Durable, Versatile, and Efficient – EXAIR Soft Grip Safety Air Gun

As compressed air technology advanced through the 20th Century, its uses multiplied.  Pneumatic cylinders became common for rolling and forming presses.  The convenience and portability of powerful pneumatic hand held tools spread in assembly and manufacturing facilities.  Along the way, operators also found that an open-ended compressed air line could be used for quick and easy blow off in a number of applications. There were, however, some pretty risky safety issues associated with this.

In December of 1970, the Occupational Safety & Health Act became the law of the land, and in 1971, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) was created.  Among the many hazards in workplaces they targeted was compressed air use for cleaning.  The primary concerns were:

  • An open ended blow off could inadvertently be dead ended onto a person’s body, and if the pressure were high enough, it could break the skin and cause a deadly condition called an air embolism.  So they limited the outlet pressure to 30psi.
  • Blowing something off with air can (and usually does) result in airborne particulate traveling at a high velocity that can imbed in your skin or in your eye.  So they mandated the use of proper chip guarding, protective clothing, and eye protection.

This is where the history of the safety air gun begins.  Through the 1970’s & 1980’s, engineers rolled out product after product conforming with these new safety standards, sometimes looking for economy, sometimes efficiency…and occasionally, both.

It’s not hard to make a blow off nozzle that complies with OSHA’s dead end pressure requirement; you just need to provide a path for the air to escape in case the nozzle end is blocked.  Cross drilled nozzles (shown at right) are simple, cheap, and OSHA compliant, but they’re also loud & inefficient.

EXAIR’s Super Air Nozzles not only protect against injury from dead ended high pressure air, their engineered design also makes them quiet, and efficient.  They are commonly installed on the Soft Grip Safety Air Gun.  Along with our Chip Shields (shown at right) and your personal protective equipment, you get OSHA compliance, AND lower air consumption & noise levels.

With the Soft Grip Safety Air Gun, you also get a diverse range of options to suit the specific needs of numerous applications:

If you’re looking for a hand held blow off device, your choices are many.  If you’re looking for a quiet, efficient, safe, and versatile one, your choice is easy:  the EXAIR Soft Grip Safety Air GunCall me and we’ll figure out which one you need.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
Visit us on the Web
Follow me on Twitter
Like us on Facebook

What’s So Great About The VariBlast Compact Safety Air Gun?

Well, for one thing, it’s won ANOTHER award…in addition to the 2018 Plant Engineering Product of the Year (Silver Award, Compressed Air Category) for 2018, it’s now won the 2019 Industrial Safety & Hygiene Reader’s Choice Award.

But we didn’t need awards to tell us how great they are.  EXAIR Corporation has 35 years of continuously improving experience in the design, engineering, and manufacture of quiet, safe, and efficient compressed air products for industry.  The VariBlast Compact Safety Air Guns are just another innovation that’s come to fruition, courtesy of the knowledge, experience, and dedication to quality from our R&D Engineering & Production departments.

Whatever your needs are, EXAIR has a Safety Air Gun for you.

But you don’t have to take OUR word for it: a satisfied customer base has proven the VariBlast Compact Safety Air Gun‘s success:  We offer a 30 Day Unconditional Guarantee on any catalog product.  That means you can put it through its paces for up to a month…if it’s not going to work out, for any reason, we’ll arrange return for full credit.  Of the dozens of VariBlast Safety Air Guns we’ve sold every month for the last two years or so, we have not had one returned.  Not. One.  To which I say: no wonder…check it out:

If you’re looking for an economical, efficient, quiet, variable flow, handheld blow off solution, look no further than the VariBlast Compact Safety Air Gun…just another award winning Intelligent Compressed Air Product, brought to you by EXAIR.  To the readers of Industrial Safety & Hygiene Magazine…thanks for noticing!

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
Visit us on the Web
Follow me on Twitter
Like us on Facebook

Super Air Knife’s Adjustability and Flexibility = Success

The EXAIR Super Air Knife is the most efficient compressed air knife on the market. We know this because we’ve tested them, and our competitors’ offerings, for performance, using the same instruments, controls, and procedures. We’re not going to publish data that we can’t back up, and that’s a fact.

