Super Air Wipe Helps Shield a Lens

Super Air Wipe Kit

A tier 2 automotive company makes small metal boxes with a process which includes laser welding and a vision inspection system. The machine was programmed to weld different components onto the metal enclosure. During the welding operation, an optical sensor would check the quality of the welds. The vision system used a lens to protect the sensor from welding slag and debris. After a few operations, they started seeing false positives in the welding areas, and the metal enclosure would be flagged for rejection. In investigating the issue, they found that the lens was getting dirty from the welding operation. Because of the sensitivity of the sensor, it would detect the debris and marks on the lens and signal for poor weld. The lens was doing its part in protecting the sensor from damage; but, they needed a way to shield the lens from dirt and slag during the welding operation and visual inspection.

With this process, the machine would weld metal fasteners onto an enclosure by laser. The optical sensor would move along the welded areas to check the quality. In a lead/lag operation, the vision system would check the welds after a few seconds of cooling. So, both operations were occurring at the same time but at different intervals. When they started to see the rejection rate increase, they would have to stop the operation, clean the lens, and verify the integrity of the welds. In some cases, they would have to replace the 1 ¼” diameter lens especially if a piece of welding slag marred the surface. With incorrect rejections and lens cleaning, downtime was hurting their production rates and cost.

This customer wanted to use compressed air because it is a powerful and invisible way to create a shield. Since EXAIR is a leader in efficient and effective ways to use compressed air, they contacted us for help. Initially, I suggested a Super Air Knife to deflect any slag and debris from the lens surface. I showed a prior solution to a very similar issue; “Air Shielding a Laser Lens” (Reference below). But, because of the proximity to the part and the limitation in space, the Super Air Knife  configuration in the solution below would make it impossible to use. They were looking for a product that could be mounted either flush or behind the surface of the lens and still protect it.

Air Shielding a Laser Lens

To accommodate for this request, we had to direct the compressed air stream at an angle. EXAIR manufacturers a product that can do just that, the Super Air Wipe. The design of the Super Air Wipe blows compressed air at a 30-degree angle toward the center in a 360-degree air pattern, just like a cone. It can be placed around the lens and still be able to create a “wall” of air to block any slag or debris from hitting the lens.

I recommended the model 2452SS, 2” Super Air Wipe Kit. This Super Air Wipe has the body, braided hose, hardware, and shims that is made from stainless steel. It can handle the high heat loads from the welding process as well as to allow for easy cleanup after a day of operating. The kit includes a filter, to keep the compressed air clean; a regulator, to finely tune the force requirement; and a shim set. The shim set includes two additional sets of shims that can be added to increase the force of protection if needed. With the kit, the customer can “dial” in the correct amount of force needed to keep the lens clean without using excessive amount of compressed air.

As an added benefit of saving compressed air, the Super Air Wipe uses the Coanda effect to maximize the entrainment of ambient air into the compressed air stream. This makes the unit very efficient and very powerful. The Super Air Wipe was mounted just behind the lens like the customer required (Reference mock picture below), and the sensor could examine the welds without any interference with the metal enclosure.

Laser Lens mock drawing

Visual inspections systems are highly accurate pieces of equipment, and a dirty lens will affect the performance. EXAIR has many ways to keep the lens clean with a non-contact invisible barrier to protect sensors, cameras, and lasers. If you have a similar application, you can contact an Application Engineer to determine the best way to keep the lens clean and your equipment functional. After mounting the Super Air Wipe, the customer above eliminated any false rejections, and dramatically decreased any downtime for cleaning or replacing the lens in his welding machine.

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

Keys to an Efficient Compressed Air System

How do I make our compressed air system efficient?

This is a critical question which plagues facilities maintenance, engineering, and operational personnel.  There are concerns over what is most important, how to approach efficiency implementation, and available products/services to assist in implementation.  In order to address these concerns (and others), we must first look at what a compressed air system is designed to do and the common disruptions which lead to inefficiency.

The primary object of a compressed air system is to transport the compressed air from its point of production (the compressors) to its point of use (applications) in sufficient quantity and quality, and at adequate pressure for proper operation of air-driven devices.[1]  In order for a compressed air system to do so, the compressed air must be able to reach its intended destination in proper volume and pressure.  And, in order to do this, pressure drops due to improper plumbing must be eliminated, and compressed air leakage must be eliminated/kept to a minimum.

But, before these can be properly addressed, we must create a pressure profile to determine baseline operating pressures and system needs.  After developing a pressure profile and creating a target system operating pressure, we can move on to the items mentioned above – plumbing and leaks.

