Where Has The VariBlast Compact Safety Air Gun Been All My Life?!?

Have you ever happened across something that would have been a real “game changer” at some time in the past? I’ll never forget the time that I went camping with my sons’ Boy Scout Troop, and I was introduced to the peanut butter and bacon sandwich. I still enjoy one from time to time, but my doctor does not enjoy hearing about it…

I’ve also written before (and before) about when I found out EXAIR Vortex Tubes were being used in some shipyards for freeze sealing pipes…a task that (when I worked in a shipyard) we used tanks of liquid nitrogen for.  I was amazed that such a cumbersome ordeal was replaced by something so simple and easy.

When we were developing the VariBlast Compact Safety Air Gun, a key feature…the variable flow trigger…also would have been real handy at a time in my not-so-distant past.  See, I used to run a small industrial equipment service department, and one time I found myself in a pinch to get a structural steel tube frame made for a support for a particular piece of equipment.  This wasn’t something we did all the time, and this particular job was a bit larger scale than most of what we’d done before.   It wasn’t really a big deal; I just had to cut some rectangular tubing to length with our band saw, drill some small holes (for bolts) and bore some larger holes (for cables & hose) along the length.

We had a small air compressor and a cheap commercial grade air gun, which served the purpose of our infrequent usage. Blowing the shavings away from those holes, and the inside of the tubing was a challenge…that air gun would just barely move them all the way from the holes near the middle, and when I blew out the holes near the ends, the spray of coolant-soaked shavings was making a heck of a mess in our relatively small shop.  After a while, I found that I could kind of “mash” the trigger a little to one side and get a rough measure of control…I was only going to have to mop about half the floor, instead of the whole thing, and I wasn’t going to have to wash the service truck parked in the closest garage bay to the shop area.

Needless to say, this wasn’t exactly ergonomic, and it was  real pain (literally) to use my left hand for a few days following.  Which, being left-handed, was kind of a drag.

Fast forward to just last year, when we rolled out the latest and greatest (in a distinguished line of latest and greatest) EXAIR product: the VariBlast Compact Safety Air Gun.  Now, individually, the key features might not be all that mind-blowing to the casual observer, but taken together, they’re a pretty big deal. Consider:

*Aluminum construction – lightweight, durable, corrosion resistant.

*Two compressed air inlets – one on the bottom (below your pinkie finger) and one on the rear (above your thumb;) your choice…whichever makes your task easier.

*Cast-in hanger – to keep it out of the way, but still handy, when you’re not using it.

*Chip Shield – you still have to wear safety glasses, but this will keep them cleaner.

*Wide selection of engineered nozzles – from our Atto Super Air Nozzle (2.5 SCFM; 2.0 oz force) to the 1″ High Power Flat Super Air Nozzle (17.5 SCFM; 16 oz force,) there are 20 distinct models in stock.  We can customize the performance of the VariBlast Compact Safety Air Gun to the specific needs of your intended use for it.

*Extensions – for applications that require a little (or a little more) reach, we offer the VariBlast Compact Safety Air Gun with rigid aluminum extensions up to 72″ in length.  These are particularly handy when used with the Atto Back Blow Nozzle.

*Variable pull trigger – as the name implies, you can “vary the blast” by how hard (or not) you pull the trigger.  Like I said before, you can do this – kind of – with a run of the mill commercial grade air gun, but it’s not very precise, and far from ergonomic.  Here’s a short video showing just how sensitive that trigger pull is:

If you’d like to give one a try, EXAIR offers these – and any catalog product for that matter  – with a 30 Day Unconditional Guarantee.  We invite you to put it through its paces for up to a month.  If it’s not going to work out for you, for any reason, we’ll arrange return for full credit.  Give me a call – we can talk about how you intend to use it, and which one’s right for you.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Super Air Knife Cools Laminated Packaging Material

I recently worked with one of our distributors on a Super Air Knife application for a manufacturer of flexible packaging material. They create the plastic material that is commonly wrapped around the outside of a wide variety of different containers. The material exits the laminating machine at about 129°F (54°C) and must be cooled to close to room temperature before it is able to be rolled without the material sticking together.

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Model 110012, positioned to maximize counter-flow

They performed a test with a Model 110012, recording the temperature after the knife and determined that it would be suitable for them. Prior to using the Super Air Knife, they had been using a series of fans to cool down the material. This worked to some degree, but they had been experiencing quality issues as a result of inadequate levels of cooling and were forced to slow down the laminating machine in order to compensate. By implementing the Super Air Knife, they were able to cool the material down to ambient temperatures without having to slow production. As an added measure, they ordered a second knife to install on the underside to further decrease the temperature of the material.

