EXAIR Super Air Knives: Customized for You

In a recent blog “EXAIR Super Air Knives: Overview”, I shared the features and benefits that puts the “Super” in the Super Air Knives.  But, let’s not define ourselves by our widest range of lengths and materials that we stock.  EXAIR can also customize the Super Air Knives to fit your requirements.  Many manufacturers like to make their standard items and expect the customers to adapt to their design.  But at EXAIR, customer service is our primary focus.

EXAIR manufactures our products at one location in Cincinnati, Ohio.  So, this gives us the flexibility to do many things like making adaptive configurations with our Super Air Knives.  Here are some examples that our customers requested.

  • Special lengths: EXAIR stocks standard incremental lengths from 3” (76mm) up to 108” (2.74 meters) in aluminum, 303SS, and 316SS materials; or 3” (76mm) to 54” (1,372mm) for PDVF Super Air Knives. But sometimes, the Super Air Knife has to fit into a specific area where a standard length will not work.  This is where EXAIR exceeds, and we can make any length metric or imperial between the ranges above.

    PVC Super Air Knife
  • Other materials: There isn’t a single material that is inert to all chemicals. In some rare cases, the environment can chemically attack our Stainless Steel or PVDF Super Air Knives.  So, a different material may have to be used.  For the customer above, they required a PVC material for a phosphorous environment.

    Curved and Thin Super Air Knives
  • Critical Dimensions: When the Super Air Knives have to adapt inside machines or in tight areas, we can modify the profile.  We have two special applications (reference above) that needed a design change for fit and function.  A curved Super Air Knife was used to hold tubes on a rotary table; and a thin Super Air Knife that was only 11/16” (17.5mm) thick cleaned a mold for circuit chips.

    Super Air Knife special mounting
  • Add-ons: EXAIR understands the importance of connecting to our Super Air Knives to get the greatest performance.  Our stock product has ¼” NPT inlet air ports along the bottom and one at each end.  We have ¼” – 20 threaded holes for mounting along the bottom as well.  But if you want threaded holes in a specific location for mounting or need the inlet air ports to be metric threads, EXAIR can accommodate these features.

    Double-sided Super Air Knife
  • Situational Applications:  Super Air Knives can have complex or simple changes depending on the application.  As an example, EXAIR created a design for a double-sided Super Air Knife to blow a laminar stream of air 180 degrees apart (reference photo above).   A simpler proposal was to replace the cap screws in a 316SS Super Air Knife with hygienic screws for food applications to remove crevices for bacterial growth.
  • OE Protection: In today’s market, it is important to protect your business.  At EXAIR, we can make a special Super Air Knife to blow, dry, or cool in your custom machines.  With a unique model number, EXAIR can help support and protect your business for future and replacement business.

Remember, your imagination is the beginning of creation.  If you cannot find a specific design to be used in your compressed air application, don’t give up.  Contact an Application Engineer at EXAIR to see if we can help you.  We have a team of engineers that can evaluate the fit and function to create a “Super” blow-off solution.  For the customers above, we were able to propose a unique Super Air Knife to work in their application; not the other way around.

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

Super Air Knives: Another Intelligent Compressed Air Solution with Quick ROI

Any time you’re considering a new purchase your return on investment is a critical aspect of the decision-making process. A recent case for me this past year was the purchase of a new riding lawn mower. What used to take me 2-hours to mow my entire yard, now only takes 45 minutes. Mowing 1 time per week throughout the growing season, I was able to save over an hour of my time each week! Considering that I’ll mow the lawn approximately 25 times per year, that’s more than a full day’s worth of time saved over the course of a year.

Some products, however, provide a monetary value due to reduced operating costs. For example, an LED light bulb may cost more initially but will use less energy to operate as well as have a longer lifespan than an incandescent bulb. You can calculate, down to the day, when you’ll recoup the costs difference from buying the more expensive bulb.

The same can be said for EXAIR’s Intelligent Compressed Air Products. An extrusion company had a line where they were using (3) modular-hose style flat nozzles. (1) was placed just before a water bath to remove some of the initial heat, (2) were then placed as the material exited the bath to dry the material after it was cooled. While they did work, they had begun to notice pressure drops in their compressed air system that was causing issues for other processes in the facility.

KIMG0161

The (3) nozzles were all operated at 50 PSIG consuming 17 SCFM per nozzle for a total consumption of 51 SCFM. They were operated for one full 8-hour shift, 5 days per week.

