Video Blog: Chip Shield Kits

I have seen over the years where OSHA inspectors has visited manufacturing plants for violations.  One of the more common areas that they review are compressed air guns because many of them are very dangerous for Dead-End pressure and noise levels.  All of EXAIR Safety Air Guns are OSHA compliant.  But there is an additional OSHA guideline 1910.242(b) that deals with Chip guarding and shields for cleaning purposes.  With these types of applications, EXAIR offers Chip Shields; either as an option with our Safety Air Guns; or as Chip Shields only, or as a Chip Shield kit.  In this video, I will go over the Chip Shield Kits that will add a chip shield to your existing EXAIR Safety Air Gun.

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

VariBlast® Precision Safety Air Gun

EXAIR’s new VariBlast® Precision Safety Air Guns provide a focused blast of air capable of handling tough jobs with remarkable strength. This CE compliant, lightweight air gun uses an engineered valve for variable flow.  It can produce an adjustable force upon a target simply by pulling the trigger to a variety of positions.  You can generate higher or lower force as needed for an application.

A comfortable full-finger trigger and a convenient hanger loop are built-in to the Variblast Precision Safety Air Gun.  It has a ¼” NPT female compressed air inlet at the base of the handle with an option for a BSP threaded adapter.  One of the unique features is the replaceable extensions.  They come standard with a 6” (152mm) extension.  For greater reach, we offer a 12″ (305mm) or a 20″ (508mm) extension for longer reach.  The body is made of high-impact, glass-reinforced nylon to resist breakage.  They can also be outfitted with an impact-resistant polycarbonate Chip Shield.  In combination with the EXAIR Safety Air Nozzles, the airflow that exits the nozzle can’t be blocked, assuring safe operation and compliance with OSHA standard 1910.242(b). Also, the Precision air gun has a low noise level, only 75 dBA, which is well below the limits of the OSHA noise exposure standard 29 CFR 1910.95(a).  EXAIR strives to manufacture safe and efficient safety air guns, and the VariBlast Precision fits that bill.

To expand on efficiency, the engineered nozzles are designed to entrain the free ambient air to add mass to the airstream.  With an amplification ratio of nearly 25:1, you only have to use a small amount of compressed air to generate a powerful, focused blast.  So, by using less compressed air, it will save you a lot of money.  EXAIR offers three different sizes in different materials.  The largest is the Nano Super Air Nozzle, which only requires 8.3 SCFM (235 SLPM) at 80 PSIG (5.5 Bar).  It is made from type 316SS or PEEK thermoplastic.  The PEEK nozzle is great for non-marring applications.  The smallest unit is our Atto Super Air Nozzle for very small holes.  It also comes in 316SS or PEEK thermoplastic.  It only uses 2.5 SCFM (71 SLPM) of compressed air at 80 PSIG (5.5 Bar).  For the “in-between” force rating, we offer the Pico Super Air Nozzle in 316SS and PEEK.  For the different combinations of model numbers, I created a VariBlast chart below.

A substandard blow-off gun is unsafe, loud, and wastes compressed air.  They are subject to dangerous conditions and OSHA fines.  EXAIR Safety Air Guns can help improve the situation in all these areas.  EXAIR stocks a wide range of safety air guns for almost any blow-off application.  We stock units ranging from our smallest size; the VariBlast Precision Safety Air Guns up to our largest size; the TurboBalst Safety Air Guns.  From August 1st to September 30th, 2022 for qualified purchases; EXAIR will give a 1” Flat Super Air Nozzle as a promotional item with a purchase of a VariBlast Precision, VariBlast Compact, Soft Grip, Heavy Duty, Super Blast, or TurboBlast Safety Air Gun; a $53.00 complimentary gift.  If you have any questions about the VariBlast Precision Safety Air Guns or any of our other safety air guns, you can contact an Application Engineer at EXAIR.  We will be happy to help you.

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

EXAIR Compliance with OSHA 1910.242(b)

OSHA Standard 1910.242(b) discusses the use of compressed air for cleaning and blowoff. It states that the use of compressed air for cleaning purposes is prohibited if the dead-ended pressure exceeds 30 psig. This phrase means the downstream pressure of the air nozzle or gun, used for cleaning purposes, will remain at a pressure level below 30 psig for all static conditions. In the event that dead ending occurs, the static pressure at the main orifice shall not exceed 30 psi. If it does exceed this pressure, there is a very high potential for it to create an air embolism. An air embolism, left untreated, can quickly impede the flow of blood throughout the body. This can lead to stroke, heart attack, and sometimes death.

So making sure you are in compliance with 1910.242(b) is truly a life and death situation. Most people believe that lowering the pressure to the blow off device is the only method to keep their operators safe from an air embolism. However this can become a problem when you really need the force of greater than 30 PSIG to complete your operation. We at EXAIR want to give you the flexibility to run at any pressure with out the risk of building that 30 PSI of dead-end pressure! We do this with our line of Intelligent Compressed Air® nozzles! All of EXAIR’s Air Nozzles are designed so that the flow cannot be dead-ended. The fins on the Super Air Nozzles are not only useful in amplifying the force by drawing in ambient air, but they also prevent an operator from completely obstructing the airflow.

