Super Air Knives Save The Day, a Saw Blade, and Production Schedule

A large manufacturing shop recently purchased a high speed band saw to cut aluminum. It was equipped with a mechanical rotating brush system to clean the blade as it ran, but this was unable to keep up with the volume of coolant-soaked chips that were produced at higher speeds. They had two options:

*Run the saw at a slower speed (and actually, their production schedule would not allow this, so technically there was only one option…)
*Come up with a reliable method of cleaning the saw blade (this is where EXAIR comes in.)

The Maintenance Supervisor was familiar with the capabilities of the Super Air Knife from past career experience, so he got two Model 110003 3″ Aluminum Super Air Knives installed:

Super Air Knives remove chips and coolant from high speed band saw blade.

Super Air Knives remove chips and coolant from high speed band saw blade.

This has made a “night-and-day” difference for this sawing operation:
*In the first week they had the saw, they went through four saw blades…when the teeth get clogged with chips, they don’t cut right; they get hot; and they fail.
*The inability of the brush system to remove the chips caused them to accumulate in the belt pulley housings…operators were spending 2-3 hours A DAY just to shut down the saw and clean them out.
*The excess of chips also caused the blade’s guide bearings to fail, which caused almost a day’s worth of down time to replace.
*The Maintenance Supervisor was called to the saw repeatedly during the work day to address these, and many other minor, malfunctions due to the inability to remove the chips.

This saw is now operating at the capacity they intended when they purchased it.  All for about $400, and that includes the door hinge they used to install it and allow for precise positioning (how cool is that?)

EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products have a long reputation for saving the day…thirty-three years and counting.  How can we help you?  Give me a call and let’s find out.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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A Super Air Knife Improves Bagel Operations

Plain Bagel

Plain Bagel

Did you ever wonder how that deep brown crust is created on pretzels and bagels? There’s just a little more to it than toasting them under a burner.

A process engineer from a well-known bagel company contacted me about a problem in their operation. They were having issues containing the lye solution in a dip tank that the bagels are run through. Lye, also known as sodium hydroxide, is a very corrosive, alkali substance.  When handling this liquid solution,  personnel protection equipment (PPE) is required to protect skin and eyes.  The engineer found evidence of the lye solution dripping from the conveyor onto other components in the process.  For safety, maintenance and cleanliness, he needed to find a way to contain the lye in the dip tank area.

The conveying system used a gear-driven sprocket to move the conveyor. The conveyor was a 30” wide open-mesh belt with chain links attached to the outside for the sprocket.  It was used to move the bagel dough into a dipping station which contained the lye solution.  As you can imagine, there are plenty of areas for the solution to collect into these voids of the belt and drip downstream.  The dough would soak up the solution and then travel into the oven for baking.  As the dough is heated, the lye will start to react with the steam and bagel proteins, turning it into something safe to eat. This Maillard reaction creates the browning of the dough and that yummy crust on the outside.

SS Super Air Knife

SS Super Air Knife

To keep the process safe and clean, they had to keep the lye solution in the dipping area. Because the concentration of the lye was very low, we recommended a stainless steel Super Air Knife.  (EXAIR offers a variety of materials for different types of chemicals)  The engineer ordered model 110030SS Super Air Knife, mounted it above the conveyor, and aimed it in a counter-flow direction to the conveyor travel.  As the belt exited the solution, the Super Air Knife would blow the excess from the mesh and the links back into the dip tank.  This kept the area clean and safe from the caustic solution.

If you have similar processes with caustic or corrosive chemicals that need to be contained, we would be glad to discuss your application and determine which of our products would be helpful to keep your processes, personnel and facility safe.

John Ball
Application Engineer
Email: johnball@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb

 

“Plain bagel” image courtesy of dreamcatt115Creative Commons License

Another “Bucket And Ladder” Operation, Foiled By The Line Vac

Let me start by saying that EXAIR Corporation has nothing against buckets. Or ladders. We use them both here for a variety of tasks, and are very satisfied with them. But when they’re used together…that’s where we’re going to take exception. And we’re not the only ones.

I had the pleasure of speaking to an expert technician with a company that provides world class water recycling equipment & services. They use our Model 140200 2″ NPT Threaded Aluminum Line Vacs to move bentonite clay (an amazingly versatile purification & absorption media) from 50 lb bags into a hopper. It is then dispersed into a holding tank of oily water, where it removes the pollutants and impurities, allowing for clean recycling.  And, since they no longer have to carry it up a ladder and pour it in, it’s also safer and more efficient.

Model 140200 2" NPT Aluminum Threaded Line Vac moves bentonite clay into water recycling tank.

Model 140200 2″ NPT Aluminum Threaded Line Vac moves bentonite clay into water recycling tank.

