The Perseverance to Help Out

A couple of years ago I got to spend some time with my dad rock climbing in the North Cascades in Washington. My eyes were set on a very easy 5.9 big wall multi-pitch route called Prime Rib of Goat on the Goat Wall in Mazama. The route that we climbed was 1300ft of vertical cliff and one of the most popular beginner routes for getting into large climbs. Both my dad and I are knowledgeable when comes to climbing and were looking for a nice relaxing day on the wall. This is how that relaxing day turned into a crazy rescue…

The trip started out as any normal climbing trip would, an early 6 am flight as we had to get all of our climbing gear through airport security. Once the plane landed, we picked up our rental car and the gorgeous 3.5 hr drive up I-5 along the bay and straight on through the North Cascade National Park. Mazama is a small town with a population of only 158 people located on the East side the Cascades. Once we reached our destination and set up camp, we decided to do a little warm up on the wall to try and beat the stiffness and fatigue from a full day of travel.

Pitch 7 of the Prime Rib of Goat on the Goat Wall

The next morning, we woke up a little on the late side (around 7:30 am) got a light breakfast and set out for our goal the Goat Wall. The wall was a short 3 miles outside of town with a not so easy 1-mile hike in 95°F temperatures up a Scree field (basically hill of loose rock at the base of a mountain). Once we reached the base, we loaded up our gear onto our harnesses and started climbing to the first set of anchors (this is what is known as a pitch in climbing terms). Pitches 1 – 6 were fairly straight forward and easy going, water was rationed to ensure that we wouldn’t get dehydrated but at the same time wouldn’t run out of water.

By around 4:00 pm we had reached the halfway point at the top of pitch 6; this is where we ran into two people who were also climbing the same route as us but moving at a much slower pace. Luckily the were two trees that were growing on the cliff so we decided to take a small lunch break in the shade. Around a half hour later I shouted up the cliff to see if the two people had moved on yet; when I heard nothing we started climbing pitch 7. To my surprise the group ahead of us were still sitting at the top of pitch 7.

Pitch 7 of the Prime Rib of Goat on the Goat Wall

Turns out that the group had a 40 pound pack with them which was unusual for the single day climb on an easy route that could be easily terminated if needed. After another 10 mins of waiting we decided help them haul this pack of theirs up the wall. It was slow moving up to Pitch 8 and they had run out of water and our water was running low. By the time we had finally reached pitch 9 with all the people things had started to get worse for the group that we were assisting; fatigue and dehydration had brought them to the point of a mental break down.

At this point my dad and I decided to share the last bit of water we had with them and to turn around and bail on the last 3 pitches. It was a slow process moving back down the way we had come and try to keep the group calm; the sun and heat was really starting to take a toll on our bodies. Our lips were cracked and blistered and our mouths had quit producing saliva but we kept trudging on. A relief from the heat came around the time when the sun had set around the top of pitch 4 and from that time onward, we were descending down the cliff face into what seemed like a black abyss.

Finally, we were able to set foot on the ground and low and behold the friends of the group we helped had hiked to the base looking for their friends and they brought water we could all drink. We didn’t get back to the campsite until 1:00 am. The next day my dad and I decided to pack up and head to the coast because we were done climbing.

Here at EXAIR we like to bring that same kind of enthusiasm and perseverance to help you solve your compressed air issues. We will walk you step by step in getting you either the right part or solving any of your technical issues and won’t leave you high and dry.

If you want to talk about any of the 16 different EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air® Product lines, feel free to contact EXAIR and myself or any of our Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.

Cody Biehle
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Siphon Fed No-Drip Atomizing Spray Nozzles

With 142 distinct models in stock, the Atomizing Spray Nozzles are easily EXAIR Corporation’s most diverse product line. If you need a reliable method of creating a fine mist of liquid flow with a flow rate as high as 303 gallons per hour (or as low as 0.1 gallons per hour,) with a spray pattern as large as 13 feet (or as small as 2-1/2 inches) in diameter, look no further – we have a spray nozzle for you, on the shelf and ready to go.

Siphon Fed models are the subject of today’s blog – they don’t require that the liquid be under pressure; you can feed them from the vessel the liquid comes in from a siphon height of up to 36 inches, or, for higher flows, from a gravity height of as low as 6 inches.

EXAIR Siphon Fed Nozzles work with non-pressurized liquids, either siphoned (left) or gravity fed (right.)

All Atomizing Spray Nozzles are available with EXAIR’s patented No-Drip option, which positively shuts off liquid flow when the compressed air supply is shut off.  One benefit of this is realized in coating applications, where an errant droplet of liquid would mar an otherwise smooth, even coating.  Operationally, though, it also means you can precisely turn the liquid flow on & off, in short, quick bursts, up to 180 times a second.

By far, the simplest way to do this is with a valve installed in the air supply line to the Atomizing Spray Nozzle.  A manual 1/4 turn ball valve works fine if you want the operator to control it.  Solenoid valves are often used to automate the process, and if you’ve got something to open & close the valve, you’re all set.  For example, if you want to spray coolant onto a cutting tool, just wire the solenoid valve into the on-off switch of the machine, like in the example shown to the right.

