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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Vac-u-Gun: Low Cost Vacuum, Blowoff and Transfer

What is the Vac-u-Gun?  It is a low cost solution to many types of cleaning operations within an industrial setting.  The Vac-u-Gun is a vacuum gun, a blow gun, and a transfer tool, all-in-one! It is lightweight, easy to use, has durable die cast construction, and best of all, no moving parts to wear out. Simply hook up to a compressed air hose, and get to work.

Vac u Gun Hose

The Vac-u-Gun contains a nozzle insert that dictates the direction of air flow and operation. By simply unscrewing the the cap, reversing the orientation of the nozzle insert, and re-installing the cap, the gun is changed from a vacuum device to a blowoff device, and vice-versa.

vac u gun orientation
Reverse the direction of the nozzle insert to change from vacuum to blowoff

The Vac-u-Gun can be used in three modes- Vacuum, Transfer and Blowoff-

Vacuum Mode – Vacuum shavings, absorbents, sawdust, or spills into a reusable bag, or into a receptacle via the vacuum hose. Why blow it off and the have to sweep it up later?

Transfer Mode – Transfer small parts, pellets, or trim over long distances, using the smooth bore vacuum hose.

Blowoff Mode – Blow chips, water, coolant, or scrap away from the work area. The large 1-1/4″ diameter outlet directs the air over a larger area in less time. The Vac-u-Gun uses less compressed air than an ordinary blow gun.

Vac-U-Gun Specifications

There are many advantages to a Vac-u-Gun, and some are:

Low cost, no moving parts/maintenance free, durable die cast construction, easy to switch form vacuum to blow mode, safe – no electricity, meets OSHA pressure requirements, lightweight and portable, versatile, and quiet.

Versatile!  In just seconds, the Vac-u-Gun can transform from a powerful, handheld vacuum tool into an efficient blow gun or transfer tool for lightweight materials. Each Vac-u-Gun System comes with the attachments needed to suit numerous industrial applications.

Three (3) Vac-u-Gun System options are available and shown below-

Vac-u-Gun System Options

All of the Systems include the Vac-u-Gun, brush, crevice tool, skimmer tool and (2) extension wands.

The Model 6192 Collection System also includes the reusable bag with clamp for debris collection.

The Model 6292 Transfer System also includes the vacuum hose, for transferring the debris to a collection point.

The Model 6392 All Purpose System also includes both the reusable bag and clamp and the transfer hose, providing the most versatility of all.

To view a video that shows the Model 6392 All Purpose System, and demonstrates how it works, please view the video below-

 

If you have questions about the Vac-u-Gun or any of the 16 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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Super and Adjustable Type Air Amplifiers

The EXAIR Air Amplifiers are a powerful, efficient and quiet air mover, whose power can be harnessed for blowoff, cooling and ventilation applications. Using a small amount of compressed air, air amplifiers pull in large amounts of surrounding air to produce a high volume, high velocity outlet flow.  Quiet and efficient, output flows with amplification ratios of up to 25 times are possible. There are two types, the Super Air Amplifier and the Adjustable Air Amplifier.

The Super Air Amplifier, with sizes ranging from 3/4″ to 8″, has a patented design (patent #5402938) that uses a special shim to maintain critical position of the components parts. It is through this critical gap setting that a precise amount of compressed air is passed at exact intervals controlled by the shim toward the center of the of the Super Air Amplifier.  The jets of air create a high velocity flow across the entire cross sectional area, which in turn pulls in large amounts surrounding air, resulting in the amplified outlet flow.  Because the outlet flow remains balanced and minimizes wind shear, sound levels are typically three times lower than other types of air movers. The shims are available in thicknesses of 0.003″ (supplied as standard), 0.006″ and 0.009″, and changing to a larger shim will increase the force and flow of the outlet air. The 8″ Super Air Amplifier is supplied with a 0.009″ shim, with a 0.015″ shim available.

