Solving Special Application Needs with Special Solutions

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A 6″ Full Flow Air Knife installed on a Soft Grip Safety Air Gun

Every application has its own unique needs and solution characteristics.  Most of the time, thankfully, we can meet those needs and solution requirements with our stock products and through discussions with our Application Engineers.  There are, however, a number of applications which need something more than what we have readily available on the shelf.  Sometimes those needs relate to a special Air Knife (no problem there), a special cold fraction preset on a Vortex Tube (no problem there, either), or even specially machined flanges designed to bolt into the application (again, no problem for EXAIR).

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This specialized solution provides exactly what the application requires

And then there are solutions like that which is shown above, comprised of stock products and off-the-shelf components, but assembled to meet a specific requirement of the application.  In this case, the customer needed the performance of an Air Knife, with the mobility of a Safety Air Gun.  The purpose of combining these two devices was to allow for wide area blowoff in a single pass, as opposed to multiple passes needed with a traditional setup.  And, with a little legwork on the backend in our engineering department, we created a specialized part number to meet this application need.

So, when this customer needed another solution to replicate this setup, they knew who to contact, and were certain that they would be able to find exactly what they need.

If you have an application in need of an application-specific solution, contact an EXAIR Application Engineer.  We’ll be happy to help.

Lee Evans
Application Engineer
LeeEvans@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_LE

A Customized Line Vac Moves Dog Bedding

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One of the interesting things about working with a variety of applications on a daily basis, is realizing every answer isn’t cut-and-dry.  There are, of course, times when we can specify the exact amount of compressed air required, or the air volume needed to maintain a specific temperature, but conveying applications tend to be a bit different.

A reseller contacted me with an application in need of moving bedding material for dog beds.  The end user needed a reliable way to move the cotton fill for the beds, and wanted to find a way to limit handling by employees, while maintaining a reliability in the amount of material conveyed.

Due to the light weight and density of the cotton, we considered a Light Duty Line Vac, which has an option of sizes up to 6” in diameter – a benefit to this application because the cotton can cluster in groups up to 5” wide.  So, the end user decided to test a Light Duty Line Vac and fell in love with the concept and results.  But, the conveyance capacity of the Light Duty Line Vac was below the needs of the application, meaning we needed to consider a revision to our initial solution.

Finding a new solution meant exploring a number of different options.  We looked into the standard Line Vacs available from stock, threaded Line Vacs, and custom-made Line Vacs with cam lock fittings.  All the while we kept an eye on the throat diameter of each size, the related compressed air requirements, connection options, and lead time.

An initial concern at EXAIR was the cotton “clumping” and being delivered in a the form of a ball. The “clumping” of the cotton was of relatively little concern to the customer, their bigger indicator of success in this application was in how quickly the bedding material could be conveyed.  Having this as the decision driver led us away from the Light Duty Line Vacs we originally sought, and towards a modified version of our stock model 6087 (4″ aluminum Line Vac) with an additional compressed air inlet machined into the body of the unit.  The additional compressed air inlet was introduced by request from the customer, to provide guaranteed air delivery during higher compressed air flow conditions, brought about through higher operating pressures (not to exceed 250 PSIG).

Finding this custom solution wouldn’t have been possible without the Light Duty Line Vac, its large size availability, attractive compressed air usage, and ability to chip from stock.  We never would have explored this special solution, which the end user went on to implement in 12 locations!  If you’re considering a Line Vac for an application in your facility, consider a Light Duty Line Vac, standard Line Vac, or even a custom solution.  No matter the solution, we’ll be happy to help.

Lee Evans
Application Engineer
LeeEvans@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_LE

EXAIR Can Customize for Your Application

Once again this week, I had a customer call in with a special request on one of our products.  The customer had purchased a 6030 Adjustable Air Amplifier to cool plastic components after they were formed in a previous process.  These components are made continuously and the only way to test the cooling capabilities was during a production run.  If there was any error in the system, a whole batch of product was rejected, so the customer needed to be able to fine tune the process easily.  The space was very confined, so the customer had taken the 3/4″ outlet and connected a 3/4″ hose with hose clamps in order to direct the air to the proper area.  From the 3/4″ hose, they had necked down the line to 3/8″ hose to fit into their process.  By necking down the outlet of the air amplifier, the customer was limiting the output of the 6030, but it was enough air to get there job done.  Now that he had successfully used the 6030, the customer wanted to rollout the idea to other product lines and create a more robust system than hose clamps and homemade reducers.  Fortunately, for this customer and many others, EXAIR has the skill and flexibility to manufacture custom solutions.

