Another Label Problem, Another Super Air Knife Solution

Last week, I used this space to brag on our Super Air Knives, and how they solve a common problem in bottling applications: label adhesion. This week, I have another opportunity to brag on the Super Air Knife. AND it’s another solution to a labeling problem.

Self-adhesive labels are commonly applied to goods are they travel on high speed conveyors. If they’re going onto a flat, smooth surface (like a box,) it’s pretty easy…they come right off a timed roller with a wheel that presses them in place. This can even work with round containers (like drums, jars, or bottles) by putting an idler on the wheel to take up the slack as it rolls over the rounded surface.

Sometimes, the label needs to go around the corner of a box. This requires the roller to turn that corner. Or two rollers to pull the old “one-two” on the label. Either way, that’s going to slow down the speed at which the conveyor can be run. And time is money.

Enter the Super Air Knife…mount it so it’s blowing at the corner. The laminar, high velocity air flow will then press the label in place on each adjacent surface.

With a laminar curtain of air traveling as fast as 13,500 feet per minute, an EXAIR Super Air Knife is the ideal solution for corner labels.

Another benefit: when supplied with clean, dry air, the Super Air Knife will run darn near indefinitely, maintenance-free. Those rollers get dirty, and the bearings will fail eventually. Same with the idlers, and they’ll need adjusted from time to time.

Super Air Knife Kits include a Shim Set, Filter Separator, and Pressure Regulator…everything you need for long term operation & performance.

The Super Air Knives come in lengths from 3″ to 108″ – if you’d like to discuss how these, or any of our Intelligent Compressed Air Products, can make a difference in your processes, give us a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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Super Air Knives Make Beer Bottle Labels Stick; EFC Optimizes Efficiency

The Super Air Knife has been featured as the cover photo of every EXAIR Compressed Air Products catalog since I got here in 2011…except for Catalog #26 in 2013, which featured the Super Ion Air Knife. BIG difference, right there.

The highlighted application photos may change from catalog to catalog, but one that always remains is the iconic (I think, anyway) image of the Super Air Knives blowing off the orange soda bottles:

This is a darn-near ‘textbook’ application for the Super Air Knives…the even, laminar flow wraps around the bottles, stripping moisture away. Among other reason why this is important, it improves the next step in the process – the labels stick better.

One of the many simple and effective ways an EXAIR Super Air Knife is commonly used.

In my younger, intemperate days, I’d join my friends at a popular watering hole to celebrate special occasions like…well, Tuesday, for example. Sometimes, there’d be a ballgame on the TV, or lively conversation, to entertain us. Other times, we’d make a game out of trying to separate the labels from the beer bottles, in one piece.

Some years later, I tried to teach my young sons this game…except with root beer bottles. It didn’t work near as well, because these labels adhered much tighter to the root beer bottles in my dining room than the ones on the beer bottles at the bar.

Some years after that (those boys are teenagers now,) I became an Application Engineer at EXAIR, and found out that this drying-the-bottles-to-make-the-labels-stick-better thing was for real, because I got to talk to folks in the bottling business who told me that the Super Air Knives had made all the difference in the world for their operation.

Just the other day, I had the pleasure of helping a caller who operates a micro-brewery, and had just installed a set of 110009 9″ Aluminum Super Air Knives for the express purpose of (you guessed it, I hope…) making their labels stick better. The only thing that could make it better, according to them, was if they could use less compressed air, and they were interested in what the EFC Electronic Flow Control could do for them.

Click here to calculate how much you can save with an EXAIR EFC Electronic Flow Control.

As a micro-brewery, their production lines don’t run near as fast…nor do they want them to…as some of the Big Names in the business. As such, there’s some space between the bottles on the filling lines, and they thought that turning the air off, if even for a fraction of a second, so they weren’t blowing air into those empty spaces, would make a difference. And they’re right…it’s a simple matter of math:

Two 9″ Super Air Knives, supplied at 80psig, will consume 26.1 SCFM each (52.2 SCFM total). This microbrew was running two 8 hour shifts, 5 days per week. That equates to:

52.2 SCFM X 60 minutes/hour X 16 hours/day X 5 days/week X 52 weeks/yr = 13,029,120 standard cubic feet of compressed air, annually.  Using a Department of Energy thumbrule which estimates compressed air cost at $0.25 per 1,000 SCF, that’s an annual cost of $3257.00*

Let’s say, though, that the micro-brewery finds that it takes one second to blow off the bottle, and there’s 1/2 second between the bottles.  The EFC is actually adjustable to 1/10th of a second, so it can be quite precisely set.  But, using these relatively round numbers of 1 second on/0.5 seconds off, that’s going to save 1/3 of the air usage…and the cost…which brings the annual cost down to $2171.00*

*As a friendly reminder that the deadline to file our USA income tax returns is closing fast, I’ve rounded down to the nearest dollar.  You’re welcome.

