EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products Are Automation’s Best Friend

For decades, children and adults (really cool ones, anyway) have enjoyed the popular board game, Mouse Trap:

The fun of the game is that it exaggerates the notion of providing an overly complicated solution to a simple problem – a notion made famous by Rube Goldberg, whose namesake machines are as thought-provoking as they are entertaining to watch.

As fun as Rube Goldberg machines are, there are actually ways to engineer something “just enough” – that’s what automation engineers strive to do every day; and EXAIR is here to help.

Probably the most popular feature, for automated applications, of engineered compressed air products is instantaneous performance.  For example:

  • When an electric motor-powered blower is used for a blow off, cooling, or drying application, there’s going to be a “ramp-up” period to reach full rated flow.  Not so with an EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Product, like a Super Air Wipe, Super Air Knife, Super Air Nozzle, Super Air Amplifier, etc.  They are generating their rated flow as fast as you can open the supply valve.

    EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products such as (left to right) the Super Air Wipe, Super Air Knife, Super Air Nozzle, and Super Air Amplifier provide instant on/off performance, at rated levels.
  • Likewise, vacuum pumps necessarily take some time to develop their rated vacuum level.  But the venturi in an EXAIR E-Vac Vacuum Generator draws its full rated vacuum flow as soon as the compressed air is turned on.  The peak vacuum level is achieved in the amount of time it takes to pull the air out of the lines or vessel.

    These are all examples of how an E-Vac pick-and-place system is just a solenoid valve away from being an automated process.
  • All EXAIR Atomizing Spray Nozzles can be fitted with a No Drip feature, which allows instant on/off control, simply by opening/closing a valve in the compressed air supply line.  This is often done with a solenoid valve tied in to the machine controls, or with an EXAIR EFC, Electronic Flow Control (more on that in a minute.)  They can handle up to 180 cycles per minute, for quick bursts of atomized mist, on demand.  No other method of liquid flow control can match that kind of performance.

    Fine mist liquid spray, on demand, from an EXAIR No Drip Atomizing Spray Nozzle.
  • EXAIR Spot Cooling Products, Cold Guns, and Cabinet Cooler Systems all use Vortex Tube technology.  This “splits” a supply of compressed air into a hot, and cold air flow.  Unlike refrigerant, chilled water, or cryogenic gas methods, they don’t rely on conduction or convection heat transfer between materials, so cold (and hot) air is produced, at rated flow and temperature, instantly.  They, too, can be turned on & off as often as needed…there are no moving parts to wear or damage.

    The unique phenomenon of the Vortex Tube principle makes cold air instantly for as long – or short – a time as needed.

Automation projects often incorporate existing logic, controls, timers, etc. to actuate the process.  For example, if you wanted to use a Chip Vac to vacuum debris from a chop saw, you can simply wire a solenoid valve into the power switch of the saw…it’ll run while the saw runs, and stop when the saw is turned off.

EXAIR’s award winning EFC Electronic Flow is ready to go, right out of the box.

If there are no existing logic, controls, timers, etc., EXAIR has a solution for those cases too: the EFC Electronic Flow Control.  We have four models to accommodate up to 350 SCFM of compressed air flow – that’s ten feet worth of Super Air Knives.  The EFC consists of a photoelectric sensor that opens/closes a solenoid valve, based on the programming of the integral timer.  It’s a stand alone system that doesn’t require input from, nor is it affected by, any external factors.

Automation projects can get pretty intricate.  EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products are aimed at keeping their involvement as simple as possible.  If you’d like to find out more, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Compressed Air Pressure Regulators Conserve And Protect

Imagine you’re enjoying a nice shower. A cascade of warm water is soothing your body – and spirit – then, someone starts the dishwasher. Or a load of laundry. Or flushes the toilet. Suddenly, the “soothe” turns to “scald” or “freeze,” depending on whether you’ve been robbed of hot, or cold water.  So, what happened?

