Proper Compressed Air Supply Plumbing Equals Success

EXAIR manufactures and stocks Super Air Knives in lengths ranging from 3”-108”. They’re designed to dramatically reduce compressed air usage when compared to similar blowoffs while still maximizing both force and flow. With an air entrainment ratio of 40:1, it’s the ideal solution for a variety of applications that necessitate a wide, laminar sheet of high velocity airflow.

I recently worked with a customer who makes wooden pallets. They were using a Model 110048 48” Super Air Knife to remove sawdust from the pallets prior to stacking them. When the grooves are cut into the pallet to accommodate the forks from a forklift or pallet-jack, there’s a good amount of sawdust that remains on the pallet. They would prefer to not have sawdust all over the finished pallets that they send to customers, so they looked towards a Super Air Knife to provide a curtain of air capable of removing that sawdust just prior to stacking them.

They purchased the Model 110048, but after installing it they didn’t get the level of force they had been hoping for. After some initial discussions, we identified that the issue lied with the plumbing of the air supplied to the knife. A 48” Super Air Knife will need to be fed with compressed air to (3) of the ¼ NPT air inlets. This ensures that an adequate volume of air is fed to the full length of the knife, keeping a consistent airflow.

Not only had they been plumbing compressed air to just (1) air inlet, but they were also using a restrictive quick-disconnect fitting. The I.D. of a quick connect fitting restricts the overall volume of air that can be passed through it. Length of the pipe or hose is also critical as the diameter of the pipe will need to be larger for longer runs or greater volumes. Accompanying any Super Air Knife is our Installation & Maintenance Guide which outlines the necessary requirements for each available length that we have available as well as how many air inlets need to be supplied with compressed air.

SAK pipe sizing

To confirm that air supply was the issue, they installed a pressure gauge directly at the air inlet to the knife. Line pressure was around 90 PSIG, but when they opened the valve and supplied air to the knife the pressure gauge dropped all the way to 35 PSIG. We’ve talked about pressure drop before here on the EXAIR Blog, the only way to confirm this is to take a pressure reading directly at the air inlet.

They removed the quick disconnect fitting, increased to a 1/2″ supply hose in place of 1/4″, and plumbed compressed air to each end and the center air inlet. On all Super Air Knives, compressed air inlets are available on either end as well as on the bottom. After fixing their plumbing, they noticed a dramatic increase in both force and flow and the pressure directly at the air inlet increased to 85 PSIG. The sawdust was easily blown off of the pallets and the customer was pleased that their pallets were free of sawdust.

sak pallet

At EXAIR, we stand by our products with the Unconditional 30 Day Guarantee. If you’ve just purchased a new product and aren’t seeing the results that you were hoping for give us a call. Our highly-trained team of Application Engineers is ready and standing by to investigate the application and provide support to help make sure you’re getting the most out of our products. Most of the times the solution is simple, but we won’t be satisfied until we find a resolution!

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

EXAIR’s Super Air Knife Removes Moisture From Plastic Bottles Prior to Labeling

EXAIR’s Super Air Knife is THE best solution for compressed air blowoff operations that require a wide sheet of compressed air. We’ve been manufacturing Air Knives for over 35 years, with the Super Air Knife making its first appearance back in 1997. Since then, the Super Air Knife has undergone a few enhancements over the years as we’re constantly trying to not only introduce new products but also improve on the ones we have. We’ve added new materials, longer single piece knives, as well as additional accessories. But, by and large, the basic design has remained the same. As the saying goes: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”.

The Super Air Knife utilizes a source of compressed air to create a laminar sheet of high velocity air. This supplied compressed air mixes with ambient air that is entrained into the primary airstream. The Super Air Knife entrains ambient air at a rate of 40:1, making it VERY effective in a variety of drying, cleaning, and cooling applications. Available in lengths ranging from 3”-108” and in a variety of different materials of construction, there’s a Super Air Knife available for just about any application.

Any time you have product moving along a conveyor that needs to be cleaned, dried, or cooled off, a Super Air Knife is the ideal fit. I recently worked with our Argentinian Distributor on an application involving drying off plastic bottles just prior to applying a label to the outside. After the bottles are molded, they go through a washing operation to remove contaminants from the inside and outside of the bottles before they’re filled. After filling, a label must be applied to the outside of the bottle. Before installation of the Super Air Knives, they were allowing the bottles to air dry. As they moved along the conveyor, most of the residual water did come off and wasn’t causing any issues.