2″ Super Air Amplifier and Patented Shim Design

For high temperature applications (up to 700°F/374°C) a special 1-1/4″ High Temperature Air Amplifier is available, with performance equal to the 1-1/4″ Super Air Amplifier. Its surfaces are protected from heat stress by a mil-spec coating process. The High Temperature Air Amplifier is highly effective at pushing large amounts of hot air to areas that typically remain cool.

The Adjustable Air Amplifier, with sizes ranging from 3/4″ to 4″, does not use a shim, and has an infinitely adjustable air gap, which regulates the air consumption and outlet flow from a light breeze to a powerful blast. A highly effective air mover, it can be tailored to meet the exact air flow and force of your specific application. They are available in aluminum and in stainless steel (Type 303) for food service, higher temperatures (400°F/204°C) and corrosive environments.

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2″ Adjustable Air Amplifier, in Aluminum or Stainless Steel

Force and flow of the Adjustable Air Amplifier is changed by loosening the knurled lock ring and turning the exhaust end to open or close the gap.  Once the desired force and flow is achieved, the knurled ring can be tightened to lock the device at the current setting. Typically, an air gap of 0.002″ to 0.004″ provides the required performance.

The table below summarizes the key features of the Super Air Amplifier and Adjustable Air Amplifier.  Please contact an Application Engineer if you need assistance in making a selection.

Air Amp Selection Chart

Note that EXAIR can manufacture special Air Amplifiers to your specification including special flanged mounting style or with a PTFE plug to avoid sticky material build up.

To discuss your application and how a Super or Adjustable Air Amplifier or any EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Product can improve your process, feel free to contact EXAIR, myself, or one of our other Application Engineers. We can help you determine the best solution!

Brian Bergmann
Application Engineer

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Super Air Knives – A Plethora of Materials and Sizes

EXAIR manufactures the line of air knives known as the Super Air Knife. We pride ourselves on the wide array of material types and lengths that we offer, all from stock.

The Super Air Knife is the latest generation of engineered air knife that dramatically reduces compressed air usage and noise when compared to other blowoffs.  It is a very efficient way to clean, dry, or cool parts, webs, or conveyors.  It delivers a sheet of laminar air flow across the entire length, with a smooth and consistent delivery of air.

gh_Super Air Knife 750x696

In order meet process environments that may be hot or corrosive in nature, EXAIR offers the Super Air Knife in four standard materials.  The materials for stock air knives are aluminum, Type 303 stainless steel, Type 316 stainless steel, and PVDF (Polyvinylidene Fluoride.) Aluminum is well suited for a wide variety of environments where corrosion or contamination is not a factor. Type 303 stainless steel is a very common grade of stainless steel, and is good for mildly corrosive environments up to 400 °F. Type 316 stainless steel offers excellent corrosion resistance, better strength properties, and resists pitting. It can handle temperatures up to 800°F.  Lastly, the PVDF air knives offer many benefits including resistance to UV light, inorganic chemicals, solvents, ozone, acids, weak bases and salts and can withstand temperatures up to 275°F.  If there is a certain material required, EXAIR can also do custom Super Air Knives and have done them in PVC and other plastics.  Check out this write up about a very unique custom material Super Air Knife that we made.

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Glass Filled PEEK Super Air Knife with Brass Hardware and PTFE Shim (Click Here or on Photo)

Not only is there a wide offering of materials of construction to meet the process needs, the Super Air Knives are available in many lengths to fit into the space available. From stock, we offer Super Air Knives in these lengths-

3″, 6″, 9″, 12″, 18″, 24″, 30″, 36″, 42″, 48″, 54″, 60″, 72″, 84″, 96″, and 108″

If a special length knife is needed, or one longer than the 108″, the Super Air Knives can be coupled utilizing the stocked Air Knife Coupling Kit to join multiple air knives as needed. If space is an issue, and certain length that is not stocked is needed, just give us a call –  we can manufacture them to your specifications, to the exact length that you need.  It takes just a few days and then the Super Air Knife of exactly the proper length will be on its way.

If you have questions about the Super Air Knives, or would like to talk about any of the EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air® Products, feel free to contact EXAIR and myself or one of our Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.

