Solving Static Problem in PET Plastic Thermoforming Application

PET plastic entering thermoforming machine to make cups

The image above shows a PET plastic sheet which is fed into a thermoforming machine. During thermoforming the plastic is made into drinking cups.  But, if the plastic enters the thermoforming machine with static present, the forming process cannot occur properly which results in defects.

The company in charge of thermoforming these cups reached out to the Application Engineering department at EXAIR in search of a solution to their problem. They had considered using Ion Bars, but were unsure if Ion Bars were the right solution.  So, we examined the process and the variables at play to determine the best path forward to remove this static.

The static in this application was present throughout the travel of the plastic sheet into the thermoforming machine. At EXAIR we always recommend to install any static eliminating solution at the last possible point before the static is causing a process disturbance, to ensure no static is regenerated.  Yes, a static charge has the potential to regenerate with friction, spearation or even simple contact with another surface. In the above example separation from the roll and friction upon the additional rollers could be a source of static. This meant finding a way to eliminate the static just prior to the sheet entering the thermoforming machine.

As it turns out, the thermoforming in this application can occur between 180-260°F, and this heat permeates from the machine to the area immediately outside of the plastic feed entrance. So, placing Ion Bars just outside of the machine, while potentially possible, would place them near temperatures at the high end of their operating temperature limits (maximum temperature for an EXAIR Ion Bar is 165°F).

However, just a couple of feet away from the machine this temperature dissipates significantly. So, if we could find a way to mount our solution 2-3 feet away and effectively eliminate static, we would have a viable solution.

That solution came in the form of Super Ion Air Knives. The Super Ion Air Knives provide the same static eliminating capabilities of an Ion Bar, but with an added benefit of transferring the static eliminating ions via a smooth and laminar air profile.  This allows for us to mount the Super Ion Air Knives a few feet away from the machine entrance, but to still effectively eliminate static.  At a distance of 12” away, the Super Ion Air Knife can eliminate a 5kV static charge in 0.18 seconds at an operating pressure of 80 PSIG, and in 0.60 seconds at an operating pressure of 5 PSIG.

Based on the width of 486mm, this customer opted for (2) 18” Super Ion Air Knives, model 111018, and (1) 230VAC power supply with (2) outlets, model 7907. By installing one Super Ion Air Knife on top of the plastic sheet, and one on the bottom, the static problem in this application is solved.

If you have an application in need of a static solution, contact an EXAIR Application Engineer. We’re here to help.

Lee Evans
Application Engineer
LeeEvans@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR.com

Think Of Quality And Service, Think Of EXAIR

As an Application Engineer at a direct sales manufacturing company, I get to talk to a LOT of people about potential uses for our quiet, safe, and efficient compressed air products. And, I’m happy to say, most of them I can even help with…even if the answer is “that’s just not gonna work.” Those are few and far between, however, and we can usually point someone in a better direction in those cases.

By the time we’ve “drilled down” into an application discussion far enough to make a product recommendation, we’ve got a pretty good feeling about it, and a vast majority of the time, our product solves the application in a big way. So big, in fact, that it makes them think of EXAIR again, and again.

Case in point: not long after I started here in 2011, I had the pleasure of helping someone out with some pick-and-place rigs on their packaging line…small products, bulk packaged for shipment to retail outlets. They used our Model 810003M E-Vac High Vacuum Generator and 900762 Small Round Vacuum Cups. Over the years, they’ve added some new products, and some more of the E-Vac pick-and-place rigs. It’s always good to hear from them, and I really believe the feeling is mutual.

EXAIR E-Vac Vacuum Generators provide a simple and reliable solution to pick-and-place applications.

Now, they want to automate a little clean-up operation where pilot holes are drilled in a plastic part, and are considering an intermittently operated vacuum. The concern is, if they use an electric powered one, the starting & stopping will take a toll on the motor. And they’re right.

So, the Model 6193-5 Mini Chip Vac System is up for consideration. Because it’s compressed air operated, constant starting & stopping is no problem…and, it’s generating vacuum immediately, so it’s ideal for quick bursts of cleanup suction action. No electric motor to burn out, no moving parts to wear – it’s a long term, maintenance-free solution.

Quiet and compact, the Mini Chip Vac is an ideal solution for a variety of industrial housekeeping needs.