SAK and Mounting System

They were looking to increase production rates so that they could keep up with demand, however when they increased the speed of the conveyor there was still a good amount of residual water remaining on the bottles. This prevents the label from adhering properly to the outside of the bottle. Not only did this result in an added step to inspect the bottles, but those that weren’t labeled properly had to have the label removed and cleaned off before a new one could be put on. This actually ended up being less productive than just running the conveyor at a slower speed.

They came across the EXAIR Super Air Knife and decided to try (2) 110036 aluminum Super Air Knives to remove excess moisture just prior to labeling. The plant handles a wide variety of different sized bottles, so they also utilized the Universal Mounting System so that they could easily adjust the positioning of the knife based on the job. With the Super Air Knives in place, they were able to effectively run the operation nearly 20% faster without any problems.

With the quiet and efficient Super Air Knives in place, they were able to increase production rates in order to fulfill their orders on time. If there’s an application in your facility that could necessitate the use of an EXAIR Super Air Knife, give us a call. With 16 different lengths available from stock in 4 different materials, same day shipping with orders placed by 3:00 ET, AND our unconditional 30 day guarantee, there’s no excuse not to give one a try!

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

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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Air Entrainment & EXAIR’s Intelligent Compressed Air Products

Air entrainment is a term that we bring up quite often here at EXAIR. It’s this concept that allows many of our products to dramatically reduce compressed air consumption. The energy costs associated with producing compressed air make it an expensive utility for manufacturers. Utilizing engineered compressed air products that will entrain ambient air from the environment allow you to reduce the compressed air consumption without sacrificing force or flow.

Entrainment
EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products such as (left to right) the Air Wipe, Super Air Knife, Super Air Nozzle, and Air Amplifier are engineered to entrain enormous amounts of air from the surrounding environment.

Products such as the Super Air Knife, Super Air Nozzle, Air Amplifier, and Super Air Wipe all take advantage of “free” air that is entrained into the primary supplied airstream. This air entrainment occurs due to what is known as the Coanda effect. Named after renowned Romanian physicist, Henri Coanda, the Coanda effect is used in the design of airplane wings to produce lift. As air comes across the convex surface on the top, it slows down creating a higher pressure on the underside of the wing. This creates lift and is what allows an airplane to fly.

nozzle_anim_twit800x320
EXAIR Super Air Nozzle entrainment

This is also the same principle which is allowing us to entrain ambient air. As the compressed air is ejected through a small orifice, a low-pressure area is created that draws in additional air. Our products are engineered to maximize this entrained air, creating greater force and flow without additional compressed air. Super Air Amplifiers and Super Air Nozzles are capable of up to a 25:1 air entrainment ratio, with just 1 part being the supplied air and up to 25 times entrained air for free!! The greatest air entrainment is achieved with the Super Air Knife at an incredible ratio of 40:1!

This air entrainment principle allows you to utilize any of these products efficiently for a wide variety of cooling, drying, cleaning, or general blowoff applications. In addition to reducing your compressed air consumption, replacing inefficient devices with engineered products will also dramatically lower your sound level in the plant. Sound level in some applications can even be reduced down to a point that would eliminate the need for hearing protection with the OSHA maximum allowable exposure limits set at 90 dBA for an 8-hour shift.

If you have inefficient blowoff devices in your facility, give us a call. An Application Engineer will be happy to help you select a product that will “quietly” reduce your compressed air consumption!

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

Compressed Air Vs. Blower Air Knife & Other Alternatives

An often debated subject is whether it makes more sense to use a compressed air powered Air Knife or a blower powered Air Knife.  Initially, one might think that the blower option might be a more economical solution due to its slightly lower electrical consumption when compared to an air compressor.  However, a blower powered Air Knife is an expensive capital expenditure that requires frequent downtime, costly maintenance of filters, belts, bearings and electricity!  They also take up a lot of space and can produce sound levels that exceed OSHA noise level requirements.  EXAIR’s Super Air Knife even when operated at 80 PSIG (5.5 BAR), is surprisingly quiet at 69 dBA!

OSHA Chart

Another drawback for the blower powered Air Knives is the air volume and velocity can be difficult to control since these are adjusted mechanically.

Some other important maintenance considerations are:

  • Filters must be replaced every 1 – 3 months.
  • Belts must be replaced every 3 – 6 months.
  • Blower bearings wear out quickly due to the high rpm requirements.
  • The Seals wear and can allow dirt and moisture to enter, couple that with high temperature environments and the bearing life will be reduced.
  • Blowers typically add heat to the air flow, making it unsuitable for cooling applications.

In contrast the award winning and highly efficient EXAIR Super Air Knife represents our latest generation of innovation that dramatically reduces compressed air usage and noise, with no moving parts!