What happened is, all of those “loads” on your house’s water supply that can ruin your shower experience are controlled by simple on/off valves…they open to permit a certain amount of water FLOW to pass.  When the dishwasher starts, or someone decides to wash a load of whites, the HOT water from your nice warm shower is diverted, leaving a stream of cold water.  When a toilet flushes, or it’s a load of colors, the COLD water is diverted…and that’s not just unpleasant, but downright painful.  Either way, (in my house anyway,) a teenager is getting read the riot act.

The same phenomenon can apply in a compressed air system, if simple flow control valves are used to throttle the appropriate supply of air to a pneumatic device.  If someone, for example, hooks up an air gun to blow off their tools or parts, the valves on EVERYTHING else will need to be opened up some to keep those devices working the same.  In the case of an air gun like this, it usually happens too quick to make the necessary adjustments (by hand) and you’re probably left with a machine tripped off-line, or a ruined part.

Pressure Regulators can prevent this by keeping (or regulating) their downstream pressure to a set value.  If a load elsewhere in the system is activated, the Pressure Regulator opens up, automatically, to keep its output constant.  When that load is secured, the Pressure Regulator closes back down accordingly.  Either way, no single load affects the operation of any others.

That’s only half the value of the use of Pressure Regulators, though.  The other half is, well…the value.  Just looking at a typical function of many EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products – blow off – they’ll all pretty much accomplish the task if you run them, unrestricted, straight off your header.  That’ll give you a good, strong blast of air flow…and it may be more than what’s required, and a waste of good air.  Pressure Regulators will prevent this by allowing you to “dial in” the supply pressure to whatever it takes to get the job done, and no more.

EXAIR offers a range of Pressure Regulators capable of handling air flow of up to 700 SCFM.

Compressed air isn’t free.  Heck, it isn’t even cheap.  Don’t use any more than you have to, and get the most out of what you do use.  Pressure Regulators are one important step in doing this.  If you’d like to talk about optimizing your use of your compressed air system, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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The Case For EXAIR Swivel Fittings

One of the more common questions we get here in the Application Engineering department at EXAIR is…

“What’s the best angle to position a Super Air Nozzle?”

The simple (and perhaps a little snarky, but I swear that’s not intended) answer is…

“The angle it takes to get the results you need.”

But wait, there’s more…we’re not going to leave anybody hanging like that. Many blow off applications are going to be best served by a “sweep” of air, at a low angle. That will be ideal for removing a light layer of dust from a relatively flat and smooth surface. A bit larger angle, relative to the surface, may be necessary if you need some impingement force to dislodge sticky, clumpy, or mildly adhesive debris.  Rarely will you want to blow directly, at a perpendicular angle, to a material’s surface.  An exception to this might be if you’re trying to remove excess moisture from a porous and thin material, like a web fiber.

Regardless of what angle you need to aim your Super Air Nozzle, there are several ways to do it.  You can use a compression fitting them onto bendable copper tubing…just don’t bend it too much or too often.  We’ve got Stay Set Hoses that allow for quick & easy repositioning…they come in lengths from 6″ to 36″, and are in stock.

EXAIR Stay Set Hoses and Swivel Fittings are ideal for installation and positioning of your Super Air Nozzle.

If you want to hold it in place firmly and securely, you’re looking for a Swivel Fitting.  They’re available for almost all of our Super Air Nozzles, from the Atto to the 1″ NPT Model 1114 High Force Super Air Nozzle.  They offer 50° of total movement, and are made of Stainless Steel for durability in most any environment.

EXAIR Swivel Fittings have male NPT threads on one end, and female NPT on the other.  The smaller Swivels, for the Atto, Pico, and Nano Super Air Nozzles, have M4x0.5mm, M5x0.5mm, and M6x0.75mm female threads, respectively, in the ball of the swivel itself for direct threading of these small Super Air Nozzles.

EXAIR’s Swivel Fitting Family

Swivel Fittings can also be used with a host of other EXAIR products.  In addition to the Super Air Nozzles, for example, they’ve historically been very popular with our Air Amplifiers.  Here’s a short informational video showing just how versatile they are:

EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products are made to be easy to install & operate.  This is our intent from Research & Development, to Shipping & Receiving.  If you have questions, give me a call.  I want you to get the most out of our products!

