Super Air Knife Makes EVERYTHING Better

When we compare the EXAIR Super Air Knife to other methods of providing a curtain or sheet of air flow in terms of operating cost, efficiency, safety, and sound levels, the Super Air Knife is ALWAYS the clear choice.

The EXAIR Super Air Knife is the most efficient and quietest compressed air blow off product on the market today.

The Super Air Knives successfully replace these, and many other methods of providing a curtain or sheet of air flow all the time, while saving compressed air and decreasing noise.  The word “replace” oftentimes means “do the same job as.”

What you’re about to read is NOT one of those times.

A paper products manufacturer has a machine that treats a specialty product, and the process generates ozone (O3) at levels that would exceed personnel exposure limits, so they need to be contained.  They installed a long piece of drilled pipe to blow an air barrier, but they could only run the machine at about 65% of their desired capacity before the ozone level in the operators’ area exceeded their limits.

This company was familiar with several of our product lines already…they had several Cabinet Cooler Systems, a Reversible Drum Vac, and Super Air Knives in a variety of applications, so they knew how they worked.  Since the barrier needed to be 120″ long, though, this was going to be a much larger scale than they were used to.

Not only was the drilled pipe loud and inefficient, it was not particularly effective either.

Still, the installation of two Model 110060 60″ Aluminum Super Air Knives, coupled with our Model 110900 Air Knife Coupling Kit, was quick and easy.  Then came the good part: they found they were able to operate the machine at 100% capacity, while keeping the ozone at a safe level in the operators’ area.

EXAIR Super Air Knives provided a total solution: quiet, efficient, and most of all, EFFECTIVE.

Then came the better part:  The machine was pretty loud (we couldn’t do anything about that,) at 93dBA when it was running.  With the drilled pipe in operation, it was 94.5dBA.  When they took that out and installed the Super Air Knives, there was no net increase in noise level…it remained at 93dBA.

THEN came the even better part: Compressed air consumption was reduced to about 30% of what the drilled pipe was using.  Right in line with our table above.  Just another validation of the trustworthiness of our published data.  As EXAIR’s President is fond of saying, “Claims are easy, proof is hard.”

If you’re looking for a quiet, efficient – and effective – solution for a compressed air product application, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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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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Drying Small Diameter Wires

An overseas company contacted me about an issue with drying copper wires.  Their production process utilized fourteen wire drawing machines in their facility.  They could make very fine wire in the range of diameters from 0.2mm to 2.6mm.  Some of their drawing machines were able to make a maximum of sixteen wires at the same time.

Each wire is made by a process of drawing and annealing.  The machine will draw a thicker copper wire through dies that will get progressively smaller in diameter.  Before the material goes through the dies, the copper is annealed to make it ductile and workable.  Annealing is a process of heating to make the material softer.

In this application, once the wire was to the correct diameter, it would go through a coolant bath to cool and harden.  To remove the coolant from the wires, it would travel over a set of drying cloths.  From there, the wire would travel out of the drawing machine and into a spooler.

The spooler places the wire onto a spool for packaging and shipping.  The reason that they contacted EXAIR was because the wires were not properly dried before it went to the spooler.  If any coolant was left on the surface, it would corrode the wires in that area.  They needed a better way to dry the wires because they started to receive complaints from their customers.

Site for Super Air Knife on exit of Wire Drawing Machine

When the company first contacted me, they had an interest in the Super Air Wipes.  The Air Wipes are designed to blow air in a 360 deg. pattern around the wire to dry the entire surface.  But, after getting more details about their process, the sixteen wires were coming out of the drawing machine at 1.75cm apart.

With the gap between the wires being so small, the Super Air Wipes would not be able to fit around each wire.  As another engineered solution, I recommended the Super Air Knives Kit, model 110212.  The Super Air Knives are 12” long (30.5cm) to span across all sixteen wires.  The kit includes a filter, regulator, and shim kit to accommodate different forces for different wire speeds.

The Super Air Knife can blow a laminar flow of air consistently across the entire width.  Air, as a fluid, likes to “hug” the surface.  Since the air stream isn’t turbulent, the contact time along the surface of the wire will be much longer; making it very effective at removing liquid.