That means that the Model 9055 EFC Electronic Flow Control (1/4 NPT Solenoid Valve; 40 SCFM) with a current 2017 List Price of $1,078.00 (that’s exact, so you know) will have paid for itself just short of one year. After that, it’s all savings in their pocket.

If you’d like to find out how much you can save with EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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Video Blog: EXAIR Swivel Fittings

A brief video showcasing the full EXAIR Swivel fittings offering. Each of the 9 Swivel Fitting models offers a 25° from center line adjustment for a total of 50° full range of adjustment. The Swivel fittings are an ideal accessory for a variety of EXAIR products.  For more product details see our product page.  For any questions or fitment suggestions contact an Application Engineer.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer Manager
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

Super Air Wipes Help a Swiss CNC Machine to be More Accurate

Precision Required

As machined parts require tighter tolerances, machine shops are starting to look at Swiss-type CNC machines.  These types of machines are extremely accurate and very fast in producing small parts.  But in order to reach that level of accuracy, the bar stock may have to be pre-treated by a centerless grinder.

Our customer was using Swiss-type CNC machines with guide bushings to produce a very tight-tolerance part.  Because they were using guide bushings, the outside diameter of the bar stock had to be smooth and concentric.  This helps to reduce any vibration when machining.  A centerless grinder was used to accomplish this.  The bar stock that they used was 10 feet long and it was placed into a bar feeder.  They had to grind the bar to an outer diameter of 30mm with a surface finish of 32Ra.  As they were loading the bar stock, they noticed that the surface finish was scuffed and marred.  This was enough to affect the machining process and not meet the tolerance standard.

As they reviewed the possible causes, they found that after the bar was ground, some grinding remnants were sticking to the outside of the bar.  As the rods were leaving the grinder and placed onto a roller-type conveyor, the oily film and metal shavings were sticking to the rollers.  This would scrape and mark the rods as they traveled along the conveyor toward the Swiss-type machining center.  As an attempt to remove this debris, they attached two copper tubes to blow compressed air onto the top and bottom of the bar.   Not only was this loud and inefficient, it was not effective.  They still had a dirty line along the sides of the rod that remained.  They contacted EXAIR to see if we could help them with this dilemma.

In order to get a consistent blow-off force around the entire circumference of the rod, EXAIR Air Wipes were engineered to be an ideal solution for this kind of problem.  I recommended the model 2482 Standard Air Wipe Kit.  The Standard Air Wipe is designed to blow compressed air in a 360 degree flow pattern.  This air pattern is directed at a 30 degree angle toward the center to blow the debris off of the bar stock.  The Coanda effect maximizes the entrainment of ambient air into the compressed air.  This makes the unit very efficient and powerful.  The model 2482 Standard Air Wipe has an I.D. of 2” (51mm) which gives it enough clearance for the 30mm bar stock.  It can be mounted easily near the exit of the centerless grinder to keep the grinding remnants inside the machine.  The kit includes a filter, regulator, and shim set.  The filter will remove contaminants from the compressed air system to keep from introducing any new grime and to keep the inside of the Air Wipe clean and functional.  The shim set and regulator provide the ability to adjust the air to the ideal force level and remove any debris from the surface of the bar.

Standard Air Wipe with Shim Set

As they removed their home-made copper tubes and attached the Standard Air Wipe, they noticed some great improvements.  The dark lines of debris previously along the sides of the bar stock were gone.  The surface was clean around the entire circumference of the bar.  The customer also noticed that the Standard Air Wipe was much quieter than their home-made solution, as it only has a decibel rating of 77 dBA.  As an added benefit, the Standard Air Wipe was using much less compressed air than the copper tubes.  This is due to its design to maximize the amplification ratio.  With more of the “free” ambient air than the compressed air being moved over the target area, it will save money in compressed air usage.  The ROI could be less than four months.

If you have any items that need to have a 360 degree blowing pattern, you can contact an Application Engineer at EXAIR to see if a Standard Air Wipe could work for you.