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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UL Classified Certification for HazLoc Cabinet Coolers

Although history only records back so far, I am certain (based on my experiences with sharp and heavy objects) that humans have been injuring themselves with tools, and the stuff they make with them, since the beginning of time.  In fact, recorded history DOES bear this out…the famous Code of Hammurabi (circa 1750 B.C.) set specific amounts of compensation for specific injuries, as did laws from all over the ancient world, from the empires of Rome to China.  Since then, we’ve come a long way in regulating safety not only for the worker in the workplace, but in public places, homes, and workplaces where manufactured products are used.

UL LLC (or Underwriters Laboratories, as they were known throughout the 20th Century) is a safety consulting & certification company founded in 1894 by an electrical engineer named William Henry Merrill.  A year earlier, an insurance company hired Merrill to perform a risk assessment and investigation of new potential clients…George Westinghouse and Nikola Tesla, the proprietors of the Palace of Electricity at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.  It was this experience that made him realize the potential for such an agency to test and set standards for product safety at the dawn of a new age of technology development.  And 120 years on, the benefits in safety & protection have been proven many times over.

If a product or device carries one of these markings, it’s been evaluated for safety by top professionals in the field.

One of the more critical accreditations that a manufacturer can receive for a product is the UL Classified Mark.  This differs from other markings (like the ones shown above for Certified, Listed, or Recognized) in that Classification means that samples of the product were tested & evaluated with respect to certain properties of the product.

EXAIR’s new Hazardous Location Cabinet Cooler Systems bear the UL Classified Mark.  This means they meet the stringent UL requirements for installation on purged electrical enclosures in specific classified areas:

  • Class I Div 1, Groups A, B, C and D
  • Class II Div 1, Groups E, F and G
  • Class III
EXAIR Hazardous Location Cabinet Cooler Systems maintain NEMA 4/4X Integrity and are CE Compliant.

When choosing products for use in classified areas, it’s critical to ensure safety through compliance, and the HazLoc Cabinet Cooler Systems allow you to do that, with simplicity and reliability.  If you’d like to discuss an enclosure cooling application, in or out of a classified area, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Many Air Knife Materials and Shim Options to Suit Your Application

The EXAIR Super Air Knives are used in many applications ranging from part drying, to web cleaning, to conveyor blowoff, and many other uses. For most processes, the aluminum models provide the performance required and withstand the environmental conditions present.

Ambient temperature limits for the aluminum models is 180°F (82°C). EXAIR also offers the air knives in types 303 and 316 Stainless Steel, which increase the temperature limit to 800°F (427°C) and provides a great degree of corrosion resistance. For the harshest, most corrosive environments, an air knife constructed of Polyvinylidene Fluoride (PVDF) with a temperature limit to 275°F (135°C) is available.

Super Air Knives
Aluminum, Stainless Steel and PVDF Super Air Knives

But what can we do about those applications where the increased corrosion resistance isn’t needed and the temperatures do not approach anywhere near to 800°F (427°C)?

The solution to this situation is an aluminum air knife with a custom stainless steel shim. The aluminum material is rated to 400°F (204°C) and the shim is good to 800°F (427°C) so this knife can be used in those hotter environments up to 400°F (204°C). This option helps to keep the cost of the knife low, by utilizing the lower cost aluminum for the body and cap.

The table below details the materials of construction options for the Super Air Knife – a wide array of material offerings to suit even the hottest, harshest conditions.

Air Knife Temperature Table

We recommend consulting with an Application Engineer to review the application, process, and environmental conditions, and we can present best options.

And don’t forget, the shims can be further customized for special blowoff requirements. See the blog that my colleague, Russ Bowman, posted here.

If you have questions about Super Air Knives or any of the 15 different EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air® Product lines, feel free to contact EXAIR and myself or any of our Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.

Brian Bergmann
Application Engineer
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Adjustable Air Amplifiers Aren’t Just About Adjustability

Adjustability is a key feature for a great many devices:

  • An adjustable wrench – or as I like to call it, the trusty “all 16ths” – is my go-to for work around the house involving anything with a hex…fittings under the sink when I’m cleaning out a drain, nuts & bolts on furniture or household items needing some tightening (or loosening,) etc.  I don’t get out my combination-end wrenches for much except automobile maintenance.
  • Speaking of sinks, my kitchen faucet lets me adjust water flow (and temperature) which is important because I use different flow rates (and temperatures) if I’m getting a tablespoon of water, or if I’m rinsing my hands, or if I’m filling the sink to do dishes.
  • Speaking of tablespoons, I’ve even got an adjustable measuring spoon that lets me get a full tablespoon, a half a teaspoon, or anywhere in between, by moving a lever block back & forth in the spoon head.

Adjustability is a key feature for several EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products too…like our Adjustable Air Amplifiers.  The ‘adjustable’ part has to do with setting the air flow:

Just loosen the locking ring, and you can thread the plug out of, or in to, the body to increase, or decrease the flow and force of the developed flow.  There’s a hole in the plug (opposite the “EXAIR.com” stamp) so you can use a spanner wrench (another adjustable tool!) to thread the plug in or out.

You can get an amazing range of flow from a little twist*:

These are the performance values for a Model 6042 2″ Aluminum Adjustable Air Amplifier with a compressed air supply pressure of 80psig. Regulating the pressure can give you even lower…or higher…flows.                                              *0.002″ to 0.010″ is about 1/4 turn of the plug.

A gap of about 0.010″ is about the max for 80psig supply pressure.  Above that, the air flow overwhelms the Coanda profile, creating a turbulent ‘storm’ in the throat, hampering the efficiency and effectiveness.  The proper “adjustment” for that is to select the next larger Air Amplifier!

While the range of air flow is certainly impressive, their versatility is another major factor in their selection.  I reviewed our Application Database (registration required) for real-life details on Adjustable Air Amplifiers “in the field” and found a litany of other benefits that made them better suited to particular installations than a Super Air Amplifier:

  • A customer who builds automated equipment incorporates the Model 6031 1-1/4″ SS Adjustable Air Amplifier to blow open bags with a puff of air as they move into position on an automated filling machine. They use it because it’s available in stainless steel construction, and it’s still compact & lightweight.
  • A mattress manufacturer uses Model 6043 3″ Aluminum Adjustable Air Amplifiers to  cool mattress springs.  They’re lightweight, the perfect size to match the springs’ profile, and they can “dial them out” for high heat removal before putting springs on a rubber conveyor.
  • A tier 1 automotive supplier has Model 6234 4″ SS Adjustable Air Amplifier Kits installed on their robotic paint line to blow off moisture from parts to prevent water spotting between the wash cycle and the oven.  They use them because the stainless steel construction holds up to high heat due to the proximity to the ovens.
  • A food plant uses Model 6031 1-1/4″ SS Adjustable Air Amplifiers to improve the drying time of 3,000 liter mixers that must be washed between batches of different products.  The stainless steel construction holds up to the rigors of the frequent washdown in this area.
  • A bedding manufacturer replaced a regenerative blower with a Model 6041 1-1/4″ Aluminum Adjustable Air Amplifier for trim removal on stitched fabric at bedding manufacturer.  The blower was prone to failure from lint & dust; the Air Amplifier, with no moving parts, is not.  It’s also compact, lightweight, and virtually maintenance free.
  • A light bulb manufacturer installed Model 6030 3/4″ SS Adjustable Air Amplifiers on the ends of open pipes that were used to cool mercury lamp wicks.  This reduced noise levels significantly while providing the same cooling rate, and the stainless steel construction holds up to the heat of the operation.