Alternately, our EFC Electronic Flow Control System provides a ready-to-go solution.  It comes pre-wired; all you have to do is plumb the valve into the air supply line and plug it in to a 120VAC grounded wall outlet.  When the photoelectric sensor “sees” the part you want to spray, it opens the valve.  When the part passes, it shuts the valve.  Easy as that.

I like this whole video, but if you just want to see the EFC Electronic Flow Control & Atomizing Spray Nozzle in action, skip to the 4:05 mark.

If you have a need to spray a fine, controllable liquid mist, EXAIR has a wide range of solutions.  Give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Importance Of Proper Pneumatic Tube, Pipe, And Fittings

When it comes to engineered compressed products, the number one cause of less-than-optimal performance is improper supply line sizing.  This can mean one of two things:

  • The hose, pipe, or tubing running to the device is too small in diameter.
  • The hose, pipe or tubing is big enough in diameter, but too long.

The problem with either of these is line loss (follow that link if you want to do the math.)  Put simply, the air wants to move faster than it’s physically permitted to.  Any time fluid flows through a conduit of any sort, friction acts on it via contact with the inside surface of said conduit.

With smaller diameters, a larger percentage of the air flow is affected…no matter what diameter the line is, the air closest to the inner wall is affected by the friction generated.  When diameter increases, the thickness of this affected zone doesn’t increase proportionally, so larger diameters mean less of the air is affected by friction.  It also means there’s a lot more room (by a factor of the square of the radius, times pi…thanks, Archimedes!) for the air to flow through.

Likewise, with longer lengths, there’s more contact, which equals more friction.  Length, however, is often a non-negotiable.  You can’t just up and move a 100HP air compressor from one part of the plant to another.  So, when we’re talking about selecting proper supply lines, we’re going to start with the distance from the compressed air header to our device, and pick the diameter that will give us the flow we need through that length.  In fact, that’s exactly how to use the Recommended Infeed Pipe Size table in EXAIR’s Super Air Knife Installation & Maintenance Guide:

This table comes directly from the Installation & Operation Instructions for the Super Air Knife.

Once we have the correct line size (diameter,) let’s consider the fittings:

  • Tapered pipe threads (NPT or BSPT) are the best.  They offer no restriction in flow, and are readily commercially available.  If you’re using pipe, these are the standard threads for fittings.  If you want to use hose, a local hydraulic/pneumatic shop can usually make hoses with the fittings you need, at the service counter, while you wait.
  • If you need to frequently break and make the connection (e.g., a Chip Vac System that’s used throughout your facility,) quick connects are convenient and inexpensive.  Push-to-connect types are by far the most common, but a word of warning: they’re notoriously restrictive, as the inside diameter of the male end is markedly smaller than the line size.  If you use them, go up a size or two…a quick connect made for 1/2 NPT connections will work just fine for a 1/4″ line:
  • The nice thing about these quick connects is that you don’t have to depressurize the line to make or break the connection.  If you have the ability to depressurize the line, though, claw-type fittings (like the one shown on the right) provide the convenience of a quick connect, without the restriction in flow.

Proper air supply is key to performance of any compressed air product.  If you want to know, at a glance, if you’re supplying it properly, install a pressure gauge right at (or as close as practical) to the inlet.  Any difference in its reading and your header pressure indicates a restriction.  Here’s a video that clearly shows how this all works:

I want to make sure you get the most out of your compressed air system.  If you want that to, give me a call with any questions you might have.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Steps to Find Compressed Air Leaks in your Facility

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.

6-steps-from-catalog

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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
  3. Know your cost of compressed air so you can provide effectiveness of the leak fixing process.
  4. 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.
  5. Compare the baseline to your final results.
  6. 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.

EXAIR has a tool to assist you in finding these leaks throughout your facility, the Ultrasonic Leak Detector. Check one of our other Blogs here, to see how it works!

Leak Detector

 

If you’d like to discuss how to get the most out of your compressed air system – or our products – give me a call.

Jordan Shouse
Application Engineer
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What’s So Great About Air Entrainment?

Air entrainment is the phenomenon that occurs when air (or any gas) under pressure is released from a device in such a way that a low pressure is generated in the immediate area of the air (or gas) discharge.  Air (or gas) from the surrounding environment is then pulled (or entrained) into the discharged air stream, increasing its volumetric flow rate.  EXAIR Corporation has been engineering & manufacturing compressed air products to take maximum advantage of this phenomena since 1983…and we’ve gotten better & better at it over the past 36 years.

Obviously, the first thing that’s so great about air entrainment is…free air flow.  Every cubic foot that’s entrained means that’s a cubic foot that your compressor didn’t have to spend energy compressing.  Considering the EXAIR Super Air Knife’s entrainment ratio of 40:1, that makes for a VERY efficient use of your compressed air.