I had the customer mount one Super Air Knife above and one Super Air Knife underneath, spanning across the entire row of wires.  They were positioned at a 45 deg. angle to blow in the opposite direction the wires were traveling.

Being compact, the Air Knives could be placed at a close distance near the drawing machine to blow the excess coolant back into the machine.  This would keep the floor clean and safe from coolant collecting on the ground.  So, no matter the diameter of wires being drawn through the machine, the Super Air Knives would be a non-contact way of drying the surface without having to use the drying cloths which were inconsistent and had to be replaced often.

Super Air Knife Drying Wires

If you require a non-contact way of keeping your product clean and dry, EXAIR has many products to tackle this.  No matter how large or small of a profile, we can efficiently and effectively accomplish this. You won’t have to replace items that wear or cause damage to your product by improper contact.  EXAIR has the ability to use compressed air to create a strong force without scraping or scratching your material.

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

Proper Supply Lines are Key to Air Knife Performance

A few weeks back I chatted with a customer on an Air Knife application where they were using our 48″ aluminum Super Air Knife to remove leftover dough from a baking pan. The knife was working somewhat, but they were seeing some residual dough being left in certain areas on the pans due to what they perceived as “weak” airflow. After reading through our catalog and installation guide, they noticed that there were available shim sets that would allow them to increase the gap setting to get more force and flow out of the knife.

Available in lengths from 3″ to 108″ in aluminum, 303ss or 316ss construction

Our aluminum Super Air Knives are shipped from stock with a .002″ shim installed. The optional shim set includes a .001″, .003″ and .004″ shim that would allow you to decrease or increase the performance. By operating the Super Air Knife with the .003″ shim installed, this would increase the force and flow by 1.5 times and using the .004″ shim would double the performance. Sometimes achieving greater force and flow may be required but with the customer saying they were seeing weak airflow, it seemed there may be a restriction on the supply side.

Super Air Knife with Shim Set

I asked the customer how the knife was plumbed and what size supply lines he was using. He advised that they were plumbing air to all 3 inlets on the bottom of the knife but they were using 3/4″ hose with a run of about 30′. I advised the customer that plumbing air to all 3 inlets is required for a 48″ Super Air Knife but we actually recommend 3/4″ Schedule 40 Pipe up to 10′ or 1″ pipe up to 50′. If using hose, he would need to go up a size to maintain a large enough ID to carry the volume required for the unit. In his case, since the length of the supply is close to 30′, he would need to use 1-1/4″ ID hose.

Improper plumbing line size is a common issue we deal with here at EXAIR. Using undersized supply lines can cause excessive pressure drops because they aren’t able to carry the volume of air necessary to properly supply the compressed air device. In this particular application, if the customer were to install either the .003″ or .004″ shim, while keeping his current plumbing size, the performance would actually be worse as now the lines are even more undersized due to the increased air volume requirement from the larger Super Air Knife gap.

If you are looking to change the performance with one of our Air Knives or if you would like to discuss a particular application or product, please contact one of our application engineers for assistance at 800-903-9247.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer
justinnicholl@exair.com
@EXAIR_JN

Proper Supply Line Size And Fittings Provide Peak Performance

Many times when we provide the air consumption of an EXAIR product, we get a response like…. “I’ve got plenty of pressure, we run at around 100 PSIG”. While having the correct pressure available is important, it doesn’t make up for the volume requirement or SCFM (Standard Cubic Feet per Minute) needed to maintain that pressure. We commonly reference trying to supply water to a fire hose with a garden hose, it is the same principle, in regards to compressed air.

When looking to maintain an efficient compressed air system, it’s important that you use properly sized supply lines and fittings to  support the air demand (SCFM) of the point-of-use device. The smaller the ID and the longer the length of run, it becomes more difficult for the air to travel through the system. Undersized supply lines or piping can sometimes be the biggest culprit in a compressed air system as they can lead to severe pressure drops or the loss of pressure from the compressor to the end use product.

