Industrial Air Gun Accessories For Safety And Convenience

The words “safety” and “convenience” are rarely synonymous. Many times, in fact, they are seemingly at odds with one other:

  • Decades of data absolutely prove the importance of wearing a seat belt in a motor vehicle. In the dead of winter, when I’m wearing a heavy coat and gloves, it can be cumbersome to pull that belt across me and fasten it without removing those gloves that are protecting my sensitive hands from the brutal cold. I do it anyway, and so should you.
  • I don’t own a boat, but I have friends that do, and I find it hard to pass up an invitation to spend a nice summer afternoon water skiing, tubing, or just cruising down the river. Life vests on a hot sunny day are perhaps just as cumbersome as seat belts. No matter how good you can swim, though, there’s a big difference between jumping in the water for a refreshing dip and being thrown into the water after a collision with an unseen object. If you’re unconscious, or even just disoriented, that vest will save your life.
  • If you work in an area where you’re supposed to wear safety glasses (even if they fog up) or ear plugs (actually, if they’re uncomfortable, you have the wrong ones…or you’re using them wrong), they’re a miniscule inconvenience compared to losing your sight or your hearing.

Notice I said “seemingly at odds” above, because safety doesn’t HAVE to be inconvenient. I could trade my old bulky insulated gloves for a newer pair made of thinner material that still have decent insulation. People who boat regularly will have properly sized life vests (instead of one-size-fits-most) with snap buckles (instead of pull straps). There are a number of different styles of safety glasses and anti-fogging treatments for the lenses, for long term use in most any environment. Likewise for hearing protection – whether you like the headset-style that covers the ears, or plugs that insert into your ear canals, there are comfortable designs, and some neat technology that cancels harmful sound frequencies so you can even carry on a conversation, even in a loud environment.

EXAIR Corporation has a long history of adding convenience to compressed air use, while remaining well within the confines of safety (that’s something we don’t cut corners on in our products, operations, or company culture) and efficiency. We’ve got accessories, add-ons, tools, etc., for most of our product lines. It’s quite prevalent in our Safety Air Guns product line, and for good reason – there are a number of areas where some flexibility regarding the use of handheld tools not only add convenience, but also contribute even further to their safe use. Consider:

  • Reach. When blowoff needs to happen inside, behind, under, or over an obstruction, extensions are available for any EXAIR Safety Air Gun, so operators can keep their hands free of the obstruction, especially if it’s hot, sharp (or otherwise potentially harmful) or just dirty or wet.
  • Cleanliness. While they’re usually specified to comply with OSHA regulations regarding proper chip guarding while using compressed air for cleaning, Chip Shields also prevent the nuisance of getting yourself dirty or wet from blown off debris. They’re available on all our compressed Air Blow Guns except for the Super Blast models.
  • Reach, part 2. A particularly nifty little option on the Soft Grip Safety Air Guns is the ability to use a Stay Set Hose (as opposed to a Rigid Extension) for extra reach. Let’s say you have to get back to, and behind, an obstruction for blowoff. Simply bend the end of the Stay Set Hose to the angle required, and you’re in business! They come in lengths from 6″ to 36″ long.
  • Stubborn debris. Among the new products that EXAIR has introduced over the past few years, this one is my personal favorite: the Soft Grip Super Air Scraper. We took our 2″ Flat Super Air Nozzle and put a steel scraper blade on it, which assists the air flow by scraping (as the name implies) caulk, gaskets, sealants, tape, paint, etc., off the surface, as the air flow blows it away! It’s the perfect “one-two punch” for applications like these.
In addition to a variety of engineered Air Nozzles, you can customize your EXAIR Safety Air Gun with Chip Shields, Extensions, Stay Set Hoses, etc., to meet the particular needs of a specific application.

If you already have serviceable air guns that operators are used to and comfortable with (first law of human nature is “change is bad,” right?), all of our Super Air Nozzles have NPT threads…you may only be an adapter away from installing them on your existing devices. Speaking of adapters, we also stock a number of the “usual suspects” – an EXAIR Application Engineer can help you determine what your air guns’ existing threads are.