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Graph showing the effectiveness of a Super Air Knife vs. fans or no cooling method.

The laminar airflow of the Super Air Knife is critical to the success of any cooling application. A fan “slaps” the air which provides random spikes of air at moderate velocities. The uniform, high velocity, laminar sheet of air from the Super Air Knife, in addition to the low compressed air consumption, makes it a much more effective cooling method than fans. The design of the Super Air Knife allows it to entrain ambient air at a rate of 40:1, maximizing the force and flow from the knife while keeping compressed air usage to a minimum.

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The design of the Super Air Knife allows it to entrain air from the top and bottom, creating a 40:1 air amplification ratio.

Super Air Knives are available in a range of different materials and sizes. From stock EXAIR carries knives from 3”-108” in Aluminum, 303 Stainless Steel, 316 Stainless Steel, and 3”-54” in PVDF (Polyvinylidene Fluoride) for superior resistance to highly corrosive materials. In addition to being an excellent tool for cooling, the Super Air Knife can solve a wide range of drying and blowoff applications. If you have an application that would be better served with one of EXAIR’s Super Air Knives, reach out to us today and get yours on order! We ship same day from stock with orders received by 3:00 pm EST, stop wasting time with ineffective cooling or blowoff methods!

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

Super Air Knife Coupling Kit Helps Customer Save Money and Increase Productivity!

I was recently contacted by a manufacturer of specialty food products that was looking to increase productivity on one of their packaging lines. In order to do so, they needed a longer Super Air Knife.

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Model 110012SS-316 Super Air Knife

They manufacture a variety of different products, but this application was involving small snack-size blocks of cheese. They’re placed into individual plastic containers and before they seal the packaging any residual particles must be blown off or it will affect the seal. Any residual particles of cheese around the container would allow air to come into contact with the product and affect shelf-life.

In the current setup, they were using EXAIR’s Model 110012SS-316 a 12” 316 grade Stainless Steel Super Air Knife and the Model 9060 Universal Mounting System. They wanted to add in an additional two rows of cheese to help increase throughput. To do so, he needed an overall width of 18”. We do have an 18” available from stock, but rather than having a spare 12” model lying around he wanted to try and utilize what he had without having to purchase an entirely new knife.

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Model 9060 Universal Mounting System

Fortunately, EXAIR’s Super Air Knives can be coupled together to create a wide variety of different lengths. From stock, the Super Air Knife is available from 3”-108”. With the help of a Super Air Knife Coupling kit, we can achieve much longer lengths. In this case, although we did have an 18” knife available, we could also couple the existing 110012SS-316 (12”) with our Model 110006SS-316 (6”). This option was a bit cheaper than going with a new knife, and still allowed them to utilize the 12” that they already had.

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Coupling Kit for Aluminum Super Air Knives

While this isn’t the typical place we’d recommend a coupling kit, it was an option that allowed the customer to save a bit of money but still get the same effect that they’d achieve with the 18” single piece knife. We also manufacture a wide variety of custom knives per customer specifications. If you’ve got an odd application that you don’t think is best served by a stock offering, give us a call. An Application Engineer will be happy to take a look at your application and help recommend the most suitable product.

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

What’s The Big Deal About Clean Air?

Compressed air isn’t called manufacturing’s “Fourth Utility” (the first three being electricity, water, and natural gas) for nothing. Pneumatic tools are popular because they’re often so much lighter than their electric counterparts. Compressed air can be stored in receiver tanks for use when other power supplies are unavailable or not feasible. Many compressed air operated products can be made to withstand environmental factors (high/low temperature, corrosive elements, atmospheric dust, oil, other contaminants, etc.,) that would make electric devices very expensive, unwieldy, or impractical.

One of the most valuable considerations, though, is that your compressed air system is, by and large, under your control.  The type and capacity of your air compressor can be determined by your specific operational needs.  The header pressure in your supply lines is based on the applications that your air-operated devices are used for.  And the performance & lifespan of every single component in your compressed air system is determined by the care you take in maintaining it.

