EXAIR Static Eliminators Provide a Solution for a Plastic Blasting Media Application

A customer had an application where they were using a plastic blasting media (PBM) to remove a coating from composite sheets. Being that I was unfamiliar with this type of blasting media, I went to the web for research.  This process is very interesting as it can remove coatings, paint, powder coats, etc. without harming the substrate.  It is widely used in the automotive and aerospace industries as it can be used on materials like very thin metals, composites, and even hardwood.

In our experience with non-conductive materials, static can be a huge problem. And in this case, it was.  The PBM was “sticking” to everything including the composite material that was being cleaned.  They were losing material as it was leaving the blasting chamber.  As with any type of blasting system, you want to reuse the material to economically reduce waste and keep the operation running longer.  As you can see in the picture below, the PBM is clinging to the internal components because of static.  This static force was keeping the PBM attached to the composite sheet and allowing it to leave the chamber.

Inside the Plastic Blasting Media cabinet

Inside the Plastic Blasting Media cabinet

As a quick remedy, they tried to use compressed air to blow the PBM back into the cabinet. They were using copper tubes that were flattened to create a homemade nozzle.  This style of nozzle is unsafe and very loud.  It was also difficult to get the correct amount of blowing force because static can build at different rates.  The higher amount of static charges, the stronger the attraction.  They needed a better method as they found themselves wasting not only the blasting material, but also much compressed air.

With applications similar to this, we like to remove the static at the problem area. Then, we do not have to be concerned about the static forces.  For their application, the cabinet had a 6” wide opening where the composite material would exit.  So, I recommended two pieces of the model 111206, 6” Super Ion Air Knife Kits, to be mounted just outside the cabinet.  One Super Ion Air Knife would be mounted above the sheet to clean the top surface, and the other mounted below the sheet to clean the bottom surface.  I recommended that they position the Super Ion Air Knives at a 45 deg. angle to the surface of the composite sheet in the counter-flow direction.

This position will optimize the performance of the Super Ion Air Knife.  It increases the contact time to coat the surface with ions to remove the static and to keep the PBM inside the cabinet.  With the design of the EXAIR Super Ion Air Knife, it has a 40:1 amplification ratio.  That means that for every 1 part of compressed air, it will entrain 40 parts of ambient air.  So, it can operate with much less compressed air.  Once they mounted the Super ion Air Knives, they were amazed at the performance.  It was very quiet; it used very little compressed air; and it kept the composite sheets completely clean.  After the static forces are removed, it only needed a light breeze to remove the PBM from the surface.

Super Ion Air Knife

Super Ion Air Knife

If you find that static is creating process problems, wasting time, and costing you money, EXAIR has a large line of Static Eliminators that can help you. For this customer, it was a simple phone call to EXAIR that got his operation back up and running fast and smooth without static.

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

Ion Bars Eliminate Jam In Fiberglass Production

Last week I worked with a specialty glass manufacturer who was experiencing a static issue in their fiberglass mat production. Their particular production cycle consists of a rotary spinning process where molten glass exits a furnace and goes into a cylinder with several holes that rotates at high speed, causing the glass to be “pushed” through the holes. Upon exiting the cylinder, the fibers are blown down on to a conveyor belt underneath, treated with a binder and pressed together, then sent to an oven to cure. After the sheets exit the oven, they are air cooled, cut to the desired length, then sent to a sorter that directs the material to collection bins, based on thickness and length. It is at this point that they were seeing the parts start to “bunch” up, which caused the system to be shut down so an operator could manually clear the jam and sort the mats. The customer has experienced static issues before in other parts of their plant and took some readings and were seeing a 4 kV charge on the surface of the mats.

After discussing the details of the application, I recommended they use our 24″ Ionizing Bar, the width of their widest mat. The Ionizing Bars produce a high concentration of positive and negative ions to eliminate the surface static of an object when mounted within 2″ of the surface of the material. At 2″ away, the units are capable of dissipating a 5kV charge in less than half a second. By placing a unit above and below the exit point of the sorter, they would effectively remove the surface charge and eliminate the potential jam.

Ionizing Bars Work

Ionizing Bars are effective up to 2″ away and require no compressed air to operate.

Our Ionizing Bars are available in lengths from 3″ up to 108″ for a variety of small or wide surface treatment applications. For assistance selecting the best product for your specific requirements, please contact one of our application engineers at 800-903-9247.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer
justinnicholl@exair.com
@EXAIR_JN

Ion Air Jet Improves Teflon Gasket Cutting

If your familiar with our blog, you may have noticed that a common theme lately has been static.  Take for example our recent blog titled  Static Can Become A Big Issue With Winter Approaching , details how static was negatively affecting an automobile instrumentation assembler’s production or another one titled Static Electricity – What is it? , providing a better general understanding of the phenomena. Here in Cincinnati we’ve had some relatively mild temperatures lately but this weekend it was just downright cold. Now that our furnace is running, the humidity in the house is starting to be removed which not only wreaks havoc on our hardwood floors, but in winter’s past, it seemed like every time one of us touched each other or something metal , we got “zapped” due to static. As many homeowners do, I’ve purchased several humidifiers and strategically placed them throughout the house which has helped immensely. While this is a good approach for a residence, it’s not as easy an alternative when dealing in an industrial setting.