If you’re an EXAIR engineered compressed air product user, I want to thank you for your business. If you’d like to discuss a particular compressed air product application (regardless of whether you’re a current user or not!) give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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Super Air Amplifiers for Cooling Injection Mold

When working with a cooling application, many customers will immediately look to the Vortex Tube and Cold Gun product lines. While this may be the best solution for some applications with smaller areas to cool, cold air from a Vortex tube based solution is not the best method for large parts or larger areas that exceed a footprint of approximately 2″ x 2″. For larger areas, we have other options for many cooling applications. EXAIR’s Super Air Amplifiers and Super Air Knives are also very effective at reducing the temperature of a part without requiring cold air.

Cooling is a relative concept based on the starting and finishing temperature. What feels “cool” to a human being does not necessarily mean the same thing as “cooling” a part or material. Due to the ability of the Super Air Knives and Super Air Amplifiers to entrain large amounts of ambient temperature air, we can move a lot of air volume across the surface of the target part and quickly lower the temperature.

A simple example I like to use is blowing on a hot cup of coffee just as its been brewed. The temperature of the air coming from your mouth is around 98.6°F, the same as your body temperature. Coffee can be as hot as 185°F when fresh. Due to the temperature differential between your breath and the hot coffee, we’re able to achieve a reasonable amount of cooling just by simply blowing across the surface. Typically, when the target temperature of the part or material needs to be around ambient temperature or higher; the best solution for cooling is going to be either a Super Air Amplifier or Super Air Knife.

Rob's I phone 877

EXAIR 5015 Cold Gun

To illustrate the above concept even more, recently I was working with a customer that needed to cool a silicon injection mold. The mold had two sides and the customer was looking for a method of cooling it down between cycles. The mold cavity surface was approximately 400°F and they wanted to get it down to around 150°F. They were familiar with the EXAIR Cold Gun as they use them across their facility in various secondary or post-molding drilling operations. They had a spare and decided to hook it up and blow the cold air across the face of the mold to see what happens. The volume of air from the Cold Gun was not enough to sufficiently cool the entire mold, so he reached out to EXAIR for assistance.

Based on the dimensions of the mold and understanding the target temperature to be 150°F, we settled on a system of (2) 120224 4” Super Air Amplifier Kits. One was placed above each side of the mold. As soon as the mold opened, they activated the Super Air Amplifiers and were able to pull the surface temperature of the mold down to an acceptable level. Time is money in any manufacturing operation. Companies that produce injection molded parts will look for any way to improve their process. By implementing a procedure to cool the mold more quickly, they are able to boost their productivity gains and become more profitable.

The Super Air Amplifier Kit comes with an Auto-Drain Filter to keep the air clean and dry, a pressure regulator to allow you to dial in the precise level of airflow, and a shim set that allows you to make gross adjustments to the flow. The Super Air Amplifier is available in (5) different sizes with ¾” up to 8” diameter outlets and flow rates from 219 SCFM to 9,000 SCFM 6″ from the outlet. They are capable of achieving an amplification ratio of up to 25:1 from the compressed air supply. The laminar airflow from the unit minimizes wind shear to produce sound levels that are typically three times quieter than other air movers. If you have an application that requires a similar type of cooling, give us a call. We’ll walk you through the process of selecting the most suitable solution.

Tyler Daniel
Application Engineer

E-mail: Tylerdaniel@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_TD

Many Ways to $ave on Compressed Air Costs

Using compressed air in the plant is common for many types of processes.  Typical uses are drying, cooling, cleaning and conveying. Compressed air does have a cost to consider, and there are many ways to keep the usage and the costs as low as possible.  The first step is to use an EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Product, which has been engineered to provide the most performance while using the least amount of compressed air. The next step is to control the use of the air, to only have it on when needed.

EXAIR offers the EFC – Electronic Flow Control.  It offers the most comprehensive method to maximize the efficiency of compressed air usage.  It combines a photoelectric sensor with a timing control that operates a solenoid valve to turn on and off the air as required. With 8 different program types, an on/off mode that works with any process can be programmed ensuring that the minimum amount of compressed air is used.  You can use the online EFC Savings Calculator to see how quickly the savings add up!

