Playing Card Manufacturer Gets Dealt a Bad Hand from Static Electricity

Okay, so I’m not talking about counting cards in Las Vegas, like was shown in the movies Rain Man or 21. I’m talking about how a manufacturer of playing cards may count them. I visited a manufacturer of playing cards. It was fascinating learning that they only use specific relative humidity cardstock for certain geographic locations. It totally makes sense once I thought about it, send a “wet” card to a dry geographic location and it will warp or shrink, send a “dry” stock to Atlanta and you’ll get wrinkled swollen cards once they hit the humid air. This manufacturer handled every aspect of the cards. They always ran into issues when it came to a single production line.

This production line would take the printed sheets of cards, which would get placed in a large stack then fed through a cutter that would result in columns of cards, then stack and cut the columns into single cards. They would then get stacked again and the machine would then fan them out. The machine used two friction band conveyors to move the cards at a high rate of speed. They moved so fast it looked as though they overlapped. It was only when you fixated on a single card and followed it you would see it was separated by a few inches from the next.

This machine would stack all the cards up then separate them to each number and suit by dropping them into a chute. Next, it would drop the cards out of those chutes and recombine them into a stack of eight complete decks of cards. It would box them, label it and spit it out. They then went to casinos. This machine was a static nightmare when running dry card stocks during the winter months in the dry air.

Model 7905 Digital Static Meter

The cards would stick together, double feed, and really just leave the company with a bad hand. When I visited though, I had an Ace up my sleeve. I had a Static Meter and a Gen4 Ionizing Point in my possession. The static meter was used to identify the highest static levels in their process, and the Ionizing Point, which we were able to easily hold within 2″ of the cards where they were first jamming. Which was the very first fanning operation. Once the Ionizing Point was installed at this location, rather than seeing any misfeeds or jams within the first 3 stations, the problem moved to “drop station number five”. We then added another to just before the fifth station and saw improvements down to station nine.

Friction / Attachment / Detachment Static

The key observation here was that it was not possible to eliminate the static throughout the entire process. This is because there is a constant generation of static due to friction of the belts sliding under the cards and the cards being stacked then slid out from one another. As soon as the cards would leave the ionized 2″ radius around the Gen4 Ionizing Point the static would begin to regenerate on the surfaces. While it wouldn’t immediately reach a problematic point for this process, it would build up over the course of a few stages. This is why it is critical to place a static eliminator at the point it is causing the problem, rather than just at the beginning of a process, and then assuming static will not come back.

Gen4 Ionizing Points

In order to reach the solution, we implemented an Ionizing Point at each location that was experiencing an issue. The number of finished decks the company was able to produce, increased. They moved on to the packaging station and made their way into the casinos.

If you would like to discuss a Gen4 Ionizing Point or any point of use compressed air process / manufacturing process, please let us know.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer

Static Eliminator Selection Example

I like jigsaw puzzles. I start with the outside…there’s something to be said for establishing the boundaries of any project…but I don’t necessarily work my way in from there. Oftentimes, a number of same-colored pieces go together quickly, and I make a little part of the big picture somewhere in the middle. If it’s a big enough picture and/or if there’s a sufficient number of pieces, I might get a few of those little parts going on, until some of them get joined together. Once that happens, the big picture develops faster & faster, and before I know it, the puzzle is solved.

As an Application Engineer for EXAIR, a jigsaw puzzle is an apt analogy for assisting a customer in selecting the right solution to an application. A recent situation proved what a good analogy this is: a caller from a custom label making shop needed to eliminate static from a bunch of thin Mylar film that was die cut into special little shapes so they could be laid out in specific arrangements. You know…like a jigsaw puzzle!

Now, there aren’t many better ways to generate a static charge than doing ANYTHING to Mylar. The magnitude of static charge created by the cutting process is downright vicious. As difficult as it was to put the first piece in place, it was IMPOSSIBLE to keep it there when they put the NEXT piece down adjacent to it. Same thing with the piece after that, and the piece after that, etc. They needed something to remove the static, and that something turned out to be an EXAIR Ion Air Knife. By installing a Model 8106 6″ Gen4 Standard Ion Air Knife along one side, they were able to gently blow a ‘whisper’ of ionized air that moved the freshly cut pieces from the die cutter’s platen so the operator could then lay them out to make the desired label design.