Another great example of this is our 2″ Flat super air nozzle. The design not only allows the nozzle to amplify the air flow in the blast of air, the over hang will not let the dead end pressure build as it can escape around the edges and bottom!

2″ Flat Super Air Nozzle

If you’ve got questions about compressed air safety or have an existing blowoff in place that does not adhere to this OSHA directive, give us a call. We’ll be sure to recommend a solution that will keep your operators and wallets safe!

Jordan Shouse
Application Engineer

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What’s So Great About Compressed Air?

Compressed air is commonly known as “the fourth utility” – along with electricity, water, and gas – due to its ubiquitous use in modern industry. But…why? If you compare the power required to make it, versus the work you can get out of it, it’s abysmally inefficient. And, while it won’t electrocute you, drown you, or blow you up (like the “first three” utilities, respectively), purposely depressurizing a compressed air line comes with its own particular set of risk factors.

Of course, benefits outweigh inefficiencies and risks in many things most of us do every day. Over half of the energy released in your car’s engine goes to heat & friction, instead of turning the wheels. Insurance companies say the typical American driver has a 77% chance of getting into an automobile accident EVERY YEAR, and that most of us will be in up to THREE traffic accidents in our lifetimes. Looking at the number of fellow commuters I saw on my way to work this morning, it’s clear, though, that most of us are ready to accept that inefficiency and risk. And that’s not so surprising, considering they’re mitigated greatly by ever improving technology in fuel efficiency, and safety.

It’s, of course, the same with compressed air use, and the “first three” utilities as well: regulation, training, and engineering lower the aforementioned risks to broadly accepted levels. These disciplines also provide for the most efficient use, in spite of the inherent inefficiencies (no engine is 100% efficient) – getting the most out of what you have is “the name of the game”. So, how does all of this apply to industrial use of compressed air?

SAFETY

  • Regulation: In the United States, the Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA) limits the nozzle pressure or or opening of a gun, pipe, cleaning lance, etc., when used for cleaning to 30psi, to protect against dead-ending such a device against your skin, which can cause a deadly condition known as an air embolism. This same directive mandates “effective chip guarding” to keep the blown off debris from hitting the operator. EXAIR Corporation has been in the business of making engineered compressed air products that comply with this directive for almost forty years now.
  • Training: There are companies whose sole purpose is to train & certify personnel in both the management, and operation, of industrial equipment in a safe manner. At EXAIR Corporation, our Safety Manager maintains certification from such an agency, which qualifies him to conduct regular training to ensure safe operation of tools, equipment, and chemicals used in the manufacture of our engineered compressed air products.
  • Engineering: In the “Hierarchy of Controls” established by the National Institute of Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH), “Engineering Controls” is considered to be less effective than “Elimination” or “Substitution” of the hazard, but more effective than “Administrative Controls” or “Personal Protective Equipment”. THAT’S why EXAIR Corporation has been doing what we do – and why we’re so successful at it – for all this time.
For more on this, I can’t recommend my colleague Jordan Shouse’s recent blog on the subject highly enough. Go read it now…this blog will wait.

EFFICIENCY

  • Regulation: Since the energy crisis of the 1970’s, the United States Department of Energy has implemented numerous initiatives directed at improving energy efficiency. If you’ve ever shopped for a home appliance, you’re likely familiar with EnergyStar ratings. They have a similar program for commercial and industrial air compressors. While they’re not a government body with powers to mandate regulations, the Compressed Air Challenge membership consists of manufacturers & distributors, users, research & development agencies, energy efficiency organizations, and utilities, with key focus on providing direction for the most efficient operation of compressed air systems…from generation to point of use.
  • Training: Speaking of the Compressed Air Challenge, they, and other organizations like the Compressed Air & Gas Institute (CAGI) conduct formal training sessions, in addition to the documented direction I mentioned above. CAGI also has a personnel certification program for those interested in developing credibility and confidence by demonstrating knowledge, understanding, and expertise in the design & operation of compressed air equipment. You can even get a cool logo to put on your business cards and in your signature line.
  • Engineering: While there are multiple avenues to engineer SAFE compressed air products, not all of them are necessarily efficient as well. At EXAIR Corporation, we set ourselves above the fray by maintaining focus on safety AND efficiency. In their discussion of controls that I mentioned above, NIOSH has this to add on the subject of Engineering Controls: “The initial cost of engineering controls can be higher than the cost of administrative controls or PPE, but over the longer term, operating costs are frequently lower, and in some instances, can provide a cost savings in other areas of the process.” (emphasis mine)

To answer the question I posed in this blog’s title, there are many considerations that make compressed air great to use…among them are:

  • Pneumatic tools are lighter, cheaper, more mobile, and lower maintenance than their electrical counterparts. The risk of electrocution is also avoided.
  • Compressed air distribution systems are easier and less costly to install than electrical grids or natural gas lines.
  • Compressed air doesn’t lose energy over distance like steam.
  • Compressed air leaks, while potentially costly, don’t present an inherent safety risk to plant personnel like gas leaks or electrical “leaks” (aka electrocution hazards).

Add in safety and efficiency, and THAT’S what’s so great about compressed air. If you’d like to find out how EXAIR Corporation can help YOU get the most out of our compressed air use, give me a call.

Russ Bowman, CCASS

Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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