EXAIR Corporation is committed to being proactive about the way we impact the environment. Our Sustainability Plan details the way we do this in regards to our responsible consumption of resources, our conscientious waste recycling measures, and the comprehensive impact of our products…everything from materials & design, to their efficient usage, to packaging. So, when our products are used in  application geared toward like-minded goals, it’s a win-win-win. For EXAIR, our customers, and the environment.

This is one of many ways that EXAIR’s diverse line of compressed air products are not only making processes more efficient, but making the world a better place through dedication to being “clean and green.” If you’d like to know more, please give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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EXAIR Has Solutions For Skin Problems (Really)

The EXAIR Chip Trapper filters solid debris from your coolant that can not only clog the supply lines to the tooling, but also provide a LOT of surface area for the growth of bacteria. This can really foul the air in a machine shop, and sometimes, it can mess with your skin, causing a rash or infection. Honestly, this isn’t a HUGE problem…I’ve fielded a handful of calls about it over the years, though, so when I got the call from a machinist last week who wanted to talk about a possible solution for a skin problem, I immediately thought of the Chip Trapper.

Well, immediately after I thought about this old commercial (I’ve written before about how I watched way too much television growing up. Don’t judge.)

Turns out, though, his problem wasn’t bacterial – it was an allergic reaction he was having with a specific additive in the coolant used on a particular machine tool. He mentioned that it was a mist coolant application, so I immediately thought of the Cold Gun Aircoolant System.

Of, course, right after I thought about this commercial (seriously; stop judging.)

To my knowledge, it’s the first time we’ve ever applied a Cold Gun to solve a skin problem – we’re almost always looking at them to avoid the mess of coolant spray, or to increase tool life in situations where traditional machine tool coolant is impractical (or impossible) to use.

With four distinct models to choose from, we've got a Cold Gun System to meet your needs.

With four distinct models to choose from, we’ve got a Cold Gun System to meet your needs.

If you’d like to find out how EXAIR products can save you from:

*Excessive compressed air consumption
*High sound levels
*Static charge problems
*Heat damage to your electronics
*Labor intensive “bucket and ladder” bulk conveyance operations
*Trips to the dermatologist (no, really)

Then give me a call.  We can even talk about vintage TV commercials (I won’t judge either.)

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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A Lot Can Happen In Five Years

Five years ago, I wrote a blog about my (then) 11 year old son’s first-ever week away from home at Boy Scout Summer Camp. He’s departing again this weekend, but his troop has decided to venture “out of Council” this year, to Camp Howard W. Wall…it’s on the south coast of the island of St. Croix, in the US Virgin Islands.

They met last week to cover the final (and finer) details of international travel, flight schedules, logistics, etc., and activities…Camp Friedlander has a “blob:”

But Camp Wall has an OCEAN:

Just to put the distance into perspective...

Just to put the distance into perspective…

I’ve been thinking a LOT about the changes I’ve seen in the wide-eyed kid I dropped off at a camp that I drive past twice a day, and the smirking teenager that I’m driving to the airport on Sunday morning. And those changes are providing perspective on not only how fast those five years have passed, but how much can happen in that span.

In 2011, I was a wide-eyed “Dread Newbie” at EXAIR.  One of my very first meetings with the rest of the gang was to be trained on our brand new Atomizing Spray Nozzles…we only had three styles to choose from, but two of them came in four distinct models, and one came in FIVE. They were ALL Internal Mix, because hey, who doesn’t like the maximum range of adjustability that comes with being able to vary your flow rate and spray pattern size by adjusting liquid AND air supply pressures?

OK; it turns out that was just the beginning…within the year, our Engineering Department had developed:

External Mix – three styles, thirteen distinct models, to allow for independent adjustment of flow rate (by liquid pressure) and spray pattern (by air pressure.)

Siphon Fed – two styles, seven distinct models, that could be siphon OR gravity fed, for situations where it’s not practical to pressurize the liquid supply.

And, four years after that, looking back, it seems like THAT was just the beginning…we now have:

*Two sizes – the original 1/4 NPT and the new(er) 1/2 NPT.
*Sixteen styles – each available with our No-Drip option (so technically I guess we have thirty-two)
*Forty-five distinct models – we’ve got a flow rate/spray pattern combination for just about any application

And, like the rest of our catalog products, they’re all in stock, ready to ship today, on time, like we do 99.97% of the time…that’s actually one thing that HASN’T changed in the 17 years that we’ve been keeping track.

