If you want to print on plastic, it’s challenging – most plastics are chemically inert and non-porous. That means you can apply all the ink you want; it’s not going to stick. In the 1950’s, a Danish engineer named Verner Eisby experimented with various techniques to overcome these challenges. He found that exposing the surface to be printed on to gas flame or sparks modified the surface to improve adhesion with the ink. It did so, though, in a crude & uneven manner, leaving imperfections & inconsistencies in the printed product. He then tried applying a high frequency corona discharge in a linear array. The plasma (gas in an ionized state) generated left a homogeneously treated surface on which to print, smoothly & evenly.
This has become the “industry standard” for many of the labels we see on commercial products, from shampoo & wine bottles on the grocery store shelf, to pennants & banners at public events. It also leaves the surface even more prone to picking up a static charge from rolling or unrolling, stacking, sliding, etc.
One of our customers makes a great many labels for all kinds of these commercial products, and uses an EXAIR Gen4 Ionizing Bar immediately prior to the printing operation:
Just recently I worked with our Distributor in Argentina on an application for a manufacturer of bottled water. Once the bottles are filled, a protective security seal is placed along the top of the bottle. This serves two purposes, it prevents any form of tampering as well as keeps the cap of the bottle clean throughout the rest of the manufacturing process. Since most people drink directly from the bottle, this area needs to remain clean and not be exposed to contamination later on in the process.
Their problem was that static was building up on this plastic which caused an improper seal on the cap of the bottle. Further down the processing line, the bottles can be exposed to water that contaminates the bottles. They had to implement an inspection process as it was not acceptable to allow any contaminated bottles to leave the plant. Without a solution, they were losing time due to the necessary inspection as bottles were being rejected at a rate of almost 30%.
The recommended solution was to install a Model 8164 4″ Gen4 Super Ion Air Wipe just prior to the point in the process where the seal was applied. The plastic material passed through the center of the Super Ion Air Wipe which neutralized the static charge on the material. Without a charge, the seal was applied correctly and they were able to eliminate the need of a manual inspection. After installation, the reject rate dropped to 0%!!
The Gen4 Super Ion Air Wipe provides a uniform 360° ionized airstream and is available in both 2” and 4” ID sizes. Its clam-shell design makes it easy to clamp around a part for neutralizing static electricity and contaminants. The high volume, high velocity airflow attaches itself to the surface and wipes it down with static eliminating ions. The airflow stays attached to the surface and is effective up to 15’ away from where it’s mounted. It’s lightweight and easy to mount using the ¼-20 tapped holes on the back or can also be held into place with just rigid pipe.
As the temperatures begin to decline, so does the humidity in the air. Drier air results in an increase in static problems. Get ahead of it this year and check out EXAIR’s wide line of various Static Elimination products, all available to ship same-day from stock!
Quite simply the GEN4 Ion Air Cannon is based on the mechanics of the 2″ diameter Super Air Amplifier that has static reduction capabilities and as its name implies it amplifies the supply air up to 25 times!
This highly engineered product is very effective at cleaning product and reducing static at distances of up to 15′ away.
The GEN4 Ion Air Cannon comes in a handy stand/mounting unit for easy installation in a wide variety of applications. It can be mounted to machine frames, mounted out of the way from a process, or placed on a bench top.
The GEN4 Ion Air Cannon is used in many applications such as bottling, manufacturing of solar panels and preparing new automobile car bodies to be painted – to name a few. Wherever static reduction and/or cleaning is required the Ion Air Cannon can contribute.
EXAIR commonly works with plastic injection molding companies. They produce top quality plastic parts from both commodity and engineering-grade resins for many diverse industries. The customer reached out to us with a problem. A mold that they were running was having some issues. The parts were not releasing and ejecting properly, causing the need to use a mold release, which was slowing down the process by a manual operation to the process. Also, the parts were seeing push pin marks, causing cosmetic issues with the parts. The customer wanted to explore using compressed air to blow the parts free.
Based on the mold size and layout, a pair of 12″ Super Air Knives was installed. The knives are oriented to blow straight down along the face of the mold, one knife per part tree. The strong laminar flow of air hits the parts causing them to release and drop without the use of release agents. Also, the push pin marks are within normal standards, eliminating the the cosmetic concerns.
This is just one example of how intelligently using compressed air can help improve a process. By using air knives for wide areas or using a 1″ Flat Super Air Nozzle for very small parts, or anywhere in between, we can help to solve your part ejection issues and make your process run better, faster, and with higher quality.
If you would like to talk about Super Air Knives, Flat Nozzles or any of the EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air® Products, feel free to contact EXAIR and myself or one of our Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.
I had an interesting application from a guy in Kuwait who worked at a plastics plant. They worked with polyethylene pellets for molding processes. In his introduction, the customer said he was looking for something like our Chip Vac product but he wanted to use it with a super sack platform that they elevate up to a high position to allow for cleaning in and around their silos. I mentioned to him that we do have the Chip Vac available to work with a 110 gallon drum. His response was that he knew about that but was not interested as they were set up to move the larger super sacks around their plant. You can see one such set-up in the above photo.
His problem was that he needed a quick and easy way to get the loose PE pellets into his super sack without using a broom and shovel. We had just the solution.
