Compressed Air Super Air Knife vs. Blower-type Air Knife for Plastic Film Manufacturing

A plastic company produced many kinds of films and sheets.  They were having issues with one particular film, an OPS (Polystyrene) film which was 0.012” (300 microns) thick and 30” (762mm) wide.  As the material was extruded into a flat sheet, they would run it over a cold roll drum (Reference photo above).  The cold drum is a large cylinder that has chilled water running through it.  To keep the sheet on the surface of the cold drum, they used a blower air knife system.  With the blower air knife, they were having variation in thickness as well as stretch marks.  They heard about the EXAIR Super Air Knife, and they wanted me to do a comparison.  I was glad to compare the EXAIR 110230 30” Super Air Knife Kit to their blower-type air knife system.

Super Air Knife Kits include a Shim Set, Filter Separator, and Pressure Regulator.
  1. “Stretch” marks on the plastic film:
    • Blower System – Hot air is generated by the blower system. When the hot air hits the cool surface, it would cause an uneven hardening of the material, causing stretch marks.
    • Super Air Knife – It has a 40:1 amplification ratio. That means that 40 parts of the ambient air is entrained with 1 part of compressed air.  Being that the ambient air is much cooler than the hot air from the blower system, it actually aides in cooling.  There is no thermal shock to the sheet material, and hardening is consistent and faster.
  2. An even force across the plastic film:
    • Blower System – Their design had one 4” (102mm) line feeding into the side of the blower air knife. This would cause two issues for an even force.  As the velocity of the air hits the opposite side of the knife, the closed end, a turbulent air flow is developed.  Also, there would be a slight negative pressures at the entrance caused by the velocity of the air entering.  This chaotic turbulent flow caused an uneven force on the surface of the film.
    • Super Air Knife – The flow that is delivered from the Super Air Knife is laminar. This means that the force and velocity is consistent across the entire length, even on the target.  With this even force, the film was held evenly and securely on the cold drum.  With a filter, shim set, and regulator that is included in the kit, the force can be easily adjusted to the perfect requirement.
  3. Maintenance requirements:
    • Blower System – Preventative maintenance is a requirement. The blower filters have to be changed regularly, and the mechanical and electrical components have to be checked.  This requires downtime to the system.  In addition to this, blower motors are mechanical devices.  The bearings will wear and the motor will fail.  If a mechanical failure does occur, the downtime can cost days of operation.  These items should be checked quarterly as a PM which increases the cost of ownership.
    • Super Air Knife – No moving parts to wear out. The only maintenance would be to change the compressed air filter once a year.  There is no worry about catastrophic failure.
  4. Noise levels:
    • Blower System – With the blower motor and turbulent air flow, the system makes a lot of noise. They have a sound level near 93 dBA which would need PPE for nearby operators.
    • Super Air Knife – These units are very quiet. At a pressure of 100 PSIG (6.9 bar), the sound level is only 72 dBA.  No additional cost for PPE or the constant nagging disturbance of loud noises.
  5. Compact Design:
    • Blower System – The foot print of the blower is large and it takes up much floor space. The 4” (102mm) duct has to be ran to an oversized air knife (Reference photo below).  With the turbulent flow, the blower air knife has to be mounted close to the film surface.  So, it can make it difficult to optimize the placement.
    • Super Air Knife – With the compact design, the Super Air Knife has a large force in a small package. The model 110230 Super Air Knife has a footprint of 1 ¾” X 1 ½” X 30” long (44 X 38 X 762mm respectively) with only two ¼” NPT compressed air lines feeding it.  The force measurement is the same from 3” (76mm) to 12” (305mm) away from the surface; giving flexibility in placement.

When it comes to using the EXAIR Super Air Knives, it has many benefits over the blower-type air knives.  We can even include the initial purchase price in which the Super Air Knife would be about 1/10 the cost, and the company was able to increase production with a cooler blowing device.  They were delighted to remove the large blower-type system and replace it with a simple Super Air Knife.  If you would like to discuss the advantages of the Super Air Knife against a blower system, an EXAIR Application Engineer will be happy to assist.

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

What is a Super Ion Air Wipe?

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Rendering Of The GEN4 Super Ion Air Wipe In Action

 

EXAIR’s GEN4 Super Ion Air Wipe provides a uniform 360° ionized airstream that is simple to clamp around a part for reducing static electricity and cleaning contaminants. It is great for use on pipe, cable, extruded shapes, hose, wire and much more. We offer the GEN4 Super Ion Air Wipe in either 2” or 4” inner diameter, it is powered by compressed air and an external power supply. The GEN4 Super Ion Air Wipe generates both positive and negative ions that are transmitted the emitter points located on the i.d. of the wipe. Since static charges can be either negative or positive it is easy to eliminate both states of charge due to the mixed polarity of ions being generated. The power supplies are available with either 2 or 4 outlets (can power up to 2 or 4 GEN4 Static Eliminators simultaneously) and are UL recognized, CE and RoHS compliant. The power supplies also have a selectable input voltage for either 115 or 230VAC.

Another great feature of the GEN4 Super Ion Air Wipe is the split collar design that utilizes a clamp and hinge making it easy to clamp around the surface of the material moving through it eliminating the need for time consuming “threading”.

