Which Air Nozzle Is Right For Me?

Well, the obvious answer is, of course, an engineered air nozzle…you’re likely aware of this, or you wouldn’t be reading posts on the EXAIR Corporation blog.  We have no issue with narrowing that down a bit, and saying that the answer is an EXAIR air nozzle.  I bet you knew that was coming as well.  So let’s assume that, because of the cost of compressed air, the potential hazards of its unregulated discharge, and the flat-out racket it can make (unless you do something about it,) you’re looking for something efficient, safe, and quiet.

Now that we’re on the same page, let’s unpack that question.  The nature of the application will let us know the airflow pattern & characteristics (mainly flow & force) that we need.

For example, if you need just a pinpoint of airflow, our Atto Super Air Nozzle blows a 1/2″ diameter pattern at a distance of 3″.  Get a little closer than that, and it’s as tight as you want it to be.  Now, it’s only generating a force of 2oz (at 12″ away) but keep in mind that’s all concentrated in a small fraction of an inch diameter.  Which is plenty for most applications that need that precise of an airflow.

Atto Super Air Nozzle

If you DO need a little more flow & force, our Pico and Nano Super Air Nozzles offer incremental increases in performance.  The pattern starts to widen out, but that’s a function of the increased flow expanding in to atmospheric pressure…it has to go somewhere, you know.  But, again, the closer you get, the more focused the flow is to the centerline of the nozzle.

On the other end of the spectrum are EXAIR’s High Force Air Nozzles.  These are particularly useful for stubborn blowoff applications – a foundry blowing slag off hot strip as it cools, for example.  Our largest of these, a 1-1/4 NPT model, generates 23 lbs of force…that’s over 25 times the power of our standard Super Air Nozzle.

 

With 23 lbs of hard hitting force, this 1-1/4 NPT Super Air Nozzle is perfect for the most extreme blow off and cleaning jobs.

Speaking of the standard Super Air Nozzle, it’s the most popular answer to the Big Question.  It’s suitable for a wide range of blowoff, drying, and cooling applications, like the kinds of jobs an awful lot of folks use open end blowoff devices on.  Open ended tubes blow out a great amount of air, but they’re wasteful and noisy, and OSHA says you can’t use them unless you regulate the pressure to 30psig…where they’re not even going to be all that effective.

Choose from (top left to bottom right) 316SS, Zinc Aluminum, or PEEK Thermoplastic…whatever you need to stand up to the rigors of your environment.

If you’ve got a 1/4″ copper tube, for example, it’ll use 33 SCFM when supplied with compressed air at 80psig.  It’ll for sure get the job done (albeit expensively, when you think of all that compressed air consumption,) but it’ll be loud (likely well over 100 dBA) and again, OSHA says you can’t use it at that pressure.  So, you can dial it down to 30psig, where it’ll be marginally effective, but it’s still going to use more air than the Model 1100 1/4 NPT Super Air Nozzle does at 80psig supply pressure.  The hard hitting force of the Model 1100, under those conditions, will make all the difference in the world.  As will its sound level of only 74 dBA.  Not to mention, it’s fully compliant with OSHA 1910.242(b).  Oh…and you can even install it directly on the end of your existing tube with a simple compression fitting.

One of our customers installed Model 1100 Super Air Nozzles on all their lathe blowoff copper tubes, and saved almost $900 a year in compressed air costs.

We’ve also got engineered Air Nozzles smaller than the 1100 (all the way down to the aforementioned Atto Super Air Nozzle) and a good selection of larger ones, including Cluster Air Nozzles that hold tighter airflow patterns than similar performing single Super Air Nozzles.  They’re available in materials ranging from Zinc-Aluminum alloy, bare aluminum, brass, 303SS, 316SS, or PEEK thermoplastic polymer to meet the requirements of most any area of installation, no matter how typical or aggressive.

