“It’s Not Rocket Science”, or How Compressed Air Has Straightforward Applications In Aerospace

On the submarine I served on, many of us used math, specific to our jobs. Torpedo (and missile) fire control, navigation, reactor operations…even meal cooking…involved certain formulas to accomplish particular tasks. One formula we all knew and kept near & dear to our hearts, though, was:

Number of surfaces = Number of dives

And those who fly aircraft and spacecraft, in – and out of – the atmosphere, have a similar formula:

Number of landings = Number of takeoffs

While this certainly requires a great deal of skill of the operators (as does diving and surfacing a submarine), it also takes a great deal of technical acumen in the engineering and construction of those aircraft & spacecraft (and warships). Terms like “aircraft grade” inspire a high degree of confidence in the integrity of materials, and rightly so – the quality standards that manufacturers and suppliers are held accountable to are stringent and inviolate. That’s why aerospace professionals need reliable, durable, and effective equipment to do their jobs.

EXAIR Corporation has been providing this kind of equipment to the aerospace industry (and others) since 1983. Here are some examples of the applications we’ve worked with “steely eyed missile men” to solve:

  • A jet engine manufacturer makes a titanium assembly consisting of a honeycomb shaped extrusion bonded to a rigid sheet. The cells of the honeycomb are only 1/8” wide, and 3/8” deep. After fabrication, they’re washed & rinsed, and the tiny cells tend to hold water. They would invert & tap the assembly to try to get the water out, but that wasn’t always effective and occasionally led to damaging the assembly. To reduce the chance of damage (and loss) of an assembly, they built a cleaning station, using EXAIR Model HP1125 2” High Power Super Air Nozzles and Model 9040 Foot Pedals, for hands-free control of the high force blow out of the honeycomb cells. The results were increased production, decreased defects, and lower labor costs.
  • A machine shop makes composite material parts for the aerospace industry. Static charge would build up, causing the shavings to cling to most of the surfaces inside the machine. The vacuum system was unable to overcome the force of the static charge to remove it, so they called EXAIR. Our expertise in static elimination led to the specification of a Model 8494 Gen4 Stay Set Ion Air Jet System to direct ionized air onto the tool during cutting. This eliminated the static as it was generated on the shavings, allowing the vacuum system to perform as advertised. Not only did it make for a cleaner work station, the air flow provided cooling for the cutting tool, improving performance & extending life.
  • If a company works with metal parts, there’s a decent chance they operate a welding machine, and those things make smoke & fumes that, at best, are a nuisance, and at worst, are toxic. An airplane repair shop that has to weld in tight spaces needed a convenient, portable, compact way to evacuate the welding smoke and fumes. They chose a Model 120024 4” Super Air Amplifier. They’re capable of pulling in over 700 SCFM, and with a sound level of only 73dBA and lightweight aluminum construction, they’re an ideal fit for this application.
  • Certain satellites have components whose batteries must be fully charged to ensure that everything works just right. Because of the heat that charging generates, they couldn’t be charged with the spacecraft on the launch pad without cooling. Conventional methods of providing cold air (refrigerant based or cold water chillers) are too bulky, so they instead use a Model 3230 Medium Vortex Tube, capable of providing 2,000 Btu/hr worth of cooling air flow. This enables them to charge the battery until just prior to launch, making sure the batteries are as fully charged as possible, prior to deployment.
  • While the lion’s share of Vortex Tube applications involve the use of their cold flow, a number of folks do use the hot air flow, with great success. A major material supplier to the aircraft & aerospace industry makes a flexible, porous strand of material that, after fabrication, passes through a wash tank prior to cutting to size. They wanted to speed up the drying time, but it was impractical to use electrically powered hot air blowers or heat guns. By using an EXAIR Model 3275 Large Vortex Tube set to a 70% Cold Fraction, they’re able to blow a little over 22 SCFM of 220°F air onto the strand, which effectively dries it to their specification, quickly & safely.
These are some of the EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products used in the aerospace industry.

Exacting jobs call for safe, efficient, and reliable tools. Even if your job “isn’t rocket science”, the value of the right tool cannot be stressed enough. If you use – or want to use – compressed air for such a task, give me a call.

Russ Bowman, CCASS

Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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“Math Wall” image courtesy of João Trindade, Creative Commons License

2″ Flat Super Air Nozzle Produces High Force to Clean Steel Sheet

I recently worked with a customer at a company that manufactures steel sheets. They grind, polish, and then shot blast the steel sheets. As the material exits the shot blasting chamber, some of the media still sticks to the steel and is carrying over into additional processes. To mitigate this, they installed a 1” pipe with drilled holes at the exit of the conveyor to remove the excess media and keep it contained inside of the machine. While this worked, it was using a substantial amount of compressed air which was resulting in a pressure drop across the rest of the facility when this machine was in operation.

