Solving Static and Increasing Print Quality on Food Packaging

Gen4 Static Eliminators

A yogurt company printed bar codes on every cup that they produced. This was necessary for registering and tracing their product. After failing a bar code reader quality test, they started noticing some print issues during batch runs. They would have to stop their system, clean the inkjet printer head, and scrap product that would not register with the bar code reader.

This affects production rates, scrap rates, and overall cost. They stated that they threw away 30 to 40 cases per batch of yogurt due to this problem. They had an EXAIR catalog where they found a similar application within our Gen4 Static Eliminator product line. They contacted us to see if we could find a solution.

With non-conductive material like plastic, static is easily generated; especially during cooler weather. Static can be in a negative state or a positive state dependent on the material. For opposite charges, things are attracted to each other and will “stick” like magnets. For similar charges, they will repel each other. The higher the static charge, the stronger the force.

For the company above, the yogurt cups moved along a 7” (178mm) wide conveyor before they reached the bar code printer. This movement causes static to be generated on the surface of the cups. But, what about the inkjet printer? The function of the printer charges the ink droplets for direction and positioning. Since the ink droplets and the cup surfaces have the same charge, the droplets were being “pushed” back toward the printing head (reference photo below). Thus, the ink would dry on the surface and affect the quality of the bar code.

Bar Code Printer

When it comes to removing static, EXAIR is a leader in this market. We have a large product line of different types of Static Eliminators. Our design generates both positive and negative ions to remove any type of static charge. Since we only had to remove the static from the surface of the cup, I recommended a Gen4 Ionizing Bar. With a quick static decay rate, we can remove the static right before the bar code printer with only one Gen4 Ionizing Bar. For this application, I recommended the model 8003 3” Gen4 Ionizing Bar and a model 7960 Gen4 Power Supply. Together, it was very easy to mount and start using. EXAIR stocks lengths from 3” (76mm) up to 108” (2743mm), and we can ship a solution the same day. When you are losing 30 to 40 cases, time matters. And for this company, they received the items the next day to correct the misprints and short printing runs.

Gen4 Ionizing Bar w/ power supply

When problems occur, time can be of the essence. This is why EXAIR stocks our cataloged items for fast delivery.  For the company above, they had an EXAIR catalog which helped them to find a solution. If you would like to have an EXAIR catalog, you can click here to get one.   After they started using the Ionization Bar, the static was removed, the bar code was clean, and the operation ran smoothly. If static is causing issues for you, you can contact EXAIR and speak to one of our Application Engineers. We will be happy to assist you.

John Ball
Application Engineer

Email: johnball@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb

EXAIR, Manufacturing Locally Equals Quick Customizations

Dryer with corn cob material

A manufacturing company contacted EXAIR about their metal tube processing. They made industrial precision tubes from start to finish. This would include turning, cutting, coating, washing and drying metal tubes to specific diameters and lengths.

For one specific problem area, they manufactured a tube with the dimensions of 1” (25.4mm) in diameter and 6” (152mm) in length. They would run a batch of 750 tubes through a wash cycle and then through a vibrating dryer with a drying material made from corn cobs. At the bottom of the vibrating dryer, the tubes would fall to an open mesh shaker table to transfer the tubes to Quality Control. The idea was to remove the excess cob material from the surface of the tubes before inspection and to recycle the drying material. But the problem was static.

When non-conductive materials slide, hit, peel, and vibrate; electrons from the surface can move from one atom to another; thus, creating static. The type of material and the amount of movement governs the positive and negative charges, and the amount of static forces.

The corn cob material is a non-conductive material, but what about the metal tubes? Since the metal tubes were coated for corrosion and abrasion protection, the surface is now a non-conductive area which will contain static. Since opposite charges attract each other, the cob material would cling to the outside surface of the metal tubes (reference photo below). Being a precision tube manufacturer, they did not want to send “dirty” tubes to their customers or allow the drying material to contaminate their measuring equipment. And, with the required quality control, the measurements had to be exact.

