Extra Shims Give Super Air Knives A Boost

The EXAIR Super Air Knife is the most efficient and quietest compressed air blow off 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.

We will use the same precision calibrated equipment, by the way, to test your existing products for savings comparison in our Efficiency Lab service.
We will use the same precision calibrated equipment, by the way, to test your existing products for savings comparison in our Efficiency Lab service.

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, and changing performance is as easy as “dialing in” a regulator, or, for gross adjustments, installing a different (or additional) shim.

As the title of this blog suggests, 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 video to show you how it’s done:

Keep in mind that appropriate air supply is going to be important here as well…by increasing the shim gap, you’re increasing the amount of compressed air flow required.  This means that you may need a larger diameter of infeed pipe to carry that much air, and/or you may have to plumb that air to additional ports on the Super Air Knife.

This is from the Installation & Operation Guide that ships with your Super Air Knife. It's also available from our PDF Library (registration required.)
This is from the Installation & Operation Guide that ships with your Super Air Knife. It’s also available from our PDF Library (registration required.)

For most cases, we can use the above data to determine how to properly supply a Super Air Knife with additional shims.  For example, let’s look at a 12″ Super Air Knife:

*With a 0.002″ shim, you’ll need a 3/8″ pipe, assuming infeed length of 10ft or less, to pass the 34.8 SCFM that this unit will consume when supplied @80psig.

*By installing a 0.004″ shim, you’re doubling the air consumption, which means it’ll consume the same amount as a unit twice this length…we can see from the chart, then, that a 24″ Super Air Knife will need a 1/2″ infeed pipe.

*Also, since you’re using the same amount of air as the 24″ Super Air Knife, the 12″ unit should be treated like the 24″ one, and plumbed to (2) inlets at opposite ends of the knife (see “Compressed Air Supply” notes above.)

This is just one simple case for a small unit. If you’d like to discuss altering the performance of your Super Air Knife, give us a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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Analogies Are Like…

I came up with this title for this week’s blog the other day, and I can’t think of something to compare an analogy to, in the context I wish to discuss today.  Isn’t that ironic?

I’ve always had good luck with analogies…if I need to explain something to someone, being able to draw a comparison to a well-known or easy to picture scenario just comes easy to me. Someone smarter than me once said “if you can’t explain it simply, then you don’t understand it well enough,” and analogies have always served me well in that regard.

They are, in fact, a popular tool of the trade in EXAIR’s Application Engineering department. The most common example is, in fact, the topic of my blog today.

If a caller wants to use a Vortex Tube to cool something that’s very hot, we may recommend a Super Air Nozzle, Air Amplifier, or Air Knife instead. The long answer is that there are two variables to consider in a conductive/convective heat transfer application using fluid flow: flow rate, and temperature differential between the object and the medium (air in this case.) If the item is indeed very hot, then you already have a very high differential between the item’s surface temperature and the temperature of the air (ambient) that you’ll be blowing on it…and our Intelligent Compressed Air Products serve to increase the air flow rate, by entraining “free” air from the surrounding environment. If there’s a moment of silence when we get to that part of the explanation, we’ll compare it to when you blow a quick breath on a spoonful of very hot soup, which, although your breath isn’t cold at all, it still cools that soup down in a hurry. In comparison to the temperature of the very hot soup your breath is cold. Then we take their order, ship their Super Air Nozzle (or Air Amplifier or Air Knife) and everyone’s happy.

If you’d like to discuss a compressed air product application – or if you can help me solve the problem of this blog’s title with a rapt analogy – please let me know. Either way, I’ll be as happy as a kid in a candy store to hear from you.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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Use The Force…Or Not…It’s Up To You, Really

The month of May, in 1977, was a great time to be ten years old. I was finishing up my fifth grade year, a pivotal one, thanks to Miss Walker, who ended up being my favorite teacher ever. She had a pet rat named A.J. that we took turns taking home for the weekend. She rewarded us for class performance by taking us outside to play softball on warm & sunny spring afternoons. I trace my love for math (and hence, my inspiration for a career in engineering) to the excitement she instilled in me for the subject…I was among the first to master the multiplication tables.