Because of the simplicity of their design, Adjustable Air Amplifiers are also extremely adaptable to custom applications.  We’ve added threads or flanges to the inlets and outlets of several different sizes, to accommodate ease of mounting & installation:

Among other custom Air Amplifiers, we’ve put (left to right) threads on the outlet, ANSI flanges on the inlet/outlet, Sanitary flanges on the inlet/outlet, and Sanitary on the inlet/ANSI on the outlet. How are you installing your Air Amplifier?

Adjustable Air Amplifiers are available in both aluminum and 303SS construction, to meet most any environmental requirements…except extreme high heat.  In those cases, the Model 121021 High Temperature Air Amplifier is rated to 700°F (374°C) – significantly higher than the Aluminum – 275°F (135°C) or the Stainless Steel – 400°F (204°C).  They’re commonly used to circulate hot air inside furnaces, ovens, refractories, etc.

A Model 121021 1-1/4″ High Temp Air Amplifier directs hot air to a rotational mold cavity for uniform wall thickness of the plastic part.

Adjustability.  Versatility.  Durability.  If you’d like to know more about the Adjustable Air Amplifier, or any of EXAIR’s Intelligent Compressed Air Products, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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How It’s Made: Static Charge

For me, one of the first signs that winter is here takes place at the grocery store. I’ll stop on the way home to pick up a thing or two, and proceed to the automated self-scan…not because I don’t like people, but because they’re the closest to the exit and, while I DO actually like a LOT of people, I REALLY like dinner. Anyway, the drop in humidity that comes with colder temperatures outside leads to what the buried-wire pet containment folks call a “mild correction” when I touch the self-scan terminal.

I won’t rehash my disdain of cold weather (like I did here, herehere, or here) and while those nuisance static shocks aren’t at the top of the list of reasons why, they actually can be quite severe in other cases.  For example, the minor jolt you get from touching a grounded terminal after pushing a rubber-wheeled shopping cart over the vinyl-tiled floor of the produce aisle isn’t near as bad as the shock that a plastic extrusion machine operator gets when he touches a conveyor duct carrying hundreds of pounds of plastic pellets per hour.

Why one is so much worse than the other?  To fully understand the answer to that question, we’ll need to better understand how static charge is generated.  Scientists have been studying the phenomenon since at least the 17th Century, and studies continue to this day of its creation (mainly at universities) and control (right here at EXAIR Corporation.)  Simply put, when two solid surfaces touch each other, the contact can result in electrons in the outer valences of atoms on one surface to “jump ship” and end up in the outer valences of atoms on the other surface.

It’s called the triboelectric effect.  The prefix “tribo” comes from the Greek word “to rub,” and while many common demonstrations of static charge involve rubbing…for example, rubbing a balloon on a wool sweater sleeve and ‘sticking’ it to the wall…mere contact is all it takes – and that’s where we’ll start:

Static charge from simple contact between this injection molded plastic part & the mold caused defects in a subsequent metallic coating process (left,) which were eliminated after an EXAIR Super Ion Air Knife was installed (right.)

Separation of material – lifting the top sheet from a stack, peeling off a protective layer,  or unrolling plastic film, for example – can also cause those weaker-held electrons to leave one surface for another.

Separation of contacting surfaces can generate a considerable static charge. The 16.9kV charge on this roll of film (left) shortened the life of print heads in a downstream process until EXAIR Ionizing Bars (center) dissipated the charge to an inconsequential 0.4kV (right.)

Some processes involve surface contact, and separation.  And more contact, and separation.  And oftentimes, one surface is in relative motion with the other…and that’s what REALLY puts the “tribo” (“to rub,” remember?) in “triboelectric effect.

The constant motion of these plastic jugs on the conveyor (left,) generated (and multiplied) a static charge so great, it resulted in adhesive labels folding or wrinkling while being applied. A pair of EXAIR Super Ion Air Knives (right) solved the problem.

These are just a few examples of the mechanisms behind, and the solutions for, static charge.  For more details, I encourage you to read EXAIR’s Basics Of Static whitepaper (registration required) or watch our recorded Webinar: Understanding Static Electricity.  If you have a static problem you’d like help with, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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