48insak_pr
EXAIR Super Air Knife removing moisture after a rinse on anodized parts.

They’re also ideally suited to a wide variety of applications – they come in lengths from 3 inches to 9 feet long (and can actually be coupled together for uninterrupted air flows of even longer lengths,) a variety of materials for just about any environment. But the best thing about our Super Air Knives is how you can adjust the air pressure and flow to complete a wide variety of tasks. You can adjust them in two different ways, Replacing or adding Shims, or regulating the incoming air pressure.

completeAirknifesets
Shims for the aluminum, 303 Stainless Steel, and 316 Stainless Steel Super Air Knives

Changing out your shim!

A larger shim gap will give you higher flow and force from your Air Knife. Honestly, the 0.002″ shim that comes pre-installed in all of our Air Knives is perfectly suitable for most blow off applications, and appropriate air supply conditions are the first thing you should check for before going with thicker shims, but if you do indeed need a boost, a thicker shim will indeed give you one…here’s a blog with the video to show you how it’s done:

How_to_change_air_knife_shim
Video Blog: How to Change a Shim in a Super Air Knife
Filter Regulator
Regulator and filter

Another advantage to having a Pressure Regulator at every point of use is the flexibility of making pressure adjustments to quickly change to varying production requirements.  Not every application will require a strong blast sometimes a gentle breeze will accomplish the task.  As an example one user of the EXAIR Super Air Knife employs it as an air curtain to prevent product contamination (strong blast) and another to dry different size parts (gentle breeze) coming down their conveyor. For Performance at different supply pressures see the chart below.

Super_Air_Knife_Performance
Super Air Knife Performance Table

EXAIR products are highly engineered and are so efficient that they can be operated at lower pressures and still provide exceptional performance!  This save’s you money considering compressed air on the average cost’s .25 cents per 1000 SCFM.

If you’d like to discuss altering the performance of your Super Air Knife, give us a call.

Jordan Shouse
Application Engineer
Find us on the Web http://www.exair.com/28/home.htm
Follow me on Twitter
Like us on Facebook

Engineered Air Nozzles vs. Commercial vs. Open Air Line

How much does your compressed air cost?  If you don’t know, there are some handy tools, like this one, that will help you calculate it precisely.  For estimating purposes, the U.S. Department of Energy estimates that compressed air costs about $0.25 per 1,000 Standard Cubic Feet of mass to generate.  Again, this is an estimate based on different electric power consumption costs from around the country, varying efficiencies of different types & sizes of air compressors, etc., so, as the automobile folks say, “your mileage may vary.”

Regardless of whether you calculate it exactly or just estimate it, it’s going to come as no surprise that it isn’t cheap.  That’s why efficient use HAS to be taken seriously.  Luckily, there are steps you can take (six, specifically, see below,) that can help.

Step 3, dear reader, is the subject of today’s blog.

This is a common inquiry here at EXAIR Corporation.  It’s not hard to find a blog about them -like this one, or this one, or even this one.  Before we go any further….yes, this is ANOTHER one.

I recently had the pleasure of helping a caller who was using the male ends of pneumatic quick connect fittings to blow off steel tubes:

Cheap and easy…but loud & wasteful. Don’t let this happen to you.

They were operating these, for the most part, 24/7, as their production was continuous, although there were actually spaces between product at times.  They were using over 74 SCFM…that’s 750,000 Standard Cubic Feet of compressed air PER WEEK, or over 39 MILLION SCF per year…over $9,700.00* in generation cost.  After a brief discussion, they ordered & installed two Model 1101 Super Air Nozzles, which threaded right in to their existing fittings:

This was a “slam dunk” – no system modification was even required.

Not only were the Super Air Nozzles markedly quieter (sound level went from 90dBA to 72dBA,) air consumption was reduced to just 20.90 SCFM…a 72% reduction, which translates to an annual cost savings of over $7,000.00*.  But wait…there’s more.

See, that was just “step 3” – they also installed a solenoid valve in the supply line, actuated from their process control.  This turns off the compressed air in between cycles, roughly estimated at about half the time.  This gets them additional savings of almost $1,400.00* per year.  But wait (again)…there’s STILL more.