And then there was Star Wars. There were commercials for the movie and the toys and the merchandise on TV; I swear they ran every five minutes. A fast food chain released a series of posters (free with purchase) and every time a new one came out, Miss Walker promptly hung it on the classroom wall. None of us, her included, could hardly wait until the premiere. I could go on (and on and on and on,) but suffice it to say (for the purposes of this blog,) I’ve been a BIG fan ever since.

Which brings us to today…opening day for “Star Wars, Episode VII: The Force Awakens.” The first time, by the way, a Star Wars movie hasn’t premiered in the month of May, but I digress. The 10 year old inside me wants to go see it RIGHT NOW, but the grownup I have to be has a company Christmas party, two Boy Scout events, and a pre-holiday “honey-do” list to attend to first.

Of course, the “other” epic space movie series couldn’t resist launching THEIR new trailer this week…

All this talk about The Force (capital “F”) and the fact that I write this blog on company time has me thinking about compressed air applications that involve force (lower case “f”) and how using force (unlike “The Force”) is not always prudent.

This is the case in just about any blow off application that uses air under pressure. Open ended copper tubing, drilled pipes, etc., are common and easy ways to discharge compressed air for debris removal, drying, or cooling a part. But the fact is, they waste a LOT of the energy devoted to compressing the air by simply turning it into brute force and noise.

This is where EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products(r) come in: by using the energy of the compressed air to entrain air from the surrounding environment, the total air flow is amplified, resulting in a high velocity blast, at minimal consumption. No; it doesn’t have the same amount of force as an open ended discharge device, but most blow off applications don’t need all that much force anyway.

Of course, there ARE situations where you need to use the force, and we’ve got efficient and OSHA compliant ways to do that too: additional shims in Air Knives, Air Wipes & Air Amplifiers, or larger Super Air Nozzles.

“A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away,” the continuing theme of the Star Wars saga is to use The Force properly. For the past 32 years, the continuing theme at EXAIR is to help you use the force (of your compressed air) properly. Let me know how we can help.

May The Force be with us all…this weekend, and always.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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You Can’t Manage What You Don’t Measure

And this was never more true than in a conversation I had with the facilities engineer at a manufacturing plant recently. Their business has grown so much over the past few years to cause a move into a larger building. They took this opportunity to install some engineered compressed air products, and, with the brand-new building, they also got brand-new compressed air piping, which the contractor has just completed post-installation testing on, and it’s leak free. Good news!

They noticed, however, that the run time hours on their air compressors (which were in fine shape, and simply moved from the old facility) hadn’t appreciably decreased. The engineer was looking for another way to measure…and quantify…their compressed air usage, and was interested in our Digital Flowmeters.

Available for a wide range of SCH40 Iron or Type "L" Copper, EXAIR Digital Flowmeters are quick to install and easy to operate.
Available for a wide range of SCH40 Iron or Type “L” Copper, EXAIR Digital Flowmeters are quick to install and easy to operate.

Of primary concern during our conversation was, how could they track their usage? Would someone have to check the Digital Flowmeter reading periodically? What about intermittent uses? They have a TON of hand-held air guns throughout the plant…what if they read the meter when only a few were in use? Or if they ALL were in use?

There are a couple of options for that…our Digital Flowmeters are all supplied with both 4-20mA and RS-485 Serial connections, which are easily outputted to an appropriate device. You can run this right to your computer, and there are a variety of programs that will allow you to collect and manage this data.

They intend to install this Digital Flowmeter in the compressor room, though…and even though it’s well within the maximum distance for RS-485 serial – it’s good for distances up to 4,000 feet (1,200 meters,) it would be impractical to run a cable through the building.

Enter the USB Datalogger: this is going to allow them to “take a snapshot” of their usage, at specified intervals…in this case, every 10 seconds, which means the USB Datalogger will collect and store data for over three days. It has its own proprietary software, which you’ll use to set the frequency of readings, choose units & graph scale, high/low alarm points (if desired) and even when you want to start recording. This would, for example, let you record data on the mid-shift, without staying at work until midnight to start recording. VERY convenient, as far as I’m concerned.

Once it’s installed and running, I hope to work with them on the next steps towards optimizing their compressed air system…but we’re off to a good start!

Looking to "go green?" We can help.
Looking to “go green?” We can help.