2nd Pic.jpg

How does the Super Ion Air Wipe work? The Super Ion Air Wipe envelopes the part passing through it with a stream of compressed air to strip contaminants and bathes it with ions to diminish any static charge. The airflow follows the surface of the material passing through it and can be effective up to 15′ (4.6m) away from where the Super Ion Air Wipe is located. The optional pressure regulator allows for fine adjustments of the air volume and velocity and the optional shim set allows for large air volume and velocity adjustments.

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How The GEN4 Super Ion Wipe Works

 

If you would like to discuss reducing static and/or cleaning of continuous runs of  materials, I would enjoy hearing from you…give me a call.

Steve Harrison
Application Engineer
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Cooling Gelatin Pills Using The Mini Cooler

I recently worked with an OEM on a cooling application for a gelatin pill forming machine they designed for their customer. In their machine design, the gelatin film leaves an extruding machine then travels between 2 punch rollers to form the pills. After the pills are formed, they are supposed to drop onto a chute feeding a conveyor to carry the pills to the bottling/packaging area.

View of machine showing direction of travel for the film and punch rollers

The problem they were having was the film was retaining heat which caused the pills to occasionally stick to the roller, resulting in rejects and lost production time. They were looking for an economical way to blow cold air across the rollers and film but were concerned about putting too much demand on their customer’s compressed air system.

After reviewing the photos and discussing the details, I recommended they use our Model # 3308 Mini Cooler System with dual point hose kit. The Mini Cooler provides a 50°F temperature drop from the incoming supply air temperature and provides 550 Btu/hr. of cooling capacity. The system includes a swivel mag base for easy installation while the dual point hose kit would allow them to direct the cold air to blow across both rollers from a single device. Compressed air demand is minimal, at only 8 SCFM @ 100 PSIG, alleviating their concern for the customer’s compressed air system.

Model 3308 Mini Cooler System with 2-cold outlets – provides a focused stream of 20°F air (based on ambient supply of 70°F)

If you are having heat related issues with your process or to discuss a particular application or product, give me a call, I ‘d be happy to help.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer
justinnicholl@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_JN

 

Super Air Knife Provides Tension with Fine Adjustment for a Lightweight Plastic Film

A company had a small converting machine that was winding a plastic film onto a roll. The width of the plastic film was only 3” across, and the amount of tension required for a consistent roll was small. The maximum amount of tension without damaging the plastic film was 16 ounces of force.  In converting media onto rolls, it is very important to control the tension on the web to reduce defects like wrinkles, out-of-round rolls, or stretching.

They explained the setup that they were trying. They had a 4” manifold with two 2” wide “duck-foot” nozzles attached.  They sent a hand drawing to better describe what they were using. (See below).  The issue that they were seeing was too much variation in the blowing force being applied to the film.  To get near the correct blowing force, they had to start at an air pressure of about 18 PSIG.  As they ran the process, the operator would have to adjust the pressure continuously to evenly roll the film onto the core.  The process was out of control, and they wondered if EXAIR had a better way to evenly exert this force.

Dual Flat Nozzle Manifold
Dual Flat Nozzle Manifold

In analyzing the drawing and their setup, I noticed a couple of things that could cause the variations. I modified his drawing to better explain the situation (Reference below).  As compressed air leaves the two flat nozzles, the center section will overlap.  This overlap will cause turbulence in the air flow pattern.  In order to get an even distribution of forces across the width of the product, turbulence cannot exist.  Turbulence is a mixing pattern where the velocity is not linear; thus, causing high and low pressure points on the target.  The other thing that I noticed was the low air pressure that they could not go above.  This limited the precision of the incremental forces.  Because of the fixed openings of the two nozzles, they had to have a ceiling with the air pressure at 18 PSIG for 16 ounces of force.  If they had to “bump” the force level, the change was difficult to hit exactly.  If we divided the 16 ounces of force between 0 – 18 PSIG, we would get roughly 0.9 ounce of force per PSIG.  You lose the accuracy to make fine adjustments.

Overlap of air flow pattern
Overlap of air flow pattern

I recommended our model 110003, 3” Super Air Knife and a model 110303 Shim Set. The Super Air Knife blows compressed air across the entire length.  Without any overlap, the flow is laminar, and the velocity profile is moving in the same direction.  Thus, an even force across the entire 3 inches.  The Shim Set comes with additional shim thicknesses of 0.001”, 0.003”, and 0.004” thick (the standard thickness of 0.002” is installed in the Super Air Knife). In working with such a precise force requirement, they needed additional options for more control.  They could change the shims as a coarse adjustment and adjust their pressure regulator as a fine adjustment.  This combination gave them the best results to accurately dial in the correct force and not damage the material.  With the maximum requirement of 16 ounces across 3 inches of film, they were able to change the shim to the 0.004” thickness.  For the model 110003 Super Air Knife, it put them at a maximum pressure of 86 PSIG, not 18 PSIG.  Thus the increment was now 0 – 86 PSIG for 16 ounces of force, or 0.19 ounces per PSIG.  There was much more resolution to make smaller changes to the force levels thus optimizing their adjustment range.

Super Air Knife with Shim Set
Super Air Knife with Shim Set

In replacing the competitor’s product with a Super Air Knife, our customer had all the necessary control to wrap rolls of film without issue. The setup with the nozzles on a manifold design resulted in turbulence, which was noisy and produced inconsistent results.  It also restricted their adjustment resolution in changing forces, as they do not use shims.  If you would like to exert a greater degree of precision blowing with products like the Super Air Knife, please contact us. We would be happy to discuss your application and help you meet such goals.

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