John Ball
Application Engineer

Email: johnball@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb
Picture: External-Micrometer-Screw-Gauge by Emilian Robert Vicol.  Creative Commons license

Offshore Pipe Welding Cooled with Series of EXAIR Super Air Nozzles

atoll_air-cooling-interpass-1

EXAIR model 1122 Flat Super Air Nozzles used to provide cooling blow off.

One of the services we provide to our customers, is assistance in selection of the most suitable product solution for their application.  For most applications we have solutions readily available from stock, though that wasn’t the case in the solution shown above.

atoll_air-cooling-interpass-6

This unique blow off solution cools welds on 450mm (18″) pipes.

This configuration of model 1122 Flat Super Air Nozzles is used to cool pipe welds in an application located off the coast of France.  Pipes with an OD of 450mm (~18”) are welded together, and in order for the welds to be of the highest quality, they must be cooled.  To cool the welds, this customer needed to blow ambient temperature air over the pipes.

atoll_air-cooling-interpass-9

Closeup of nozzles used in this application

Initially, we explored a Super Air Wipe solution.  A Super Air Wipe can provide a full 360° blow off for this pipe, but there was an aspect of the application which led to a better solution through nozzles; an irregularity in position of the pipe.

atoll_air-cooling-interpass-8

Another view of the 1122 Flat Super Air Nozzles

The diameter of the pipes in this application is relatively constant, but there is some fluctuation in position as the pipe is moved.  If using a Super Air Wipe, this could mean contact with a precision machined surface, resulting in a change to the performance of the unit.  But, what if we could find a way to allow the blow off solution to have some “flex”.

swivels

Flat Super Air Nozzles with swivels provide the unique solution needed for this application.

“Flex” in this solution is provided through the use of EXAIR model 9053 swivel fittings, shown above with red circles, each used to mount an 1122 Flat Super Air Nozzle (16 of each).  These allow for proper placement of the nozzles, and also for movement if anything should ever contact the blow off solution.

An additional benefit of the EXAIR 1122 nozzles used in this application, is the ability to exchange shims inside the nozzle to increase or decrease the amount of force delivered from the nozzle.

Understanding the critical requirements of the customer led to this semi-custom solution using EXAIR Super Air Nozzles.  If you‘d like to explore an EXAIR blow off solution for your application, contact an EXAIR Application Engineer.

Lee Evans
Application Engineer
LeeEvans@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_LE

Compressed Air Has Tremendous Power! Use It Safely

Just the other day, not far from here, a demolition crew at a shuttered factory and a local homeowner got this message, loud & clear, when the crew inadvertently cut into a still-pressurized compressed air cylinder.  It launched, like a missile (an apt description, given the fact that real missiles operate on this exact same principle) some 1,500 feet, across the neighborhood, and into the bedroom of a house, three blocks away.  Here’s what the local news reported on it:

Now, before you go turn your air compressor off and vent your system, let’s look at just a couple of other incredible dangers we place ourselves in close proximity to every day:

Driving a car: I came to work this morning in a 3,500lb mass of metal, plastic, and glass, hurtling at speeds of up to 65 miles per hour (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)  This would be an insane thing to do, were it not for:

*The engineering, design, and maintenance that makes the vehicle safe to operate,

*The training, experience, and periodic re-licensing required to maintain driving privileges,

*The upkeep of roadways, bridges, traffic signals, etc., and

*The monitoring and enforcement of traffic safety measures by our law enforcement officers.

Operating electrically powered devices:  if you’re reading this on a computer screen, you’re likely surrounded by objects that are connected directly to 120 volts of alternating current electricity.  That stuff will stop your heart.  Thank goodness all that current is contained, isolated, and grounded to keep it out of our bodies, even when we have to touch the controls to turn those devices on & off.

Food: Don’t even get me started on the hazards of ingesting plant & animal product that used to live outside and was processed for transport hundreds, or sometimes thousands, of miles away.  It’s a wonder any of us have made it this long.  Well, except for the development and rigorous implementation of food safety and sanitation practices & policy.

Working with compressed air is no different.  A typical plant compressed air system will operate at about 100psig.  That literally means that there is ONE HUNDRED POUNDS OF FORCE being exerted on EACH AND EVERY SQUARE INCH of the inside of the pipes, hoses, tanks, etc., in the system.  If you don’t keep it under control, you can have some serious problems.  Fortunately, there are simple, straightforward, and easily accessible ways to do that.

This is not going to be a comprehensive guide, but let’s start with:

Design: Your piping and components have to be the proper pressure rating.  We’ve got some good piping information on our websiteAlso, keep your vehicle well maintained, periodically check your electric devices for frayed cables, and look at your meat packages’ labels for a USDA stamp and “use by” date.