Take for example our 18″ Super Air Knife. A 18″ Super Air Knife will consume 52.2 SCFM at 80 PSIG. We recommend using 1/2″ Schedule 40 pipe up to 10′ or 3/4″ pipe up to 50′. The reason you need to increase the pipe size after 10′ of run is that 1/2″ pipe can flow close to 100 SCFM up to 10′ but for a 50′ length it can only flow 42 SCFM. On the other hand, 3/4″ pipe is able to flow 100 SCFM up to 50′ so this will allow you to carry the volume needed to the inlet of the knife, without losing pressure through the line.

Pipe size chart for the Super Air Knife

We also explain how performance can be negatively affected by improper plumbing in the following short video:

 

Another problem area is using restrictive fittings, like quick disconnects. While this may be useful with common everyday pneumatic tools, like an impact wrench or nail gun, they can severely limit the volumetric flow to a device requiring more air , like a longer length air knife.

1/4″ Quick Connect

For example, looking at the above 1/4″ quick disconnect, the ID of the fitting is much smaller than the NPT connection size. In this case, it is measuring close to .192″. If you were using a device like our Super Air Knife that features 1/4″ FNPT inlets, even though you are providing the correct thread size, the small inside diameter of the quick disconnect causes too much of a restriction for the volume (SCFM) required to properly support the knife, resulting in a pressure drop through the line, reducing the overall performance.

If you have any questions about compressed air applications or supply lines, please contact one of our application engineers for assistance.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer
justinnicholl@exair.com
@EXAIR_JN

EXAIR Super Air Knives Helps Keep Labels on the Bottles.

Super Air Knife Blower Air Knife

Sometimes you need more power.  I received a phone call from a bottling facility that was currently using a blower style type of air knives.  They increased their production rate from 220 bottles/min to 300 bottles/minute, and they started to see issues in the labeling process.  Their operation consisted of a wash cycle, rinse cycle, drying cycle, then labeling.  They determined that the bottles were not getting dry enough during the drying cycle before the labels were applied.  They had a VFD (Variable Frequency Drive) for the blower system, and they reached the maximum rate.  Still the bottles were not getting dry enough to allow the label to stick to the surface properly.  This meant that they would have to increase the size of their blower system.  With the capital cost of a blower system, they decided to call EXAIR to see if we could help them with the drying application.

Compressed air is the best way for establishing a strong blowing force.  Instead of air pressures in the range of inches of water, the compressed air system can generate over 40 times the amount of pressure than a typical blower system.  EXAIR products uses this power of the compressed air to give you a wide range of blowing forces for drying, cooling, or moving products.  For the above application, I recommended two model 110212 Super Air Knife kits.  The kit includes the Super Air Knife, a filter, a regulator, and a shim set.  They mounted one knife on each side of the bottles to blow off and remove the liquid after the rinse cycle.  Even at the increased bottle speeds, the EXAIR Super Air Knives had no issues in keeping the bottles dry.  With the regulator and the shim, it was easy for them to dial in the correct amount of force without using excess compressed air.  The labels remained glued and the bottling process ran smoothly.  Because the company was impressed by the Super Air Knives, they wanted to comment on the comparisons between the blower knife and the Super Air Knife.