This is one of five lines that were (mis)using the pneumatic fittings.  With the dramatic improvements of the first line, they ordered Super Air Nozzles for the remaining four.  So, to recap…an investment of $440.00 (2019 List Price for the Model 1101 is $44.00,) plus their solenoid valves, they’re saving almost $42,000.00* per year in compressed air generation costs.

*using the DoE thumbrule of $0.25/1,000 SCF referenced in the first paragraph.

Engineered compressed air products like the Super Air Nozzles are a clear winner all day, every day, over any open-end type device.  If you’d like to find out how much EXAIR’s Intelligent Compressed Air Products can save you, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
Visit us on the Web
Follow me on Twitter
Like us on Facebook

Compressed Air Knives vs. Blower Air Knives, an Application Comparison

A company was needing to dry vegetables after a washing system.  They currently had three blower air knives (as shown in the photo above) to remove the water before packaging.  The issues that they presented to me were in two parts.  They were not able to generate enough force to remove enough water from larger products like cauliflower and broccoli.  And, the heat from the blower system was affecting the appearance of the thinner vegetables like snow peas.  They purchased the blower-style air knives under the belief that they would save money by not using compressed air.  They found out quickly that it was not a true statement especially when it comes to the total cost of ownership.

Super Air Knife drying fruits and vegetables

When comparing the EXAIR Super Air Knife to a blower-type air knife, there are many features that should be reviewed.  For the customer above, they used an 18” (457mm) wide conveying system to wash more than twenty different fruits and vegetables.  So, they needed versatility to dry the different types of products.  With the Super Air Knife, we have a simple way to adjust the force by changing the inlet air pressure.  So, we can blow air at a light breeze for the snow peas to a very strong force to dry the cauliflower and broccoli.  With the engineered design of the Super Air Knife, we can achieve a 40:1 amplification ratio.  That means for every 1 part of compressed air, we are able to entrain 40 parts of ambient air.  This unique feature allows for the Super Air Knife to be very efficient with your compressed air as well as keeping the blowing air at ambient temperatures.  The design of a blower system allows the air to become hot, turbulent, and limited in force.  As noted in the photo above, they had to use three blower knives to try to remove the liquid water.  With the Super Air Knife, I recommended just one air knife to do the job.  They decided to try an EXAIR model 110218SS 18″ Stainless Steel Super Air Knife Kit to see if their concept of “saving money” with the blower-type air knife was valid.

To better explain the concept, I divided the comparisons into different categories.  You can decide if the Super Air Knife would be a better product than the blower-type air knife.  It sure was for the customer above.