Proper plumbing and leakage elimination

The transportation of the compressed air happens primarily via piping, fittings, valves, and hoses – each of which must be properly sized for the compressed air-driven device at the point of use.  If the compressed air piping/plumbing is undersized, increased system (main line) pressures will be needed, which in-turn create an unnecessary increase in energy costs.

In addition to the increased energy costs mentioned above, operating the system at a higher pressure will cause all end use devices to consume more air and leakage rates to increase.  This increase is referred to as artificial demand, and can consume as much as 30% of the compressed air in an inefficient compressed air system.[2]

But, artificial demand isn’t limited to increased consumption due to higher system pressures.  Leaks in the compressed air system place a tremendous strain on maintaining proper pressures and end-use performance.  The more leaks in the system, the higher the main line pressure must be to provide proper pressure and flow to end use devices.  So, if we can reduce leakage in the system, we can reduce the overall system pressure, significantly reducing energy cost.

 

How to implement solutions

Understanding the impact of an efficient compressed air system is only half of the equation.  The other half comes down to implementation of the solutions mentioned above.  In order to maintain the desired system pressure we must have proper plumbing in place, reduce leaks, and perhaps most importantly, take advantage of engineered solutions for point-of-use compressed air demand.

The EXAIR Ultrasonic Leak Detector being used to check for leaks

Once proper plumbing is confirmed and no artificial demands are occurring due to elevated system pressures, leaks in the system should be addressed.  Compressed air leaks are common at connection points and can be found using an ultrasonic noise sensing device such as our Ultrasonic Leak Detector (ULD).  The ULD will reduce the ultrasonic sound to an audible level, allowing you to tag leaks and repair them.  We have a video showing the function and use of the ULD here, and an excellent writeup about the financial impact of finding and fixing leaks here.

The EXAIR catalog – full of engineered solutions for point-of-use compressed air products.

With proper plumbing in place and leaks fixed, we can now turn our attention to the biggest use of compressed air within the system – the intended point of use.  This is the end point in the compressed air system where the air is designed to be used.  This can be for blow off purposes, cleaning, conveying, cooling, or even static elimination.

These points of use are what we at EXAIR have spent the last 34 years engineering and perfecting.  We’ve developed designs which maximize the use of compressed air, reduce consumption to absolute minimums, and add safety for effected personnel.  All of our products meet OSHA dead end pressure requirements and are manufactured to RoHS, CE, UL, and REACH compliance.

If you’re interested in maximizing the efficiency of your compressed air system, contact one of our Application Engineers.  We’ll help walk you through the pressure profile, leak detection, and point-of-use engineered solutions.

Lee Evans
Application Engineer
LeeEvans@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_LE

 

[1] Compressed Air Handbook, Compressed Air & Gas Institute, pg. 204

[2] Energy Tips – Compressed Air, U.S. Department of Energy

Super Air Knife Plumbing Kit Allows Installation In Tight Quarters

I recently had the pleasure of helping a long-time user of our Super Air Knives with a challenging application. They already use quite a few of our Model 110012SS 12″ Stainless Steel Super Air Knives to clean & dry their nonwoven material as it’s being rolled for packaging. They like them because they’re quiet and efficient, but also because they’re durable…this particular product off-gasses a mildly corrosive vapor, which used to corrode other equipment in the area. Not only does the Stainless Steel Super Air Knife resist corrosion itself, the air flow keeps these vapors contained. Two birds, one stone.

They have a new product…same kind of material, but much wider…that needed to be blown off, and the identified the Model 110060SS 60″ Stainless Steel Super Air Knife as a “no-brainer” solution. Thing is, it had to be a pretty even air flow across the length, and a 60″ Super Air Knife has to get air to four ports across its length for optimal performance. And, they wanted to install it at a point where it would serve not only as a blow off, but as a vapor barrier, just like the 12″ Super Air Knives they’re already so fond of. The space was a little limited, though, so they opted for the Model 110060SSPKI 60″ Stainless Steel Super Air Knife with Plumbing Kit Installed, which allowed them to simply run an air supply line to both ends.

EXAIR SS Super Air Knives can be ordered with a Plumbing Kit installed, or you can easily install a Plumbing Kit on your existing Super Air Knife.

If you want to find out more about an engineered solution for your compressed air application – cleaning, drying, vapor barrier, or all of the above – give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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Machining Plastics? Consider The Cold Gun For A Clean Operation

Machining plastics can be a difficult task as the contact between the part and the tool generates heat, which can result in the plastics beginning to melt and stick to the tooling, causing deformities or even broken tool heads. Often times, companies will introduce a liquid based method of cooling to quench the parts during machining, while this does work, with plastics they tend to absorb some of the liquid, resulting in the finished part being outside the allowable tolerance range. Another area of concern is the mess that liquid cooling creates as now the parts need to be dried and cleaned before they can continue to the next process.