51 SCFM x 60 mins x 8-hours = 24,480 SCF/day

Since they had a range of different sizes of material they process with the widest up to 2.5”, we recommended replacing the modular style hose flat nozzles with EXAIR’s 3” Super Air Knife. At a pressure of 50 PSIG, (3) Model 110003 Super Air Knives consumes just 17.1 SCFM.

17.1 SCFM x 60 mins x 8-hours = 8,208 SCF/day

By implementing the Super Air Knife, they reduced their compressed air consumption for this particular application by 66.4%!! But, just how quickly will that air savings provide them with a return on their investment? Let’s calculate the savings:

The average cost for compressed air is $0.25/1000 SCF. Before the installation of the Super Air Knives, the total consumption was 24,480 SCF/day.

24,480 SCF x $0.25/1000 SCF = $6.12/ day

With the Super Air Knives, this was reduced to just 8,208 SCF/ day:

8,208 SCF x $0.25/1000 SCF = $2.05/ day

Total Savings – $4.07 each day!!!

The 2019 list price on the Model 110003 is $206.00. Since they bought (3) their total investment was $618.00.

$618.00/$4.07 = 151.84 (152 days)

On the 152nd day, the customer will have saved enough money from the reduced air consumption to account for the initial purchase price of the Super Air Knives. Once they’re paid for, it isn’t like you just stop saving money. These knives will continue to save money, each shift, day in and day out. If there’s a process in your facility that you can improve upon, give us a call. We’re also able to test it out here at EXAIR and report back to you on the savings through our free Efficiency Lab!

Tyler Daniel
Application Engineer
E-mail: TylerDaniel@EXAIR.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_TD

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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It’s Starting to Look a Lot Like Static Season

Well the dog days of summer have come to an end, and the cold dry air of winter is on the horizon! There’s one other thing that comes along with the cold dry air of winter, and that’s SANTA! (Sorry that was the child in me).

Actually, it’s STATIC! During the warmer months the moisture in the air does a good job at eliminating a good amount of excess static charge. But as that cold dry air comes into play you need another way to rid your production of static or things will start to go wrong.

Foam Static
Static holding foam bead material to a surface.

In many painting or finishing applications dust and debris from the ambient environment can settle on the part prior to painting or coating. Just blowing them off with a standard air gun won’t remove all of the particles if they’re statically charged. The static must be neutralized in order to remove it or it’ll cause imperfections in the paint or coating. This often results in a high amount of rejected parts that must be scrapped out.

Other processes that benefit from static removal include printing, slitting, molding, sheeting/trimming, shrink wrapping and packaging.

Static Eliminators
Static Eliminators

Break out your fall / winter gear and enjoy the cooler weather and activities that accompany the coming of Fall, but don’t let static wreak havoc in your processes. EXAIR has a wide range of solutions available that are designed to solve these problems. Give an Application Engineer a call and we’ll be happy to help recommend the best solution.

Jordan Shouse
Application Engineer

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A Brief History of Compressed Air

So where exactly did compressed air come from? How did it become so widely used and where will it go? Both of these are great questions and the answers lie below.

Compressed air can be traced all the way back to the classic bellows that were used to fuel blacksmith fires and forges.  These started as hand pumped bellows, they then scaled up to foot pumped, multiple person pumped, oxen or horse driven and then eventually waterwheel driven.  All of these methods came about due to the demand for more and more compressed air. These bellows did not generate near the amount of air pressure or volume needed for modern day practices yet they worked in the times.  These early bellows pumps would even supply miners with air.

With the evolution of metallurgy and industry these bellows were replaced by wheel driven fans, then steam came about and began generating more industrial sources of power.  The main issue with steam was that it would lose its power over longer runs of pipe due to condensing in the pipes.  Thus the birth of the air compressor was born. One of the largest projects that is noted to first use compressed air was in 1861 during the build of the Mont Cenis Tunnel in Switzerland in which they used compressed air machinery.  From here the constant need and evolution for on-demand compressed air expanded.  The picture below showcases two air compressors from 1896.

compressed_air_28189629_281459402261829
Air Compressors from the old days.

The compressors evolved over time from single stage, to two-stage reciprocating, on to compound, rotary-screw compressors, rotary vane, scroll, turbo, and centrifugal compressors with variable frequency drives.  The efficiency of each evolution has continued to increase.  More output for the same amount of input.  Now we see a two-stage compressor, considered old technology, and wonder how the company can get any work done.