If you have an loud, wasteful, and likely unsafe blowoff, you owe it to yourself and everyone else who has to put up with it to consider a better solution.  Call me; let’s talk.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Controlling Compressed Air can be Easy, and Save Thousands of Dollars

The history of automated controls can be traced back to inventors in ancient Greece & Egypt, who sought ways to keep more accurate track of time than afforded by sundials and hourglasses.  Their efforts, dating as far back as 300BC, produced devices actuated by water flow, which is actually quite reliable and repeatable: a set amount of water will flow via gravity through a fixed conduit in the exact same amount of time, every time.  These were in fairly common use until the invention of the mechanical clock in the 14th century.

The Industrial Revolution grew the need for automated processes exponentially…the need to control objects or tooling in motion, fluid flow, temperature, and pressure, just to name a few.  As time passed, the sky was literally the limit: modern aircraft & spacecraft rely on a staggering amount of automated processes from production to operation.

All throughout history, though, the benefits of automation remain the same: making processes more efficient.  That’s where the EXAIR EFC Electronic Flow Control comes in, for automating processes involving compressed air use, by turning air flow off when it’s not needed.  In fact, not only do they provide simple on/off control to blow only when a part is “seen” by the photoelectric sensor, there are eight distinct modes to incorporate delay on or off, flicker on or off, signal on/off delay, interval, or “One-Shot,” where the sensor detects the part, delays opening the valve per the timer setting, and blows for one second.

EFC Electronic Flow Control Systems are already assembled & wired for quick & easy installation.

The EXAIR EFC Electronic Flow Control is a true “plug and play” solution for automating a compressed air application.  Mount the sensor, plumb the valve, plug it in, and you’re ready to go.  There’s no complicated PLC wiring or programming, although the aforementioned mode selections do offer a great deal of flexibility other than “on when the sensor sees it; off when it doesn’t” operation, if desired.  Here are some prime examples of that flexibility, and the monetary benefits due to the compressed air consumption savings:

(Left) On/Off Delay setting used in tank refurbishment application to operate a “halo” of Super Air Knives for blow off as tanks exit oven where old paint is burnt off – $3,393 annual air savings. (Center) Interval setting actuates a Super Ion Air Knife for flat panel display dust blow off/static elimination – $2,045 annual air savings. (Right) Interval setting actuates a “halo” of Super Ion Air Knives to clean & remove static charge from plastic automotive bumper covers prior to painting – $5012 annual savings.

If you’d like to find out more about the EFC Electronic Flow Control can save you time, air, and money, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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EXAIR Digital Flowmeters With Wireless Capability

“You can’t manage what you don’t measure” is a well-known axiom in engineering & process improvement circles.  We talk to callers every day who are keen on conserving compressed air use in their facilities by making a few tweaks, considering a complete overhaul, or more often, some point in between.  Bottom line (literally) is, compressed air isn’t cheap, so small gains in efficiency can add up.  And large gains can be complete game-changers…following our Six Steps To Optimizing Your Compressed Air System has resulted in users being able to shut down 50 and 100 HP air compressors, saving thousands of dollar A MONTH in operating costs.

Step #1 is measurement, and that’s where the EXAIR Digital Flowmeter comes in.  They’re easy to install, highly accurate, extremely reliable, and available for just about any size pipe used for compressed air distribution.  They can output a 4-20mA signal straight from their PCB board, or serial comms (RS485) through an optional control board.  USB Data Loggers and Summing Remote Displays have proven to be value-added accessories for data management as well.

Summing Remote Display (left) for remote indication and totalizing data. USB Data Logger takes data from the Digital Flowmeter to your computer and outputs to its own software (shown above) or Microsoft Excel.

If you want to go wireless, we can do that too: using ZigBee mesh network protocol, a radio module is installed in the Digital Flowmeter with wireless gateway to transmit data to an Ethernet connected gateway.  The transmitting range is 100 ft (30 meters,) and the data can be passed from one radio module to another, allowing for multiple Digital Flowmeter installations to extend the distance over which they can communicate with the computer you’re using for central monitoring.  Advantages include:

  • Wireless monitoring of EXAIR Digital Flowmeters throughout your plant.
  • Prevents unwanted joining upon the network.
  • Monitoring software is included at no extra charge.
  • Measures & transmits both current air usage, and cumulative air usage data.
  • 128 bit encryption for wireless transmissions.
  • Comes configured & programmed, out of the box, available for installation on 1/2″ to 4″ SCH40 iron pipe, or 3/4″ to 4″ Type L copper pipe.