  1. Initial Cost:
    1. Blower System – They are an expensive product when you have to include a blower, ducting, and a knife. To have any flexibility, a control panel with a VFD will be needed.  A capital expenditure is typical for a complete system.
    2. Super Air Knife – It is a fraction of the cost. With their system above, we were roughly 1/10 the cost.  A capital expense would not be required for ordering a Super Air Knife to remove the water.
  2. Maintenance:
    1. Blower System – The intake filter has to be changed periodically as well as the motor and belt has to be checked as a preventive maintenance. Being that the blower motor is a mechanical device, the bearings and belts will wear and have to be replaced.  Without proper maintenance, things can break prematurely.  Loss of production will cost you much money.
    2. Super Air Knife – They do not have any moving parts to wear out. Only compressed air is needed to operate.  The maintenance requirement is to change the compressed air filter once a year.
  3. Compressed air usage:
    1. Blower System – This device does not need any compressed air to work, but it does use an electric motor. For this customer, they had a 7.5KW blower motor.  With the inherent design of blower-type air knives, they have a reduced blowing force and turbulent air flow.  This combination required the maximum power output on the 7.5KW blower motor.
    2. Super Air Knife –With their unique design, it has one of the highest efficiencies in the market place. It can entrain 40 parts of ambient “free” air with every 1 part of compressed air.  With laminar flow and the power of compressed air, the Super Air Knives can be used at a much lower air pressure.  To compare with the electric blower motor above, the Super Air Knives would use 10KW of compressor power to operate at the highest force rating.  So, at lower air pressures, the blower motor and compressor requirement will be very similar.
  4. Noise:
    1. Blower System – With the turbulent air flow, the blower units are very loud. If operators are working near the system, they would need PPE for hearing protection, or elect to purchase (for even more money) a sound enclosure which some of the blower manufacturers offer.
    2. Super Air Knife – These units are very quiet. Even at a higher pressure, the sound level is only 72 dBA at 100 PSIG (6.9 Bar).  This level is well below the maximum noise exposure for hearing safety as marked in OSHA 29CFR 1910.95(a).
  5. Installation:
    1. Blower System –Just to begin, the installers will have to run electrical wires, controls, and ducting. The foot print is large and will need space to install.  They will have to drill holes in the floor to hold the blower in place, and perhaps build an attenuation chamber.  This can take days with no production to start operating.  And time is money.
    2. Super Air Knife –They are compact and do not take up much space. They mount easily into a system.  You can run a plastic tube or rubber hose to the Super Air Knife from a compressed air source.  If you use the Universal Mounting Kit, they will only need a 1/2″ hole for attaching.  Even if a fabricator has to make a bracket to fit into their system, the timing is in hours not days.
  6. Heat:
    1. Blower System – Besides being quite loud, blower systems get very hot as a function of the operation. While this may be sold as a benefit for some applications, it is considered a significant drawback for drying fruits and vegetables. The air can reach a target temperature of 180°F (82°C).
    2. Super Air Knife – The advantage for the Super Air Knife is the amplification ratio. The total volume of air that comes from it is 40 parts ambient and 1 part compressed air. So, the temperature of the airflow is going to be the same as the ambient environment surrounding the Super Air Knife.

The total cost of ownership is quite clear when you look at loss of output, loss of product, and breakdown of equipment.  After reviewing the information above, it was easy for them to try the model 110218SS Stainless Steel Super Air Knife Kit.  When they replaced the blower-type air knives, the customer did share some information with me.

First, they were amazed at the ease of installation and the compact design.  The customer also mentioned the amount of force that could be created by the Super Air Knife.  They were able to increase and decrease the required force to remove the liquid water from all the different fruits and vegetables.  This gave them the flexibility that they were looking for in their process.  And of course, the maintenance time and cost were eliminated.

Compressed air can be expensive, but if you use EXAIR products, you can use the compressed air very efficiently.  You do not have to sacrifice other areas within the total cost of ownership.  If you have a similar application, you can contact an Application Engineer at EXAIR.  We will be happy to discuss the benefits of using the EXAIR Super Air Knives over a blower-type air knife.

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

Opportunities To Save On Compressed Air

If you’re a regular reader of the EXAIR blog, you’re likely familiar with our:

EXAIR Six Steps To Optimizing Your Compressed Air System

This guideline is as comprehensive as you want it to be.  It’s been applied, in small & large facilities, as the framework for a formal set of procedures, followed in order, with the goal of large scale reductions in the costs associated with the operation of compressed air systems…and it works like a charm.  Others have “stepped” in and out, knowing already where some of their larger problems were – if you can actually hear or see evidence of leaks, your first step doesn’t necessarily have to be the installation of a Digital Flowmeter.

Here are some ways you may be able to “step” in and out to realize opportunities for savings on your use of compressed air:

  • Power:  I’m not saying you need to run out & buy a new compressor, but if yours is
    Recent advances have made significant improvements in efficiency.

    aging, requires more frequent maintenance, doesn’t have any particular energy efficiency ratings, etc…you might need to run out & buy a new compressor.  Or at least consult with a reputable air compressor dealer about power consumption.  You might not need to replace the whole compressor system if it can be retrofitted with more efficient controls.