Brian Bergmann
Application Engineer

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EXAIR’s Super Air Knife Performs Well at Low Cost for Blowoff

There are many ways to blowoff, cool, and/or dry materials.  A few of these methods are the drilled pipe, an array of flat nozzles, using a blower driven air knife and the EXAIR Super Air Knife.  We’ll examine each in further detail, for blowoff of water after a bottling cleaning operation.  Testing was done at 60 PSIG of supply pressure.  The blower utilized a 10 hp motor and was a centrifugal type spinning at 18,000 RPM.  Sound levels were taken with product not present to test the sound of each of the blowoff types.

SAK black1 (2)

pipe-black (2)Drilled pipe is a common blowoff because it is very inexpensive and easy to make.  But drilled pipe performs poorly.  The low cost to make the drilled pipe is quickly outpaced by the inefficiency and high compressed air costs.  The holes are easily blocked and the noise level is excessive, both of which violate OSHA requirements.  Also, the air pattern across the length can be very inconsistent, with areas of low flow and areas of turbulent flow.

flatnozzle (2)Flat air nozzles installed along a length of pipe is another inexpensive option, but it can be a poor performer.  The flat nozzles are available in many materials, from many manufacturers.  The flat nozzles do offer some efficiencies, but similar to drilled pipe, the operating costs and noise levels are high. Air pattern across the length can be inconsistent with areas of high and low flows, leading to incomplete drying or cooling. Also, many of these nozzles are made from plastic material which breaks or cracks when it it hit which causes additional expense and maintenance to replace broken nozzles.

blower (2)A blower air knife can prove to be an expensive and noisy option.  Typically, the initial purchase price is high.  Operating costs are lower than the drilled pipe and flat nozzles and in line with the Super Air Knives.  The blowers can be very large and space for two 3″ diameter hoses requires extra mounting space compared to low profile other options. Noise levels are high, at 90 dBA.  Annual costs for bearing and filter maintenance can be significant.

gh_SAK_750x696EXAIR Super Air Knives performed exceptionally well in removing the water in one pass due to the strong, laminar flow of air.  Sound level was low at just 69 dBA, well within OSHA requirements for an hour 8 hour exposure time. Safe operation is assured, as the Super Air Knife design cannot be dead-ended.  Maintenance costs are low, as the Super Air Knife has no moving parts to breakdown or wear out.

Air-Knife-Blowoff-Comparison
** A pair of 12″ Super Air Knives was used for this comparison

Ultimately, the Super Air Knife is a low cost way to blowoff, dry, clean and cool.

If you have questions about Super Air Knives, or would like to talk about any EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air® Product, feel free to contact EXAIR and myself or one of our Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.

Brian Bergmann
Application Engineer

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EXAIR Super Air Knives Provide more Benefit than Blower Air Knives for Green Bean Processing

A customer who was experiencing some issues with a blow off process in their facility contacted EXAIR for a solution. This customer performs post-harvest processing operations on green beans and other vegetables after they’ve been picked. They were having a problem being able to remove excess moisture after the beans had been washed in cold water and keep additional moisture from forming once packaged. The process involved green beans exiting a wash cycle and moving along a belt conveyor. From there, they are dried by a series of blower style air knives. Shortly after being blown off, the beans are weighed and bagged. Once bagged, it was determined that there was too much moisture inside the package and they could not be shipped.

One common issue with blower style knives, and the fundamental issue in this application, is that the air is heated as it moves through the blower. Depending on the type of blower, outlet air temperatures in excess of 180°F are normal. The effect, in this case, was similar to a convection oven where hot air is circulated over the food to cook it. While the beans were not exposed for a long enough time to actually cook, the high temperature air exiting the blower was enough to raise the temperature of the beans. This caused additional moisture to come out from inside the beans after they were bagged and sealed. This is a condition that the customer wanted to avoid because it would lead to the beans drying out and losing their freshness which is a quality issue for the customer.

A second problem was the turbulent airflow from the blower knives causing the beans to be blown all around on the conveyor. The customer effectively had no control over how forcefully the airflow from the blower powered air knives impacted his product. They were either full-on or full-off. This resulted in less than desirable results from a dryness perspective and also caused damage to the product from the high impact disturbance of the blower air knives.

