Super Air Knives Make Beer Bottle Labels Stick; EFC Optimizes Efficiency

The Super Air Knife has been featured as the cover photo of every EXAIR Compressed Air Products catalog since I got here in 2011…except for Catalog #26 in 2013, which featured the Super Ion Air Knife. BIG difference, right there.

The highlighted application photos may change from catalog to catalog, but one that always remains is the iconic (I think, anyway) image of the Super Air Knives blowing off the orange soda bottles:

This is a darn-near ‘textbook’ application for the Super Air Knives…the even, laminar flow wraps around the bottles, stripping moisture away. Among other reason why this is important, it improves the next step in the process – the labels stick better.

One of the many simple and effective ways an EXAIR Super Air Knife is commonly used.

In my younger, intemperate days, I’d join my friends at a popular watering hole to celebrate special occasions like…well, Tuesday, for example. Sometimes, there’d be a ballgame on the TV, or lively conversation, to entertain us. Other times, we’d make a game out of trying to separate the labels from the beer bottles, in one piece.

Some years later, I tried to teach my young sons this game…except with root beer bottles. It didn’t work near as well, because these labels adhered much tighter to the root beer bottles in my dining room than the ones on the beer bottles at the bar.

Some years after that (those boys are teenagers now,) I became an Application Engineer at EXAIR, and found out that this drying-the-bottles-to-make-the-labels-stick-better thing was for real, because I got to talk to folks in the bottling business who told me that the Super Air Knives had made all the difference in the world for their operation.

Just the other day, I had the pleasure of helping a caller who operates a micro-brewery, and had just installed a set of 110009 9″ Aluminum Super Air Knives for the express purpose of (you guessed it, I hope…) making their labels stick better. The only thing that could make it better, according to them, was if they could use less compressed air, and they were interested in what the EFC Electronic Flow Control could do for them.

Click here to calculate how much you can save with an EXAIR EFC Electronic Flow Control.

As a micro-brewery, their production lines don’t run near as fast…nor do they want them to…as some of the Big Names in the business. As such, there’s some space between the bottles on the filling lines, and they thought that turning the air off, if even for a fraction of a second, so they weren’t blowing air into those empty spaces, would make a difference. And they’re right…it’s a simple matter of math:

Two 9″ Super Air Knives, supplied at 80psig, will consume 26.1 SCFM each (52.2 SCFM total). This microbrew was running two 8 hour shifts, 5 days per week. That equates to:

52.2 SCFM X 60 minutes/hour X 16 hours/day X 5 days/week X 52 weeks/yr = 13,029,120 standard cubic feet of compressed air, annually.  Using a Department of Energy thumbrule which estimates compressed air cost at $0.25 per 1,000 SCF, that’s an annual cost of $3257.00*

Let’s say, though, that the micro-brewery finds that it takes one second to blow off the bottle, and there’s 1/2 second between the bottles.  The EFC is actually adjustable to 1/10th of a second, so it can be quite precisely set.  But, using these relatively round numbers of 1 second on/0.5 seconds off, that’s going to save 1/3 of the air usage…and the cost…which brings the annual cost down to $2171.00*

*As a friendly reminder that the deadline to file our USA income tax returns is closing fast, I’ve rounded down to the nearest dollar.  You’re welcome.

That means that the Model 9055 EFC Electronic Flow Control (1/4 NPT Solenoid Valve; 40 SCFM) with a current 2017 List Price of $1,078.00 (that’s exact, so you know) will have paid for itself just short of one year. After that, it’s all savings in their pocket.

If you’d like to find out how much you can save with EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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Super Air Knife Shim Design Reduces Operation Costs

A customer of ours had an application where they needed to cool and dry parts on two conveyors that ran side by side.  A single 36″ Super Air Knife was chosen to provide coverage over the full width and to simplify the air plumbing and installation.  As we learned more about the application, it was discovered that there was 10″ section in the center where the the two conveyors butted up, where no parts would pass through, and hence no air was needed.

Fortunately, the EXAIR Super Air Knives can be supplied with custom shim designs to match the air flow requirements of the application.  These shims can be of various thicknesses to increase/decrease the air flow, of alternate materials such as a stainless steel shim in an aluminum air knife to increase the temperature range, or as in this case, designed to provide specific air flow patterns.

By utilizing the special shim design, it is estimated to save $865 per shift per year in compressed air costs versus the standard configuration.  That is a significant savings, and using less compressed air is high on everyone’s priority list.

Check out the video below to learn more about the EXAIR Air Knives.

akvideo

EXAIR manufactures 3 different types of air knives, in 4 different materials, up to 108″ in length.

To discuss your application and see how an EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Product can help your process, feel free to contact EXAIR and one of our Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.

