Compressed air, as a utility, dates back to ancient Egypt, where metal alloy production was enhanced by using bellows devices to force air into furnaces in order to generate the extremely high temperatures needed to meld iron ores. Major industrial use began in the mid-19th century, as pneumatic drills became popular for tunneling and mining operations. With the development and large scale production of the modern air compressor in the 20th century, many other uses for compressed air were discovered.
Among the most prevalent of these additional applications is cleaning & blow off. Mechanical or chemical methods such as washing, scrubbing, brushing, wiping, etc. often take time and considerable effort, when a quick blast of high velocity air from a pressurized source can make quick work of debris and/or moisture removal. Thing is, unfettered discharge of high pressure air without concern for safety or efficiency has consequences:
Open end blow offs without a relief path for the air in case the device is dead ended, can have enough energy to break the skin, causing a dangerous and potentially fatal condition known as an air embolism. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) specifically addresses this danger in 29 CFR 1910.242(b).
They’re also incredibly loud, usually higher than 100 decibels, which exceeds OSHA’s noise exposure limits per 29 CFR 1910.95(a).
As if that wasn’t enough, they can waste an awful lot of compressed air too. The U.S. Department of Energy even goes so far as to classify it as an Inappropriate Use of Compressed Air.
Given these drawbacks, you might wonder why ANYONE would do such a thing! Well, that’s the nature of our business at EXAIR Corporation: manufacturing quiet, safe, and efficient compressed air products for industry. Among these are the first engineered products developed by EXAIR: Air Nozzles and Jets. No matter what your blow off needs are, we’ve got a solution. Consider:
Durability. Some environments where blow off is required are downright aggressive: high heat, exposure to corrosive chemicals, etc. With these situations in mind, we offer Air Nozzles & Jets in a variety of materials of construction, as shown to the right:
Zinc Aluminum alloy
Types 303 and 316 Stainless Steel
PEEK (polyether ether ketone) thermoplastic
Range of operation. Any blow off device’s performance can be varied by regulating the compressed air supply pressure. EXAIR offers several products with even greater ability for change:
The Model 1009 (Aluminum) and 1009SS (303SS) Adjustable Air Nozzles have a micrometer-like dial that allows you to very precisely set the flow & force to exact requirements.
Adjustable Air Jet Models 6019 (brass) and 6019SS (303SS) feature similar operation with a micrometer-like gap adjuster/indicator.
Our 1″ and 2″ Flat Super Air Nozzles (available in Zinc Aluminum or 316SS) have a replaceable shim. The standard models have a 0.015″ thick shim installed, and the High Power models have 0.025″ thick shims. We also offer individual shims, and sets, ranging from 0.005″ to 0.030″ thicknesses.
High Velocity Air Jets come in brass or 303SS, and also have replaceable shims. The one that comes installed is 0.015″ thick. The Shim Set gives you a 0.006″ and 0.009″ shim.
Function. Most of our Air Nozzles generate a high velocity air stream coming straight from its end. We’ve also engineered some nozzles for specific applications:
Model 1144 2″ Super Air Scraper is our popular 2″ Flat Super Air Nozzle with a corrosion resistant scraper blade, making quick work of removing stubborn materials like tape, gaskets, labels, grease, paint, or sealant. It’s particularly handy when installed on a Soft Grip Safety Air Gun with an appropriate length of pipe extension.
Back Blow Air Nozzles are made to clean out inside diameters or blind holes. Three sizes are available for ID’s of 1/4″ to 16″.
If you’d like to find out more about how EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products can help you get the most out of your compressed air system, give me a call.
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The Second Step to optimize your compressed air system is to Find and fix leaks in your compressed air system. The reason leaks are important to find and fix is because they can account for 20-30% of a compressors total output. A compressed air leak fixing process can save 10-20% of that lost volume.
Unintentional leaks will result in increased maintenance issues and can be found in any part of a compressed air system. Leaks can be found at a poorly sealed fitting, quick disconnects and even right through old or poorly maintained supply piping. Good practice will be to develop an ongoing leak detection program.
The critical steps needed for an effective leak detection program are as follows:
Get a foundation (baseline) for your compressed air use so you have something to compare once you begin eliminating leaks. This will allow you to quantify the savings.
Estimate how much air you are currently losing to air leaks. This can be done by using one of two methods.
Load/Unload systems, where T= Time fully loaded and t=Time fully unloaded:
Leakage percent = T x 100
(T + t)
Systems with other controls where V=cubic feet, P1 and P2=PSIG, and T=minutes
Leakage = V x (P1-P2) x 1.25
T x 14.7
Know your cost of compressed air so you can provide effectiveness of the leak fixing process.
