How a Super Air Knife Helps with Metal Etching

Etching Machine

A company had a process where they were etching metal components with an acid bath.  The system consisted of four baths where the metal parts would be dipped.  The four baths consisted of a wash, rinse, acid bath, and rinse again.  The automated system was contained inside an enclosed booth; and, once the parts were placed inside a 24” (610mm) X 18” (457mm) basket, a sliding door was closed to initiate the operation.  The timing sequence consisted of the basket being dipped into each bath for a certain length of time.  Between each bath cycle, the basket would be raised above the solution, and an open pipe blow-off would remove excess liquid from the part with compressed air.   They complained that the parts were not getting dry enough, and cross-contamination was causing process problems.  The acid bath was becoming more neutral and the effectiveness of the etching was being sacrificed.  The rinse water was becoming more “soapy” after the cleaning bath and more acidic after the acid bath.  Overall, they had to replace every one of the bath solutions which caused shut-downs and extra expense.

From similar applications, I was able to recommend a great solution.  Because of the acidic solution and corrosive environment, I recommended two stainless steel Super Air Knives, model 110024SS.  They are manufactured in 303 stainless steel.  EXAIR also offers 316 stainless steel as well as PVDF for more acidic or caustic etching.  Instead of using the open pipes to blow off the parts, the customer could replace them with the Super Air Knives.  They can easily be mounted above the front and back of the basket, blowing at a downward angle toward the dip tank.  The two Super Air Knives would remove the liquid solution from the parts as well as the basket to put back into the same dipping tank.  The more solution that is removed, the less liquid that will transfer from one solution to the next; thus, reducing cross-contamination dramatically.

After installing the model 110024SS Super Air Knives in their system, they started to see a vast improvement in their etching process.  The etching acid was able to be used roughly 40% longer as compared to the prior method.  As an added feature, the Super Air Knives decreased the time to blow off the parts as they can be adjusted for optimum cleaning.  Less waste and faster production times were how the EXAIR Super Air Knives helped the customer above.  If you have a similar application and want to discuss how we can improve your dipping process, please speak to one of our Application Engineers.  We’ll be happy to help.

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

E-Vac For Lubricant Recovery

Over the last 3 months, I have been in contact with a customer, keeping track of an application that involved the EXAIR E-Vac.  The customer had reached out to us looking for some advice on how to solve a process problem. The operation is a drawing/stamping process, and the when the part exits the machine there is coolant that resides in a deep draw section, approx 0.4″ in diameter by 3.5″deep.  About 1 oz of coolant per part is retained, and over many 1000’s of parts, would add up to lost dollars and messy clean up.

The customer was looking for an automated process that would be able to draw out the coolant and direct the liquid back to the coolant reservoir, all while maintaining the current machine run rate. We settled in on the model 840015 Adjustable E-Vac Generator. The Adjustable E-Vac has a straight through pathway from suction through to discharge, allowing for fast evacuation times.  A simple turn of the unit changes the vacuum and flow levels to best match the needs of the application.  The Adjustable E-Vac coupled to a solenoid valve controlled by the stamping machine resulted in the automatic system the customer was looking for.

Adjustable EVac
Adjustable E-Vac Family

The customer ordered a unit, and based on the preliminary bench testing, it was approved for a production run trial. After some tweaking in the production environment, the unit was performing to spec, and was then subjected to a 100,000+ part run.  The results were a success!  Instead of the parts exiting onto an inclined conveyor, relying on gravity to drain and causing coolant to collect under the conveyor, the coolant could be removed in a controlled manner and sent back to the reservoir.  Less mess and no coolant loss.

EXAIR manufactures (3) types of E-Vacs – Low vacuum generators for porous materials, high vacuum generators for non-porous materials, and the adjustable type for flexible vacuum performance.  They are available in multiple sizes, to best match the vacuum requirements, while using the least amount of compressed air.

To discuss your application and how the EXAIR E-VAC can benefit your process, feel free to contact EXAIR and myself or one of our other Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.

Brian Bergmann
Application Engineer

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