All of the technological advances in compressor technology were driven by the demand sides of the compressed air systems.  Companies needed to power more, go further, get more from less, ultimately increase production.  With this constant increase in demand, the supply of compressed air increased and more efficient products for using compressed air began to evolve so the air was used more efficiently.

Enter EXAIR, we evolved the blowoff to meet the increasing demands of industrial companies to get the same amount of work done with less compressed air. We have continually evolved our product offering since 1983.  It all started with just a few typed pages of part numbers and has evolved to a 208 page catalog offering of Intelligent Compressed Air Products® for industry.  We will also continue to evolve our product designs for continued improvement of compressed air usage.  This is all to better help companies retain their resources.

cat32_500p
EXAIR Catalog 32

If your company uses compressed air and you aren’t sure if it is efficiently being utilized, contact an Application Engineer.  Thanks for joining us for the brief history lesson, we look forward to hearing from you and seeing what the future brings.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
@EXAIR_BF BrianFarno@EXAIR.com

 

Compressed air (1896) (14594022618).jpg – Wikimedia Commons – Internet Archive Book Images – Link

 

The Life of a Coffee Bean

Many of us get up in the morning, and start our day with a fresh cup of coffee.  I do.  I enjoy the taste of that warm beverage as it hits my lips.  But, have you ever thought about the journey of a coffee bean from the fields to your cupboard?   I would like to share a little insight on this journey and how the EXAIR Line Vacs could be a helpful tool for coffee production.

There are over 70 countries that pick coffee beans for export.  In 2018, the International Coffee Organization reported almost 170 million bags of coffee had been exported around the world.  That is a lot of coffee.  Each bag of coffee beans weighs 60 Kilograms (132 lbs.) and is difficult to handle manually.  Line Vacs could be that vital instrument to help speed up the processes and reduce that back-breaking work.

Let’s start at the beginning.  Coffee beans are seeds that are produced on small trees or bushes.  During harvest time, the cherries (coffee seeds) are picked when ripe, and they need to be dried.  This can be done in two ways; the dry method or the wet method.  Each process has to be done quickly to prevent spoilage.  With the dry method, the beans are spread out on a table or grate to be dried by the sun.  In most cases, the beans will have to be stored in bins at night or during rain.  This drying process can last for several weeks, and the continuous movement of the beans is labor intensive.  For the wet method, this process uses water channels to isolate the heavier ripe beans, so that they can be separated by size in rotating drums.   They are then placed into large fermentation tanks to remove the outer skin layer.  The wet beans are then placed inside large driers to remove the excess water content.  In both methods, the green coffee beans are packed into sacks for exportation.

When the green coffee beans arrive to their destination, they will have to be roasted.  This will convert the green coffee beans into the aromatic brown beans that are sold at your favorite market or coffee shop.  In large operations, the green coffee beans are screened and stored in bins waiting to be roasted.  The roasting process uses hot air to “cook” the green coffee beans.  The temperature range and time will create your different types of roasts; light roast, medium roast, and dark roast.  Industrial roasting machines have loaders on top to drop the green beans into a preheated rotating drum.  Some machines can roast 100 kg (220 lbs.) of beans at one time.  The time for roasting is between 12 – 15 minutes, depending on the type of roast.  At this frequency, you can tell the “need for speed” to keep the coffee roasters operating.  Once finished, the roasted beans are dumped into a cooling tray until they can be handled.  From there, the beans are tested, qualified, and packaged for sale.

For coffee brewing, the roasted beans will need to be ground.  Grinding is an important process to get the most flavor from your coffee beans.   Commercial sized grinders will blend multiple kinds of roasted coffee beans and grind them to a desired grain size.  The grind size is very important and has to match your type of brewing.  For example, espresso uses fine grinds, drip-type coffee uses medium grinds, and cold brews and French presses use coarse grinds.  Grinding is an art as you have to match the coarseness with the contact time in hot water.  As a rule, if your coffee tastes too bitter, then the grinds are too fine.  If your coffee tastes flat, then the grinds are too coarse.  You have to experiment with different blends of roasted coffee beans, grind particle sizes, and brewing types to get that perfect cup of java for you.

Line Vacs can convey many things.

