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

 

 

I Love A Good Commercial

I watch an awful lot of television. I always have. I grew up in the 1970’s, and I can STILL remember the sixth sense that my friends and I seemed to possess, regarding the imminent air time of our favorite shows. We could be engaged in the most epic Friday evening whiffle ball game EVER, but a few minutes before 8pm, we all became acutely aware that The Incredible Hulk was about to come on, followed by The Dukes Of Hazzard. Throughout the week, our games might be called on account of weather or darkness, but on Fridays, they’d be called on account of Lou Ferrigno (The Hulk) and Catherine Bach (Daisy Duke.) It’s entirely likely that this was triggered by the subtle reinforcement of having viewed a short advertisement earlier in the week, shown multiple times, just to make sure it stuck:

For the record, we didn’t watch Dallas an awful lot.  We got sent to bed right about then.  In retrospect, I’m glad.

In the present age of Digital TV and programmable DVR’s, I honestly don’t watch too many shows when they’re actually being aired. And with the fast forward function, I don’t catch too many commercials, except when (much to my wife and sons’ chagrin) I back up to see if I might be interested in. And yes, it’s usually food or vehicle-related. I’m usually in the mood for a cheeseburger, and…don’t tell her…but I may be purchasing a pickup truck very soon.

But I digress. I got to thinking about the effectiveness of commercials when I had the pleasure of discussing a blow off application with a caller recently. He was looking for a way to keep the lens of laser sensors clean…there are three sensors located inside his machine, and they are used to check & control the exact positioning of precision machined parts. As good as they are at doing so, just a little bit of coolant spray on the lens will have a pretty bad effect on their operation. When he started describing the sensor to me, I knew exactly what he was looking for, because I’d seen something just like it in a “commercial”…

These Press Releases can all be found in our Media Center.

These Press Releases can all be found in our Media Center.

OK, a Press Release, actually. Now, this is the Model HP1126SS 1” High Power 316SS Flat Super Air Nozzle, which was needed for the aggressive, high temperature environment in which this photo was taken. He didn’t need all that, so he went with the Model 1126 1” Zinc Aluminum Flat Super Air Nozzle, which has more than enough force & flow to blow off a little coolant mist, and is perfectly suitable for use around water-based solutions.

When I showed it to him, he agreed that it was exactly what he was looking for. I feel bad that I neglected to tell our Marketing folks how easy they made it for me to solve this application until now…but they totally rocked it. Thanks!

Our Application Engineers work with them to publish Press Releases, Newsletters, Case Studies, Application Database entries, and more, on a regular basis. I encourage you to check out our Media Center and Knowledge Base (registration required, but it’s free and easy) to get an idea of the full range of our abilities to solve your compressed air product applications. We can start there, and if you ever have any questions, give us a call. We’re eager to help.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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