If you’d like to talk about Spray Nozzles…or any EXAIR products (old or new,) give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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I Love It When They Show The Math

In every math or science class I ever took – from high school Algebra I, to CHEM101 in college, or a variety of classified material courses in Naval Nuclear Power School – it was always good form to show your work. And by “good form” I mean “necessary to avoid an F.” I’ve found, through helping my teenage sons with their homework (whether they want me to or not, but that’s another story,) the same rules apply today. And rightly so.

My oldest is slightly (at least) more interested in athletics than academics. Sunday night, as I was going to bed, I saw him in the living room. His face was not obstructed by his cell phone and he didn’t have his headphones on, so I saw a rare opportunity for a real-time conversation. He was watching game 7 of the NBA Championship, and it was near enough to the end of the game that I figured I could watch it with him and not sacrifice too much desperately needed sleep.

If you watched the series, you saw some phenomenal play by both the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors. If you saw the end of game 7, you saw “the block” – Cleveland’s LeBron James came out of NOWHERE to rob Andre Iguodala of a quick two points on a breakaway lay-up. During the obligatory replays, I kept thinking that what James had done might border on the physically impossible. Then, ESPN’s “Sport Science” reel put into perspective just how close to that border he came:

Now, we don’t have anyone who can chase down a professional athlete and jump 12 feet in the air to take a basketball away from him, but we DO have a staff of engineers who can test air blow off products and “do the math” on how much better a fit to your application an EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Product would be. Our Efficiency Lab service is free and tests your current product to provide you a report comparing air savings, noise reduction, force values and a simple return on investment.

In our defense, I believe we are MUCH better at this than LeBron James or Steph Curry would be.

In our defense, I believe we are MUCH better at this than LeBron James or Steph Curry would be.

Do you want to find out how much quieter and efficient an EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Product might be than what you’re using now?  Give me a call…you can try one of our products in your facility, or we’ll test one of yours in ours.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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How to Get the Most From Your EXAIR Super Air Knife

I had a customer contact me about the performance of his EXAIR Super Air Knives. They were painting panels using an electrophoretic process. This process uses an electrical voltage to put a charge on the steel panel for coating.  As the parts get dipped, the oppositely charged coating is attracted to the surface.  The parts then get rinsed before going into an oven to cross link and set the paint. They purchased two 48 inch (122 cm) long Super Air Knife Kits, model 110248, and he mounted one on each side of the steel panels to blow water off after the rinse cycle.  The 46 inch (117 cm) long panels were attached to a rack hanging on an overhead conveying system.   As the panels left the rinsing system, the Super Air Knives would blow the water off both sides.  The customer saw some visual defects caused by water droplets and had concerns about the effectiveness of the Super Air Knife.

In these cases, we have to do some forensics to solve the problem.  Usually poor performance is caused by undersized fittings, tubing, quick disconnects, improperly sized pneumatic accessories, and/or too small of an air compressor.   As we went through the checklist, he did have the correct sized pipe, fittings, and compressed air requirements to operate the Super Air Knife properly.

E-Coat Painted Panel

E-Coat Painted Panel

I then went back to the basics in the setup of the Super Air Knife. I found out that he positioned the Super Air Knife to be perpendicular to the panels.  With the air flow hitting the surface at a 90 degree angle, it was allowing the water to be splashed back onto the cleaned areas.  I had a few suggestions to help improve the drying process.

  • Angle – EXAIR machined a chamfer on the cap of the Super Air Knife, and it can be used as a starting position for a mounting angle. The chamfer should be parallel with the target. This will create an air flow angle at about 45 degrees. This angle will increase the contact area and contact time which is very beneficial for removing water, debris and/or heat. See the below picture in showing the chamfer.
Super Air Knife Chamfer

Super Air Knife Chamfer

  • Distance – For optimum performance, the Air Knife should be between 3 inches and 12 inches (76mm to 305mm) from the target. If you are too close, the amplification ratio is sacrificed, and the force is reduced. If you are too far, the air pattern will start to morph, and the velocity and force will begin to decrease. It can still work, but the efficiency is reduced.
  • Counter-Flow – The air flow should be blowing against the target, in a counter-flow direction. Example; if the parts are moving from left to right, you would want the Super Air Knife to blow from right to left. This will allow the contamination to be blown back away from the cleaned surfaces, and it will increase the impact force to remove contamination i.e. a head-on collision vs. a rear-end collision.

Many customers like to start with their Super Air Knives aiming directly at the target, as described in the above application. This can decrease the efficiency for blowing off contamination or removing heat.  The diagram below shows how the angle can really help to improve the performance.

 

Poor Position Good Position

Poor Position                               Good Position

With these few simple steps in your installation, you can begin optimizing the performance of the EXAIR Super Air Knives. You can position the air knives to better suit your application. but with a good starting point, it can make it easier to maximize the product effectiveness.

John Ball
Application Engineer
Email: johnball@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb

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