Coolant based systems can be messy and costly to operate

Such was the case last week when I worked with an OEM who was looking for a way to cool the tooling in the machines they build for the plastics industry. The company they were selling the machines to, specifically asked for an alternative method of cooling without using any type of coolant due to the conditions mentioned above. Once again, EXAIR has the perfect solution – the Cold Gun. Incorporating a Vortex Tube, the Cold Gun produces a cold air stream at 50°F below compressed air supply temperature and provides 1,000 Btu/hr. of cooling capacity. Fitted with a magnetic base and flexible hose the unit can be mounted virtually anywhere on the machine and the cold airflow can be easily directed to provide cooling to the critical area. The system also includes a filter separator for the supply line to remove any water or contaminants, ensuring that the exiting airflow is clean and free of debris.

No moving parts = maintenance free

 

When looking for a reliable method of cooling, whether machining plastics or other material, the cold, clean air from the Cold Gun is the ideal solution in place of messy misting systems. For help with your spot cooling needs or to discuss how using Vortex Tube technology could help in your process, give me a call, I’d be happy to help.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer
justinnicholl@exair.com
@EXAIR_JN

 

Coolant Spraying in the Mini Mill image courtesy of Andy Malmin via Creative Commons license

Super Blast Safety Air Guns: Powerful & OSHA Compliant

1213-12

Model 1213-12 Super Blast Safety Air Gun w/ 12 nozzle cluster

In some applications the force from a Heavy Duty, Soft Grip, VariBlast, or Precision Safety Air Gun may not be quite enough to get the job done. Not to worry! EXAIR’s Super Blast Safety Air Guns use our Super Air Nozzle Clusters and Large Super Air Nozzles and turn them into a handheld gun with the same strong blowing force.

The Super Blast Safety Air Guns are comfortable to hold with a soft foam grip. They’re safe to operate with all of the Super Blast Safety Air Guns incorporating EXAIR’s OSHA compliant nozzles and clusters. In addition, they also have a spring-loaded manual valve that will automatically shut off the compressed air if accidentally dropped.

1218

Model 1218 Super Blast Safety Air Gun

The Super Blast Safety Air Gun is available with nine different styles of nozzle at the end. They are able to achieve a blowing force of anywhere from 3.2 lbs all the way up to 23 lbs when measured 12” away from the nozzle at an operating pressure of 80 psig. All while still adhering to OSHA directive 1910.242(b)!! Each of the Super Blast Safety Air Guns is also available with a 1’, 3’, or 6’ extension for hard to reach areas that still require a maximum blowing force. When compared to the same sized open-pipe blowoffs, the Super Blast Safety Air Guns represent a significant savings in air consumption.

1219ss800

Super Blast w/ Back Blow Nozzle

In addition to the standard Super Blast Safety Air Guns, EXAIR’s 1008SS 1” NPT Back Blow Nozzle is also available as a Super Blast Gun. With a 360° airflow pattern, this gun is the ideal choice when trying to remove debris from large pipe diameters or deep channels.

If you have an application in your facility that requires a seriously strong blast of compressed air, give us a call. Our team of Application Engineers is ready to assist you in determining the appropriately sized Super Blast Safety Air Gun for your needs.

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

Intelligent Compressed Air: How to Develop a Pressure Profile

An important part of operating and maintaining a compressed air system is taking accurate pressure measurements at various points in the compressed air distribution system, and establishing a baseline and monitoring with data logging.  A Pressure Profile is a useful tool to understand and analyze the compressed air system and how it is functioning.

Pressure Profile 1

Sample Pressure Profile

The profile is generated by taking pressure measurements at the various key locations in the system.  The graph begins with the compressor and its range of operating pressures, and continues through the system down to the regulated points of use, such as Air Knives or Safety Air Guns.  It is important to take the measurements simultaneously to get the most accurate data, and typically, the most valuable data is collected during peak usage periods.

By reviewing the Pressure Profile, the areas of greatest drop can be determined and the impact on any potential low pressure issues at the point of use.  As the above example shows, to get a reliable 75 PSIG supply pressure for a device or tool, 105-115 PSIG must be generated, (30-40 PSIG above the required point of use pressure.)  As a rule of thumb, for every 10 PSIG of compressed air generation increase the energy costs increase 5-7.5%

By developing a total understanding of the compressed air system, including the use of tools such as the Pressure Profile, steps to best maximize the performance while reducing costs can be performed.