  1. Cost:
    1. Blower System – The reason for contacting EXAIR. Blower-type air knives are an expensive set up.  They require a blower, ducting, and a knife.  To have any flexibility, a control panel with a VFD will be needed.
    2. Super Air Knife – It is a fraction of the cost. With their system, we were roughly 1/10 the cost; even with the kit.  No capital expense report would be needed for the two air knives.
  2. Installation:
    1. Blower System – They stated that it took them a week to install the entire system before they were able to operate. They had to run electrical wires, controls, ducting, and they even had to change the conveying system slightly to accommodate the blower size.
    2. Super Air Knife – They mounted the filter and the regulator on the conveyor, and ran tubing to the Super Air Knives. Even with a fabricator making a bracket to fit into their system, they had the system up and running is less than two hours.
  3. Size:
    1. Blower System – The foot print of the blower is large and it takes up floor space. The 3” ducting had to be ran to an oversized air knife.  With the congestion of the bottle system, it made it difficult to optimize the position and the blowing angle to adequately dry the bottles.
    2. Super Air Knife – With the compact design, the Super Air Knife packs a large force in a small package. It has a footprint of 1 ¾” X 1 ½” X 12” long.  The air knife only required a ¼” NPT compressed air line to supply the compressed air.  It opened up the floor space as well as the bottling area.
  4. Maintenance:
    1. Blower System – The blower filter had to be changed regularly, and system had to be checked. Being that the blower motor is a mechanical device, the bearings will wear and the motor will fail over time.  These items should be checked quarterly as a PM which increase the cost to run the system.
    2. Super Air Knife – No moving parts to wear out. The only maintenance would be to change the filter once a year.
  5. Versatility:
    1. Blower System – They did have a VFD to control the blowing force. But it was still very limited.  With a 36% increase in the bottle speed, they went beyond the maximum capacity of the blower.
    2. Super Air Knife – With a regulator and the shim set, the blowing force can be controlled easily from a breeze to a blast. With their application, the customer only required 40 psig with a standard 0.002” shim to clean and dry the bottles.  They had the option to adjust the regulator or change the shim to get the appropriate amount of blowing force.  So, with any changes in the bottling operations, the Super Air Knife could easily be adjusted.  Also, with the blowing force being optimal from a distance of 3” to 12” from the target, they had more flexibility in angle and distance to hit the moving target.
  6. Quiet:
    1. Blower System – With the blower and turbulent air flow, the units are very loud. It had a sound level near 93 dBA, and with the operators working around the system, they needed PPE to protect them from the high potential of noise induced hearing loss.
    2. Super Air Knife – These units are very quiet. At 40 PSIG, the sound level is only at 61 dBA.  (Even operating at a pressure of 100 PSIG, the sound level is only 72 dBA).  This was very nice for the operators to work around as it wasn’t a constant noise nuisance.

In using the compressed air, the Super Air Knives are engineered to be very efficient.  The design creates a 40:1 amplification ratio which means that for every 1 part of compressed air, 40 parts of the ambient air is entrained.  But, even with the use of compressed air, the customer still wanted to share the ease of installing, the effectiveness of blowing, and the improvements to their process.  With the 6 points noted above, the customer wished that they would have contacted EXAIR at the beginning.

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

Two Birds With One Stone (and A Shim)

Blowing off bottles is such a popular application for the EXAIR Super Air Knife, it’s been featured on the cover of our Catalog…several times…and is the “banner” pictures on the Super Air Knives page on our website:

This always makes me thirsty for orange soda.

I had the pleasure of helping a caller from a bottling plant recently with just such an application.  Thing is, they run a couple of different size bottles, and it’s not a very big facility…they didn’t want to, or have room to, install different lengths of Air Knives, and also didn’t want to waste air flow when they were running the shorter bottles.

9″ Air Knives were required for the taller bottles, but their shorter bottles were a little under 6″ tall.  They had considered buying both 6″ and 9″ Air Knives, but called me to see if there was a less expensive, and possibly, easier way.  (There is!)

EXAIR makes, and stocks, every product in our 208 page catalog right here in this building in Cincinnati, Ohio.  We also make custom parts when the need arises…and custom Air Knife shims were the solution to this customer’s application.

By installing two Model 110009 9″ Aluminum Super Air Knives, one on either side of the conveyor (just like the photo above,) they’re able to blow off the taller bottles.  When they run the shorter bottles, they change out the shims for ones that limit the flow to a 6″ curtain.

So…for a little under $50.00 (2017 cost for those custom shims,) they’re going to save almost $550.00 per year in compressed air costs – AND make sure that their compressed air system is optimized & available for other loads throughout the plant.

EXAIR offers the Super Air Knife in lengths from 3″ to 108″, with a 0.002″ shim installed.  They’re ideal for most industrial and commercial blow off applications, right out of the package.  If your application calls for something a little “outside the box,” you may only be a shim away from success.  If you have such an application, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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