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The customer wanted to roll the project out into 25 production lines, and create a more robust system.  The first idea that came to mind was using a threaded Line Vac to replace the Air Amplifier.  This would be a stock item that would produce a similar amount of air flow as the air amplifier through a 3/8″ hose.  Obviously, the Air Amplifier would produce more airflow in free air, but since we are restricting that flow with a 3/8″ hose, the Line Vac and the Air Amplifier would produce similar air flow in this application.  Unfortunately, the customer didn’t have the ability to test the process with the Line Vac, because of his production schedule and the risk of losing a batch of product during the testing.  Because of these requirements, the customer asked us to produce (25) Special Air Amplifiers with threaded outlets to replace his 6030 that he was currently using.  The Adjustable Air Amplifier would give the customer the ability to adjust the air flow by changing the air gap in the Air Amplifier to his exact specification.  This adjustability means he can set the Air Amplifier to meet his current requirements, and adjust if the conditions change on his production line.  Also, the system would now be threaded so he could install hard pipe to make a permanent and robust system throughout the facility.

Special Air Amplifier

Dave Woerner
Application Engineer
davewoerner@exair.com
@EXAIR_DW

Old Customer, New Problem, How Can we Help?

EXAIR has a special customer for whom we build vortex tubes to actually heat product up that is used in a rather cold and hostile environment. If the product being heated is not heated properly, the customer is unable to use it for the various lubrication needs they have in their remote location. Originally, the customer came to EXAIR because they felt their existing supplier was charging too much for their products and taking way too long for delivery. To make a long story short, I worked out the details of the vortex tube set-up based on the customer’s requirements and we produced a special cold muffler fitting that was the same as what had been produced by their previous supplier. We made a few tweaks to the design and ended up with a product that the customer was very happy with.

A little over two years later our customer came back to us with a complaint they had received from one of their end users and needed to know what we could do to advise them and help them out of the predicament they were in. After all, they didn’t really know and understand vortex tubes. When our customer came back to me recently, here is the issue that they put to me for consideration.

Their end use customer was using the vortex tube for the intended heating purpose. In fact, they had two of them. One was working very well and the other was not. The end user performed a bit of their own trouble-shooting and found that the material used in the special cold muffler would actually become clogged with ice and other debris from the compressed air that was coming through and also from splashing, rain and other sources of water from outside the heating device.

What happens to the hot end of a vortex tube when the cold end becomes plugged up and cannot flow freely? It forces more air out the hot end which actually has a cooling effect on the hot end. The temperature is no longer high enough to sustain the temperature needed and the end user is quite un-happy. The end user noted this and relayed the information back to our OEM client who, in-turn relayed back to me and asked for help.

My initial reaction when my OEM client asked about the problem was that in our standard products, we always use a “through hole” type muffler assembly on the cold end to keep it from becoming clogged in precisely the manner that the end customer had experienced with their unit. We had discussed this same issue early on with our client, but they were intent on keeping things the same as they always were. If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it was sort of the idea at the time.  With this understanding, I went back to our OEM client and suggested they try an arrangement that was more in line with our stock offering. There were a few advantages to it that our client needed to consider. 1. It would not freeze up and block the cold output flow thus causing problems with temperature on the hot end flow. 2. The proposed option was actually quite a bit less expensive than the custom option that the customer had originally specified. 3. By de-coupling the vortex tube muffler from the external housing, the customer has a lot more flexibility in where to actually locate the cold exhaust on their product. Before, they did not have this flexibility. Below is a quick mock-up photo of what I had proposed to our OEM client. I sent them these photos and their response was, “Great, please send us enough to outfit three vortex tubes so we can make a test.” We sent the parts over to them and so far the testing has shown a definite improvement in reliability of their product.

The point of the story is that we had a customer with a very definite idea of what they wanted initially, but when the time came when they needed help to get out of a tough situation, we were able to offer timely and reasonable advice to help our OEM client find their way through what could have been an otherwise very un-desirable situation.

Neal Raker
Application Engineer
nealraker@exair.com