Thumb guns are convenient and inexpensive. Ones with cross drilled nozzles (left) are compliant with the first part of OSHA 1910.242(b). Fitting one with an EXAIR Chip Shield (center) makes it compliant with the second part. A Model 1102 Mini Super Air Nozzle (right) makes it quiet & efficient.

EXAIR Corporation offers a broad selection of quiet, safe, and efficient compressed air products, and one of the most comprehensive selections of handheld solutions in the industry. Whatever your need for a Safety Air Gun is, we most likely have you covered. Call me; let’s talk.

Russ Bowman, CCASS

Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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6 Important Factors when Choosing a Safety Air Gun

If you look at operating costs alone, compressed air can be just about the most inefficient method there is for cleaning parts. If you just look at the risks, it’s potentially very dangerous too. Don’t even get me started on the insufferable noise it can make.

For cleaning parts, most folks are familiar with the use of an air gun. You can find the simplest of these in many industrial settings: a valve (often in the form of a handheld trigger device) fitted with a nozzle of some sort (often in the form of an open ended tube, pipe, or fitting to focus or direct the air flow). These have all three of the “downsides” I opened this blog with. Of course, these concerns can be mitigated to a high degree by using the right tool for the job. That’s where engineered products like EXAIR Safety Air Guns come in. Let’s look at how we can address these three “downsides”:

Efficiency: This is all about compressed air consumption. In the simplest of air guns mentioned above, consumption is only limited by the passages in the valve (or trigger) and the discharge fitting…and those limits are usually negligible. Modifying the ends (see examples below) to focus the air flow usually has minimal effect, because you’re not appreciably changing the total cross sectional area of the discharge opening:

Here are a few modified thumb trigger air guns that were sent in for Efficiency Lab testing. Left to right, compressed air consumption at 80psig supply pressure was 34.2 SCFM, 30.9 SCFM, and 28.2 SCFM. For comparison (more on this later,) EXAIR Model 1210 Soft Grip Safety Air Gun uses only 14 SCFM and generates a very similar flow pattern.

Safety: Remember learning about kinetic and potential energy in grade school? Well, when you compress air to 100psig, fitting all that air into a much smaller space creates a TREMENDOUS amount of potential energy:

The block on the left represents a cubic foot of air at atmospheric pressure. The one on the right represents how much space the first one takes up when compressed to 100psig. The energy imparted by this process HAS to be handled with care.

One problem with the thumb guns above is, if you were to jam into the palm of your hand and pull the trigger, a large component of that potential energy (pressure) turns into kinetic energy (force)…more than enough to break the skin and cause a potentially fatal condition known as an air embolism. In the United States, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) regulates compressed air devices used for cleaning purposes. All EXAIR Safety Air Guns comply with Standard 1910.242(b) by providing a relief path to ensure that it cannot be dead ended, and thus never create over 30psi measurable at the outlet)

EXAIR Super Air Nozzles cannot be dead ended, ensuring the outlet pressure won’t reach OSHA limits, regardless of supply pressure.

Noise: Another problem is, another component is turned into sound pressure…discharging air from a direct opening is quite loud. OSHA standards address these with limitations on outlet pressure and sound level. All EXAIR Safety Air Guns comply with Standard 1910.242(b), which limits the outlet pressure (by providing a relief path to ensure that it cannot be dead ended, and thus never create over 30psi measurable at the outlet) and all but our largest Super Blast Safety Air Guns comply with Standard 1910.95(a) limits for continuous 8 hour sound level exposure.

Which brings us to the topic of this blog: How exactly did THEY (our customer who used to use the thumb guns above) select the right Safety Air Gun, and how can we apply that to getting the right Safety Air Gun for YOU?