Our Compressed Air Piping web page is a valuable resource for safety AND efficiency (left.) Don't rely on smell or color; food package labels are your best indication of food safety (right.)

Our Compressed Air Piping web page is a valuable resource for safety AND efficiency (left.) Don’t rely on smell or color; package labels are your best indication of food safety (right.)

Controls: Make sure you’re using your compressed air safely.  OSHA Regulation 1910.242(b) governs the use of compressed air when used for cleaning purposes…it limits you to no more than 30psi of downstream, static pressure at the discharge of your blow off device.  EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products comply with this regulation, by design.  Also, watch your speed on the highway, don’t plug too many strands of Christmas tree lights in to one outlet, and always cook chicken to an internal temperature of at least 165F (73.9C)

EXAIR Super Air Nozzles are fully OSHA Compliant - certificated available upon request (left.) Your power strip and Christmas tree light strands should both be labeled with their amperage ratings. Check these to make sure you don't overload the circuit (right.)

EXAIR Super Air Nozzles are fully OSHA Compliant – certificate available upon request (left.) Your power strip and Christmas tree light strands should both be labeled with their amperage ratings. Check these to make sure you don’t overload the circuit (right.)

Personal Protective Equipment: Any time you’re working with compressed air, you should be wearing eye protection and using appropriate chip guards to keep flying debris from coming back at you.  Certain applications may require more safeguards…check with your compliance coordinator or supervisor to make sure.  Also, don’t shift out of ‘park’ without your seat belt fastened, take care to unplug any appliance before servicing it, and don’t skimp on a decent pair of oven mitts if you plan on making a lot of baked goods.

EXAIR Safety Air Guns can be fitted with Chip Shields for OSHA Compliance (left.) Oven mitts come in all shapes & sizes - it would be illogical to reach for that lasagna without them (right.)

EXAIR Safety Air Guns can be fitted with Chip Shields for OSHA Compliance (left.) Oven mitts come in all shapes & sizes – it would be illogical to reach for that lasagna without them (right.)

EXAIR has been making quiet, efficient, and safe compressed air products for 34 years now.  If you ever have any questions about the safe use of compressed air, give us a call and ask for an Application Engineer.  No; compressed air isn’t safe, in and of itself…but it CAN be used safely…and that’s the important part.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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ef2d_star_trek_oven_mitt picture courtesy of Cozinhando Fantasias

d2590-1 picture courtesy of US Department of Agriculture

Holiday fire safety – Power strip overloaded picture courtesy of State Farm

Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License

Bench Testing with Blowoff Kits

Last week, a customer connected with us online via the chat option.  He explained that he was working on a project to remove dust from parts on a table conveyor, situated in a 3 x 5 array. He had purchased the EXAIR Blowoff Kits model 1909SS and model 1910 and had been able to bench test and develop a blowoff system that was successful.  He was ready to scale the up design and procure a set of nozzles and swivels that would work in the automated process.

1909SS Blowoff Kit

Model 1909SS – Stainless Steel Blowoff Kit

blostation

Model 1910 – Instant Blowoff Station

 

The Blowoff Kits such as the Model 1909SS offer an easy way to explore the various nozzle types that EXAIR offers and to test the performance of each for Force, Flow and Sound Levels in your process or test environment.  Each nozzle will have particular traits, and identifying the one that most perfectly matches all your criteria can be done.

The Model 1909SS Blowoff Kit contains (7) different nozzles, all with stainless steel construction.  Included are (4) sizes of the Super Air Nozzle (10, 14, 35 and 60 SCFM capacities), the Micro Air Nozzle, the Adjustable Air Nozzle, and lastly, the 2″ Flat Super Air Nozzle.  A similar Blowoff Kit, model 1909, is available with materials of construction of zinc aluminum alloy, aluminum, and brass.

We have put together a detailed review of blowoff applications, available in the Third Edition of the Air Nozzles Blowoff Guide.  Inside, you can find the technical specifications of all of the Nozzles, Blowoff Kits, Flexible Stay Set Hoses, and Safety Air Guns, that might be of interest to you and your application.

blowoff guide

To Request a copy of the EXAIR Blowoff Guide click here

To discuss your application and how the EXAIR Nozzle and Jets can benefit your process, feel free to contact EXAIR and myself or one of our other Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.

Brian Bergmann
Application Engineer

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Twitter: @EXAIR_BB

 

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