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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EXAIR Celebrates Manufacturing Day With A Win For A Manufacturer

In 2012, the National Association of Manufacturers organized an effort to proclaim the first Friday in October (hey, that’s today!) as Manufacturing Day.  According to the Advanced Manufacturing National Program Office (a division of NIST, the National Institute of Standards & Testing,) the purpose of MFG Day is “to raise awareness among students, parents, educators and the general public about modern manufacturing and the rewarding careers available.”

Today is kind of a big deal around here.  Not only is EXAIR Corporation a manufacturer, but many of the companies that use our products are as well.  A lot of us have a rich story, woven into the cloth of the history of American manufacturing (which, in turn, is woven into the larger cloth of American history.)  Have you heard the one about the motivated inventor with an idea to make innovative products who started an operation out of his home that, with inspired direction & vision, became a worldwide leader in their industry?

Yeah; that’s us.  Today, we’re honoring Roy Sweeney’s legacy (he founded the company in October 1983,) and celebrating MFG Day, by publishing a new Case Study, proving out the benefits of the use of EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products in regard to the monetary savings associated with the reduction in compressed air use, and the noise level reduction from the implementation of our engineered products.

You can download the complete Case Study here, but while we’re on the subject, here’s a basic rundown:

  • A roll forming operation used to blow off their product with a combination of loud and inefficient devices: copper tubing and modular flexible hose which is designed primarily for machine tool coolant, but often misapplied for use with compressed air.
  • It worked just fine, but an engineering study noted it as a potential wasteful use of compressed air.  That’s when they called us.
  • By replacing those blow offs with Model 1100 Super Air Nozzles and Model 1122 2″ Flat Super Air Nozzles, their noise levels dropped from 107 dBA to 83.8 dBA.  To put that in perspective, it went from the approximate sound level of a rock concert to that of a leaf blower. (ref: Centers for Disease Control & Prevention: What Causes Hearing Loss?)
  • Compressed air consumption dropped by more than half, from 190 SCFM to 86.8 SCFM…an annual savings of over $3,200.00.  All for an investment of $654.00 (2020 pricing) for those engineered Air Nozzles, Stay Set Hoses, and Magnetic Bases.  That means they’ll have paid for themselves in just under two months.
  • In addition to that, for participation in this Case Study, we’re giving them a generous credit on their order.  Happy Manufacturing Day!

And frankly, I think the engineered products just look better too.

Last but certainly not least, this reduction in compressed air usage decreases the load on their air compressors, reducing the electrical power consumed.  Product impact, along with our own consumption of resources and waste recycling, is a key component of EXAIR Corporation’s Sustainability Plan.  We’re making the world a better place, by making products that make the world a better place, using methods that make the world a better place.  I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Manufacturing Day.  If you want to get in on it, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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MFG Day logo courtesy of nist.gov

Super Blast Safety Air Gun Improves Cleanup Process

I had the pleasure of helping a caller out with a cleanup problem not long ago.  Normally, calls involving cleanups involve a discussion of how our Industrial Housekeeping Products might replace an electric shop vacuum or sump pump, but this one was about replacing a broom…with a Super Blast Safety Air Gun.

Now, I need to mention that the folks at Compressed Air Challenge have a list of Inappropriate Uses Of Compressed Air.  Using compressed air for cleaning is on that list, and I couldn’t agree more…as a blanket statement, that is.  Of course, the last paragraph of their document makes it clear that good judgement can, and should, always rule the day: “if safety enhancements, significant productivity gains, or labor reductions will result,” they say, a compressed air solution is certainly worth considering.

That’s exactly what the caller and I did.

See, he works in an equipment service shop.  Their technicians make the company money through billable labor – the time they spend fixing their customers’ equipment.  Of course, they have to spend time on tasks that aren’t billable to jobs…like tool maintenance, paperwork, and keeping a clean shop.  A particular item from a shop audit that caught his attention was the amount of time spent sweeping the floor in the welding area.  Not only did slag & dust get all over the floor out in the open, it accumulated under tables and behind the welding machines themselves.  This meant that technicians had to get down on their hands & knees, and reach brooms under those tables.  Not only was this cumbersome; it wasn’t even 100% effective…when replacing a machine recently, they discovered a surprising amount of debris in a “blind spot” that the broom just couldn’t reach.

After a discussion of the engineered Super Air Nozzles that are available on the Super Blast Safety Air Guns, the caller liked the idea of the Model 1213-7-3.  The hard hitting, tight air flow pattern of the Super Air Nozzle Cluster at the end of a 3 foot extension gave the perfect combination of power & reach for his application.

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

So, at the end of the day, (literally…that’s cleanup time, right?) a task that previously took about 10 minutes for them was reduced to just under two minutes.  Of course, that doesn’t figure in the cost of the compressed air.  The Department of Energy uses a thumbrule that states it costs $0.25 to generate 1,000 Standard Cubic Feet of compressed air.  At 98 SCFM @80psig, the Super Blast Safety Air Gun’s Cluster DOES use a decent amount of compressed air, so we did the math:

98 SCFM X 2 minutes X $0.25/1,000 SCF =   $0.049

We didn’t need to get in to payroll records, employee benefit packages, etc., to realize that an 80% reduction in labor, improved cleanup (air reaches where the brooms couldn’t,) and worker satisfaction (no more crawling along the floor beside the tables) was worth a nickel a day.

The Super Blast Safety Air Gun can be fitted with a variety of Super Air Nozzles, from our Model 1112 3/4 NPT Super Air Nozzle (4.5lbf at 12″) , to our Model 1120 1-1/4 NPT Super Air Nozzle (23lbf at 12″).

As an Application Engineer, I’m always looking for the best ways to apply our products, and quantify the benefits.  If you call me to discuss an application and the math doesn’t prove it out, I’ll let you know.  If you have a task you’re considering a compressed air solution for, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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