  • Pressure: Not every use of your compressed air requires full header pressure.  In fact, sometimes it’s downright detrimental for the pressure to be too high.  Depending on the layout of your compressed air supply lines, your header pressure may be set a little higher than the load with the highest required pressure, and that’s OK.  If it’s significantly higher, intermediate storage (like EXAIR’s Model 9500-60 Receiver Tank, shown on the right) may be worth looking into.  Keep in mind, every 2psi increase in your header pressure means a 1% increase (approximately) in electric cost for your compressor operation.  Higher than needed pressures also increase wear and tear on pneumatic tools, and increase the chances of leaks developing.
  • Consumption:  Much like newer technologies in compressor design contribute to higher efficiency & lower electric power consumption, engineered compressed air products will use much less air than other methods.  A 1/4″ copper tube is more than capable of blowing chips & debris away from a machine tool chuck, but it’s going to use as much as 33 SCFM.  A Model 1100 Super Air Nozzle (shown on the right) can do the same job and use only 14 SCFM.  This one was installed directly on to the end of the copper tube, quickly and easily, with a compression fitting.
  • Leaks: These are part of your consumption, whether you like it or not.  And you shouldn’t like it, because they’re not doing anything for you, AND they’re costing you money.  Fix all the leaks you can…and you can fix them all.  Our Model 9061 Ultrasonic Leak Detector (right) can be critical to your efforts in finding these leaks, wherever they may be.
  • Pressure, part 2: Not every use of your compressed air requires full header pressure (seems I’ve heard that before?)  Controlling the pressure required for individual applications, at the point of use, keeps your header pressure where it needs to be.  All EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Product Kits come with a Pressure Regulator (like the one shown on the right) for this exact purpose.
  • All of our engineered Compressed Air Product Kits include a Filter Separator, like this one, for point-of-use removal of solid debris & moisture.

    Air Quality: Dirty air isn’t good for anything.  It’ll clog (and eventually foul) the inner workings of pneumatic valves, motors, and cylinders.  It’s particularly detrimental to the operation of engineered compressed air products…it can obstruct the flow of Air Knives & Air Nozzles, hamper the cooling capacity of Vortex Tubes & Spot Cooling Products, and limit the vacuum (& vacuum flow) capacity of Vacuum Generators, Line Vacs, and Air Amplifiers.

Everyone here at EXAIR Corporation wants you to get the most out of your compressed air use.  If you’d like to find out more, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
Visit us on the Web
Follow me on Twitter
Like us on Facebook

 

Airguns, OSHA, And You

Depending on the context, those may be three words you DON’T want to hear in the same sentence. Case in point…a caller I spoke with recently, who works at a large steel forging plant. During a recent inspection, management was surprised (and disappointed) to find out that, unbeknownst to them, some of their operators had modified some of their compressed air blow off devices.

These modifications left them in violation of both OSHA Standard 1910.242(b) (limit on outlet, or dead end pressure) and 1910.95(a) (limits noise level exposure.)  The OSHA inspector left them with an $8,000.00 fine, and a promise to return with an even higher one if the situation wasn’t corrected.

We discussed the ways their current devices were supplied, the conditions they were operating in, what they were used for…and why the operators had modified them.  Sadly, we found the devices were underperforming due to air supply issues – hoses that were too small in diameter and/or too long, with restrictive quick connect fittings.  And some of their modifications (drilling out the discharge) just exacerbated those problems.

Most of their applications were pretty typical – blowing flash, chips, oil, coolant, etc. from processed metal parts.  Typical enough that a couple of EXAIR Safety Air Guns would allow them to determine what they would need, by taking them around to various stations in the plant and trying them out.

My caller ordered a Model 1210 Soft Grip Safety Air Gun with a Zinc Aluminum Super Air Nozzle (our most popular for typical blow off applications,) and a Model 1260 Soft Grip Safety Air Gun with a High Force 1/2 NPT Zinc Aluminum Super Air Nozzle (the most powerful one available on the Soft Grip Safety Air Gun.)

Here’s Model 1210-6-CS, fitted with a Zinc Aluminum Super Air Nozzle on a 6″ Rigid Extension & Chip Shield.  All EXAIR Safety Air Guns are compliant with OSHA Standard 1910.242(b).

I feel pretty good about the chances of publishing a future blog about the success of this application.  If you want to keep up, I encourage to follow the EXAIR blog – there’s a link to the right to provide your email address – for more on this one, other applications, and a wealth of expert writings on how to get the most out of your compressed air system.

As always, if you’d like to discuss a particular compressed air application and/or product selection, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
Visit us on the Web
Follow me on Twitter
Like us on Facebook