Compressed Air and Pneumatic Systems

Compressed Air Pipe

Compressed air is used to operate pneumatic systems in a facility, and it can be segregated into three main sections; the supply side, the demand side, and the distribution system.  The supply side is the air compressor, after-cooler, dryer, and receiver tank that produce and treat the compressed air.  They are generally found in a compressor room.  The demand side is a collection of devices that will use the compressed air to do “work”.  These pneumatic components are generally scattered throughout the facility.  To connect the supply side to the demand side, a distribution system is required.  Distribution systems are pipes or tubes which carry compressed air from the air compressor to the pneumatic devices.  The three sections have to work together to make an effective and efficient system.

Compressed air is a clean utility that is used in many different ways, and it is much safer than electrical or hydraulic systems.  But most people think that compressed air is free, and it is most certainly not.  Because of the cost, compressed air is considered to be a fourth utility in manufacturing plants.  For an electrical motor to reduce a volume of air by compressing it, it takes roughly 1 horsepower (746 watts) to compress 4 cubic feet (113L) of air every minute to 125 PSI (8.5 bar).  With almost every manufacturing plant in the world utilizing air compressors larger than 1 horsepower, the amount of energy needed is extraordinary.

Let’s determine the energy cost to operate an air compressor by Equation 1:

Equation 1:

Cost = hp * 0.746 * hours * rate / (motor efficiency)


Cost – US$

hp – horsepower of motor

0.746 – conversion KW/hp

hours – running time

rate – cost for electricity, US$/KWh

motor efficiency – average for an electric motor is 95%.

As an example, a manufacturing plant operates a 100 HP air compressor in their facility.  The cycle time for the air compressor is roughly 60%.  To calculate the hours of running time per year, I used 250 days/year at 16 hours/day.  So operating hours equal 250 * 16 * 0.60 = 2,400 hours per year.  The electrical rate for this facility is $0.10/KWh. With these factors, the annual cost to run the air compressor can be calculated by Equation 1:

Cost = 100hp * 0.746 KW/hp * 2,400hr * $0.10/KWh / 0.95 = $18,846 per year in electrical costs.

Filters and Regulator

If we look at the point-of-use or demand side, the compressed air is generally conditioned to be used to run and control the pneumatic system.  The basic units include filters, regulators, and lubricators.  The filters are used to remove any oil, water, vapor, and pipe scale to keep your pneumatic system clean.  They fall into different types and categories depending on the cleanliness level required.

Filter Separators are more of a coarse filtration which will capture liquid water, oil, and particulate.  The Oil Removal Filters are more of a fine filtration which can capture particles down to 0.03 micron.  They are also designed to “coalesce” the small liquid particles into larger droplets for gravity removal.  One other group is for removing oil vapor and smell.  This type of filter uses activated charcoal to adsorb the vapor for food and pharmaceutical industries.  Filters should be placed upstream of regulators.

Pressure Regulators change the pressure downstream for safety and control.  Pneumatic devices need both flow and pressure to work correctly.  The lubricator, which is placed after the Regulator, helps to add clean oil in a compressed air line.  Air tools, cylinders, and valves use the oil to keep seals from wearing with dynamic functions.  Once the compressed air is “ready” for use, then it is ready to do many applications.

For EXAIR, we manufacture products that use the compressed air safely, efficiently, and effectively.  EXAIR likes to use the 5-C’s; Coat, Clean, Cool, Convey and Conserve.  We have products that can do each part with 16 different product lines.  EXAIR has been manufacturing Intelligent Compressed Air Products since 1983.  Compressed air is an expensive system to operate pneumatic systems; but, with EXAIR products, you can save yourself much money.  If you need alternative ways to decrease electrical cost, improve safety, and increase productivity when using compressed air, an Application Engineer at EXAIR will be happy to help you.

John Ball
Application Engineer
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb

EXAIR Atomizing Spray Nozzles for Coating, Cleaning, Cooling

A recent customer in the automation / tool making industry had a need to spray a mold release agent onto some specialized tooling. Originally, the customer had planned to use some sort of pressurized sprayer. After some initial tests to prove the concept, the customer found that the moving mechanical parts of the sprayer became fouled by the release agent. And cleaning the internal parts was not easy to do.

No Drip Atomizing Nozzle
No Drip Atomizing Nozzle

In their search for a more permanent solution, the customer came across EXAIR Atomizing Nozzles. After going through some application type questions to narrow the focus down to one model, we determined that the customer would be best served by model AF1010SS (Internal Mix, Flat Fan Pattern Atomizing Nozzle). The customer had a couple of questions about the nozzle in order test the product.

  1. Is it possible to disassemble the nozzle and clean it completely? The answer is yes, the Atomizing Nozzles can be completely disassembled to allow for cleaning, maintenance or replacement of worn parts.
  2. Are the nozzles solvent resistant? The answer is also yes; the Atomizing Nozzles are made of AISI303 type stainless steel and can be cleaned with any normal solvent based cleaner.