Tubes with cob material

The shaker table was 8 feet (2.4 meters) long and 2 feet (0.6 meter) wide with rigid walls. The top of the shaker table was covered with a canvas to allow for a vacuum system to collect the excess material and dust. About half way down, there was a 2” (51mm) drop to help jolt additional cob material off of the tubes as they landed. But the static forces were too strong to release the material. Thus, the static had to be removed from the surface, so they contacted EXAIR to see if we could find a solution.

They sent photos of their setup which always helps us to diagnose and find solutions. The target place that they suggested would be near the 2” (51mm) drop as the tubes would be suspended for just a moment. My recommendation was to use a Gen4 Super Ion Air Knife to blow ionized air around the tubes as they fell. By blowing air, we can use the non-contact force to remove the static and the cob material at the same time. But we had two issues to overcome. The width was fixed at 2 feet (0.6 meter), and the operation controls were 10 feet (3 meters) away from the mid-section of the shaker table.

Gen4 Super Ion Air Knives

EXAIR stocks many Gen4 Super Ion Air Knives ranging from 3” (76mm) to 108” (2.74meters) in incremental lengths for quick shipments. But our standard 24″ product was not able to fit inside that area nor was the five foot electrical cable long enough to reach the control panel. (As a note, it was important for the operator to be able to manually turn on and off the unit from the control panel.)

EXAIR uses an electromagnetically shielded cable to carry high voltage from our Gen4 Power Supply to our shockless, non-radioactive Gen4 Ionizing Bar. Our  stocked length for our armored cable is 5 feet (1.5 meter). After discussing the amount of movement with the table and the desired distance to the control panel, EXAIR could not use an item off the shelf. But not to worry… Since we are the manufacturer, we have the ability to make a special design for this customer.

Super Ion Air Knife Part Numbering System

I recommended a model 112220-10 special length Gen4 Super Ion Air Knife Kit. (Reference model numbering system above). Specials are non-returnable and non-cancelable, but for this customer, it was exactly what they needed. The Gen4 Super Ion Air Knives are engineered to efficiently blow ionized air to the target and remove static charge and debris.

For this special model, it was made to a specific width where the Super Air Knife was manufactured to a length of 20” (508mm), and the high voltage cable was lengthened to 10 feet (3 meters). The kit includes the Gen4 Power Supply to power the Ionizing Bar, a filter to clean the compressed air, a regulator to control the force, and a shim set to change force rates. This complete kit had everything required to begin operations to remove static and cob material from their precision tubes. The customer was able to mount the special length Gen4 Super Ion Air Knife within the shaker table and mount the power supply near the control panel.

Static can be an issue even with coated metal parts. For the customer above, EXAIR was able to make a special length Gen4 Super Ion Air Knife to work in their system. If you believe that static is causing issues, EXAIR has a great range of Gen4 Static Eliminators to remove that nuisance. You can discuss further with an Application Engineer as EXAIR for help; even if you need a custom product.

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

Gen4 Static Eliminators: Cleaning as a Preventative Maintenance

The Gen4 Static Eliminators have been successful for EXAIR because of our robust design and great performance. They are rugged enough to be used in many industrial areas. EXAIR manufactures two styles; with and without compressed air assistance. For both types, preventative maintenance is still required to keep the Gen4 product line functioning optimally. In this blog, I will describe how to clean the points for years of hassle-free operations.

There are two common ways that an anti-static product will start to drift; contamination buildup and emitter point degradation. The degree of buildup is dependent on the environment. To create an ion, we have to apply a high voltage to a fine point. The high voltage is supplied by our Gen4 Power Supplies which generate 5,000 volts from a selectable 115Vac or 230Vac input. As the high voltage is pushed into a fine point; the energy creates a corona field.

Any contamination near or around that point can collect on its tip. The more contamination in the surrounding area, the faster the buildup will occur. Once the point gets coated, the ion production begins to decrease. Before this happens, the points should be cleaned with a soft-bristled brush as a preventative maintenance. Make sure that the power is turned off to the power supply and please do not use any liquid or cleaners on the points.

The second way is caused when the ionizing tips start to lose its sharpness caused by the cycle rate of ion production. Like a wick in a candle, a bit of material is lost over time. To mitigate this, our resistor-based line has replaceable ion points. This feature makes a cost-effective way to keep the points sharp, and the Static Eliminators like new. The video below shows how to clean and replace the ion points.