Brian Bergmann
Application Engineer

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Super Air Knife Dries Plastic Fence Net

I recently worked with an extruded fence manufacturer who was looking to dry the material after a rinse process. The polyethylene fencing is 48″ wide with cells ranging from .25″ up to 2″ and the web is traveling at 5 meters per minute. After leaving the rinse bath, the web spans a 12′ area before being sent to a winder where they apply a tape before producing the finished rolls. It was in this area the company was looking to add a blow off device to remove the moisture to assure the tape would adhere to the surface.

construction-netting

Example of the fence, which is commonly used at construction sites as safety netting.

After discussing the details with the customer of the area that needed to be covered, I recommended they use our 48″ Super Air Knife for the application. The Super Air Knife produces a high velocity, laminar sheet of airflow across the entire length of the knife. Operating at 80 PSIG, using a 40:1 amplification rate (entrained air to compressed air) the unit produces a velocity of 11,800 feet per minute while maintaining a low sound level of only 69 dBA. Air consumption is 2.9 SCFM per inch of knife when operated at 80 PSIG. Since the customer was looking to treat both sides of the fencing, they would need to mount a unit above and below the web for effective blowoff.

Super Air Knife

The Super Air Knife provides a high velocity curtain of air at minimal compressed air usage.

The Super Air Knife is the most efficient and quietest air knife offered on the market today. Available in lengths from 3″ up to 108″ in single-piece construction and offered in aluminum, 303ss or 316ss construction, they are the perfect choice for small scale or wide coverage blowoff applications. With help selecting the best EXAIR Air Knife for your process or to discuss your application, give me a call, I’d be happy to help.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer
justinnicholl@exair.com
@EXAIR_JN

 

Plastic orange construction fence-net image courtesy of Jnzl’s Photos via Creative Commons license.

 

Out Of This World

One of the best parts about being an Application Engineer at EXAIR is the vast array of applications that customers call in with.  Every time the phone rings, a chat notification pops up, or an email to Techelp comes in, another interesting application presents itself and the process of helping to provide a solution begins.

Recently, I worked with an Optical Scientist working on the next class of giant ground-based telescopes that promises to to revolutionize our view and understanding of the universe.  He made contact with us via chat and said that he had seen a special Safety Air Gun being used to blow off a telescope mirror at a different telescope site.  He said the unit had black plastic nozzles, which was preferred, because they would not scratch or damage the mirror glass. After receiving a photo of the unit, we were able to identify it as the model 1213-4-PEEK, Super Blast Safety Air Gun, with 4 PEEK Nozzles (PEEK  = Polyetheretherketone, a thermoplastic).

1213-4-peek_400w

Model 1213-4-PEEK Super Blast Safety Air Gun

The Super Blast Safety Air Gun is one of the EXAIR  High Force Safety Air Gun offerings that provide a strong blowing force with the added convenience of a comfortable soft grip and easy to operate spring-loaded manual valve that automatically shuts off should it be dropped.  The Super Blast Safety Air gun is ideal for long distance, wide area blowoff, cooling and drying applications.  In the case of the telescope mirror application, the mirrors are outside and subject to dust and bird and bat “deposits.”  After a thorough washing, the Super Blast Safety Air Gun provides the method for drying the mirrors. At 8.4 meters in diameter, a strong, far reaching blast of air is required to ensure complete drying of the mirror surface.

gmt-2015-mirrors1-medium

Array of 7 Mirror Surfaces

EXAIR offers a wide range of Safety Air Guns, from those offering small, precise blowoff of 2 ozs. up to large, strong blowing forces of 23 lbs.  To discuss your special blowoff, cooling or drying application, feel free to contact EXAIR and one our  Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.

Brian Bergmann
Application Engineer

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Image Courtesy of “Giant Magellan Telescope – GMTO Corporation”

Full-Flow Air Knife Dries Copper Strip

Last week I was working with a customer who was using our 36″ Full-Flow Air Knife to dry a flat copper strip as it exited the rinse cycle of their process. The customer chose the Full-Flow design due to it’s small profile, making it easier to fit into the tight space available to mount to their machine. The customer stated that they flow tested the knife before installation and the knife “worked great” but once mounted, the flow was reduced significantly. They were thinking of returning the unit under our Unconditional 30 Day Guarantee but I offered to help troubleshoot the unit to see if we couldn’t relieve their issue(s).

Full-Flow

The Full-Flow Air Knife is available up to 36″ in either aluminum or 303ss construction.

When they tested the unit external to the machine they were using 1″ hose (our recommendation for a 36″ Air Knife) running to a tee, which stepped down to 1/2″ ID hose going to both rear inlets on the back of the knife. But when they installed the knife, due to space limitations, they reduced the main supply to 3/8″ tubing and plumbed only 1 inlet using a quick disconnect. This explained some of the low output flow with the unit. Using undersized supply lines and quick disconnect cause significant pressure drops due to their small inside diameters. When this occurs, you aren’t able to flow enough volume of air (SCFM) to the knife, which results in reduced performance and uneven flow.

