Spot Cooler and the Mini Cooler in the milling process of the lenses. The cold air from the Mini Cooler replaced expensive and messy liquid coolant and was capable of maintaining a consistent temperature on the lens to prevent warping.
The Mini Cooler is available with both single and dual cold outlets, depending on the part needing to be cooled. The kit will include the Mini Cooler, a swivel Magnetic Base for precise mounting and positioning, either a Single or Dual Point Hose Kit, and a Manual Drain Filter with a mounting bracket included. If you’re experiencing heat related troubles on a small application, take advantage of EXAIR’s Unconditional 30-Day Guarantee and give the Mini Cooler a try. You’ll be HEATED if you don’t!
A little while back, I worked with a large eyeglass manufacturer on a sunglass lens cooling application. In their setup, they were dry cutting film-coated lenses with a router and after the lenses are cut, they are passed through several different rinse cycles and inspected for scratches or other damage. They were seeing a high number of reject parts and determined that the heat being generated by the tooling, was causing the irregularities. In an effort to alleviate the condition, they used a section of open flexible tubing to blow compressed air at the bit, which helped a little, but they were still concerned with the amount of scrap material.
I recommended they use our Model # 3825 Adjustable Spot Cooler System in the process. The Adjustable Spot Cooler incorporates a Vortex Tube to provide a temperature drop from the incoming supply air temperature. Using the temperature control valve, the exhausting air temperature and flow can be adjusted to fit the application. The system includes a flexible hose to focus the cold air to the desired area until re-positioned. The system also features a magnetic base that allows for easy mounting. By incorporating the filter separator included in the system, they can remove any moisture and/or contaminants in the air supply, relieving any concern with contamination or damage to the part.
If you have a cooling application you’d like to discuss or for help selecting the best product to fit your need, give me a call at 800-903-9247.
The Vortex Tube makes cold air for the same reason that a can of compressed air gets cold when I clean my computer keyboard, right?
That’s a common question, and since they both start with compress air and end up with cold(er) air, it’s not an unreasonable assumption. But the answer is no; they’re not the same. Both are curious physical phenomena, though:
Cans of compressed air get cold while they’re discharging because of a thermodynamic principle known as the adiabatic effect. When you pressurize a gas by compressing it into a container, you’re putting all those molecules into a smaller volume of space…and you’re adding potential energy by the compression. Then, when you release that gas back to atmospheric pressure, that energy has to go somewhere…so it’s given off in the form of heat – from the air inside the can, as the pressure inside the can decreases. Now, the air that’s not under as much pressure as it was when you pushed the button on top of the can is going to start coming out of the can pretty soon. I mean, there’s only so much air in there, right? So, since it’s given off that energy immediately upon the drop in pressure, when it comes out of the can, it’s at a lower temperature than it was before you started spraying it out.
Vortex Tubes, on the other hand, generate a flow of cold air by a completely different phenomenon of physics called, maybe not so curiously, the Vortex Tube principle:
I recently had a chat conversation with a customer who was looking to cool the tooling on his CNC router, mill and lathe in his small machine shop. During the machining process, as the tooling would begin to heat up, it would warp the bit, causing irregularities in the finished product. In some cases the tooling was getting so hot, it would actually break, creating a safety concern.
He had reviewed some of our cooling products and was thinking of using our Cold Gun in the application but was concerned with the air demand. The Cold Gun consumes 15 SCFM @ 100 PSIG and provides a 50°F temperature drop (from supply temperature) with 1,000 Btu/hr. of cooling capacity. The problem was that his compressor only produces a little over 9 SCFM. I explained that the existing compressor would in fact be undersized as it doesn’t produce enough volume to keep up with the demand of the Cold Gun.
Due to the limited amount of compressed air available, our Mini Cooler System, Model # 3808, would be the better solution. The Mini Cooler also provides a 50°F temperature drop with a little less cooling power, 550 Btu/hr., but this system only requires 8 SCFM @ 100 PSIG, falling within the existing compressor’s output capacity. The Mini Cooler also includes a magnetic base as well as flexible tubing to direct the cold air to the desired location, making it easy to move from machine to machine.