For any analysis with the Static Eliminators, EXAIR offers a model 7905 Static Meter. The Static Meter can help to find problem areas for best placement for the Gen4 Static Eliminators. It can also help to diagnose any static issues when cleaning is required and to help decide a preventative maintenance schedule. Whether is it a single point or multiple point product, the video above will help you to keep your machines running smoothly.

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”   With a maintenance schedule and a soft-bristled brush, you can protect your equipment from many issues with static. This would include machines jamming, difficult alignments, collection of debris, and hazardous shocks. EXAIR has a large line of Gen4 Static Eliminators to remove these static nuisances, and with the cleaning instructions above, you will have years of effective static removal. If static is affecting your operation, you can contact an Application Engineer at EXAIR to help select the correct solution.

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

Ion Air Jet Applications

While writing my blog last week on all of the features & benefits of the Gen4 Ion Air Jet, I couldn’t help but think of some of the very interesting and successful uses I’ve seen in my nine years (as of this past Monday) as an Application Engineer at EXAIR Corporation.  In honor of my workaversary, this week’s edition is Russ’ Top 9 Ion Air Jet applications:

  1. A medical device manufacturer uses Ion Air Jets to remove dust from plastic extrusion as it goes through a puller belt.  The small diameter (0.05″ to 0.10″) made the Ion Air Jet a more efficient fit than the Super Ion Air Wipe, which is commonly used for extrusions like this, but is most effective for larger diameters.
  2. A maker of large scale automated machinery has provided Ion Air Jets (as well as other EXAIR quiet, efficient, and safe compressed air products) on machines they’ve been selling their customers for years.  When they started machining their own plastic parts, the Ion Air Jet was their first thought for a solution when plastic chips started sticking to their drill bits.
  3. A commercial printer makes displays, signs, etc. from a variety of static-prone materials such as acrylic, polycarbonate, and styrene.  They use CNC routers to cut them to size & shape, form the edges, and add dimensional detail.  Ion Air Jets blow the dust & shavings away, and keep them away, greatly reducing the prep time between routing and assembly.
  4. A weather sealing/stripping manufacturer uses Ion Air Jets to remove statically charged dust from their rubber & foam product extrusions, allowing for increased line speeds and better cuts for the products they cut for specific seal packages for the residential & commercial door and automotive industries, among others.
  5. A major provider of electrical and electronic contactors uses Ion Air Jets to blow off contact strip as it rolls off large reels to remove protective film and static.
  6. A manufacturer of wire marking machinery installs Ion Air Jets on their machines that are used to print on products with especially static-prone jackets, to ensure clean and crisp markings
  7. A cable manufacturer that caters to the computer & electronic industries uses Ion Air Jets to remove static & dust as foil is applied to PVC coated wire.  This eliminates the static charge that was causing inconsistencies when the adhesive was heated to activate.
  8. A wholesale food equipment distributor uses Ion Air Jets to blow out bottles during the sterilization process, prior to filling.
  9. A maker of specialty polymers uses Ion Air Jets to keep fine powders from accumulating in the entries into their hoppers.
Some applications call for a fixed-in-place solution, like the (above, from left) Super Ion Air Knife, Super Ion Air Wipe, Ion Air Jet, and Ion Air Cannon.) Others are best suited to the hand-held convenience of the Ion Air Gun.  Whatever your static problem is, though, EXAIR has a solution for you!

If you have a problem with static, the Ion Air Jet is just one of the solutions EXAIR Corporation can provide.  If you’d like to find out more about how we can help, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Static Eliminators, Gen4 Ionizing Points: Overview

Gen4 Ionizing Points

EXAIR has an extensive static control product line called the Gen4 Static Eliminators. In this blog, I will cover our smallest unit, Model 8199 Gen4 Ionizing Point™. They are a low-cost solution for point-of-use targeting. They are UL Component Recognized as well as CE compliant in safety and electromagnetic compatibility. EXAIR was also able to keep compliant with RoHS and REACH with our updated product design.