EFCp4

EFC – Electronic Flow Control

Another method would be to use a solenoid valve with some other method of control. Depending on the process, the solenoid could be energized via a machine control output, or as simple as an electrical push button station. EXAIR offers solenoid valves in a variety of flow rates (from 40 to 350 SCFM) and voltages (24 VDC, 120 VAC and 240 VAC) to match the air flow requirements of the products we provide, while integrating into the facility and available supply voltages.

For control of the Cabinet Cooler Systems, the ETC – Electronic Temperature Control, uses a thermocouple to measure cabinet temperature and cycle the system on and off to maintain a precise cabinet temperature, and provides a digital readout of the internal temperatures and on the fly adjustment.  Also available is the Thermostat Control models, which utilize an adjustable bimetallic thermostat to control the solenoid valve, also cycling the unit on and off as needed to maintain a set cabinet temperature.

ETC CC

ETC – Electronic Temperature Control

There are several manual methods that can be used to control the compressed air.  A simple valve can be used to turn the air off when not needed, whether at the end of the work day, at break time, or whenever the air isn’t required.  We offer several options, from a foot controlled valve, to a magnetic base with on/off valve, to a simple quarter turn ball valve.

footpedalvalve (2)dualstand (2) manual_valves (2)

 

To discuss your processes and how an EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Product can control the air supply and save you money, feel free to contact EXAIR and myself or one of our other Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.

Brian Bergmann
Application Engineer

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Social Media Finds Lost Dogs, Helps Save Compressed Air

Lost Dog – Her name is Molly

 

The versatility of  social media is one of its greatest assets. If you have an interest in something you can most likely discover others with the same interests on one of the social media platforms. From Facebook, Twitter, blog posts, LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube to Pinterest, Flickr, Instagram and Reddit – you will be hard pressed to NOT find something you are looking for.

The other day, we lost our dog, and it was a traumatic experience for us.  She saw some deer in the backyard; and in her crazed state, she knocked down the pet gate.  Molly went after the deer into the woods behind our place.  Being that it was raining and approaching the evening hour, I mentioned that when she gets done hunting, she will come back home.  We placed her bed and food onto the porch for when she returned.

The next day, Molly was not on the porch.  We were disheartened.  Being that I am a bit “old” school, we decided to print some flyers with Molly’s picture.  After I returned from work, we started in my neighborhood and worked our way out.  We drove to all the neighbors to see if they had seen her, and we stapled the flyers to telephone poles and community boards.  We were going at it for hours, and it seemed to be getting hopeless.  (Now, I would not have written this blog if it had a sad ending.)

As we continued to make our journey, I went up to a house and knocked on their door.  A gentleman answered, and I gave him the story of how our dog got out of her pen.  As I was still speaking, my significant other rolled down her window and shouted to me that she found Molly.  I was a little confused as I headed back to the vehicle.  She told me that a picture of Molly was on her Facebook.  (Of course Molly was making herself right at home as the picture showed her laying on a couch).  We were extremely happy that we had finally found her.  Apparently, a lady that found Molly posted her picture, and tagged her friends.  Her friends then sent it out to their friends, and before you knew it, we had her picture on Facebook.  With a friend request, we were able to receive her location and start our way to pick her up.  Believe it or not, Molly was over 2 miles away from our house.

Being curious, I looked at the timeline of the post.  I noticed that she posted the picture at 6:44 p.m., and we were looking at Molly at 7:28 p.m. that same day.  This was definitely much quicker and easier than hanging flyers and knocking on doors.  I was amazed at how fast and simple that this social networking reunited us with Molly.

This got me thinking about social media.  Facebook is the largest social network with almost 2 billion users throughout the world.  In looking at the nature of Facebook, it is more than reuniting with friends or finding lost dogs.  It also unites companies.  EXAIR has a Facebook page in which we post videos, photos, and blogs of compressed air solutions.  We can show you how to save money by using less compressed air with our products and how to solve every day problems with your compressed air system.  We would love to have you as a friend at www.facebook.com/exair.  We may not be able to find your dog, but we sure can share some stories, solve compressed air problems, and become good friends.