These steps aren’t all-inclusive, and they don’t necessarily need to be followed in order, but if you call an EXAIR Application Engineer about selecting a Safety Air Gun, here’s what we’re gonna talk about:

Ergonomics: We offer five distinctive styles of Safety Air Guns:

From small part cleaning by hand, to wide area blowoff, and all points in between, EXAIR has a Safety Air Gun for most any application.

Our thumb gun user (as I alluded to above) chose the Model 1210 Soft Grip Safety Air Guns (top right). They had a number of typical industrial applications where the operators had the parts or surfaces to be blown off right in front of them. They liked the integral storage hook and rubberized hand grip, but the VariBlast Compact (top middle) or Heavy Duty Safety Air Guns (bottom left) were also considered. The VariBlast Precision (top left) and Super Blast Safety Air Guns (bottom right) were too focused or more powerful, respectively, than needed.

Airflow pattern: Honestly, I could make a good case for this being the first consideration. Selection of any blowoff product – be it an Air Nozzle, Air Amplifier, Air Knife, Air Wipe, etc., will largely depend on the size and shape of the airflow.

variety of airflow patterns…and effective distances…are available from EXAIR’s comprehensive line of Super Air Nozzle products.

Application specific concerns: Everything we’ve discussed so far has involved aiming the blow off stream away from the operator, in the direction the device is aimed. In addition to wide variety of engineered Air Nozzles, EXAIR offers a number of options for these products:

Atto Back Blow Nozzles can blow out recesses or holes as small as 1/4″ in diameter.
Scrape off, and blow away, stubborn debris with the Model 1244-48 Soft Grip Super Air Scraper.

If you’re looking for a portable, hand-held compressed air blow off product that’s quiet, safe, and efficient, look no further than EXAIR Corporation’s extensive line of Safety Air Guns. If you’d like to find out more, give me a call.

Russ Bowman, CCASS

Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Benefits and Options for Safety Air Guns

EXAIR Safety Air Guns are available, from stock, with Chip Shields.

Throughout industrial environments, there are often manual cleaning or blow-off applications that are performed with compressed air. These operations vary in frequency, intensity, and how critical to the operation they may be.

When it comes to OSHA standards and comfort of operators, many of the solutions found in manufacturing do not meet the standards and are dangerous to operators.

This is where EXAIR steps in and focuses on the end application while coupling a high performing engineered solution with an ergonomic and safe handheld safety air gun. In other words, EXAIR safety air guns are safe, easy to use, and typically reduce compressed air consumption. Currently, we offer four types of handheld safety air guns.

The VariBlast Compact Safety Air Gun:

This is my personal favorite in our current lineup of safety air guns.  The compact size fits comfortably in the hands of operators. The multi-finger trigger with patented VariBlast function is easily controlled for extended periods of time. The VariBlast Compact Safety Air Gun also has two compressed air inlets. This gives the ability to plumb compressed air into the bottom 1/4″ FNPT port or the top 1/4″ FNPT which a safe way to run air hoses for virtually any work station. The 1/8″ NPT outlet permits enough airflow to operate up to our High Power 1″ Flat Super Air Nozzle all the way down to our Atto Super Air Nozzle.  The patented design also delivers variable flow from any of the nozzles attached to operate anywhere from a gentle breeze up to a forceful blast.

The VariBlast Compact Safety Air Gun can also be coupled with an extension up to 72″ lengths as well as the Chip Shield to meet or exceed OSHA standards for compressed air cleaning.

The Soft Grip Safety Air Gun:

This safety air gun is the next step up in size and options as far as force and flow of compressed air go. The four-finger trigger and integrated hook design make this safety air gun ideal for industrial environments where a little more force is needed from the air to blowoff products.  The Soft Grip Safety Air Gun offers a 1/4″ NPT female thread inlet on the bottom and is available with up to an 1106 1/2″ Large Super Air Nozzle on the discharge.  This will deliver up to 60 SCFM of compressed air and provide 3.3 lbs of force from 12″ away.  The Soft Grip Safety Air Guns are also available with up to a 72″ extension and a chip shield.