Gen4 Standard Ion Air Knife

So, how did we arrive at the Gen4 Standard Ion Air Knife? Wouldn’t the more efficient & quieter Super Ion Air Knife be the “go to” solution? In an awful lot of cases, it certainly is. A couple of things made the Standard Ion Air Knife more attractive here:

Profile-wise, a Gen4 Standard Ion Air Knife takes up less than half the space of a Gen4 Super Ion Air Knife.
  • Compressed air consumption: if this were an application for a continuous 36″ wide ionized air curtain in a fast moving product application with a high static charge, we’d have talked about the difference in consumption, at a high pressure (like 80psig) for the two different Ion Air Knives:
    • 36″ Super Ion Air Knife: 104.4 SCFM, or 12,528,000 standard cubic feet per year*
    • 36″ Standard Ion Air Knife: 123 SCFM, or 15,350,400 standard cubic feet per year*

*Eight hours a day, five days a week, 52 weeks a year. Assuming a compressed air cost of $0.25 per 1,000 standard cubic feet, that’s an operating cost difference of:

(15,350,400 – 12,528,000) SCF X $0.25/1,000 SCF = $705.60 per year.

  • In this case, though, it’s a 6″ Ion Air Knife, blowing a short puff of ionized air a few times a minute, at about 5psig supply pressure…anything more would blow those small mylar pieces all over the place:
    • 6″ Super Ion Air Knife: 1.85 SCFM, or 23,088 standard cubic feet per year*
    • 6″ Standard Ion Air Knife: 1.5 SCFM, or 18,720 standard cubic feet per year*

*Three 2-second cycles per minute, eight hours a day, five days a week, 52 weeks a year. Assuming a compressed air cost of $0.25 per 1,000 standard cubic feet, that’s an operating cost difference of:

(23,088 – 18,720) SCF X $0.25/1,000 SCF = $1.09 per year.

  • Sound level: again, this would be a prime consideration if they were operating at higher supply pressures. But, at the lower pressure necessitated by this application, the Standard Ion Air Knife’s 66dBA, a second or two at a time, is hardly noticeable.
  • Price: The purchase price (2021 pricing) of the Standard Ion Air Knife was ~17% less than the Super Ion Air Knife. Normally, we’ll talk about the operating cost…but not when the difference (see above) is just over a buck a year.
  • Air flow pattern: Since a curtain of ionized air was a good fit for this application, an Ion Air Knife (Super or Standard) was the logical choice. If a more concentrated flow was called for, we’d have used an Ion Air Cannon or Ion Air Jet. If they were looking for something handheld, a Gen4 Ion Air Gun or Intellistat Ion Air Gun would have been offered. For static dissipation on the entire circumference or perimeter of a part, we’d have talked about a Super Ion Air Wipe. The size & shape of the air flow, in fact, is frequently where we “start the negotiations” on product selection…sort of analogous to starting with the outside border pieces of a jigsaw puzzle!

EXAIR Corporation has a broad range of Static Eliminators, that are just one part of our diverse offering of Intelligent Compressed Air Products. If you’ve got questions, we’ve got answers…give me a call.

Russ Bowman, CCASS

Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Jigsaw Puzzle (detail) photo courtesy of James Petts Creative Commons License

Gen4 Ion Air Cannon for Static Neutralization in Tight Spaces

Gen4 IAC removing static from the inside of bottles

The lower relative humidity associated with the cold, dry air of winter results in a significant increase in calls related to static problems. Luckily, EXAIR has a wide-range of Static Eliminators that are designed specifically to address static issues in a variety of industries. Materials such as paper, plastic, or textiles will normally contain an equal number of both positive and negative ions. When subjected to friction, this balance can be disturbed if the atoms gain or lose an electron. This gaining/losing of an electron causes the atom to be electrically imbalanced.

The static charge will then exert a force on nearby charged objects or grounded conductors (including personnel). These issues can also manifest in the form of dust clinging to product, product clinging to itself, rollers, machine beds or frames, materials jamming, and sheet feeding problems. Our Gen4 Static Eliminators have undergone independent laboratory tests to certify that they meet the rigorous safety, health, and environmental standards of the USA, European Union and Canada that are required to attain the CE and UL marks.

One of these such products is the Gen4 Ion Air Cannon. EXAIR’s Gen4 Ion Air Cannon neutralizes static charges at distances up to 15 feet without any moving parts. Utilizing EXAIR’s 2” Super Air Amplifier, the Ion Air Cannon will maximize ionized airflow while minimizing compressed air consumption. The strong, concentrated, quiet, and efficient ionized air is capable of eliminating a 5kV charge in as little as .37 seconds.

Ion Air Cannon removing static from in between plastic sheets

The compact design saves space and allows it to be mounted in confined areas on walls, machine frames, bench tops, etc. The stand is pre-drilled for easy mounting, and incorporates a swivel adjustment to precisely position the airflow. Some examples of applications that have required the assistance of an Ion Air Cannon include: removing static from motorcycle bodies prior to paintingstatic removal on PCB boards, and disposable diaper manufacturing. When mounting space is even more confined, EXAIR’s Ion Air Jet may also be a good solution.