I covered the importance of compressed air system maintenance in a blog a while back…today, I want to focus on clean air.  And, like the title (hopefully) makes you think, it’s a REALLY big deal.  Consider the effects of the following:

Debris: solid particulates can enter your air system through the compressor intake, during maintenance, or if lines are undone and remade.  If you have moisture in your air (more on that in a minute,) that can promote corrosion inside your pipes, and rust can flake off in there.  Almost all of your air operated products have moving parts, tight passages, or both…debris is just plain bad for them.  And if you use air for blow off (cleaning, drying, etc.,) keep in mind that anything in your compressed air system will almost certainly get on your product.

Your compressed air system may be equipped with a main filter at the compressor discharge.  This is fine, but since there is indeed potential for downstream ingress (as mentioned above,) point-of-use filtration is good engineering practice.  EXAIR recommends particulate filtration to 5 microns for most of our products.

Water: moisture is almost always a product of condensation, but it can also be introduced through faulty maintenance, or by failure of the compressor’s drying or cooling systems.  Any way it happens, it’s also easy to combat with point-of-use filtration.

EXAIR includes an Automatic Drain Filter Separator in our product kits to address both of these concerns.  A particulate filter element traps solids, and a centrifugal element “spins” any moisture out, collecting it in the bowl, which is periodically drained (automatically, as the name implies) by a float.

Point of use filtration is key to the performance of your compressed air products, and their effectiveness. Regardless of your application, EXAIR has Filter Separators to meet most any need.

Oil: many pneumatic tools require oil for proper operation, so, instead of removing it, there’s going to be a dedicated lubricator, putting oil in the air on purpose.  Optimally, this will be as close to the tool as possible, because not all of your compressed air loads need oil…especially your blow offs.  If, however, a blow off device is installed downstream of a lubricator (perhaps due to convenience or necessity,) you’ll want to do something about that oil. Remember, anything in your system will get blown onto your product.

If this is the case, or you just want to have the cleanest air possible (keep in mind there is no downside to that,) consider an EXAIR Oil Removal Filter.  They come in a range of capacities, up to 310 SCFM (8,773 SLPM,) and the coalescing element also offers additional particulate filtration to 0.03 microns.

In closing, here’s a video that shows you, up close and personal, the difference that proper filtration can make:

If you’d like to discuss or debate (spoiler alert: I’ll win) the importance of clean air, and how EXAIR can help, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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Super Air Knife with a Plumbing Kit Removes Gypsum from a Conveyor Belt

Plumbing Kits

A gypsum facility was having issues in losing powder from the tailings in their conveying system.  The conveyor moved gypsum from their processing plant to an outside silo bin location for loading and transportation.  The conveyor that they used was 60” wide.  As the conveyor went around the end to dump the gypsum powder, some of the material would stick to the belt and collect on the floor underneath.  Depending on production rates, they would have to stop the operation to clean up the floor which added additional hours for custodial work.  The customer sent a picture of the problem and wondered if EXAIR could help them with this application.

The facility did an annual cost projection to determine the loss of money from the gypsum material collecting under the conveyor.  The custodial cost to clean up the excess powder was roughly $45,000/year.  The unscheduled downtime was estimated at 115 hours per year.  (They did not share the loss of dollars in production to EXAIR.)  But it was large enough that they needed a solution from EXAIR.  (The photo below is similar to the same application as written by Lee Evans: “EXAIR Super Air Knives Improve Process in an Aluminum Rodding Shop“.)

Powder collecting under conveyor

I suggested a model 110260PKI Super Air Knife Kit for this application.  The Super Air Knife was 60” in length to cover the conveyor belt.  The kit included a filter, a regulator, and a shim set to “dial” in the minimum amount of force to remove the material.  This gives the customer the most flexibility when using an EXAIR Super Air Knife.  The “PKI” suffix at the end of the model number indicates our Plumbing Kit.  This kit which is Installed on the Super Air Knife allows for ease of installation to compressed air connections and it also allows for the proper airflow to get a consistent blow-off across the entire length of the Super Air Knife.

At EXAIR, we pride ourselves in energy efficiency.  Compressed air is expensive to make, so why not use it as efficiently as you can?  The Super Air Knife has a 40:1 amplification ratio which allows 40 parts of ambient “free” air for every 1 part of compressed air.  And, with the “dirty” environment at the gypsum facility, the Super Air Knife would not be affected as they do not require a motor that can fail or a maintenance program to perform.  After installing the model 110260PKI, the gypsum powder was no longer collecting on the floor underneath.  If we look at the cost of removing the hourly rate of the custodian, the Return on Investment, ROI, was only 27 days (and this did not include the increase in production rates).