I recently worked with a customer in the northeastern U. S. who manufacturers Teflon gaskets. As the Teflon tube exits the extruder, a blade passes by and cuts a very thin cross section of material which drops into a collection bin underneath. During the spring and summer months, the process was running seamlessly but over the past couple weeks, temperatures in the area have dropped, causing the company to turn on the large, gas heaters on the production floor. Now that the air is starting to dry out, they are beginning to see the gaskets cling to the blade and surrounding tooling which is not only causing damage to the part itself but it’s also resulting in production delays.

Since the area they are needing to treat is relatively small, I recommended they use our Ion Air Jet. The Ion Air Jet  provide a focused stream of ionized air to eliminate the surface static of a material or object. By incorporating a pressure regulator to operate at low pressure, they would be able to reduce the outlet force and velocity, allowing them to gently blow the airflow across the area as to not disrupt the collection of the parts.

NEW Ion Air Jet
Static can cause a variety of nuisances in industrial settings ranging from damage to sensitive electronics, machine jams, parts or sheets sticking together, and personnel shock just to name a few. If you need any help selecting the best EXAIR product for your needs, don’t hesitate to ask one of our application engineers for assistance. I’d be shocked if we couldn’t help. (I know, not punny).

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer
justinnicholl@exair.com
@EXAIR_JN

Stretch Wrap Static Solution

Recently a customer called in to EXAIR to discuss a static issue in a stretch wrap process in the plant. Stretch wrap is a highly stretchable plastic film.  The elastic recovery keeps the wrapped load tightly bound. The most common stretch wrap material is a linear low-density polyethylene or LLDPE.  The combination of the stretching of the plastic film and the sliding of the film on the cardboard boxes as it is being wrapped causes a build up of static. This static can cause serious havoc and issues in the process including personnel shocks, zapping counters and other sensors causing failures, and preventing marking systems from delivering good information on to the stratch wrap.

wrapper (2).jpg

Stretch Wrap Operation

The discussion started with minimum and maximum load sizes and how to design a system that would work with all configurations and be as flexible as possible.  We spoke of dimensions and where we could we could mount on 3 sides, and so forth.

Then came the question that we invariably get to and that is ‘what issue does the static cause and how does it affect the rest of the process?’  The answer here simple, ‘an operator has to write a code number on the side and affix a label, and in doing so, receives a shock.’ When it was determined that only a small section of one side of the load needed to be treated, the solution was simple.  We proposed an 18″ Ionizing Bar and Power Supply. Because the machine had a fixed datum, all loads would pass within 1-2″ of a vertically installed Ionizing Bar, so no adjustment is needed for different load sizes.

Ion Bar

Ionizing Bars Treating Top and Bottom Surfaces

The Ionizing Bar quickly dissipates a strong static charge as shown in the chart below.

capture

EXAIR offers many systems for total static control. When static is a problem on moving webs, sheet stock, three dimensional parts, extrusions or packaging, EXAIR has a solution.

To discuss your application and how an EXAIR Static Eliminator would help out, 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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Twitter: @EXAIR_BB

Static Can Become A Big Issue With Winter Approaching

Many automotive parts are made of plastic, and with nonconductive materials, static electricity can become a big problem, especially in cooler climates.

A customer with whom I spoke recently assembles instrumentation clusters for vehicles.  The assembly process started by using a regular compressed air gun to blow the surfaces clean before assembly.  The operator would place a polycarbonate applique onto a lighting fixture.  Then a clear polycarbonate cover would go over both parts.  To complete the cluster assembly, an ultrasonic welder would weld the plastic studs around the outside edge and seal the parts together.  This completed the assembly process.  However, during inspection, they started to notice more visual defects after the welding process.  The cause was debris that became lodged between the applique and the clear cover. The debris was still present even after blowing.  If the debris wasn’t cleared prior to welding, the entire assembly would have to be scrapped due to the visual defect. The customer knew about EXAIR from previous projects and so decided to get help from us again to solve this expensive reject situation.

Initially, blowing the plastic components with regular compressed air before assembling and welding  worked well, but then they started seeing an increase in the reject rate.  I came to find out that they were located in Michigan. So I asked the customer about the weather there recently. They indicated that was getting cooler as we begin to head into Fall and Winter. As cooler weather is among us, static can be generated much easier because cool air cannot hold as much moisture. And with less moisture, which aids to eliminate a static charge, the likelihood that static will generate goes up.  Once static is generated on plastic components, dust and debris likes to stick to the surface.  Static charges are very strong, and even with blowing compressed air, the debris can still cling to edges or even “jump” to another location.  This was a manual operation and they needed to remove the static from the surface in order to eliminate the debris from the assembly.