The second issue was how they had the unit mounted to the machine. Wanting to keep the air inlets easily accessible, they mounted the face of the knife (the surface the compressed air runs along) right up to the outside wall of the machine, leaving just a small gap for the output flow and built a protective shield around the unit. The Full-Flow Air Knife will entrain 30 parts of surrounding, ambient air for every 1 part (SCFM) of compressed air used. With the unit being unable to entrain any free air, the output flow is further diminished.

How the Standard Air Knife Works

Illustration showing how the Standard and Full-Flow Air Knives operate.

After increasing the supply line to both inlets, removing the quick disconnect and protective shield and moving the knife back to allow for the air entrainment, the customer called back to advise that the strip was now completely dry.

If you are experiencing reduced performance or need help with the installation of your EXAIR product, give us a call at 1-800-903-9247.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer
justinnicholl@exair.com
@EXAIR_JN

 

Long Super Air Knives Help Dry Oil Pans

Last week I was contacted by a local machining company who was stamping oil pans for a large automotive manufacturer. Stamping, also referred to as pressing, is an industrial machining process where a flat material, like sheet metal, is placed into the stamping press and a press die stamps down to form a specific shape or mold.

metal stamping

Example of Metal Stamping Machines

As the oil pan exits the stamping press the parts are sent through a water rinse to remove any particulate and then hung from a drying rack. After the parts are dry they are sent to a paint booth then an oven for the paint to cure. They were beginning to see reject parts after the curing process due to residual water droplets being present which caused the paint to bubble or streak in this particular area. As a quick fix, on each side of the drying rack they ran compressed air to long lengths of 1″ PVC pipe with approximately (21) 1/8″ drilled holes spaced about every 4 inches to try and dry the parts more efficiently. While this did improve the dry cycle time, they were still seeing the rejects due to gaps in the airflow continuing to leave water drops. Another concern was their compressed air usage as they have a large number of rotary presses requiring compressed air so this particular application was, as the customer stated – “getting whatever air is left”, and potentially starving other processes of required air.

Once again EXAIR had the perfect solution, the Super Air Knife. The Super Air Knife produces an even, high velocity curtain of air across the entire length of the knife. Extremely efficient, the unit uses only 1 part of compressed air while entraining 40 parts of surrounding, ambient air. In this particular application, I recommended the customer mount one 84″ knife on the front and another 84″ unit on the back of the rack, allowing the parts to pass through the laminar airflow removing the excess water from both sides of the part.

SAK

Lengths up to 108″ in single piece construction.

Addressing the compressed air usage – each 1/8″ drilled hole is going to consume roughly 21.4 SCFM @ 80 PSIG, so for a quantity of (21) drilled holes, the total would be 449 SCFM per PVC pipe. In contrast, an 84″ Super Air Knife is going to consume only 243.6 SCFM @ 80 PSIG, or just a little over half of what they are currently using!

Justin Nicholl
EXAIR Corporation
justinnicholl@exair.com
@EXAIR_JN

 

Metal Stamping Machines image courtesy of Sam Beebe Creative Commons License

The Patrol Method, Revisited

My eldest embarked on a six-day tour at Boy Scout Summer Camp this week. He’s eleven, and this is the longest he’s been away from home to date. OK; he’s only about 10 minutes from our house at a real nice BSA facility known as Camp Friedlander. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Scout Leaders from around the country, and hear time and again that Friedlander is a premier destination for Scouts from all over, and then some. If you’re a Scout Leader/Parent from another part of the country (or the world), I’d love to compare notes about local Scouting facilities – especially if you’re anywhere near Cimarron, NM!  But…does your Camp have a Blob?

I’m a big fan of the Scouting Program. I like the sense of independence and responsibility that it’s reinforcing in my son. He’s never asked me for help in preparing for a campout, and Summer Camp was no exception. I secretly went through his stuff Sunday morning, right before he left, and found that it was all there, mostly organized. “Mostly” being the key word…he gets that from me…

Even if something was forgotten, though, it’s not a fatal error. I’ve written before about The Patrol Method, and how these young men are learning to hold each other accountable as a rule, and help each other out in a pinch. As a last resort, and I DO mean last resort, either I or (gasp) his mother, could easily run a necessity out there. Heck, I could even do it on my lunch break, since I’m closer to Camp Friedlander at work than I am at home. Hopefully, it won’t come to that. But it’s nice to know that help is so close.

You might have experienced similar anxieties about a project at work. If so, you obviously appreciate the value of something being in stock, instead of “1-2 weeks ARO.” If the scope of your project includes spot cooling, drying, blowoff, mass heat removal, material conveyance, cleaningvacuum generation, cabinet cooling, or conservation of your compressed air, you’re in luck…anything in EXAIR’s comprehensive 164-page catalog is in stock, and available for immediate shipment. And we’re just a phone call away.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
(513)671-3322 local
(800)923-9247 toll free
(513)671-3363 fax
Web: http://www.exair.com
Blog: https://blog.exair.com/
Twitter: twitter.com/exair_rb
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