Super Air Wipe Helps Shield a Lens

Super Air Wipe Kit

A tier 2 automotive company makes small metal boxes with a process which includes laser welding and a vision inspection system. The machine was programmed to weld different components onto the metal enclosure. During the welding operation, an optical sensor would check the quality of the welds. The vision system used a lens to protect the sensor from welding slag and debris. After a few operations, they started seeing false positives in the welding areas, and the metal enclosure would be flagged for rejection. In investigating the issue, they found that the lens was getting dirty from the welding operation. Because of the sensitivity of the sensor, it would detect the debris and marks on the lens and signal for poor weld. The lens was doing its part in protecting the sensor from damage; but, they needed a way to shield the lens from dirt and slag during the welding operation and visual inspection.

With this process, the machine would weld metal fasteners onto an enclosure by laser. The optical sensor would move along the welded areas to check the quality. In a lead/lag operation, the vision system would check the welds after a few seconds of cooling. So, both operations were occurring at the same time but at different intervals. When they started to see the rejection rate increase, they would have to stop the operation, clean the lens, and verify the integrity of the welds. In some cases, they would have to replace the 1 ¼” diameter lens especially if a piece of welding slag marred the surface. With incorrect rejections and lens cleaning, downtime was hurting their production rates and cost.

This customer wanted to use compressed air because it is a powerful and invisible way to create a shield. Since EXAIR is a leader in efficient and effective ways to use compressed air, they contacted us for help. Initially, I suggested a Super Air Knife to deflect any slag and debris from the lens surface. I showed a prior solution to a very similar issue; “Air Shielding a Laser Lens” (Reference below). But, because of the proximity to the part and the limitation in space, the Super Air Knife  configuration in the solution below would make it impossible to use. They were looking for a product that could be mounted either flush or behind the surface of the lens and still protect it.

Air Shielding a Laser Lens

To accommodate for this request, we had to direct the compressed air stream at an angle. EXAIR manufacturers a product that can do just that, the Super Air Wipe. The design of the Super Air Wipe blows compressed air at a 30-degree angle toward the center in a 360-degree air pattern, just like a cone. It can be placed around the lens and still be able to create a “wall” of air to block any slag or debris from hitting the lens.

I recommended the model 2452SS, 2” Super Air Wipe Kit. This Super Air Wipe has the body, braided hose, hardware, and shims that is made from stainless steel. It can handle the high heat loads from the welding process as well as to allow for easy cleanup after a day of operating. The kit includes a filter, to keep the compressed air clean; a regulator, to finely tune the force requirement; and a shim set. The shim set includes two additional sets of shims that can be added to increase the force of protection if needed. With the kit, the customer can “dial” in the correct amount of force needed to keep the lens clean without using excessive amount of compressed air.

As an added benefit of saving compressed air, the Super Air Wipe uses the Coanda effect to maximize the entrainment of ambient air into the compressed air stream. This makes the unit very efficient and very powerful. The Super Air Wipe was mounted just behind the lens like the customer required (Reference mock picture below), and the sensor could examine the welds without any interference with the metal enclosure.

Laser Lens mock drawing

Visual inspections systems are highly accurate pieces of equipment, and a dirty lens will affect the performance. EXAIR has many ways to keep the lens clean with a non-contact invisible barrier to protect sensors, cameras, and lasers. If you have a similar application, you can contact an Application Engineer to determine the best way to keep the lens clean and your equipment functional. After mounting the Super Air Wipe, the customer above eliminated any false rejections, and dramatically decreased any downtime for cleaning or replacing the lens in his welding machine.

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

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

 

 

A Solution for This and a Solution for That – Solving Problems Throughout the Plant

EXAIR’s 15 extensive product lines solve problems in production processes everyday. From cooling to laser lens protection (as you will see below) to static elimination, general shop housecleaning, conveying and air conservation –  we would like to help solve your problems.

Last week, I got an email from a customer.  It was late in the day, and I was spent from a busy day.  The customer was emailing for (2) reasons. First, they wanted to express their appreciation for our efforts several months ago regarding an application for a Vortex Tube. Over the course of a couple of weeks, we shared information and ideas back and forth regarding the Vortex Tube technology, how it works, and the various considerations when choosing the appropriate model.  They ended up purchasing a unit and put it into operation.  The application involved a plastic tubing cutting process and in this instance both the cold and hot air streams could be utilized to improve the process. The process involves heating up the material so it would lose its memory set, and then a cooling operation to improve the material cutting and handling.  Below is an excerpt from the recent email:

capture

How_A_Vortex_Tube_Works
The Vortex Tube takes in compressed air, and creates a Cold Stream and a Hot Air Stream

The second reason for the email was that he needed help with another application and based on the success of the initial collaboration, he knew he could trust in EXAIR to help find a solution that would work.  The new application involves protecting a camera lens from debris created during a wire cutting laser process. The lens is getting hit with spatter and damage is starting to occur. Our collaboration has begun, and we are looking at the Super Air Knife and Flat Super Air Nozzle as possible solutions, each of them providing a strong air flow to direct the debris away from the lens.

To discuss your application and how an EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products can help your process, feel free to contact EXAIR and one of our Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.

Brian Bergmann
Application Engineer

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