Many years ago when we introduced the Chip Vac product, we did so as a result of customers who knew about our Line Vac but wanted it to be used on a drum. So, we adapted the Line Vac to have the proper, 2 NPT threads necessary to screw into the larger of the two holes in the top of a typical drum. In this situation, we were working the development that we did so long ago in reverse. So, it was a very easy recommendation to set the customer up with a Line Vac to aid in the vacuuming up of the polyethylene pellets and do so in the manner the customer wanted.
After a little discussion to sort out the type of material and the size Line Vac that the customer wanted, we ended up settling on a 1-1/2” Stainless Steel Line Vac Kit, model 6963. The 1-1/2” size allowed for easy connection of a standard size vacuum hose for easy manipulation around the clean-up area. The customer opted for the stainless steel over an aluminum unit as they wanted to be absolutely certain that the product could stand up to their typically rough conditions. He also wanted the kit so he could mount the Line Vac to his platform and have clean, dry air going to the Line Vac to keep it running well for a longer time. Below is a rough sketch of the customer’s idea about how to marry the Line Vac to his super sack platform.
You can notice from the sketch that the customer already had his filtration system thought out to allow the conveying airflow back out of the bag.
The key to this application and the feature that I want to point out is the adaptability of the Line Vac to fit into just about any application. We do have the Industrial Housekeeping products available for ready to use solutions. But, if you have a similar situation where you have part of your “system” that you like for one reason or another, we’re more than willing to discuss what you have at your facility to help you best determine how we can implement a solution that you are happy with. Likewise, if we feel that there is a better way to approach your application, we will be sure to let you know that too!
Give us a ring or send us an e-mail to discuss the specifics of your application today. We’re here to help.
Over the past week I visited a local company here in Cincinnati that utilized a decent number of flat plastic air nozzles on their production lines. This style nozzle had been used for many years but were the reason their engineering department contacted EXAIR. The nozzles they had in place were used in many different applications from ejecting bad parts, holding up box flaps, and even positioning product correctly on the production line. Every nozzle was tied to a regulator somewhere on the machine and all of the regulators were tuned to different pressures.
The customer was experiencing, at certain points during the day, a pressure drop throughout the entire system that would cause packaging lines to shut down due to low air pressure faults. The customer called EXAIR because they determined the plastic nozzles were using too much compressed air and were also a constant maintenance problem. Primarily, they wanted to see if we had a solution to lower compressed air while still achieving the desired production results.
Being local we were able to visit the customer and after discussing the applications we set out through the manufacturing area to discover if we could offer solutions for the problematic areas. We got about 10′ away from a casing machine and I heard a loud hiss of compressed air. This was even with my foam ear plugs in. Once we reached the edge of the machine I was quickly able to trace the sound down to a plastic flat nozzle that had been mounted to the machine, broken and held back in place by a large C clamp like seen below.
As we went through the rest of this production line and the rest of the packaging facility, it was clear the customer had settled on using flat plastic nozzles throughout the plant. Generally we see this because the nozzles are cheap – when you forget to consider operating and maintenance costs. This was not the only broken nozzle being held in place by a clamp and it is also the not the only one that was using more compressed air than necessary.
After finishing the tour and performing some tests here in our lab I recommended that they utilize our 1″ Flat Super Air Nozzle with a .005″ thick shim installed. By installing the 1″ Flat Super Air Nozzle they are going to be able to mount the metal nozzles with minimal modification to their existing setup as well as lower air consumption and noise level. The metal construction makes them more durable and long lasting in an industrial environment. These nozzles will not break when an operator bumps it and the maintenance department will be able to reclaim all the C clamps that are distributed throughout the facility.
Once we have final numbers on how many nozzles have been replaced and what pressures each nozzle is operated at we will provide the customer the air consumption savings as well as the noise level reduction that they are seeing throughout the plant.
A customer was having a problem with stacking plastic parts after an injection molding process. The robotic arm removes the part from the mold, trims the part by a die cutter, and then stacks the part into a tote. The problem occurred when stacking the plastic part into multiple columns inside a tote for shipping. Static was generated and became strong enough to “slide” the part out of position. They needed a solution to reduce the downtime required to realign the stacks.
Knowing that non-conductive materials can generate static from rubbing, sliding, and trimming, we focused on the best area for elimination. With this application, we went after the trimming process.
When it comes to static elimination, EXAIR has multiple products for multiple applications. Due to the process, we were dealing with varying distances between the static eliminator and the stacked parts. Two Super Ion Air Knives (SIAK) were chosen to both cover the area properly and to provide a static eliminating air stream over the necessary distance. Being that the ions will not pass through the product, we had to use one SIAK for the top of the target and another SIAK for the bottom of the target. The idea was to hit both sides of the target to completely neutralize the parts.
We were able to locate one SIAK about 12” (30 cm) from the bottom surface of the part. The robot arm was able to carry the part across the ion air stream from the die cutter to the tote. We located the second SIAK near the tote to neutralize the top of the parts. The tote was 36” (91.5 cm) deep and we had to accommodate for the variation in distance caused by the stacking height, we used a longer SIAK to “shoot” the entire area inside the tote with ionized air. As the parts were placed in each column, the top surfaces of the parts were now neutralized. The parts were able to be stacked onto each other as originally designed.
With a variety of static elimination products, EXAIR is able to accomplish many more solutions for difficult applications. If you feel that static is an issue, you can always contact one of our application engineers to help you.