A Week of Winning – Not Involving Charlie Sheen

Some more excitement around the Edwards’ household last weekend, you know, the big Pinewood Derby weekend. After already taking my boys to Grandpa’s house for a day of cutting and sanding; we spent the night before the big event working on the final touches.

We concentrated on the finer things, the “tweaks”. First, polishing the axles to decrease friction between the axles and wheels. We made sure to have just slightly too much weight; we think it is easier to remove weight than add it at the official weigh in. So we ended up at 5.05 ounces for each car, the limit is 5.00 ounces. We also made sure to get the wheels level and square to the car and covered all the friction surfaces with a liberal supply of graphite lubrication.

Concentrating on the finer points paid off for my boy in his last year of competition. He has learned from his peers and from attending past derbies what to concentrate upon. He is naturally inquisitive and observant so he had a few ideas of his own this year – where he would like to add weight to his car, what shape he thinks will be fast etc… And those things paid off for him as he took first place among the Webelos, I couldn’t be happier for him.

Some more excitement around the Edwards’ workplace as well as more of the EXAIR team’s hard work has been rewarded. EXAIR has learned that our PEEK Super Air Nozzles are again a finalist for engineering innovation and creativity in product design from Design News. We are happy to be a finalist for the 2011 DesignNews Golden Mousetrap awards.

And much of this recognition is attributed to a similar process at EXAIR as compared to that of my son’s derby car success. The PEEK Super Air Nozzles are the result of a few tweaks of EXAIR’s own. In this case we had already tweaked the design for the nozzle which we were making in zinc/aluminum and 316SS. With our close attention to the needs of our customer base we were able to learn that a material which can stand high ambient temperature, resist chemicals and also be non-marring was desirable. Further investigation into materials, additional conversations with peers and learning more about the experience of others allowed us to choose a material with all of the previously mentioned attributes.

The PEEK material nozzles have been a great success for our customers with the described needs. Many of our customers use these nozzles because of the added feature of being non-marring, which is not an attribute of a zinc/aluminum or 316SS nozzle. To date we are protecting sensitive lenses for lasers, removing debris from the critical surface finish of a telescope mirror and keeping a multitude of calendar rolls clean and protected from metal nozzles which could break loose/fall into the rolls.

And my same reaction holds true – I couldn’t be happier for all who worked on this project.

Kirk Edwards
Application Engineer
kirkedwards@exair.com