Although their current method was doing the job for them, they couldn’t live with the increased compressed air consumption. After searching the internet, they came across the EXAIR website and were interested in learning about other blowoff methods. Typically for an application involving a wide sheet of moving material we’d look towards one of our Super Air Knives, available from stock in lengths from 3”-108”. But, in this case there was some friction between the shot blasting media and the stainless steel sheet that required brute force. They needed something that was going to give them an increased amount of force, but still reduce their overall consumption.

(10) HP1125 2″ High Power Flat Nozzles installed on 1″ pipe manifold

I recommended our HP1125 High Power 2” Flat Nozzle. With a .025” thick shim installed, the HP1125 nozzle will produce 2.2 lbs of force when operated at 80 psig. This was more than enough to remove the shot blasting media. They’re also much quieter than an open blowoff, producing a sound level of just 83 dBA. While this wasn’t a motivating factor for them, the reduction in noise was definitely welcomed. They placed some on order and replaced the 1/4″ open holes with (10) Model HP1125 2” Flat Super Air Nozzles.

For comparison, (10) 1/4″ holes will consume 690 SCFM at 80 PSIG while (10) of the HP1125 comes in at just 370 SCFM. By simply installing the HP1125 (which conveniently also has a 1/4 NPT air inlet), they reduced their compressed air consumption by a whopping 46%!! By reducing air consumption they eliminated the system pressure drop, they were also able to increase the force as the compressor was able to maintain the 80 PSIG pressure at the header pipe. This also alleviated the pressure drops experienced elsewhere in the plant.

HP1125 2″ High Power Flat Super Air Nozzle

At EXAIR we have a wide-range of different products suited to a number of different blowoff  applications. From 4mm nozzles producing just 2 ozs of force, all the way up to our largest nozzle capable of delivering 23 lbs of force and everything in between. No matter the application, EXAIR has something capable of taking care of the job. Odds are it’ll be safer, quieter, and more efficient!

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

Video Blog: With EXAIR Products, Engineering Maximizes Efficiency

This video blog showcases just why engineering even the small details of a compressed air product can have a large impact on compressed air savings, safety, and efficiency.  This is why it is critical to know whether the company you are dealing with originally designed the product you purchased or if it is merely a copy.



Brian Farno
Application Engineer Manager
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com @EXAIR_BF

Floating Plates With Compressed Air

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to work with a customer who was familiar with our product and was looking to roll out EXAIR’s Super Air Nozzle in various parts of the plant. Before purchasing our products, the customer was using (4) open 5/16″ aluminum tubing to move or “float” a 12 inches by 12 inches plate of aluminum. This plate is .187 inches thick and needed to be moved six inches against the wall of their conveyor. The (4) open tubes moved the plate, but the customer had some safety concerns. First, the open pipes violated the OSHA standard 1910.242(b) that any open pipe that can be dead ended must only be pressurized to 30 PSIG. Second, to move the plate successfully the shop pressure needed increase to 100 PSIG which increases the amount of load on the compressor and could lead to higher maintenance in the future. Finally, the noise level of open pipes was well over 110 dBA which was another OSHA violation.


Considering all of these problems the customer contacted me, looking for an air nozzle to use instead of the open pipe. After a short discussion we decided to try (3) HP 1125 nozzles. Once the customer installed the air nozzles, they only used 2 of the air nozzles, and they were able to move the plate easily across the conveyor. This netted them several key results. The most noticeable at the plant was how quiet the operation became. Instead of dealing with noise levels in excess of 110 dBa (which is equivalent to the noise level of a turbo-fan aircraft at take off)  the HP1125 comes in at 83 dBA which is roughly the noise of a milling machine.  This was much more pleasant to the operator and any plant passersby.  The most important was the operation now complied with OSHA safety requirement of 1910.242(b).  Because of the width of the Flat Nozzle and the overhang of the cap, the nozzle can not be dead ended.  Since the unit can not be dead ended, pressure above 30 PSIG can be safely used.  Finally, the most economically result was that the air savings for the units.

The 5/16 tube had an ID of .183 and was 18″ long. When supplying it with 100 PSIG of compressed air, it will flow 22.8 SCFM of compressed air, so the customer was using 91.3 SCFM. The HP1125 nozzle uses 37 SCFM at 80 PSIG, so they were able to use 74 SCFM, which means each minute they were using 17.3 fewer cubic feet. At a cost of $0.25 per 1,000 Cubic feet, the HP1125 saved $0.26 per hour or $6.23 per day or $1,557 per year with 250 working days.

Replacing (4) open tubes with (2) HP1125 Flat Super saved $1,557 per year in compressed air savings, an OSHA violation, employees hearing, and lowered the system pressure from 100 psi to 80 psi.  Needless to say the customer was sold on the benefits on our products, and is looking for any more open pipes in his facility.

Dave Woerner
Application Engineer