What’s The Big Deal About Clean Air?

Compressed air isn’t called manufacturing’s “Fourth Utility” (the first three being electricity, water, and natural gas) for nothing. Pneumatic tools are popular because they’re often so much lighter than their electric counterparts. Compressed air can be stored in receiver tanks for use when other power supplies are unavailable or not feasible. Many compressed air operated products can be made to withstand environmental factors (high/low temperature, corrosive elements, atmospheric dust, oil, other contaminants, etc.,) that would make electric devices very expensive, unwieldy, or impractical.

One of the most valuable considerations, though, is that your compressed air system is, by and large, under your control.  The type and capacity of your air compressor can be determined by your specific operational needs.  The header pressure in your supply lines is based on the applications that your air-operated devices are used for.  And the performance & lifespan of every single component in your compressed air system is determined by the care you take in maintaining it.

I covered the importance of compressed air system maintenance in a blog a while back…today, I want to focus on clean air.  And, like the title (hopefully) makes you think, it’s a REALLY big deal.  Consider the effects of the following:

Debris: solid particulates can enter your air system through the compressor intake, during maintenance, or if lines are undone and remade.  If you have moisture in your air (more on that in a minute,) that can promote corrosion inside your pipes, and rust can flake off in there.  Almost all of your air operated products have moving parts, tight passages, or both…debris is just plain bad for them.  And if you use air for blow off (cleaning, drying, etc.,) keep in mind that anything in your compressed air system will almost certainly get on your product.

Your compressed air system may be equipped with a main filter at the compressor discharge.  This is fine, but since there is indeed potential for downstream ingress (as mentioned above,) point-of-use filtration is good engineering practice.  EXAIR recommends particulate filtration to 5 microns for most of our products.

Water: moisture is almost always a product of condensation, but it can also be introduced through faulty maintenance, or by failure of the compressor’s drying or cooling systems.  Any way it happens, it’s also easy to combat with point-of-use filtration.

EXAIR includes an Automatic Drain Filter Separator in our product kits to address both of these concerns.  A particulate filter element traps solids, and a centrifugal element “spins” any moisture out, collecting it in the bowl, which is periodically drained (automatically, as the name implies) by a float.

Point of use filtration is key to the performance of your compressed air products, and their effectiveness. Regardless of your application, EXAIR has Filter Separators to meet most any need.

Oil: many pneumatic tools require oil for proper operation, so, instead of removing it, there’s going to be a dedicated lubricator, putting oil in the air on purpose.  Optimally, this will be as close to the tool as possible, because not all of your compressed air loads need oil…especially your blow offs.  If, however, a blow off device is installed downstream of a lubricator (perhaps due to convenience or necessity,) you’ll want to do something about that oil. Remember, anything in your system will get blown onto your product.

If this is the case, or you just want to have the cleanest air possible (keep in mind there is no downside to that,) consider an EXAIR Oil Removal Filter.  They come in a range of capacities, up to 310 SCFM (8,773 SLPM,) and the coalescing element also offers additional particulate filtration to 0.03 microns.

In closing, here’s a video that shows you, up close and personal, the difference that proper filtration can make:

If you’d like to discuss or debate (spoiler alert: I’ll win) the importance of clean air, and how EXAIR can help, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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Vacuum Generator System Selection – EXAIR E-Vacs

E-Vac Vacuum Generators are a highly efficient, versatile compressed air vacuum pump. Their versatility allows them to be adapted to many applications such as pick and place, clamping or vacuum forming. They’ve also been used in more unique applications like wood veneer pressing and basketball deflation.

EXAIR manufactures (3) types of E-Vacs – Low vacuum generators for porous materials, like cardboard, generating up to 21″ Hg with vacuum flows as high as 18.5 SCFM. Our high vacuum generators, designed for use with non-porous materials like glass or steel sheets, produce vacuum levels up to 27″ Hg and up to 15.8 SCFM of vacuum flow. The adjustable generators provide flexible vacuum performance, up to 25″ Hg and 81 SCFM,  which can be easily adapted to meet the application.

EXAIR E-Vacs provide instantaneous vacuum response, and are engineered for high efficiency to minimize air consumption.

 

When making a selection, there are a few key areas you want to consider:

Is the material porous or non-porous?

