Factors in Selecting an Air Knife – Size, Materials, Stock Levels, Accessories

Super Air Knife Family

EXAIR has been manufacturing Intelligent Compressed Air® products since 1983.  In the beginning, the Standard Air Knives and Full Flow Air Knives were very effective at that time.  But as leaders in this market, EXAIR did not want to stop there.  We were able to engineer a more efficient, more powerful, and much safer air knife, the Super Air Knife.  In this blog, I will discuss the features and benefits that the Super Air Knives can offer.

Bernoulli’s principle explains how a high velocity fluid can generate a low pressure.  The EXAIR Super Air Knife creates a high velocity air stream to produce a low pressure to entrain ambient air.   What does this mean for you?  It will save you much money by using less compressed air.  The mass of the ambient air is added into the air stream to give a strong blowing force.  The Super Air Knife has an amplification ratio of 40:1. For every 1 part of compressed air, 40 parts of ambient air is drawn into the blowing air stream.  Ambient air is free, and compressed air is expensive.  EXAIR was able to engineer a design to use the Bernoulli’s principle to make one of the most efficient air knives in the market place.

EXAIR Super Air Knife model 1100108

What else makes EXAIR unchallenged?  We manufacture and stock the widest range in lengths and materials.  To start, EXAIR has Super Air Knives ranging from 3” to 108” (76mm to 2,743mm) in three different materials; aluminum, 303 stainless steel, and 316/316L stainless steel.  There is no-one else in this industry that can manufacture to those lengths.  EXAIR also offers Super Air Knives in PVDF material with Hastelloy hardware for chemical resistant applications from 3” to 54” (76mm to 1,372mm).  Depending on the temperature requirement, chemical resistance, OSHA and FDA regulations, or application details, we probably will have one on the shelf for you.  If EXAIR does not have it, we can make special air knives in different lengths and materials to best fit your application.

Some interesting features for the Super Air Knives are as follows.  They have a compact design that can fit into tight places for blowing and cooling.  The footprint is very small compared to blower-air knife system.  They do not have any moving parts to wear or maintenance to do.  They only need clean compressed air to work.  They blow a laminar air stream which reduces noise levels and create a consistent force along the entire length.  An even force will give you tighter control for blowing applications which will cut compressed air usage unlike the inconsistent and turbulent air flows caused by drilled pipes.

To adjust the force and air usage, this can be easily controlled with a regulator.  The advantage that EXAIR Super Air Knives have is the replaceable shims.  So, you can increase or decrease the gap to get a variety of force ratings.  The Aluminum version uses colored plastic shims for visual verification.  They come stock with a 0.002” (0.05mm) red shim installed.  We have other thicknesses in our Shim Sets which includes a 0.001” (0.03mm), 0.003” (0.08mm), and a 0.004” (0.10mm) colored as amber, green, and tan respectively.  The Stainless Steel Super Air Knives come with a stainless steel shim for higher temperatures and chemical resistance.  Stock units have the 0.002” (0.05mm) thickness as well.  The Shim Sets come with three additional 0.002” (0.05mm) shims to stack.  Similarly, the PVDF Super Air Knives use a PTFE shim for maximum chemical resistance.  It is also 0.002” (0.05mm) thick, and there are three more shims in the Shim Set.  This unique feature of using shims allows for the most flexibility in creating forces for different applications ranging from a blast to remove rocks from a conveyor to a breeze for light duty work.

Super Air Knife Kit

We also offer the Super Air Knives in kits as a more complete system.  The kit includes a filter, regulator and the above-mentioned Shim Set.  The filter removes the debris and water from the compressed air line to optimize the performance of the air knife as well as keeping your product clean.  The regulator is used to make the “fine” adjustment to the blowing force while the shim set is used as the “coarse” adjustment.  EXAIR sells this kit as one model number for simple ordering, and the accessories are properly sized to not hinder the performance of the Super Air Knife.

To optimize the system even more, EXAIR offers a Deluxe Kit for the Aluminum and Stainless Steel models.  This includes the accessories in the kit above, plus an Electronic Flow Control, or EFC.  This exclusive instrument uses a photoelectric eye to start a timing sequence to control a solenoid valve.  So, when a part is not in front of the Super Air Knife for cleaning or cooling, the compressed air is turned off.  This will save you even more money and maximize your efficiency to only blow air when needed.

Plumbing Kits

For the longer Super Air Knives, EXAIR can install a Plumbing Kit, or PKI, to help attach your compressed air to the Air Knife.  They are designed to help lessen the time for install as well as to properly supply compressed air equally along the entire length, specifically for 24” (610mm) and longer.  We can offer the Plumbing Kit separately if you find that it could benefit your fabricators during installation.  EXAIR also offers a Coupling Kit for the Aluminum and Stainless Steel versions.  If you need to extend past the 108” (2,743 mm) width, the Coupling Kit is designed to mount Super Air Knives together at the ends.  You will still get that consistent blowing force along the multiple of Air Knives.  Another helpful accessory is the Universal Air Knife Mounting System.  It has a bracket and an articulated arm that can reach up to 30” (762mm).  With this system, you can position your air knife securely and precisely in any orientation.  It attaches easily to your Super Air Knife and gives you the flexibility to maximize the blowing effect at your target.