8493-ion-air-gun

I recommended the model 8493 Ion Air Gun Kit. It combines static removal capability with a blowing force that one would normally associate with a compressed air blowgun.  The kit includes the Ion Air Gun, power supply, filter and regulator.  The Ion Air Gun is designed with a 5:1 amplification ratio; minimizing compressed air usage and maximizing ionized airflow.  With the regulator, you can control the force from a “blast” to a “breeze”.  The ionized airflow eliminates the static from the plastic surfaces, allowing the airstream to remove any dirt and debris.  They replaced their current air gun with the EXAIR Ion Air Gun, and the rejection rate decreased to the acceptable levels that they were seeing in the summer months.

Being that the winter months are approaching, you may want to re-evaluate your processes.  If you are working with non-conductive materials like plastic, wood, glass, or textiles, EXAIR has a variety of Static Eliminators that can save you from getting headaches, losing money, and saving time.  With our customer above, they weren’t able to get ahead of the static issue, and it created many problems until they investigated using EXAIR Static Eliminators. Get rid of your static headaches by using an EXAIR Static Eliminator today.

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

How Does the Process of Static Elimination Work?

4 R UMAX PL-II V1.4 [3]

 

One of our overseas distributors provides solutions for a customer who has bought quite a few of the Ion Air Guns for their production. The customer raised a question for which our distributor requested help to answer. The customer asked, “What exactly is going on in the process, when you blow ions on an item?” There is a large interest in these products and they are interested know more. It is not, that they are afraid of the procedure, they just wonder what physically happens, so my question to you is: Could you write an explanation on what happens within the static eliminating equipment when it is energized?

For the answer, you have to go back to high school science class to remember the definition of an ion. An ion is an an electrically charged atom or group of atoms formed by the loss or gain of one or more electrons. Put simply, it is an atom with either extra or fewer electrons than it is supposed to have normally. This excess or deficit of electrons makes the molecule attract electrically to atoms or molecules with the opposite charge. Too many electrons = negative charge. Too few = positive charge.

Gases can form ions as a result of an electrical charge. Gas ions are defined as such: one of the electrically charged particles formed in a gas by electric discharge or the like. The atoms we are creating with our static eliminators are oxygen ions or “ozone”. Due to the AC waveform of the electrical supply, the power supply generates 50 Hz signal that produces both positive and negative ions, depending on the phase of the electrical supply. In this way, our static eliminators produce ozone which can eliminate static of either polarity.

What happens at the atomic level is the ions we create are attracted to and combine with the electrostatic field present on material which has a static charge. The electrostatic field present on insulating materials is present because of two possibilities. Either there was some contact & separation of materials, friction (like rubbing a balloon on the hair), or there was a separation of two insulating materials which were previously in intimate (close) contact with one another (like peeling a protective film from a surface). When this happens, the electrons will move from one material surface to another based on their potential to gain or lose electrons (reference Triboelectric Series). The balance of the surface electrons becomes unbalanced as the electrons at the outer layers will be knocked out of their home orbit and take up with another atom to make it negative, thus leaving the previously neutral atom in a positive state.

When one applies a static eliminating ions from one of our products on to an application where static is causing a problem, they are providing those needed electrons to help the charged material balance itself out. The reason that it happens to insulating materials is because they cannot conduct an electrical signal and so the electrical charge remains on the surface until it is dissipated by active means like our static eliminators or by natural means (a much slower process) where air molecules floating around the charged surface will lower the overall charge to a point until it reaches a point of electrical balance. So, our ionizers (also known as static eliminators) simply speed that process up immensely and eliminate static charges in a fraction of a second. 

Neal Raker, International Sales Manager
nealraker@exair.com
@EXAIR_NR

 

Super Ion Air Knives Remove Dust from Plastic Panels

20160426_134447

Conveyor line with static dust problem

One of our distributors reached out to me this week about a static elimination application in Russia.  The end user has the setup shown above, and they are in need of a means to remove dust from the plastic panels on the conveyor.  These panels have a static charge causing ambient dust to adhere to their surfaces.

The main questions for this application were whether we could provide a solution capable of creating a static eliminating blow off for the entire width of the conveyor (approx. 54”), and whether the dust particles can be removed from the working area after removal from the plastic panels.

In order to answer the first question we first had to select a solution, and the Super Ion Air Knife is a near-perfect fit.  We can provide Super Ion Air Knives in any length up to 108”, with a stock length 54” unit available on the shelf.  This was a straightforward recommendation to remove the static from these plastic sheets – install one 111054 54” Super Ion Air Knife on the top and bottom sides of this conveyor to remove the static and blow off the dust.  But, the second question will require a more specialized solution.

When static causes dust to adhere to a surface, removal of the static charge allows the dust to fall off or be blown away, so we were confident that we can remove the static and dust.  But, we then need to vacuum these dust particles away – something we could achieve with a series of Super Air Amplifiers or Line Vacs – which will require some sort of specialized hood.  Fortunately for us, this application already has a vacuum control system with a hood (you can see this in the right side of the photo with a large plastic air duct running to the top and bottom hoods on this conveyor line).

So, problem solved!  We recommended the two Super Ion Air Knives are installed with the airflow aimed at a 45° angle of attack, opposite the direction of travel, and with the airflow aimed into these vacuum hoods.

If you have a similar application or static problem in your facility, give us a call, we’ll be happy to help.

Lee Evans
Application Engineer
LeeEvans@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_LE

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