Digital Flowmeter w/ Wireless Capability, Gateway, and Drill Guide Kit

If you’d like to find out more about how easy it is to measure, manage, and optimize your compressed air usage, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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EXAIR Air Nozzles And Jets: Quiet, Efficient, and Safe Solutions For Blow Off

Compressed air, as a utility, dates back to ancient Egypt, where metal alloy production was enhanced by using bellows devices to force air into furnaces in order to generate the extremely high temperatures needed to meld iron ores.  Major industrial use began in the mid-19th century, as pneumatic drills became popular for tunneling and mining operations.  With the development and large scale production of the modern air compressor in the 20th century, many other uses for compressed air were discovered.

Among the most prevalent of these additional applications is cleaning & blow off.  Mechanical or chemical methods such as washing, scrubbing, brushing, wiping, etc. often take time and considerable effort, when a quick blast of high velocity air from a pressurized source can make quick work of debris and/or moisture removal.  Thing is, unfettered discharge of high pressure air without concern for safety or efficiency has consequences:

  • Open end blow offs without a relief path for the air in case the device is dead ended, can have enough energy to break the skin, causing a dangerous and potentially fatal condition known as an air embolism.  The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) specifically addresses this danger in 29 CFR 1910.242(b).
  • They’re also incredibly loud, usually higher than 100 decibels, which exceeds OSHA’s noise exposure limits per 29 CFR 1910.95(a).
  • As if that wasn’t enough, they can waste an awful lot of compressed air too.  The U.S. Department of Energy even goes so far as to classify it as an Inappropriate Use of Compressed Air.

Given these drawbacks, you might wonder why ANYONE would do such a thing!  Well, that’s the nature of our business at EXAIR Corporation: manufacturing quiet, safe, and efficient compressed air products for industry.  Among these are the first engineered products developed by EXAIR:  Air Nozzles and Jets.  No matter what your blow off needs are, we’ve got a solution.  Consider:

  • Performance.  With 73 distinct models to choose from, EXAIR can provide blow off solutions from the pin-pointed precision of our Atto Super Air Nozzle (uses 2.5 SCFM, generates 2 oz of force) to our High Force 1-1/4 NPT Super Air Nozzle (uses 460 SCFM, generates 23 lbs of force.)

    From the Atto Super Air Nozzle’s 2.5 oz pinpoint focus of air flow to the Model 1121’s 23 pounds of force blast, EXAIR has 73 distinct models to choose from.
  • Durability.  Some environments where blow off is required are downright aggressive: high heat, exposure to corrosive chemicals, etc.  With these situations in mind, we offer Air Nozzles & Jets in a variety of materials of construction, as shown to the right:
    • Zinc Aluminum alloy
    • Types 303 and 316 Stainless Steel
    • PEEK (polyether ether ketone) thermoplastic
    • Aluminum
    • Brass
  • Range of operation.  Any blow off device’s performance can be varied by regulating the compressed air supply pressure.  EXAIR offers several products with even greater ability for change:
    • The Model 1009 (Aluminum) and 1009SS (303SS) Adjustable Air Nozzles have a micrometer-like dial that allows you to very precisely set the flow & force to exact requirements.
    • Adjustable Air Jet Models 6019 (brass) and 6019SS (303SS) feature similar operation with a micrometer-like gap adjuster/indicator.
    • Our 1″ and 2″ Flat Super Air Nozzles (available in Zinc Aluminum or 316SS) have a replaceable shim.  The standard models have a 0.015″ thick shim installed, and the High Power models have 0.025″ thick shims.  We also offer individual shims, and sets, ranging from 0.005″ to 0.030″ thicknesses.
    • High Velocity Air Jets come in brass or 303SS, and also have replaceable shims.  The one that comes installed is 0.015″ thick.  The Shim Set gives you a 0.006″ and 0.009″ shim.