Heavy Duty Safety Air Guns

Heavy Duty Safety Air Gun with extension.
eg. 1350-72

The Heavy Duty Safety Air Gun is even more robust than the Soft Grip Safety Air Gun and showcases a 3/8″ NPT female inlet to provide enough airflow to operate up to our model 1106 Large Super Air Nozzle as well to provide 60 SCFM  of airflow and provide 3.3 lbs of force.  Extensions are available in lengths up to 72″ with the addition of the chip shield.

 

Super Blast Safety Air Guns

Super Blast Safety Air Gun makes short work of large area cleanup.

The final Safety Air Gun offered is the Super Blast Safety Air Guns which are offered in four different NPT sizes. Ranging from 3/8″ NPT up to 1-1/4″ NPT and flows and forces from 56 SCFM providing 3.2 lbs of force up to 400 SCFM giving off 23 lbs of force.  These are available with an optional 3′ or 6′ extension to provide a robust blast for the heaviest cleaning or blowoff operation.

No matter the application, or amount of debris, EXAIR Safety Air Guns have an option that will fit the need while providing a safe and efficient solution. If you would like to discuss these further, please contact us.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

Chip Shields, OSHA, And You

Safety is a key part of our culture at EXAIR Corporation.  We have regularly scheduled, all-hands required, safety training on a number of topics.  Our Order Entry team can likely tell you as much about our lockout/tagout procedures as our Machinists can.  Nobody even thinks about entering The Shop without safety glasses, and it’s not just because of the signs.

We pay attention to these…

…so we don’t ever have to use this.

OSHA 1910.242(b) states that “Compressed air shall not be used for cleaning purposes except where reduced to less than 30 p.s.i. and then only with effective chip guarding and personal protective equipment. (emphasis mine)  All EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products are engineered to meet the requirements of the first part (30psi outlet pressure to prevent dead ending…we’ve written about that numerous times, including here, here, and here) and we can also provide pre-installed devices to satisfy the second part:  the EXAIR Chip Shield.

Any EXAIR VariBlast or Heavy Duty Safety Air Gun can come fitted with a Chip Shield, and any Soft Grip Safety Air Gun, except for those with Stay Set Hoses, can as well.  Safety Air Guns with Back Blow Nozzles automatically come with a Chip Shield. The principle is simple: a clear polycarbonate (so you can still see what you’re doing) round disc slips over a short (or long if you want) pipe extension between the gun & the nozzle.  It’s fitted with a rubber grommet so you can position it to where it’s most effective – sometimes that might be closer to the part being blown off; sometimes it may be back a little closer to the operator.

EXAIR Safety Air Guns are available, from stock, with Chip Shields.

If you already have an air gun that’s doing the job, you can easily add an EXAIR Chip Shield to it.  They’re made to fit a wide range of extension diameters, and can even come with the extension if you need it.  We also stock a number of adapter fittings; if you know what threads your air gun has (or if you can send us some photos) we can quickly & easily spec those out for you.

Convenient and inexpensive “thumb guns” with cross drilled nozzles (left) are compliant with the first part of OSHA 1910.242(b). Fitting one with an EXAIR Chip Shield (center) makes it compliant with the second part. A Model 1102 Mini Super Air Nozzle (right) makes it quiet & efficient.

We can provide a Chip Shield for most any device with a threaded fitting. I couldn’t find a way to re-use the non-OSHA-compliant nozzle that came with this gun (thank goodness.)

Another example of a larger air gun fitted with a more powerful cross drill nozzle (left) that can be made totally OSHA compliant with an EXAIR Chip Shield (center.) An EXAIR High Force Super Air Nozzle (right) keeps the power, while reducing noise level and compressed air consumption (right.)

Since 1983, EXAIR Corporation has been manufacturing quiet, safe, and efficient compressed air products for industry (emphasis mine.)  If you have concerns or questions about safety in regard to your compressed air use, call me.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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