The EXAIR Super Air Knife is a great way to clean, dry or cool parts because they deliver a uniform sheet of laminar air flow across it’s entire length with force that can range from a gentle breeze to extreme hard-fitting force!

EXAIR Super Air Knives highly engineered design entrains ambient air at a ratio of 40:1.  This simply means that for every (1) part of compressed air supplied (40) parts of ambient air are pulled into the compressed air stream exiting the nozzle.

How Air Knife Works

1). Compressed air flows into the plenum of the Super Air Knife.  The flow is directed to a precision slotted orifice.

2). As the air-flow exits the air gap it follows a flat surface that directs the air flow in a perfectly straight line.  This creates a uniform sheet of air across the entire length of the Super Air Knife.

3).  Velocity loss is minimized and force is maximized as the room air is entrained into the primary air-stream at a 40:1 ratio.  This all results in a well defined sheet of laminar air-flow with hard hitting force.

Advantages of the Super Air Knife

  • Very Quiet, typically 69 dBA for most applications
  • Minimal Compressed air consumption
  • 40:1 air amplification
  • Uniform air flow across the entire length
  • Force and flow are variable
  • No moving parts – therefore maintenance free
  • Easy mounting – compressed air inlets are conveniently located on each end and the bottom
  • Compact design, rugged design and very easy to install
  • Recessed hardware
  • Stock lengths up to 108″ in Aluminum (max temperature of 180°F/82°C), 303SS or 316SS (max temperature 800°F/427°C)
  • PVDF is available up to 54″ long for superior corrosion resistance (max temperature 275°F/135°C)

EXAIR’s Super Air Knife is also a great replacement for other commonly used, but highly inefficient and noisy compressed air operated devices.

As an example, two commonly used blow-offs are the drilled pipe and flat air nozzles installed into a pipe.  EXAIR performed a head to head test employing the EXAIR Super Air Knife, Blower Powered Air Knife, Drilled Pipe & Plastic Flat Nozzles mounted in a pipe.

Below are the results of that test from a very common application, blowing water off bottles.  As shown in the First Year Cost Column it becomes clear that the true cost of ownership needs to be considered.  Many plants are surprised at how efficient the EXAIR Super Air Knife is compared to other alternatives.

AirKnifeComparisons

Another important consideration is how effective these other blow-off methods are.  The drilled pipe and flat air nozzles have “dead spots” where the air flow is non existent leaving some of your product wet and/or dirty.

When you are looking for expert advice on safe, quiet and efficient point of use compressed air products give us a call.   We would enjoy hearing from you.

Steve Harrison
Application Engineer
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Where Can’t I Use An EXAIR Super Air Knife?

Considering the material options available, there are very few places you CAN’T use a Super Air Knife. Most often, we find those to be due to extreme elevated temperature, like this one:

A caller from a glass manufacturing company wanted to replace a drilled pipe in a cooling application. Thing is, glass makers deal with their product in molten form, which is HOT…the ambient temperature that this drilled pipe is exposed to reaches 800°C, or 1,472°F.  Because of the temperature, and corrosive atmospheric elements (SO2 is also present, as if the heat wasn’t bad enough,) they have to replace the drilled pipe every so often, and wanted to explore other solutions.

Now, this was a rare case where a Super Air Knife would not have necessarily offered an improvement over a drilled pipe:

  • The air flow from the drilled pipe is primarily straight from their compressed air system.  Since the Super Air Knife entrains air from the surrounding environment at a rate of 40:1, the resultant flow would be very close to the 800°C ambient temperature…and not as effective at cooling as the much cooler compressed air supply temperature.  It wouldn’t have helped to reduce consumption if it simply didn’t work.
The Super Air Knife takes a supply of compressed air (1), discharges it through a gap that runs the length of the Air Knife (2,) and entrains an enormous amount of “free” air from the surrounding environment (3.)
  • Another great thing about the Super Air Knife is that it’s dramatically quieter than any other method of compressed air blowing.  Of course, if you find yourself in a 800°C sulfur dioxide environment, hearing protection is the least of your concerns.

    When supplied at 80psig, the EXAIR Super Air Knife produces a hard hitting, powerful curtain of air, with a sound level of only 69dBA.
  • EXAIR Super Air Knives (and all of our Intelligent Compressed Air Products) are compliant with OSHA Standard 1910.242(b) which limits the outlet pressure of a compressed air blowing device used for cleaning to 30psi…this protects personnel from high velocity debris and air embolisms.  Again, not a concern in an unoccupied (and uninhabitable) space.