  • This will allow you to select the proper type of vacuum generator to fit the application and the type of vacuum cup best suited for the process.

 

What is the weight of the part and how will it be lifted?

  • If the part is being lifted where the vacuum cups will be positioned horizontally, like on top of a sheet of glass, you want to use a safety factor of 2 times the actual weight of the part. In processes requiring the cups be positioned vertically on the part, such as picking up a sheet of plywood and hanging it on an overhead conveyor, a safety factor of 4 would be used.

 

How many Vacuum Cups do I need?

  • Consider the quantity and placement to evenly distribute the weight for safely moving the material.
  • Depending on the maximum vacuum the generator produce, how much weight can each cup lift?
  • Make the cup selection per the following chart

 

Once you have selected the type and number of cups needed, you can then begin to look at which additional accessories items you might need.

  • Filters – supplying clean, dry air is key for maintaining optimal performance. An automatic drain filter  can be used to remove any water or contaminants in the supply line. If there is oil present, consider using an Oil Removal Filter.
  • Mufflers – help to reduce the noise level without restricting the airflow. We offer 2 different styles – Standard and Straight Through. Standards mufflers are a good choice where the supply air is clean and dry. These mufflers can only be used with the porous and non-porous generators. The Straight Through mufflers reduces sound levels by up to 26 dBA and are the better choice in processes where dirt or particulate may be present.
  • Tubing and Fittings – polyurethane tubing is available in 10′ sections up to 50′ for processes requiring the vacuum cups be placed in a location that wouldn’t allow for direct mounting to the NPT vacuum port on the generator or where multiple cups are needed. You want to keep the length of tubing as short as possible though for effective pickup and release time.
  • Check Valve – will maintain vacuum on the load if the supply pressure were to drop or be lost during operation.

For additional assistance selecting the proper E-Vac and accessories for your process, please contact an application engineer at 800-903-9247.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer
justinnicholl@exair.com
@EXAIR_JN

 

Oil And Water Don’t Mix, But Oil And Air Sure Do

Do you have oil in your compressed air system? It may be there on purpose…air operated tools require it, and there are a number of devices on the market that provide a precise amount of oil to keep the moving parts in these tools well lubricated and properly operating.

If it’s not there on purpose, it’s not necessarily a problem, though, and it’s hardly uncommon. Many air compressors are oil lubricated, which means there’s oil being pumped at a constant rate, directly towards the piston rings, and a little bit is always going to end up in the air. As the rings wear, even more makes it past…this is impossible to prevent, but, with proper maintenance, it’s kept to a very minimal amount. There are, of course, oil-less compressor designs, which can eliminate this entirely, but they’ve been known to carry a little heavier price tag. Some situations, though, make them worth every penny.

Trace amounts of oil like this don’t affect a lot of compressed air applications, including the performance of most of our products. There are times, however, when oil needs to be addressed…for instance:

*Blow off prior to painting or coating. Even trace amounts of oil on a surface to be painted can cause big problems.
*Electrical enclosure cooling. Oil won’t affect the heat removal performance of an EXAIR Cabinet Cooler System, but it can indeed cause serious issues with electrical/electronic components and devices if it’s present in the cold air that’s blowing on them.
*Air operated conveyors. Likewise, oil won’t hurt the performance of a Line Vac, but keep in mind that anything in the air supply will get on the material or product you’re conveying.
*Static Eliminators. Here’s a situation where oil in the air WILL have an effect on product performance…the emitter points of your EXAIR Static Eliminator need to be kept clean (including oil free) for proper operation. And, again, anything in your air is going to get onto your product.

This is where proper filtration comes in: properly installed downstream of a Filter Separator, EXAIR’s coalescing Oil Removal Filters take out even trace amounts of oil from the air flow, ensuring your process doesn’t see anything but clean, dry air.

EXAIR Model 9027 Oil Removal Filter, installed between Model 9004 Filter Separator and 9008 Pressure Regulator, using our Modular Coupling Kits
EXAIR Model 9027 Oil Removal Filter, installed between Model 9004 Automatic Drain Filter Separator and 9008 Pressure Regulator, using our Modular Coupling Kits.

Again, oil in your air isn’t always a problem. If you have questions about your application, though, give us a call…if it IS a problem, we’ve got a solution.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
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