      Adjustable Air Nozzles & Jets (left) feature micrometer-type adjustment; Flat Super Air Nozzles and the High Velocity Air Jet (right) have replaceable shims to vary performance.
  • Function. Most of our Air Nozzles generate a high velocity air stream coming straight from its end.  We’ve also engineered some nozzles for specific applications:
    • Model 1144 2″ Super Air Scraper is our popular 2″ Flat Super Air Nozzle with a corrosion resistant scraper blade, making quick work of removing stubborn materials like tape, gaskets, labels, grease, paint, or sealant.  It’s particularly handy when installed on a Soft Grip Safety Air Gun with an appropriate length of pipe extension.
    • Back Blow Air Nozzles are made to clean out inside diameters or blind holes.  Three sizes are available for ID’s of 1/4″ to 16″.

If you’d like to find out more about how EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products can help you get the most out of your compressed air system, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Six Steps to Optimizing Compressed Air: Step 4, Turn it Off When Not in Use

Step 4 of the Six Steps to Optimizing your compressed air is to turn off your compressed air when it is not in use. This step can be done using two simple methods either by using manual controls such as ball valves or automated controllers such as solenoid valves. Manual controls are designed for long use and when switching on and off are infrequent. Ball Valves are one of the most commonly used manual shut offs for compressed air and other fluids.

Automated controllers allow your air flow to be tied into a system or process and turn on or off when conditions have been met. Solenoid valves are the most commonly used automated control device as they operate by using an electric current to open and close the valve mechanism within. Solenoid valves are some of the more versatile flow control devices due to the fact that they open and close almost instantaneously. Solenoid valves can be used as manual controls as well by wiring them to a switch or using simple programming on a PLC to turn the valve on or off using a button.

EXAIR’s Solenoid Valves
EXAIR’s Electronic Flow Controller (EFC)

 

Some good examples of automated controllers are EXAIR’s Electronic Flow Controller (a.k.a. EFC) and EXAIR’s Thermostat controlled Cabinet Coolers.  

The EFC system uses a photo eye to detect when an object is coming down the line and will turn on the air for a set amount of time of the users choosing. This can be used to control the airflow for all of EXAIR’s products. EXAIR’s Thermostat controlled Cabinet Coolers are used to control the internal temperature of a control cabinet or other enclosures. This is done by detecting the internal temperature of your cabinet and when it has exceeded a temperature which could damage electrical components it will open the valve until a safe temperature has been reached, then turn off.    

By turning off your compressed air, whether it be with manual or automated controllers, a company can minimize wasted compressed air and extend the longevity of the air compressor that is used to supply the plants air. The longevity of the air compressor is increased due to reduced run time since it does not need to keep up with the constant use of compressed air. Other benefits include less use of compressed air and recouped cost of compressed air. 

EXAIR’s Ball Valves sizes 1/4″ NPT to 1-1/4″ NPT

If you have questions about our compressed air control valves or any of the 16 different EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air® Product lines, feel free to contact EXAIR and myself or any of our Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.

Cody Biehle
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Importance Of Proper Pneumatic Tube, Pipe, And Fittings

When it comes to engineered compressed products, the number one cause of less-than-optimal performance is improper supply line sizing.  This can mean one of two things:

  • The hose, pipe, or tubing running to the device is too small in diameter.
  • The hose, pipe or tubing is big enough in diameter, but too long.

The problem with either of these is line loss (follow that link if you want to do the math.)  Put simply, the air wants to move faster than it’s physically permitted to.  Any time fluid flows through a conduit of any sort, friction acts on it via contact with the inside surface of said conduit.

With smaller diameters, a larger percentage of the air flow is affected…no matter what diameter the line is, the air closest to the inner wall is affected by the friction generated.  When diameter increases, the thickness of this affected zone doesn’t increase proportionally, so larger diameters mean less of the air is affected by friction.  It also means there’s a lot more room (by a factor of the square of the radius, times pi…thanks, Archimedes!) for the air to flow through.