Find, Document and Fix the leaks. Start by fixing the worst offenders, fix the largest leaks. Document both the leaks found and the leaks fixed which can help illustrate problem areas or repeat offenders, which could indicate other problems within the system.
Compare the baseline to your final results.
Repeat. We know you didn’t want to hear this but it will be necessary to continue an efficient compressed air system in your plant.
Safety is a key part of our culture at EXAIR Corporation. We have regularly scheduled, all-hands required, safety training on a number of topics. Our Order Entry team can likely tell you as much about our lockout/tagout procedures as our Machinists can. Nobody even thinks about entering The Shop without safety glasses, and it’s not just because of the signs.
OSHA 1910.242(b) states that “Compressed air shall not be used for cleaning purposes except where reduced to less than 30 p.s.i. and then only with effective chip guardingand personal protective equipment.“ (emphasis mine) All EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products are engineered to meet the requirements of the first part (30psi outlet pressure to prevent dead ending…we’ve written about that numerous times, including here, here, and here) and we can also provide pre-installed devices to satisfy the second part: the EXAIR Chip Shield.
Any EXAIR VariBlast or Heavy Duty Safety Air Gun can come fitted with a Chip Shield, and any Soft Grip Safety Air Gun, except for those with Stay Set Hoses, can as well. Safety Air Guns with Back Blow Nozzles automatically come with a Chip Shield. The principle is simple: a clear polycarbonate (so you can still see what you’re doing) round disc slips over a short (or long if you want) pipe extension between the gun & the nozzle. It’s fitted with a rubber grommet so you can position it to where it’s most effective – sometimes that might be closer to the part being blown off; sometimes it may be back a little closer to the operator.
If you already have an air gun that’s doing the job, you can easily add an EXAIR Chip Shield to it. They’re made to fit a wide range of extension diameters, and can even come with the extension if you need it. We also stock a number of adapter fittings; if you know what threads your air gun has (or if you can send us some photos) we can quickly & easily spec those out for you.
Since 1983, EXAIR Corporation has been manufacturing quiet, safe, and efficient compressed air products for industry (emphasis mine.) If you have concerns or questions about safety in regard to your compressed air use, call me.
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I recently worked on a unique application for EXAIR’sBack Blow Nozzle. Generally, these products are used to clean out chips, debris, and coolant from the ID of pipes or tubes. With (3) different sizes available to clean out IDs ranging from ¼”-16” it’s the ideal solution for cleaning out pipes where blowing forward into the pipe won’t work. They’re also available on the end of a Safety Air Gun with extensions up to 72” long, allowing you to get to hard to reach areas.
This particular application, however, was slightly different. The customer has a large machine that rotates a large drum to dry the tobacco, much like a standard clothes dryer. Inside of this drum is a “spray boom” with an angled top designed to prevent the tobacco from settling and sticking in large quantities. At the end of this “spray boom” are Atomizing Nozzles used to apply a cleaning solution after each drying process is completed at the end of the shift. Unfortunately, the angled design didn’t work quite as well as they’d intended.
The customer needed a solution that could periodically clean off the boom while the drying was in operation. It wasn’t reasonable to do this at the end of the drying process once the majority of material had passed through. The accumulated tobacco on the boom was perfectly usable product and anything stuck after the cleaning operation would have to be thrown out as waste. In order to clean the boom and allow the stuck tobacco to remain as usable product, we needed an automated solution.
The customer installed (4) of the 1006SS Back Blow Nozzles situated around the boom to remove any stuck-on product during the drying process. The results spoke for themselves, at 90 PSIG it removed a 14” wide radius of material from the surface. By implementing the Back Blow Nozzle they were able to reduce waste and eliminate a daily 1-hour long cleaning process to remove stuck on material from the boom.
Just because it’s an outside-the-box application for one of our products, doesn’t mean it won’t work!! With EXAIR’s Unconditional 30-Day Guarantee, you can test any of our stock products out before committing to keep them. Reach out to an Application Engineer today if you have a unique application you’d like to discuss!
Safety should always be a serious concern within industrial environments. Walk through any production facility and you should see all kinds of steps taken to give a safe workplace to the operators, contractors, and other team members. Whether this is through a sign showing PPE required to enter an area, an emergency exit sign, a safe walkway, or machine guards. Safety has become a standard that should never be lowered and there is good reason for that.