If you have questions about getting the most from your compressed air system, or would like to talk about any EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air® Product, feel free to contact EXAIR and myself or one of our Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.

Brian Bergmann
Application Engineer

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High Vacuum (Non-porous) and Low Vacuum (Porous) E-Vacs: Vacuum Generator Overview

In-Line E-Vac

With the amount of energy in compressed air, EXAIR can manipulate it by design for a variety of applications. One way that we can do this is by creating a vacuum pressure by the Venturi effect. By increasing the velocity of air through a constricted area, a low pressure, or vacuum, is created. Unlike a mechanical vacuum pump, the E-Vac does not have any moving parts or motors to wear. This maintenance free device uses only compressed air to generate a powerful vacuum pressure in a very compact and lightweight design. They can create vacuum levels up to 27” Hg (91 kPa) where complete vacuum is at 29.92” Hg (101.4 kPa). With our single stage systems, we can generate different vacuum levels and flows to create the optimal vacuum generation for your application.

Have you ever placed your hand over the hose of a vacuum? You can feel the maximum amount of vacuum pressure on your hand. The maximum vacuum pressure value is only at the condition of zero air flow. When you remove your hand from the hose, you change the vacuum pressure to a much lower value, but now you have the maximum amount of air flow. Like the E-Vacs, EXAIR has designed the product to either give you the maximum vacuum pressure or the maximum vacuum air flow. EXAIR separates these two vacuum generators as High Vacuum and Low Vacuum.

The high vacuum style is designed for non-porous products like glass, marble, and steel sheets. The low vacuum style is for porous products like cardboard, fabric, and plywood. Both types of vacuum generators are commonly used to pick and place parts, open bags, evacuate molds, and vacuum forming. They are easily adjusted by a regulator and a solenoid valve making the E-Vac very versatile. Even with no moving parts, these vacuum generators are quick to respond with very long cycle rates. The inline design makes them easy to install, so, you can begin using this vacuum product without much setup time. With the single stage design, it eliminates any vacuum fluctuation. I will go through both types of E-Vacs to explain the advantages in using these kinds of vacuum generators for different applications.

The High Vacuum Generator is used for non-porous products in pick and place applications as well as vacuum forming, clamping, and evacuation. This type of generator can create a vacuum pressure up to 27” Hg (91 kPa). In conjunction with the EXAIR vacuum cups, it allows for maximum holding capacity for heavy materials. We offer 7 different sizes ranging from 2 SCFM (65 SLPM) to 31 SCFM (872 SLPM) at 80 PSIG (5.5 Bar). They can be matched to the size and quantity of vacuum cups for increased efficiency as well as for improved cycle rates. If the surface of a rigid sheet is smooth or the application requires a high vacuum pressure, the High Vacuum E-Vac Generator would be the best product to use.

The Low Vacuum Generator is used for porous products as well as more delicate surfaces. This generator has a maximum vacuum pressure of 21” Hg (71 kPa). The design is such to allow for maximum air flow to make up any losses through the material or sealing area. With a regulator, you can control the maximum vacuum level to eliminate dimpling or disfiguring of the surface. Even with fabrics and rough surfaces, the Low Vacuum Generator can still pick up and hold the material. We offer 7 different sizes ranging from 1.5 SCFM (42.5 SLPM) to 17 SCFM (476 SLPM) at 80 PSIG (5.5 Bar). They can also be matched to the size and quantity of vacuum cups as well as to overcome any leakage. If the surface of the product being moved is rough or the surface is very delicate, the Low Vacuum E-Vac Generator would be the best product to use.

EXAIR created a video to show the difference between the E-Vacs as well as a demonstration.

Click Video

For experimentation with the E-Vacs and the vacuum cups, EXAIR offers kits for both types of generators. The standard kit includes four pairs of vacuum cups (matched to the size of the E-Vac), 10 feet (3 m) of poly line, and an assortment of fittings. For the Deluxe kit, it will include the same items in the standard kit, plus an automatic drain filter and a regulator. The E-Vacs are made of a durable 6061 aluminum, but if a different material is required for your application, EXAIR can review this request.

The EXAIR E-Vac offers an efficient, simple, and maintenance free solution to create vacuum. Whether lifting product horizontally or vertically, opening bags, aligning sheets or leak checking, the E-Vac ensures a flexible and reliable way to continuously keep your operation moving. As compared to an electric vacuum pump, these vacuum generators are much smaller, less expensive and much quieter. If you need help in sizing and selecting the correct model, you can contact an Application Engineer at EXAIR.

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

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