Universal Mounting System

With the today’s cost in making compressed air, it is important to use it as efficiently as possible.  The Standard and Full Flow Air Knives would be good options to use.  But the best way to conserve is with the Super Air Knife.  If you have any questions about the Super Air Knife or if you would like to discuss an application, you can contact an Application Engineer at EXAIR.   We will be glad to help you.

John Ball
Application Engineer

Email: johnball@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb

 

Air Operated Industrial Vacuum Helps Reclaim Grass Seed and Save Thousands

A customer who produces bags of grass seed were experiencing a large amount of lost product due to spillage during the bagging process. Any spillage they would typically sweep up and throw away. This sweeping would take a good amount of time. Their goal was to determine a way to speed it up the cleaning and see if it was possible to reclaim the seed that was currently scrapped.

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EXAIR has a broad line of industrial vacuums for a variety of jobs. In this case we recommended our Chip Vac.

EXAIR’s Chip Vac is a compressed air operated industrial duty vacuum designed for vacuuming up dry (or mostly dry) products. The powerful vacuum is suitable for use with metal, wood, or plastic chips and is designed to thread into the 2” NPT bung on standard drum lids. The Chip Vac can handle dry or coolant soaked chips from fixtures, floors and work surfaces of machining centers, lathes, saws, mills, and a variety of other industrial equipment. It was also very suitable for this grass seed application.

Electrically powered vacuums or shop vacs are not designed to be operated in a rugged industrial environment. Filters clog, motors wear out, and you find yourself frequently replacing them. EXAIR’s Chip vac has NO moving parts to wear out, doesn’t require maintenance, and needs nothing but a source of compressed air to operate. In addition, the sound level produced is half of that produced by an electric vacuum.

Chip Vacs-all
From left to right: 5 gallon, 30 gallon, 55 gallon, and 110 gallon Chip Vacs are sized for any cleanup need.

Using the Model 6193 Chip Vac System they were able to reclaim lost product in and around the machines in less time and more efficiently.  While the recovered seed could not be used in their certified premium product, they were able to add it to the “contractors” blend. Saving them around $2,500 annually!

Don’t waste your time, get yourself a vacuum designed for the job. One that’ll last year after year! With these systems in stock, ready to ship with an order by 3:00 ET, a unconditional 30 day guarantee and backed up by our 5-Year Warranty, there’s no reason not to give one a try!

Jordan Shouse
Application Engineer

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Twitter: @EXAIR_JS

Images Courtesy of Oregon Grass Seed Bag Creative Commons.

Better Understand Your Blowoff Process with EXAIR’s FREE Efficiency Lab

panoramic view
The EXAIR Efficiency Lab

Many customers may not have the means to test the air consumption of their blowoff solutions. With compressed air being the most expensive utility in a manufacturing facility, it’s important to identify places where you can save money on your overall operating costs. EXAIR manufacturers a wide variety of products intended to help you reduce your compressed air usage. If you’re not able to accurately measure the consumption in your own shop, we invite you to send the products into EXAIR for testing. With EXAIR’s Award Winning Efficiency Lab, just simply contact an Application Engineer, box them up and send them to our warehouse in Cincinnati, Ohio.

EXAIR Efficiency Lab

Once we receive it, our engineers will complete some in-depth testing to determine the compressed air consumption, sound level, and force that your current solution provides. With this information, we’ll be able to compare it to an EXAIR Engineered Solution. This way we ensure that you receive the best, safest solution possible also capable of saving money through reduced air consumption and improved efficiency.  We’ll send you back a comprehensive report that’ll help you to make the best decision for your company.

I’ve been recently working with a customer that sent in one of the nozzles they’re using across all their CNC machines. They wanted us to test it out and see if we’re able to offer them something that could reduce their overall compressed air usage. The nozzle was one of the cheap plastic varieties and was attached to a commonly used modular hose. This type of modular hose is not designed for operating under high pressures. These hoses are more suitable for liquid coolant or air that is at or below atmospheric pressure.

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Inefficient and unsafe plastic nozzle

After testing, we found that at 80 psig the nozzle consumed 3.85 SCFM and produced a force of 1.92 oz. We also noticed that after 60 psig, the nozzle began to leak due to a poor seal where the nozzle met the brass hex. The EXAIR nozzle most suitable to replace this was the 1108SS. At just 2.5 SCFM at 80 psig, replacing the plastic nozzle with an engineered solution saves them 35% of their overall consumption for this blowoff. With close to 1000 of these nozzles in operation, that adds up quickly!!

In addition to increasing efficiency, replacing these nozzles also greatly increases overall worker safety. The sound level is reduced from 73 dBA to just 58 dBA and EXAIR’s nozzles also adhere to OSHA 1910.242(b). The plastic nozzles could be dead-ended, posing a hazard that can result in costly fines. These fines are assessed per infraction, so having multiple non-compliant nozzles can easily get very expensive if you’re subject to an unannounced visit by an OSHA inspector.

If you think you may have an opportunity to improve upon your existing blowoff methods, give us a call. We’ll be happy to take a closer look and have you send the product back to EXAIR for a quick trial in our Efficiency Lab. You’ll be glad you did!

Tyler Daniel
Application Engineer
E-mal: TylerDaniel@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_TD