If you are considering an EXAIR product for an application or have additional questions about performance, contact an application engineer for assistance in making the best selection.
I was recently contacted by a plastics manufacturer who was needing some solutions for problem areas in their production processes. The company imports their machines from overseas and they are outfitted with a coolant based, quench system for the tooling. They were wanting to get away from using coolant as the parts were absorbing liquid, causing them to swell, not to mention the mess they were creating, requiring more time and labor to dry and clean the parts manually.
For the first application, replacing the messy misting system, I recommended the customer use our Cold Gun System, Model # 5215. The Cold Gun uses Vortex Tube technology to produce a cold air stream 50°F lower than the incoming compressed air supply temperature. For example, if your supply air was ambient 70°F, you would effectively see 20°F air at the exhaust. This clean, cold air stream can be easily directed to the needed area to prevent any warping or other damage related to heat, while also blowing away the machined fines.
The second part of the process involved the recovery of the plastic scrap and chips created during the machining process. Once again, EXAIR has the ideal solution with our Chip Vac, Industrial Vacuum. The Chip Vac creates a powerful vacuum, with no moving parts or motors to wear out, making them virtually maintenance free. The Chip Vac is designed to vacuum dry or wet chips and collect them in a standard, open-top steel drum. Systems are available in 5, 30, 55 or 110 gallon capacities.
To discuss how EXAIR products might help improve your machining process, give us a call at 800-903-9247.
Last year I worked with a power company that was having issues with Position Feedback Sensors overheating causing erroneous readings and early failures. The sensors were located above a steam turbine, and the ambient temperatures reached 128°F with spikes to 140-150°F. The customer had called in looking for a way to keep the sensors cool, using minimal compressed air, and in a robust package. After reviewing the details, we recommended the High Temperature Vortex Tube, model HT3210. While using just 10 SCFM of 100 PSIG compressed air, the HT3210 provides 8 SCFM of cold air at a temperature drop of 54°F from the supply air temperature. Bathing the sensor with this cool air keeps prevents it from heating up and has eliminated the bad readings and prevented the early failures.
The customer recently implemented the same fix for another set of sensors.
The High Temperature Vortex Tube is a special Vortex Tube offering from EXAIR that utilizes a brass generator and hi-temp seal for use in ambient temperatures up to 200°F. Simply supply clean, dry compressed air, and get cold air starting at 50-54°F lower than the supply air temperature. With sizes ranging from 2 to 150 SCFM, there is a Vortex Tube that will meet most applications.
If you have questions about the Vortex Tubes, or would like to talk about any of the EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air® Products, feel free to contact EXAIR and myself or one of our Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.
I had the pleasure of discussing a spot cooling application with a customer this morning. He wanted to get more flow from his Adjustable Spot Cooler, but still keep the temperature very low. He machines small plastic parts, and he’s got enough cold flow to properly cool the tooling (preventing melting of the plastic & shape deformation) but he wasn’t getting every last little chip or piece of debris off the part or the tool.
After determining that he had sufficient compressed air capacity, we found that he was using the 15 SCFM Generator. The Adjustable Spot Cooler comes with three Generators…any of the three will produce cold air at a specific temperature drop; this is determined only by the supply pressure (the higher your pressure, the colder your air) and the Cold Fraction (the percentage of the air supply that’s directed to the cold end…the lower the Cold Fraction, the colder the air.)
Anyway, the 15 SCFM Generator is the lowest capacity of the three, producing 1,000 Btu/hr of cooling. The other two are rated for 25 and 30 SCFM (1,700 and 2,000 Btu/hr, respectively.)
He decided to try and replace the 15 SCFM Generator with the 30 SCFM one…his thought was “go big or go home” – and found that he could get twice the flow, with the same temperature drop, as long as he maintained 100psig compressed air pressure at the inlet port. This was more than enough to blow the part & tool clean, while keeping the cutting tool cool, and preventing the plastic part from melting.
If you’d like to find out how to get the most from a Vortex Tube Spot Cooling Product, give me a call.