Another thing that’s so great about air entrainment is…it’s quiet.  As you can see from the graphic at the top of this blog, the Super Air Knife entrains air (the lighter, curved blue arrows) into the primary compressed air stream (the darker, straight blue arrows) from above and below.  The outer layers of the total developed flow are lower in velocity, and serve as a sound-attenuating boundary layer.  The sound level of a Super Air Knife (any length…here’s why) is only 69dBA.  That means if you’re talking with someone and a Super Air Knife is running right next to you, you can still use your “inside voice” and continue your conversation, unaffected by the sound of the air flow.

I always thought it would be helpful to have more than just a graphic with blue arrows to show the effect & magnitude of air entrainment.  A while back, I accidentally stumbled across a stunning visual depiction of just that, using a Super Air Knife.  I had the pleasure of talking with a caller about how effective a Super Air Knife might be in blowing light gauge paperboard pieces.  So I set one up in the EXAIR Demo Room, blowing straight upwards, and tossed paper plates into the air flow.  It worked just as expected, until one of the paper plates got a little closer to the Super Air Knife than I had planned:

As you can see, the tremendous amount of air flow being entrained…from both sides…was sufficient to pull in lightweight objects and ‘stick’ them to the surface that the entrained air was being drawn past.  While it doesn’t empirically prove the 40:1 ratio, it indisputably demonstrates that an awful lot of air is moving there.

If you’re looking for a quiet, efficient, and OSHA compliant solution for cleaning, blow off, drying, cooling…anything you need an even, consistent curtain of air flow for – look no further than the EXAIR Super Air Knife.  If you’d like to discuss a particular application and/or product selection, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Chip Shields, OSHA, And You

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.

We pay attention to these…

…so we don’t ever have to use this.

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 guarding and 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.

EXAIR Safety Air Guns are available, from stock, with Chip Shields.

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.

Convenient and inexpensive “thumb guns” with cross drilled nozzles (left) are compliant with the first part of OSHA 1910.242(b). Fitting one with an EXAIR Chip Shield (center) makes it compliant with the second part. A Model 1102 Mini Super Air Nozzle (right) makes it quiet & efficient.

We can provide a Chip Shield for most any device with a threaded fitting. I couldn’t find a way to re-use the non-OSHA-compliant nozzle that came with this gun (thank goodness.)

Another example of a larger air gun fitted with a more powerful cross drill nozzle (left) that can be made totally OSHA compliant with an EXAIR Chip Shield (center.) An EXAIR High Force Super Air Nozzle (right) keeps the power, while reducing noise level and compressed air consumption (right.)

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.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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EXAIR Standard Air Knife: Engineered For Performance

In 1983, EXAIR Corporation was founded with the goal of engineering & manufacturing quiet, safe, and efficient compressed air products for industry.  By 1988, the EXAIR-Knife (now known as the Standard Air Knife) was quickly becoming the preferred choice for replacing loud and inefficient drilled pipes, long nozzle manifolds…anywhere an even, high velocity curtain of air was required.

The EXAIR Standard Air Knife’s design takes advantage of a fascinating principle of fluidics to achieve quiet and efficient operation: the Coanda Effect, which is the tendency of a fluid jet to stay attached to a convex surface.  If you want to see it for yourself, hold the back of a spoon, handle up, under the kitchen faucet.  Those who haven’t seen it before may assume that gravity will take over and the water will fall from the bottom of the spoon’s ‘bowl’ – but it doesn’t:

Likewise, the air flow (which is just another example of a fluid jet) exiting the Standard Air Knife’s shim gap follows a convex surface (which we call the “Coanda profile”) causing it to entrain large amounts of air from the surrounding environment:

Compressed air flows through the inlet (1) to the Standard Air Knife, into the internal plenum. It then discharges through a thin gap (2), adhering to the Coanda profile (3) which directs it down the face of the Air Knife. The precision engineered & finished surfaces optimize entrainment of air (4) from the surrounding environment.

This entrainment does two things for us:

  • First, because we’ve engineered the design for maximum entrainment, it’s very efficient – creating a high flow rate, while minimizing air consumption.  In the case of the Standard Air Knife, the entrainment ratio is 30:1.
  • Secondly, this entrainment forms an attenuating boundary layer for the air flow, resulting in a high velocity, high volume airflow that is also incredibly quiet.

The EXAIR Standard Air Knife comes in lengths from 3″ to 48″, and in aluminum or 303SS construction.  All sizes, in both materials, are on the shelf and available for immediate shipment.  For most applications, we recommend the Kit, which includes a Shim Set (to make gross changes to flow & force,) an Automatic Drain Filter Separator (keeps the air clean & moisture free,) and a Pressure Regulator (to dial in the performance.)  Deluxe Kits add our Universal Air Knife Mounting System and EFC Electronic Flow Control.

(From left to right) Aluminum Standard Air Knife Kit, SS Standard Air Knife Kit, Deluxe Aluminum Standard Air Knife Kit, Deluxe SS Standard Air Knife Kit.

If you need a hard hitting curtain of air for blow off, drying, cleaning, cooling, environmental separation, etc., the EXAIR Standard Air Knife is an easy and economical solution.  If you’d like to discuss your application and/or product selection, give me a call.

Russ Bowman

Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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