Earlier in this article, I mentioned that we went through some application type questions. Here is a list of general questions that we normally ask a customer about their application in order to determine which in our selection would be best suited.

  1. What is the volume of liquid flow (G/Hr) needed for the application?
  2. What is the viscosity (cP) of the liquid being applied?
  3. What are the required spray pattern, size and shape required?
  4. Is the liquid under pressure (by pump or pressure pot)? If so, what is the liquid pressure?
    1. Side note: we have options for non-pressurized liquid by using our siphon fed nozzles.

If you have an application where you have a liquid that needs to be applied in atomized form to a target, or perhaps a humidification application, please give EXAIR Atomizing Nozzles your consideration.

Jordan Shouse
Application Engineer

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Maintenance Free And Proud Of It

Caller: Do you sell rebuild kits?
Me: Yes, but…why?

This is a WAY oversimplified summary of the start of a popular conversation that an EXAIR Application Engineer might have with a caller looking to restore a particular product to proper operation. Truth is, most of our products have no moving parts, and if you supply them with clean, dry air, they’ll run maintenance free, darn near indefinitely. We’ve documented this in specific cases regarding a Reversible Drum Vac from 1999, a Vortex Tube from 1987, and a Cold Gun from 1985.

Product & year of manufacture, from top left: Reversible Drum Vac (1999,) Cold Gun (1985,) Vortex Tube (1987.) All still performing within factory specifications.
Product & year of manufacture, from top left: Reversible Drum Vac (1999,) Cold Gun (1985,) Vortex Tube (1987.) All still performing within factory specifications.

Caller: So…DO you sell rebuild kits?
Me: Yes, but…only when necessary.

It’s important to note that none of the products mentioned above needed any parts replaced to return to service. Sometimes, a good cleaning is all that’s required. We can help you with a video tutorial if you want to know how to restore a Reversible Drum Vac, an Air Knife, or an Atomizing Spray Nozzle, for instance.  And we’re making new videos all the time for product maintenance, operation, tips & tricks, etc.

Caller (again): So…you DO sell rebuild kits?
Me: Yes, of course!  I mean, who wouldn’t sell rebuild kits for their products?

Take our Safety Air Guns, for example. We offer Service Kits, if the trigger and/or internal valve of a Soft Grip or Heavy Duty Safety Air Gun starts to wear or leak, it’s super easy to replace. We’ve also got replacement springs for the “fail shut” feature of the ball valve of a Super Blast Safety Air Gun. Just about anything else that could be wrong with a Safety Air Gun’s performance can be addressed by cleaning the nozzle.

We also recently added Rebuild Kits for our Atomizing Spray Nozzles to inventory. These contain all of the seals (and moving parts, for the No-Drip models) to restore an EXAIR Spray Nozzle to rated performance.

Keep your EXAIR Atomizing Spray Nozzle (left) in perfect working order with a simple & inexpensive Rebuilt Kit (right of the nozzle.) Contact an Application Engineer to select the one for your product.

For other products, we can also provide replacement gaskets & seals for the Reversible Drum Vac & Chip Trapper products, O-rings for the Line Vacs, Chip Vacs, and Heavy Duty Dry Vacs, new elements for Filter Separators & Oil Removal Filters…just to name a few.

Bottom line: if your EXAIR product isn’t performing the way it used to, give me a call.  It will be my pleasure to help you get it working like new, so that you can continue to get the most out of it.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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Step by Step Guide – Choosing Atomizing Spray Nozzles


Atomizing spray nozzles atomize fluids to create a fine spray in a variety of patterns for a variety of uses. They are commonly used to mark products, paint or coat, cool, reduce dust, lubricate and clean parts.

With the numerous types of Atomizing Nozzles sold by EXAIR, it can be challenging to shift through all the information. We can help you to narrow down the field to quickly find the correct Atomizing Nozzle for your application.  In a summary, here are the basic questions that need to be answered:

1.) Are you using a pressurized liquid feed?

2.) What is the viscosity of the fluid?

3.) What is the liquid feed rate in gallons per hour (gph) or liters per hour (lph).

4.)  Should I use the No-Drip option?

EXAIR’s flow chart with easy-to-follow steps will walk you through the decision tree and land you at the best Atomizing Spray Nozzle for your application. In answering these simple questions, this chart will guide you to the correct page in our current catalog to get additional information and specifications.    Click on Link below to determine the best nozzle for you.


When it comes to spraying a fine mist, EXAIR has a great range of Atomizing Nozzles. If you follow the flow chart, you will get the best product to spray your liquid and reduce waste.   If you have any problems or questions, you can contact one of our Application Engineers at EXAIR.

John Ball
Application Engineer
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb