Super Ion Air Knife Removes Debris In Vinyl Window And Door Manufacturing

I recently worked with a vinyl window and door manufacturer on a static issue they were experiencing during the manufacturing process. After the aluminum frames are cut to length they are placed into a holding fixture where the vinyl seals are placed in a channel inside the frame and clamped together. A machining tool then travels around the parts to trim and machine the excess material, creating dust and some small chips. They tried to vacuum the debris away but were still seeing some residual material cling to the surface due to static, which resulted in manual rework of the parts, slowing down the production cycle.

Vinyl window – similar to the window being produced by the customer

The customer was able to send a drawing of the holding fixture for reference and after reviewing the information, I recommended they use our 18″ Super Ion Air Knife Kit in this application. The Super Ion Air Knife provides a high velocity, laminar sheet of ionized air across the length of the knife. As the positive and negative ions neutralize the surface charge, the airflow is able to clean the part of the unwanted material so it can be more easily vacuumed away. Using the regulator included in the kit, they can reduce the supply pressure to control the outlet flow and velocity to an acceptable level that doesn’t disrupt the current process.

Super Ion Air Knives are available in standard lengths from 3″ up to 108″ and ship from stock.

If you have an application you would like to discuss or are considering an EXAIR product for your process, please contact an application engineer for assistance.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer
justinnicholl@exair.com
@EXAIR_JN

 

Vinyl Slider Window with Grid image courtesy of Steve Anderson via Creative Commons License

 

EXAIR Ion Air Jets: Phase 1 for Improving Medical Devices

Medical Anatomy

A manufacturing facility was machining small plastic components for the medical industry.  They had their machining center located in a semi-clean room to keep dust and debris from getting onto the product.  As a procedure before entering the machining area, the operators would have to put on a lab jacket, wear hats, step on tack matts, and then test themselves for static buildup.   This was to ensure the operators were not bringing in contamination.  For this company, there was a high importance in keeping the area and the parts very clean.

With any non-conductive material like plastic, static is a common problem.  Static causes things to “stick” to the surface like a magnet.  Stuff like dirt, dust, and in this case; the swarf from the machining process.  When the plastic material was being machined, static would build and cause the fragments to stick to the part.  This was causing surface defects on the components which caused a rejection failure.  They tried to use a small brush to keep the fragments from gathering, but it was not real effective.  They decided to contact EXAIR to see if we could eliminate the problematic issues caused by static.

Stay Set Ion Air Jet

When it comes to removing static, EXAIR has a large product line of Static Eliminators.  Our design creates both positive and negative ions to remove any type of static charge.  In most of our systems, we can use compressed air to carry the ions to the problem areas to remove the static.  Then the air can easily blow the debris from the surface.  For the above operation, this company needed a hands-free device.  Since the size of the products being machined were small, I recommended the Stay Set Ion Air Jet Kit; model 8494-9362.  This kit includes an Ion Air Jet, magnetic base, a 12” Stay Set Hose, power supply, filter and regulator (a complete startup kit to begin removing static).  The Ion Air Jet delivers a concentrated air flow of ionized air that can be focused on the parts.  With a small amount of compressed air, the Ion Air Jet induces the surrounding air at a ratio of 5:1; making it very efficient to use.  The magnetic base and the Stay Set Hose allows for easy maneuverability to direct the ionized air at the best position for maximum effectiveness in removing the swarf.

Once they installed the model 8494-9362 onto the CNC platform near the part, they started to see much improvement in their process.  As the Ion Air Jet was keeping the surface clean during machining, the reject rate for surface defects were reduced over 90%.  Another benefit that they saw was the reduction in time for cleaning after the machining process.  It was already debris-free and ready for the next operation.  One other thing that they did notice was the surface roughness was much “cleaner”.  They believed that the air from the Ion Air Jet was removing the heat from the tool and the surface of the part during the machining.   This allowed for a smoother and cleaner finish.

If you are dealing with plastic and non-conductive materials, the EXAIR Static Eliminators are designed to make your process run more efficiently by removing the static.  It was a great benefit for the above manufacturer to keep the product clean, reduce defects, and streamline their operation.  If you have issues with static, you can contact an Application Engineer at EXAIR to see how we can eliminate it.

John Ball
Application Engineer

Email: johnball@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb

 

Photo: Muscles Anatomy Medical Human by heblo/64.  CC0 Public Domain.

Solving Static Problem in PET Plastic Thermoforming Application

PET plastic entering thermoforming machine to make cups

The image above shows a PET plastic sheet which is fed into a thermoforming machine. During thermoforming the plastic is made into drinking cups.  But, if the plastic enters the thermoforming machine with static present, the forming process cannot occur properly which results in defects.

The company in charge of thermoforming these cups reached out to the Application Engineering department at EXAIR in search of a solution to their problem. They had considered using Ion Bars, but were unsure if Ion Bars were the right solution.  So, we examined the process and the variables at play to determine the best path forward to remove this static.

The static in this application was present throughout the travel of the plastic sheet into the thermoforming machine. At EXAIR we always recommend to install any static eliminating solution at the last possible point before the static is causing a process disturbance, to ensure no static is regenerated.  Yes, a static charge has the potential to regenerate with friction, spearation or even simple contact with another surface. In the above example separation from the roll and friction upon the additional rollers could be a source of static. This meant finding a way to eliminate the static just prior to the sheet entering the thermoforming machine.

As it turns out, the thermoforming in this application can occur between 180-260°F, and this heat permeates from the machine to the area immediately outside of the plastic feed entrance. So, placing Ion Bars just outside of the machine, while potentially possible, would place them near temperatures at the high end of their operating temperature limits (maximum temperature for an EXAIR Ion Bar is 165°F).

However, just a couple of feet away from the machine this temperature dissipates significantly. So, if we could find a way to mount our solution 2-3 feet away and effectively eliminate static, we would have a viable solution.

That solution came in the form of Super Ion Air Knives. The Super Ion Air Knives provide the same static eliminating capabilities of an Ion Bar, but with an added benefit of transferring the static eliminating ions via a smooth and laminar air profile.  This allows for us to mount the Super Ion Air Knives a few feet away from the machine entrance, but to still effectively eliminate static.  At a distance of 12” away, the Super Ion Air Knife can eliminate a 5kV static charge in 0.18 seconds at an operating pressure of 80 PSIG, and in 0.60 seconds at an operating pressure of 5 PSIG.

Based on the width of 486mm, this customer opted for (2) 18” Super Ion Air Knives, model 111018, and (1) 230VAC power supply with (2) outlets, model 7907. By installing one Super Ion Air Knife on top of the plastic sheet, and one on the bottom, the static problem in this application is solved.

If you have an application in need of a static solution, contact an EXAIR Application Engineer. We’re here to help.

Lee Evans
Application Engineer
LeeEvans@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR.com

Ion Air Jet Keeps Laser Scanner Lens Clean, Eliminates False Reads

An automobile manufacturer was looking for a solution to keep their laser scanner lens clean in their body welding process. The Automatic Guided Vehicles or “AGV’s” are equipped with a laser safety scanner mounted on the front and back of each vehicle, used to detect any foreign objects in it’s travel path. The scanners are fitted with a polycarbonate protective lens and as the vehicles travel through the system, the lens can build up a static charge, attracting airborne dust and particulate, which results in false readings, shutting down the line.

The current cleaning method involves an operator using a microfiber cloth to manually wipe the lenses clean, and while this does work, with the scanners being mounted roughly 4″ above the floor, this poses some ergonomic concerns for their workers. The customer found EXAIR after looking on the internet for static elimination products and it turns out, they are currently using several of our products in their facility, but he was unsure which product would be suit their needs so he reached out for assistance.

After further reviewing the application with the customer, they explained that each vehicle makes several “scheduled” stops along the route and one of these areas would be selected as the install point. I suggested the customer use (2) of our Ion Air Jet Kits, to clean the lenses. The Ion Air Jet produces a high volume of ionized airflow that can be focused right at the lenses to eliminate the static charge and carry the fines away. The kit includes a filter separator which is going to remove any condensate and/or dirt in the air supply, as well as a pressure regulator. The pressure regulator will allow them to easily adjust the supply pressure to control the outlet flow and velocity so they don’t disrupt other areas in the process.

Additionally, I suggested they use (2) of our EFC – Electronic Flow Control, which features a timing controlled (0.10 seconds to 120 hours) photoelectric sensor as a means to control air usage. As the vehicle enters the blow off area, the sensor will “see” the vehicle, signaling the solenoid valve to open the air line to the jet to blow off the lens. As the vehicle then exits the area, the sensor would again send a signal to close the air supply, so compressed air is only used when needed, reducing operating cost and further automating the process.

8494

Ion Air Jet Kit, Model # 8494 – includes the Ion Air Jet, Power Supply, Filter and Regulator

If you are experiencing static issues in your process or to see how we might be able to help with your automated system, contact an application engineer for assistance.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer
justinnicholl@exair.com
@EXAIR_JN

 

 

EXAIR Static Eliminators Provide a Solution for a Plastic Blasting Media Application

A customer had an application where they were using a plastic blasting media (PBM) to remove a coating from composite sheets. Being that I was unfamiliar with this type of blasting media, I went to the web for research.  This process is very interesting as it can remove coatings, paint, powder coats, etc. without harming the substrate.  It is widely used in the automotive and aerospace industries as it can be used on materials like very thin metals, composites, and even hardwood.

In our experience with non-conductive materials, static can be a huge problem. And in this case, it was.  The PBM was “sticking” to everything including the composite material that was being cleaned.  They were losing material as it was leaving the blasting chamber.  As with any type of blasting system, you want to reuse the material to economically reduce waste and keep the operation running longer.  As you can see in the picture below, the PBM is clinging to the internal components because of static.  This static force was keeping the PBM attached to the composite sheet and allowing it to leave the chamber.

Inside the Plastic Blasting Media cabinet

Inside the Plastic Blasting Media cabinet

As a quick remedy, they tried to use compressed air to blow the PBM back into the cabinet. They were using copper tubes that were flattened to create a homemade nozzle.  This style of nozzle is unsafe and very loud.  It was also difficult to get the correct amount of blowing force because static can build at different rates.  The higher amount of static charges, the stronger the attraction.  They needed a better method as they found themselves wasting not only the blasting material, but also much compressed air.

With applications similar to this, we like to remove the static at the problem area. Then, we do not have to be concerned about the static forces.  For their application, the cabinet had a 6” wide opening where the composite material would exit.  So, I recommended two pieces of the model 111206, 6” Super Ion Air Knife Kits, to be mounted just outside the cabinet.  One Super Ion Air Knife would be mounted above the sheet to clean the top surface, and the other mounted below the sheet to clean the bottom surface.  I recommended that they position the Super Ion Air Knives at a 45 deg. angle to the surface of the composite sheet in the counter-flow direction.

This position will optimize the performance of the Super Ion Air Knife.  It increases the contact time to coat the surface with ions to remove the static and to keep the PBM inside the cabinet.  With the design of the EXAIR Super Ion Air Knife, it has a 40:1 amplification ratio.  That means that for every 1 part of compressed air, it will entrain 40 parts of ambient air.  So, it can operate with much less compressed air.  Once they mounted the Super ion Air Knives, they were amazed at the performance.  It was very quiet; it used very little compressed air; and it kept the composite sheets completely clean.  After the static forces are removed, it only needed a light breeze to remove the PBM from the surface.

Super Ion Air Knife

Super Ion Air Knife

If you find that static is creating process problems, wasting time, and costing you money, EXAIR has a large line of Static Eliminators that can help you. For this customer, it was a simple phone call to EXAIR that got his operation back up and running fast and smooth without static.

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

What Makes Things Easier Than An EXAIR Static Eliminator? Another EXAIR Static Eliminator!

A contract manufacturer, servicing the medical and biotechnology markets, is a long time user of our Ion Air Guns. They’ve had great success with them in keeping their products free from static & dust for years. These are mainly small, hand-held parts, so, when they need to get them clean and static-free during assembly and packaging, EXAIR’s Ion Air Gun is ideal, because it, too, is small and hand-held.

A new process, though, involves the operator needing both hands for assembly. This would mean picking up the Ion Air Gun, blowing off the part, putting it down, and then using both hands to complete the operation. They thought there had to be a better way. And they were right!

The Model 8910 Instant Static Elimination Station offers hands-free control of ionized air flow – a foot pedal turns an Ion Air Jet (whose performance is identical to the Ion Air Gun) on and off with…well, the press of a foot. The Magnetic Base and Stay Set Hose make it easy to install, and even easier to position.

Hand held convenience of the Ion Air Gun (easy) or no-hands convenience of the Ion Air Jet Station (easier.) Your call.

Hand held convenience of the Ion Air Gun (easy) or no-hands convenience of the Ion Air Jet Station (easier.) Your call.

For an even more automated approach, they are considering an EFC Electronic Flow Control. They’re ready to go, right out of the box…the photoelectric sensor will open and close a solenoid valve (installed in the compressed air supply line) based on the setting of the programmable timer unit. With a simple wave of the part in front of the sensor, the operator could activate a preset blow of a few seconds, which would be easy to determine, even easier to set, and…easiest of all…reliably repeat all day long. They’re going to try out the foot pedal first, and that’s just fine by me.  Perhaps there’s such as thing as “too easy,” but man, I hope not.

Even if you’re already using EXAIR products to make things easy, you can call me to see how much easier it might get.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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Speaking of easy...get a FREE AC Sensor with a Static Eliminator order. Promotion ends 1/31/2017!

Speaking of easy…get a FREE AC Sensor with a Static Eliminator order. Promotion ends 1/31/2017!

Solving a Printing Problem with EXAIR Static Eliminators

img_5724

Unrolling plastic into this machine created a static charge throughout the process

One of the most common sources of static electricity in automated processes is friction.  As two (or more) materials move against each other, static is produced due to the triboelectric effect.  By definition, the triboelectric effect is a type of contact electrification in which certain materials become electrically charged after they come into frictional contact with a different material.  If these materials are non-conductive, or if they are not grounded, the static charge will remain.  This was the case for the machine shown above.

img_5723

Multiple stations of this machine, all experiencing static problems

This machine is a Chesnut 150 Gravure Print Station.  It is used for printing, coating, laminating, and sometimes die cutting of paper, light paperboard, films, polyester, flexible packaging and aluminum foil.

In this application, a roll of plastic is dispensed, but a static charge is preventing proper printing on the plastic as it travels from roll to roll.  As the film is separated from the roll, a static charge is produced, and this charge is carried through the process at values ranging from 3,000 – 20,000 volts.  The manager for this production area contacted EXAIR to see if there’s a viable EXAIR solution to remove this static charge.  They were interested in a solution that could eliminate static on the full width of the plastic, could be mounted 200-300mm away from the rollers, and could be replicated at multiple places along the machine.

With this in mind, the best solution was to use a series of 18” Super Ion Air Knives installed periodically along the path of plastic within the machine.  Operating at a low pressure of 1-2 BARG (14.5 – 29 PSIG), the Super Ion Air Knives create an evenly dispersed, quiet airflow of static eliminating ions with a low compressed air consumption.  Using the laminar, static eliminating airflow from the Super Ion Air Knife, this solution can be mounted away from the static charge, allowing the ions to “rain” down on the affected areas.

For this application finding a solution meant finding a method to keep production on schedule.  Without static elimination this machine faced defects, downtime, and decreased efficiency.  Using EXAIR Super Ion Air Knives brought this application back up to optimal operating speeds, keeping the revenue generating process of this manufacturer ongoing.

Colder weather is here and static comes along with it.  If you’re experiencing a static related problem in your facility, contact one of our Application Engineers.  We’d love to help you find a solution.

Lee Evans
Application Engineer
LeeEvans@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_LE

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