EXAIR designs all of our products to be safe and they meet or exceed OSHA standards that are directed toward compressed air safety. The first is to ensure that an operator or maintenance worker will not be injured through air impinging their skin should they come into contact with an EXAIR product. This OSHA standard is 29 CFR1910.242(b) claiming that all point of use compressed air products must be regulated to have less than 30 psig of dead end pressure. This directive is critical for worker safety and the way many blowoffs skirt by is to cross drill holes in the end of the blowoff.
Cross drilled holes may satisfy the dead end pressure standard but it does not address OSHA’s next important compressed air standard about noise exposure, OSHA standard 29CFR1910.95(a). The allowable noise level standard combined with 30 psig dead end pressure will render many home made or retail nozzles near useless because few, if any, meet both standards. Again, EXAIR has engineered and designed our Super Air Nozzles to permit 80 psig inlet pressure and still meet or exceed both of these OSHA standards so that the work can still be done by the operators while remaining safe and retaining their hearing.
For a better explanation and demonstration of how our nozzles meet these standards please see the video below.
While I use nozzles and cross drilled pipes as examples within this blog these safety features are designed into every product that EXAIR offers. This is due to the fact that OSHA, NIOSH, and the CDC do not delineate between a blow gun, blow off within a machine, or even a Cabinet Cooler System. If the device is powered by compressed air then the two key OSHA standard are in effect due to the inherit dangers of compressed air.
I encourage you now to walk through your facility and try to listen or spot compressed air points of use within your facility. Then, I ask you to call, chat, e-mail, or tweet an Application Engineer here at EXAIR and let us help you determine the most efficient and safest product to get the work done.
I recently spoke with a customer who is a casting / machining manufacturer. They had an automated cell that was finish machining a feature on a cast aluminum part then placing it on a conveyor belt for an operator to pick up and continue processing.
The parts were placed 3 pieces wide per row and the conveyor would index with every three parts. The operator would pick three pieces up and transfer them to another station during the machining time. These parts were carrying residual machining coolant and debris onto the outbound conveyor.
The operator would blow them off with a handheld blow gun and all the coolant and chips would generally end up on the floor in the area causing a slip hazard. The focus of the project is to eliminate the safety hazards and leave the parts as clean as possible for the inspection and further process.
The metal parts were positioned similar to the parts I placed in the mock up picture below. The conveyor the customer has is an open mesh conveyor so the process will work better than if it was a solid belt like in the mock up.
The bulk of the concern from the customer was the outside of the part and they stated that anything to blow out the internal is a bonus. The objective is to get as much coolant off as possible. For that we recommended they span the conveyor with a Super Air Knife Kit to blow all the parts off at once. This is mounted closely in the mock up because the customer had space restrictions.
Then, because the parts are always placed in the same location with the same orientation we can locate the ID hole with a Mini Super Air Nozzle on a Stay Set Hose of varying length to reach each set of parts as they come through. Once I had the idea and the products in place I delivered the customer a quote and dimensional CAD file for each part.
Another recommendation was to use a regulator and filter to control just the knife then operate the three nozzles off their own regulator and filter so that the forces between the two can be varied and the performance of the other is not effected. Accompanying the models were installation sheets for each item as well. Followed by the pictures of this mock up for their application.
Needless to say the customer was amazed that we would go to such lengths just to give them more assurance than our 30 day guarantee. They were extremely thankful and are pleased we shipped from stock and met their installation window.
If you are looking for a creative solution, next level customer service, same day product availability, or just a nice human to talk to about compressed air, contact us.
Look at the picture below of a band saw cutting a piece of tubing. The amount of debris and coolant that is coating the pipe on the inside diameter and outer diameter is substantial. Cleaning off the outside of a pipe is fairly easy and straight forward. Cleaning the ID can be difficult. This is a single instance where one of the EXAIR Back Blow Air Nozzles can turn a cumbersome job into a quick and easy step in the process.
The tubing in the photo appears to be around a 3 or 4″ ID tubing which makes it ideal to be cleaned out internally by the model 1006SS – 1/4″ Back Blow Air Nozzle. This nozzle is ideal for passage ways ranging from a 7/8″ diameter up to a 4″ diameter.
While cleaning out the short section may be able to be obtained with a forward blowing Safety Air Gun, if this was being cut from a 20′ length of tube it would be difficult to remove the debris from the remnant section of tubing. The advantage being the debris from the saw cut no longer has to be blown out or left in the longer lengths of the tube. The Back Blow Air Nozzle can easily be inserted and remove debris back from the saw cutting end. Lee Evans demonstrates this in a video below.
If you would like to discuss any compressed air application, please feel free to contact an Application Engineer. We will gladly help you determine which EXAIR product may be right for your application.