So, if you are reading this article while sipping on a cup of coffee, let me tell you a secret about the journey of the coffee bean.  For every stage above, an EXAIR Line Vac has been sold and used to transport the coffee beans.  From the coffee fields to the grinding house, Line Vacs are a great device for companies to move beans quickly and safely without manual labor.  The life of a coffee bean is only successful if it is able to reach your cupboard.  And Line Vacs can be beneficial with that success.  If you would like to discuss the types of materials that we stock, the sizes, connections types and conveyance rates, an Application Engineer at EXAIR will be happy to help you.

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

 

Photo:  Coffee Beans Cafe Roasted Caffeine Brown by Alexas_Fotos.  Pixabay License.

Photo: Still Life Coffee Beans Coffee Powder Coffee Cup by Myriams-Fotos.  Pixabay License.

Save Thousands of Dollars – Just Like You Did When Upgrading Your Light Bulbs

lightbulb-1875247_1920

The cheapest and easiest solution isn’t always necessarily the best. The best example I like to use to highlight this is the incandescent light bulb. They’re definitely the cheapest to buy, but over the useful life it will cost more in electricity to operate and it won’t last nearly as long as an LED light bulb. When you compare the costs of electricity as well as the lifespan of an incandescent bulb, it becomes quite clear that the initial price difference between the two will be quickly recouped over the lifetime of the LED bulb. Once it pays for itself, it doesn’t just stop saving you electricity. These savings continue to compound.

The same can be said when comparing the Super Air Knife to a commonly seen homemade alternative, drilled pipe. While it only takes a matter of minutes to drill a few holes into a section of pipe, the operating costs (electricity required to generate the compressed air) are significantly higher than that of the Super Air Knife. In addition, it’s not nearly as effective and is considered unsafe under OSHA 29 CFR 1910.242 (b) and depending on operating pressure is likely also considered dangerous due to the high sound levels as outlined in OSHA 29 CFR 1910.95(a).

Air exiting out of drilled holes in a pipe will create a turbulent airstream. This turbulence not only contributes to the high sound level but it’s ability to entrain surrounding ambient air is minuscule. The air entrainment ratio of a compressed air solution refers to the relationship between supplied compressed air and the free ambient air that is brought into the primary airstream. The higher the amplification ratio, the less compressed air necessary to complete a similar task. For a drilled pipe, the amplification ratio is generally around 3:1. With the Super Air Knife, this is dramatically increased with an amplification ratio of 40:1.

SAK vs drilled pipe

The Super Air Knife has a precisely set air gap across the full length of the knife, allowing for an efficient and quiet laminar airstream. When compared to a drilled pipe, the air consumption is dramatically reduced as is the sound level. For example, let’s take an 18” section of drilled pipe, with 1/16” diameter holes spaced out every ½”. At 80 PSIG, each hole consumes 3.8 SCFM. With a total of 37 holes, this equates to a total of 140.6 SCFM.

3.8 SCFM x 37 = 140.6 SCFM

A Super Air Knife, operated at 80 PSIG with .002” stock shim installed will consume a total of 2.9 SCFM per inch of knife. An 18” SAK would then consume just 52.2 SCFM.

2.9 SCFM x 18 = 52.2 SCFM

140.6 SCFM – 52.2 SCFM = 88.4 SCFM saved 

Replacing an 18” drilled pipe with a Super Air Knife represents a total reduction in compressed air consumption of 63%! How much does this equate to in $$$? A reasonable average of cost to generate compressed air is about $0.25/ 1000 SCF. Let’s assume just a 40hr workweek:

88.4 SCFM x 60 mins x $0.25/1000 SCF = $1.33/hr

$1.33 x 40hr workweek = $53.20 USD

$53.20 x 52 weeks/year = $2,766.40 USD in yearly savings

The 2019 list price on a Model 110018 Super Air Knife is $397.00. By replacing the homemade solution with an 18” Super Air Knife, the return on investment is just over 38 working days of an 8-hr shift. If your plant runs multiple shifts, or works on weekends, it pays for itself even quicker.

 

exairsak_colormedia_600x

Once the knife has paid for itself, it doesn’t just simply stop saving you money. That savings continues to compound and add to your bottom line. Don’t waste unnecessary air (and money) by using solutions that aren’t engineered to do the job in a safe and efficient manner. Reach out to an Application Engineer and get yourself an Intelligent Compressed Air Product that’s Built to Last.

Tyler Daniel
Application Engineer
E-mail: TylerDaniel@EXAIR.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_TD

Light bulb photo courtesy of Pixabay.