Static is all around us. It is caused by non-conductive materials having their electrons move from one atom to another. When parts get bumped, rubbed, or peeled; static can be generated. Process problems will start to appear like jamming, alignment, debris clinging and hazardous shock to personnel. The Gen4 Ionizing Point is a single point ionizer and is a great solution to remove static chstatic discharge, static arges within in small compact areas. And they can be used in air duct systems that already have their own air supply to blow ionized air.

The Gen4 Static Eliminators are specifically made for rugged industrial use. And the Gen4 Ionizing Point falls into that same group. It may be small, but it is durable. The high voltage cable has a robust construction; made from a PVC coated, stainless steel armored cable to withstand many common hazards and abrasions. The ionization is created by a stainless steel emitter point which is removable and replaceable. This helps to insure continuous problem-free operations. And once the emitter point wears from use, it can be replaced very simply and economically. The Gen4 Ionizing Point comes standard with a 5-foot (1.5 meter) cable; but, other cable lengths up to 50 feet (15 meter) can be made upon request. This shockless design has an integrated ground to connect the Gen4 Ionizing Point to the Gen4 Power Supply. Thus, no separate ground connections are required.

Model 8299
Ionizing Point

The ionizers are powered by a 5,000 Vac Gen4 Power Supply. The input voltage is selectable for either 115Vac or 230Vac in both 50/60 hz; and, the alternating current will create both negative and positive ions. So, no matter what type of static charge is on the surface, the Gen4 Ionizing Point will be able to remove it. The Gen4 Power Supplies come in either a 2-port or 4-port design; so, you can power multiple ionizers with one power supply. Together, they can eliminate static very quickly; even at 2” (51mm) from the surface.

Model 7905 Digital Static Meter

Some industrial areas that could use the Gen4 Ionizing Point would be slitting, trimming, hemming, winding, labeling, or for neutralizing duct air. Static is an invisible force that can cause many issues and problems. To find if static is a problem in your application, EXAIR does offer a Digital Static Meter, model 7905, to measure the amount of static in kilovolts. It is a great tool for finding problem areas in your process as well as determining the effectiveness of the treatment.

How could this get any better for our U.S. and Canadian customers? EXAIR is offering a free promotional item, an AC Sensor, with a purchase of any of the Gen4 Static Eliminators until February 29th, 2020. This is a $58.00 value which you will get for free. This sensor provides a non-contact way to verify if voltage is present. A red light at the tip will glow, and an audible tone will sound when voltage is detected. The model 7929 AC Sensor is an ideal tool to quickly verify that power is going to your ionizer. This instrument will also work for finding power in receptacles, junction boxes, switches and breaks inside power cords. Batteries are included, so you can start using it right after purchasing a robust Gen4 Static Eliminator, including the Gen4 Ionizing Point.

If you find that static is creating process difficulties, wasting time, and costing you money, EXAIR has a large line of Gen4 Static Eliminators that can help you. We stock product from 108” (2743mm) wide down to the Gen4 Ionizing Point. If you would like to discuss further, you can contact an Application Engineer at EXAIR for help in selecting the correct model for your static problems.

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

Eliminating Static in Industrial Processes

Ever wonder what causes that annoying shock you get when you go to grab a plastic or metal piece. That is a phenomenon caused by static electricity. This static is an electrical surface charge that is generated and when two surfaces come in contact with each other and generate an electrical charge from friction, separation, or simple contact. If the material in question is not grounded properly the electrical charge will continue to accumulate until it comes in contact with a proper ground or the path of least resistance to discharge the built up static and return to a neutral state.

Static

Static is generated on the atomic level from the exchange of valance electrons on each surface. The energy produced from the friction, separation or contact cause those valance electrons to enter an excited state; when in this excited state they begin to jump back and forth from atom to atom. When this happens, the atoms begin to accumulate either a positive charge if the atom lost electrons or a negative charge if the atom gained electrons. As the charge accumulates on the surface were the friction occurs if a ground source (i.e. piece of metal or a person) comes in close proximity to the charged surface an arc is generated between the two surfaces returning the originally charged surface to a neutral state.