Again, that’s a rare case…a very specific exception to a broadly inclusive rule, in light of the options EXAIR offers.  Consider:

  • Aluminum Super Air Knives are durable, lightweight, and suitable for most any installation in a typical industrial/commercial environment.  They’re good to 180°F (82°C) and are fitted with stainless steel fasteners to eliminate corrosion in damp environments.  The polyester shim can be replaced with a custom stainless steel shim, increasing the temperature rating to 400°F (204°C) if needed.
  • Type 303 Stainless Steel Super Air Knives offer higher tensile strength, and are good to 800°F (427°C.)  They are popular in applications with factors like high heat, corrosive environments, frequent spray down cleaning, outdoor installations, etc.
  • Type 316 Stainless Steel Super Air Knives are often specified in food and pharmaceutical applications, due to their even higher resistance to chemical attack and pitting.  They’re also rated to 800°F (427°C) and have the same high tensile strength as the Type 303 Stainless Steel models.
  • Some situations call for better corrosion resistance than these high grades of austenitic stainless steels – and that’s where EXAIR’s PVDF Super Air Knife comes in.  Fitted with PTFE shims and Hastelloy© C-276 hardware, they are especially well suited for processes involving the harshest of corrosive agents, such as electroplating, solar cell manufacturing, and lithium ion battery production, just to mention a few.  They would, in fact, be ideal for the SOenvironment at the glass factory, if it weren’t for the temperature…they’re rated to 275°F (135°C.)

Performance is identical, regardless of construction materials, and all EXAIR Super Air Knives come in lengths from 3″ to 108″ (except PVDF…those go up to 54″ lengths) and ship quickly from our well maintained inventory.  Aluminum and Stainless Steel models can be coupled together for even longer flow lengths.  Plumbing Kits and Universal Air Knife Mounting Systems make for easy and quick installation, and all Super Air Knife Kits come with an Automatic Drain Filter Separator, a Pressure Regulator, and a Shim Set for reliability, clean air flow, and total performance control.

If you need a reliable, cost effective, safe, quiet, and efficient curtain of air, EXAIR’s Super Air Knives are what you’re looking for.  If you’d like to discuss a particular application and/or product selection, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Super Air Knife with a Plumbing Kit Removes Gypsum from a Conveyor Belt

Plumbing Kits

A gypsum facility was having issues in losing powder from the tailings in their conveying system.  The conveyor moved gypsum from their processing plant to an outside silo bin location for loading and transportation.  The conveyor that they used was 60” wide.  As the conveyor went around the end to dump the gypsum powder, some of the material would stick to the belt and collect on the floor underneath.  Depending on production rates, they would have to stop the operation to clean up the floor which added additional hours for custodial work.  The customer sent a picture of the problem and wondered if EXAIR could help them with this application.

The facility did an annual cost projection to determine the loss of money from the gypsum material collecting under the conveyor.  The custodial cost to clean up the excess powder was roughly $45,000/year.  The unscheduled downtime was estimated at 115 hours per year.  (They did not share the loss of dollars in production to EXAIR.)  But it was large enough that they needed a solution from EXAIR.  (The photo below is similar to the same application as written by Lee Evans: “EXAIR Super Air Knives Improve Process in an Aluminum Rodding Shop“.)

Powder collecting under conveyor

I suggested a model 110260PKI Super Air Knife Kit for this application.  The Super Air Knife was 60” in length to cover the conveyor belt.  The kit included a filter, a regulator, and a shim set to “dial” in the minimum amount of force to remove the material.  This gives the customer the most flexibility when using an EXAIR Super Air Knife.  The “PKI” suffix at the end of the model number indicates our Plumbing Kit.  This kit which is Installed on the Super Air Knife allows for ease of installation to compressed air connections and it also allows for the proper airflow to get a consistent blow-off across the entire length of the Super Air Knife.

At EXAIR, we pride ourselves in energy efficiency.  Compressed air is expensive to make, so why not use it as efficiently as you can?  The Super Air Knife has a 40:1 amplification ratio which allows 40 parts of ambient “free” air for every 1 part of compressed air.  And, with the “dirty” environment at the gypsum facility, the Super Air Knife would not be affected as they do not require a motor that can fail or a maintenance program to perform.  After installing the model 110260PKI, the gypsum powder was no longer collecting on the floor underneath.  If we look at the cost of removing the hourly rate of the custodian, the Return on Investment, ROI, was only 27 days (and this did not include the increase in production rates).

Spillage is wasteful, costly, and time consuming to cleanup.  If you have excess waste from your conveying system, EXAIR will have the product to help you.  For the gypsum facility above, the Super Air Knife Kit made it possible to increase production efficiencies with a short ROI.  You can contact an Application Engineer to review your application and see if we can improve your conveying operation.

John Ball

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