Spillage is wasteful, costly, and time consuming to cleanup.  If you have excess waste from your conveying system, EXAIR will have the product to help you.  For the gypsum facility above, the Super Air Knife Kit made it possible to increase production efficiencies with a short ROI.  You can contact an Application Engineer to review your application and see if we can improve your conveying operation.

John Ball

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

The Case For The Heavy Duty Line Vac

When it comes to conveying bulk materials like pellets, grains, powders, etc., you’ve got plenty of choices:  Mechanical conveyor types, like bucket, auger, and cleated belt conveyors can move product as far as you want, and as quickly as you want…they can be made as long as you want, and as big & fast as you want.  “Fast” as in conveyance rate, that is.  Lead time, including engineering, design, fabrication, and installation, can be months.

Large mechanical conveyors can move tons of material over great distances.

Air operated conveyors are quite popular too, and the dense phase models can move a lot of material a great distance, and quickly.  Like the mechanical types, they have a wide range of economy to scale…and the price tags to prove it.  Medium- and dilute-phase pneumatic conveyors are less complicated in design, which brings us to the heart of today’s blog.

EXAIR Air Operated Conveyors, or Line Vacs, are the simplest of all:  the Line Vac itself used compressed air to generate a “pull/push” to draw material into the suction, and propel it through the discharge.  We have a variety of models to choose from, but our focus today will be the Heavy Duty Line Vac.

EXAIR Heavy Duty Line Vacs are the workhorse of our Air Operated Conveyors product line.  Consider their advantages:

*Made of a proprietary hardened alloy, they offer superior abrasion resistance & durability.  They’re ideal for shot blast and tumbling media…the very stuff that’s MADE to wear metal surfaces down…and it’s no problem for the Heavy Duty Line Vac.

Heavy Duty Line Vac: Hardened Alloy Construction and High Performance

*Heavy Duty also means higher power, which means higher suction heads (up to 2-1/2 times increase) and conveyance rates (up to 11 times greater.)  Oh, and that blasting shot & tumbling media I mentioned?  Standard dilute-phase conveyors may have trouble moving that at all.

*Like our Standard Line Vacs, the Heavy Duty models’ Kits come with a Mounting Bracket for ease of installation, an Automatic Drain Filter Separator to keep the air clean & dry, and a Pressure Regulator so you can ‘dial in’ the performance you need.

Line Vac Kits come with a Mounting Bracket (not shown,) an Automatic Drain Filter Separator (left,) and a Pressure Regulator (right.) Oil Removal Filters (optional; center) are also available if needed.

*Also like our Standard Line Vacs, the Heavy Duty models use common sized conveyance hose (3/4″ to 3″ ID) and are also available with male NPT threads (3/4″ to 3″ as well) if you want to hard pipe them.

Male NPT Threads make permanent and rigid installation into a piping system a breeze.

If you’re looking for a simple, durable, and powerful conveyor system, look no further than the Heavy Duty Line Vac Give me a call if you’d like to discuss your application and/or product selection.

Russ Bowman

Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Stockpile Conveyor photo courtesy of Peter Craven.  Creative Commons License.

Super Air Knife Cleans Baking Pans

A few weeks back I was contacted by a large baking company who was looking for a better way to pre-clean their cake and muffin pans before sending them to a wash cycle. After the pans exit the oven, an operator places the baked goods on a cooling conveyor then uses an air gun to blow out the residual crumbs. The pans are then placed on a separate conveyor and sent through a washer. The manual operation was taking a lot of extra time which resulted in reduced production.

Muffin Pan

After further discussion, I recommended they use our 24″ Super Air Knife. The Super Air Knife produces an even, high velocity curtain of air across the entire length of the knife which would provide a uniform blowoff of the pans, eliminating the manual cleaning.  Super Air Knives are extremely efficient and quiet. Operating at 80 PSIG, using a 40:1 amplification rate of entrained ambient air to compressed air consumed, they require only 2.9 SCFM per inch of knife length while maintaining a low sound level of only 69 dBA and produce a velocity of 11,800 feet per minute.

Efficient way to clean, dry or cool parts, webs or conveyors.

The Super Air Knives are available in lengths from 3″ up to 108″ in single-piece construction and offered in aluminum, 303ss or 316ss construction, they are the perfect choice for small scale or wide coverage blowoff applications. To discuss a particular application or for help selecting the best EXAIR product to fit your need, contact an application engineer at 800-903-9247.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer
justinnicholl@exair.com
@EXAIR_JN

 

Muffins Anyone? photo courtesy of Amy via creative commons license.