Static can be harmful to both employees and product in an industrial environment. If a static arc is generated in the presence of either flammable, combustible, or explosive liquids or gasses the arc can cause an ignition of the material. Static can also cause the charged object to stick or cling to various surfaces causing clogs in pipes and issues when trying to separate the material one at a time. This phenomenon is called static cling.

Even though static is very easy to generate it can just as easily be dissipated; EXAIR’s line of static eliminating devices use a high voltage emitter point to generate a small zone of ions which consists of both positive and negative charges to dissipate the static build up on the surface. Also, when the various emitter points and ion bars are coupled with our compressed air products, the air carries the ions much farther and can dissipate static up to 20’ away. The best part is that about the line of our line of static eliminators is that they are shockless; this means that if somebody bumps into it, they won’t get shocked.

Gen 4 Super Ion Air Knife Eliminating Static with Ions

For more information on EXAIR’s Static Eliminators and any of EXAIR‘s 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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Super Ion Air Wipes – Eliminate Static on Wire, Cable, Extrusions

Gen4 Super Ion Air Wipe

As the colder dryer months are upon us, static electricity will be more frequent and will become a real nuisance.  Machines will start jamming, alignments will be difficult, dirt will collect to surfaces, and hazardous sparks can shock personnel.  EXAIR manufactures a line of Gen4 Static Eliminators to remove this nuisance.

EXAIR manufactures eight different product lines in two different styles within our Gen4 Static Eliminators.  In this blog, I will be covering the Super Ion Air Wipe.  This product blows ionized air in a 360-degree pattern.  They are engineered to remove static and debris from the outside of hoses, plastic pipe, extrusions, and coated wires.  With a split design, the Gen4 Super Ion Air Wipe can easily mount around the product without having to re-thread.  EXAIR stocks two different sizes with a 2” (51mm) and 4” (102mm) inside diameter. The Super Ion Air Wipes give a fast static-decay, a shockless and non-radioactive design, variable flow and force, low air consumption and no moving parts.

8462 Super Ion Air Wipe Kit

The Gen4 Super Ion Air Wipe can be purchased as a kit which will include the power supply (required for ionization), a filter separator (to clean contamination from the compressed air), and a pressure regulator (to control the blowing force).  The filter and regulator are properly sized to avoid any air flow restrictions or loss of performance which can occur when using components which are not suited for the application.

Static

Generally speaking, static is generated from non-conductive surfaces being “rubbed”.  This could be from going over rollers on a conveyor, stacking product onto each other, sheet feeding, and even peeling away a backing material.  When non-conductive surfaces, or insulators, are moved or separated, electrons are “stripped” and redistribute on to different areas of the surface.  Static charges are typically measured in kilovolts (kV), or 1,000 volts, and they can be either positive or negative.  The higher the charge, the stronger the static force.  In reference, at 10 kilovolts, a spark can jump one inch (25 mm) from the surface.   EXAIR offers a Digital Static Meter, model 7905, to measure the amount of static voltage on a surface.  It is a great tool for finding problem areas in your process as well as determining the effectiveness of the treatment.

All EXAIR Gen4 Static Eliminators use one of two Power Supplies – your choice of the 2-port Model 7960, or the 4-port Model 7961.

These ionizers are powered by a 5,000V AC power supply.  The alternating current, AC, will create both negative ions and positive ions.  So, no matter the polarity of charge on the surface, the Gen4 Static Eliminators will be able to remove it.  The power supplies come in either a 2 port or 4 port design so you can power multiple Gen4 Static Eliminators with one power supply.  The input power is selectable from either 115VAC or 230VAC in both 50/60 Hz.   Two armored and electromagnetic shielded cables connect the Super Ion Air Wipe to the power supply. This will help to protect the cable from abrasions, cuts and splits which can be common in rugged industrial areas.

Static can be a real nuisance with shocking operators, “sticking” debris, and jamming processes.  If you run into these issues in your application, no matter the shape, EXAIR has a Gen4 Static Eliminator for you.  Even if you have cylindrical objects like tubes, pipes, hoses and extrusions; EXAIR can provide the Gen4 Super Ion Air Wipes in stock.  For more information, you can contact one of our Application Engineers at EXAIR.

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