If you want to talk about getting the most out of your compressed air system, give us a call. We’re here to help.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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Video Blog: Repairing Automatic Drain Floats In EXAIR Compressed Air Filters

If you have an Automatic Drain Filter Separator, or Oil Removal Filter, with a float drain that’s blowing by, then this video is for you. As always, though, give us a call if you have any questions.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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First Time For Everything

We’ve got a lot to be proud of at EXAIR. Over 32 years of experience in providing superior engineered compressed air products for demanding applications worldwide. A 19 year track record (we can only claim 19 years because it’s when we started keeping track) of over 99.9% on-time shipments. 35 Industry Awards (and counting) for new product excellence.

The thing I want to brag on today is…well, me. OK; not just me, but the whole Engineering staff at EXAIR. See, in addition to knowing the ins & outs of 192 pages of compressed air products and accessories in our catalog, EXAIR Application Engineers are well-versed in the situations where our products will…and won’t provide a successful solution.

Sometimes, a user is looking for something different. Same principle of operation, functionality, method, etc., but in a different size. Or shape. Or material of construction. And that’s where the Design Engineers come in…we’ll work together to determine the best way to apply all those years of experience and successful track record and solve your application. And usually, pretty darn quickly.

Case in point: I had the pleasure of discussing an application requiring a special Super Air Knife yesterday afternoon with a caller. Seems they had a tight spot that they needed to fit the Air Knife into, and saw that we had made a special flat Super Air Knife:

Flat Super

This design goes back about 16 years, and has been No, at times, for other applications as the need arises. Because of the large variety of these simulations, we’re probably already pretty close to the next simulation. I realized this was the case when, within 5 minutes of submitting my request to Design Engineering, the office printer (which sits next to my desk) started up, and one of our Design Engineers was on his way over to retrieve the print…of an approval drawing for my caller. Not to swell any heads around here (past our current level of well-deserved swagger, that is,) but this was just about the same amount of time that it took the caller to communicate the requirements to me, and for me to transcribe them into my inter-departmental request.

There’s always a first time for everything…and we look forward to each one of them. If you need help with a compressed air solution, give us a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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Versatile, Efficient And Quiet: The EXAIR Super Air Knife

It would be a memorable day in Application Engineering if one of us didn’t handle at least one call regarding a Super Air Knife. They’re just used for so many different purposes: from debris blow off, to drying, to cooling – in fact, a good number of “Super Air Knife calls” start as “Vortex Tube calls,” because both have their place, depending on factors such as how hot the part to be cooled is, what temperature you want to get it to, how fast does it need cooled, etc. More on that here, and here…today, I’m going to write about environmental containment and separation.

In a nutshell, that means keeping smoke, fumes, powder, etc., inside an area, or at the very least, away from another area. A couple of examples of this are documented in the Super Air Knives section of our latest catalog. If you don’t have one, click here.

The first features:

lens clearing
(2) Model 110024 24″ Aluminum Super Air Knives, which keep the smoke from machining oil that burns off during an engine test directed into the vent hood.

The second utilizes:

A Model 110006 6" Aluminum Super Air Knife to keep the slag, spatter, and smoke from a laser cutter away from the lens of the machine's visual inspection system.
A Model 110006 6″ Aluminum Super Air Knife to keep the slag, spatter, and smoke from a laser cutter away from the lens of the machine’s visual inspection system.

A third, which I don’t have pictures of yet because it’s brand-new, is a little larger scale: a recent caller was looking for a way to keep ALL the powder inside his powder coating spray booth. There’s an open vent with runs all the way across the top, and, when the booth is in operation, a very small plume exits along its 90″ width. They purchased a Model 110296 96″ Aluminum Super Air Knife Kit to blow a continuous curtain of air across this 4″ wide gap, angled down slightly into the booth. The Kit’s Pressure Regulator allows them to “dial down” the air flow to a level just high enough to keep the powder from exiting the gap, but also low enough to not disturb the powder coating process inside the booth.

A self contained blower unit was actually their first idea…these are very popular for large doorways…you’ve probably even seen them on large doors on shipping docks, or forklift paths inside plants where it’s necessary to keep pollutants from one room from entering another. For this situation, though, the compact size, low sound level, and precise adjustability of the Super Air Knife’s air flow made it the logical choice.

If you’d like to know more about EXAIR Super Air Knives, or any of our Intelligent Compressed Air Products, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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