John Ball
Application Engineer

Email: johnball@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb

 

 

Replacing Unsafe Open Pipes with High Pressure Air Nozzles

Open pipes present unsafe working conditions and continuous pressure drops in compressed air systems

Let’s talk for a minute about pressure drops. Normally when the topic of pressure drops is raised, it comes in a context related to proper plumbing and volume supply.  (If there are significant pressure drops within a compressed air system, especially those which reduce volume flow, problems will arise with compressed air driven devices.)

But, there is another important aspect of pressure drops which relates to open pipe blow-off, a common homemade remedy for blow-off applications. This aspect has to do with the available compressed air pressure at the exhausting point from the pipe or nozzle.  In the case of an open pipe, it requires so much compressed air volume that, there can be a continuous pressure drop from the compressor to the open pipe.  However, when a nozzle is installed onto a compressed air pipe, there is a restriction to the flow and the entire pressure drop takes place across the nozzle.

What this means for the blow-off solution is a higher velocity blow-off and a more powerful force from the airflow, with less compressed air consumption.

To think of it another way, imagine the flow of water from your garden hose. If the hose is open-ended and the water is fully on, the flow will be high and the force will be low.  But, when you install a nozzle onto the end of the hose the flow reduces and the force increases.  This is because the pressure drop in the system is taking place across the nozzle rather than the entire system.

This type of a scenario was taking place in the image shown at the top of this blog. The plastic lines connected to the aluminum manifold were fully open on the end, providing a continuous pressure drop and poor blow-off performance.  This, coupled with the maximum operating pressure of similar types of hose being 35 PSI, led to a poor performance in this application.

The solution for this customer was to replace these open pipe blow-offs with EXAIR model 1126 Flat Super Air Nozzles and 12″ Stay Set Hoses, model 9262. The flat airflow of the 1126 Super Air Nozzles provide a highly efficient and forceful blow-off, and the Stay Set Hoses allow for articulation of the nozzles into any position needed.

By replacing these open pipes this customer saved compressed air, added safety (open pipes present an operating hazard per OSHA Standard CFR 1910.242(b)), and improved the performance of their operation.

If you have a similar application or would like to speak with someone about increasing the efficiency of your compressed air applications, contact an EXAIR Application Engineer.

Lee Evans
Application Engineer
LeeEvans@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_LE

EXAIR Line Vac, Air Operated Conveyors, Expand to Include Sanitary Flange Models

EXAIR’s Air Operated Conveyor product line just expanded, making it easier than ever for a wide range of industries to solve an ever growing range of bulk conveyance applications. Before we get to that, let’s look at just how versatile the Line Vacs are:

The standard Line Vac has been making bulk conveyance as easy as it could get for years now. They come in sizes from 3/8″ to 5″, and all you need is a hose to move material from point A to point B.

Lightweight and durable aluminum is the most popular choice, but we make them in stainless steel (Types 303 and 316) for heat and corrosion resistance. For extreme heat, the High Temperature option affords protection to 900F (482C) in either 303SS or 316SS.

When rigid pipe is preferable to hose, our Threaded Line Vacs offer the same performance:

These come with male NPT threads from 3/8″ to 3″. They’re also available in aluminum, 303SS and 316SS, and High Temperature versions, same as the standard Line Vac.

If you need high power for higher conveyance rates, longer distances, or very dense material, the Heavy Duty Line Vacs are what you’re looking for.

They come in sizes from 3/4″ to 3″, with options for slip-on hose or threaded pipe. They’re also made of a hardened alloy for superior abrasion resistance.

Light Duty Line Vacs are aimed at applications implied by the name…when smaller volumes of low density material don’t require all the head & flow generated by the standard or Heavy Duty models, these are as quick & convenient as the rest, and come in sizes from 3/4″ to 6″.

They’re also ideal when fragile parts might be subject to damage in the high velocity, turbulent air flow produced by the other models.

The newest additions to the Line Vac family are the Type 316 Stainless Steel Sanitary Flange models:

Also known as Tri-Clamp or Tri Clover, these connectors have a variety of advantages beneficial to certain industries: Quick to make up & take apart. No nooks or crevices, so they’re easy to clean. Wide variety of fittings, pipe and tubing are readily available.

These are especially popular in pharmaceutical, food, and brewing applications.

If you’d like to find out more about how to move bulk product quickly, easily, safely, and cleanly, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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