After talking it over with the customer and learning the specifics of the application, we determined that EXAIR’s Super Air Knife Kit Model 110212SS is able to address both of these issues. The airflow would be at ambient temperature, keeping the product at a desired colder temperature. The blowing force could be precisely adjusted with a pressure regulator so as not to cause damage to the product and provide a laminar airflow to strip the water from the product.

EXAIR’s Super Air Knives are available in 303 or 316 grade Stainless Steel to meet the more stringent requirements of many food grade applications. They also operate at a far lower sound level than blower powered air knives, are more compact for easier mounting, and do not involve the purchase of a blower package and associated ducting.

gh_SSSAK_750x696
Model 11006SS Stainless Steel Super Air Knife

Our Application Engineers can work closely with you to resolve any issues you may be having, even if compressed air isn’t currently a part of the process. If your process involves washing, drying, conveying, or packaging food or other products and you can relate to any of the issues above, please keep EXAIR Corporation in mind as a viable solutions provider. Contact an Application Engineer today and we’ll do our best to help you solve your application problems.

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

The Thing About 100 MPH Fastballs

A few weeks ago, I wrote about an awesome Sunday afternoon at the ballpark. Today, dear reader, I want to write about something completely different: An awesome Tuesday evening at the ballpark. My youngest son and I went with his Knothole Baseball team with tickets purchased through The Kid Glove Way, a charitabler organization that has partnered with the Cincinnati Reds since 1949 to ensure that local youth have equipment to play baseball & softball, regardless of their financial situation.

redlegs

The weather was perfect, and my Reds got off to a great start: Leadoff batter Billy Hamilton hit one into the left field corner for a triple. Now, this would have been a double for most any other player – proven out by Reds’ sluggers Todd Frazier and Brandon Phillips, who both hit balls in almost the exact same location as the night progressed, and both ended up on second base. But not Hamilton…he’s FAST – the fastest runner in Major League Baseball by most accounts. If you have the opportunity to see this guy run in person (he IS coming right along as a hitter, so the odds are increasing), I highly recommend it…television doesn’t do his speed justice.

The rest of the game dragged on in a pitcher’s duel…not the most exciting spectacle in the wide world of sports…but the crowd took notice when Reds’ closer Aroldis Chapman started warming up in the bullpen. “The Cuban Missile” caught a line drive in the eye during Spring Training, which fractured his skull…thing about a 100 mph fastball; it goes the other way just as hard if the batter turns on it well. It was cool to be there for his second game back after recovering from that serious of an injury.

So there we were, top of the ninth inning, score tied 1-1, and Chapman strikes out the first two batters. The Padres’ Chase Headley came to the plate, took a ball, fouled one off, and drove the next pitch over the left field fence. Thing about 100 mph fastballs…

The Reds’ offense came up short in the bottom of the ninth, and they lost. It was still an awesome night at the ballpark with my son, though.

The thing about 100 mph fastballs reminded me of the thing about open ended compressed air blow offs: there’s no way to generate an air flow with a higher force, but that’s not always a good thing. They’re loud, unsafe, inefficient, and wasteful of your compressed air. Conversely, EXAIR’s Intelligent Compressed Air Products, such as our Super Air Nozzles, Super Air Knives and Super Air Amplifiers, are all specifically designed to use MUCH less compressed air, meet OSHA standards for dead end pressure and permissible noise exposure  and still produce a highly effective air flow for blow off, cooling, drying, etc. Sure; the air flow from these products doesn’t have the force of what you get from an open pipe, but the fact that these engineered products entrain so much “free” air from the surrounding environment into a laminar (as opposed to the open pipes’ turbulence), high velocity flow, make them an ideal choice for most any air blowing application. Not to mention, they’re also much quieter, and ensure compliance with OSHA directives concerning the use of compressed air for cleaning purposes.

The Reds will be in and out-of-town for the rest of the season, trying to solve the different equations for beating different opponents. We’re here every day, looking to help you solve your unique compressed air applications. Batter up!

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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