With a wide variety of Static Eliminating products available from stock, don’t wait for your static problems to subside when humidity levels come back up in the spring. Get yourself a Gen4 Static Eliminator from EXAIR and make sure you’re able to operate, static-free, for the rest of this winter and in the subsequent seasons to come!

Tyler Daniel
Application Engineer
Twitter: @EXAIR_TD

SHOCKING NEWS – Sunday, January 9th is National Static Electricity Day… It’s time to celebrate!!!


What a fun day to celebrate. As a kid, I used to shuffle across the carpet and shock my sisters. I don’t do that anymore – you could say that I am “ex”static… My kids bought me a new sweater for Christmas, I couldn’t get rid of the static no matter how hard I tried. The store gave me a new one – no charge… I was going to blog about the top 10 static electricity facts, but the first one shocked me, so I went another direction.

OK sorry for the bad jokes, but we have all experienced static electricity in one way or another, and I hope I put a smile on your face for this ‘current’ holiday.  Many of us have pulled clothes form the laundry that were very clingy, rubbed a balloon on our clothes and stuck it to a wall, and have either been the kid in the picture above, or seen that reaction in person.  But what is static electricity?  In a nutshell it refers to an imbalance between positive and negative charges on the surface of non-conductive objects.  But what does that really mean?

Let’s start by defining “static electricity”

1) Static- lacking in movement, action, or change.

2) Electricity – a form of energy resulting in the existence of charged particles such as protons or electrons.

3) Static electricity – a stationary electric charge. We will come back to that…

At the dinner table a couple of days ago, I asked my 7th grade daughter what she was learning in science. She said “matter” – I said “what’s a matter”… Ok, ok I will stop with the bad jokes (that really did happen though). She started telling me about how all objects are made from Atoms.  Atoms are made up of protons, electrons and neutrons.  I was shocked (again sorry) because I knew I was about to write about this exact subject.

Now to further her explanation of matter and make it more relevant to this blog, we will look a little deeper. Protons are positively charged; electrons are negatively charged and neutrons – well they are neutral.  We could therefore say that all matter is made up of charges.  We also know that opposites attract (negatives to positives) and like charges repel each other like the same side of a magnet.  Most of the time these charges balance out and make an object neutral.  But… static electricity occurs when these charges are out of balance.

This brings us back to our definition of “static electricity” – a stationary electric charge. When an object’s surface has more protons it is positively charged and when it has more electrons it is negatively charged, but either way that charge is not happy and it just sits there statically until something happens. When 2 or more non-conductive surfaces touch – the atoms start moving (think friction, shaking, rubbing) and attracting or repelling from each other creating charged particles or electricity… This “static” electricity is sitting there waiting, and searching for a way to discharge. This discharge can have a wide array of repercussions from a zap on the nose, pushing like charged particles away, sparking a nearby object, all the way to a lightning strike.

These atoms are not happy – they long to be neutral and stable. In order to calm down, they need to be become neutral. Each extra proton needs to find an electron and get married, find a house in the suburbs and live happily ever after. Then the world (or at least that surface) is happy again.

So far we have talked about simple day to day items that are effected by static electricity. But in industry static can cause major production and safety issues and can be a frustrating issue to solve. I’m sure you have all seen the effects of static electricity in the workplace, from dry winter days in the office, to the massive production problems. Some of the production and process problems static can create include products sticking together or pushing apart on the assembly line, products and packaging attracting debris, personnel getting shocked, sensors misreading, ink jet printing and sheet or web printing quality deteriorates and in extreme circumstances static can start fires.

There are several ways to eliminate static electricity. The best solution for you is very much dependent on your specific application. Adding moisture or humidity is one way, grounding the surface is another way. Remember that this static electricity is caused by the surface protons and electrons looking for their soul mate – they are unhappy, upset and looking to attract an opposite charged particle to make itself happy (neutral). EXAIR has a perfect solution. Our Gen 4 Ionizing products emit a plethora of both protons and electrons, flooding your surface area with an abundance of both. All (or nearly all) of your unhappy friends find a mate and Boom!! Bob’s your uncle – AKA, your static is neutralized.

Regardless of the nature of the application, if you’ve got a static problem, EXAIR has a solution! Click here to get our latest white paper for controlling and understanding static electricity.

Have a happy Static Electricity Day – please reach out to discuss our Ionizing products. I will be happy to discuss our ‘current’ prices, and you will not be ‘shocked’ by the results. I promise to give you a ‘no charge’ quote, and share with you ‘watts’ new.

In honor of this Holiday, we are offering a special promotion on these products through February 28, 2022, click here to shop our promotion.

Brian Wages, Application Engineer
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Photo: Child Trampoline courtesy of Ben_Kerckx Pixabay License, Photo: Girl-English Dictionary courtesy of Libellul789 Pixabay License, Photo: Colorado Storm Courtesy of Pixabay Pixabay License