Likewise, with longer lengths, there’s more contact, which equals more friction.  Length, however, is often a non-negotiable.  You can’t just up and move a 100HP air compressor from one part of the plant to another.  So, when we’re talking about selecting proper supply lines, we’re going to start with the distance from the compressed air header to our device, and pick the diameter that will give us the flow we need through that length.  In fact, that’s exactly how to use the Recommended Infeed Pipe Size table in EXAIR’s Super Air Knife Installation & Maintenance Guide:

This table comes directly from the Installation & Operation Instructions for the Super Air Knife.

Once we have the correct line size (diameter,) let’s consider the fittings:

  • Tapered pipe threads (NPT or BSPT) are the best.  They offer no restriction in flow, and are readily commercially available.  If you’re using pipe, these are the standard threads for fittings.  If you want to use hose, a local hydraulic/pneumatic shop can usually make hoses with the fittings you need, at the service counter, while you wait.
  • If you need to frequently break and make the connection (e.g., a Chip Vac System that’s used throughout your facility,) quick connects are convenient and inexpensive.  Push-to-connect types are by far the most common, but a word of warning: they’re notoriously restrictive, as the inside diameter of the male end is markedly smaller than the line size.  If you use them, go up a size or two…a quick connect made for 1/2 NPT connections will work just fine for a 1/4″ line:
  • The nice thing about these quick connects is that you don’t have to depressurize the line to make or break the connection.  If you have the ability to depressurize the line, though, claw-type fittings (like the one shown on the right) provide the convenience of a quick connect, without the restriction in flow.

Proper air supply is key to performance of any compressed air product.  If you want to know, at a glance, if you’re supplying it properly, install a pressure gauge right at (or as close as practical) to the inlet.  Any difference in its reading and your header pressure indicates a restriction.  Here’s a video that clearly shows how this all works:

I want to make sure you get the most out of your compressed air system.  If you want that to, give me a call with any questions you might have.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Steps to Find Compressed Air Leaks in your Facility

The Second Step to optimize your compressed air system is to Find and fix leaks in your compressed air system. The reason leaks are important to find and fix is because they can account for 20-30% of a compressors total output. A compressed air leak fixing process can save 10-20% of that lost volume.

6-steps-from-catalog

Unintentional leaks will result in increased maintenance issues and can be found in any part of a compressed air system. Leaks can be found at a poorly sealed fitting, quick disconnects and even right through old or poorly maintained supply piping. Good practice will be to develop an ongoing leak detection program.

The critical steps needed for an effective leak detection program are as follows:

  1. Get a foundation (baseline) for your compressed air use so you have something to compare once you begin eliminating leaks. This will allow you to quantify the savings.
  2. Estimate how much air you are currently losing to air leaks. This can be done by using one of two methods.
    • Load/Unload systems, where T= Time fully loaded and t=Time fully unloaded:
        • Leakage percent = T x 100
          ——
          (T + t)
    • Systems with other controls where V=cubic feet, P1 and P2=PSIG, and T=minutes
        • Leakage = V x (P1-P2) x 1.25
          ————–
          T x 14.7
  3. Know your cost of compressed air so you can provide effectiveness of the leak fixing process.
  4. Find, Document and Fix the leaks. Start by fixing the worst offenders, fix the largest leaks. Document both the leaks found and the leaks fixed which can help illustrate problem areas or repeat offenders, which could indicate other problems within the system.
  5. Compare the baseline to your final results.
  6. Repeat. We know you didn’t want to hear this but it will be necessary to continue an efficient compressed air system in your plant.

EXAIR has a tool to assist you in finding these leaks throughout your facility, the Ultrasonic Leak Detector. Check one of our other Blogs here, to see how it works!

Leak Detector

 

If you’d like to discuss how to get the most out of your compressed air system – or our products – give me a call.

Jordan Shouse
Application Engineer
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