6 Important Factors when Choosing a Safety Air Gun

If you look at operating costs alone, compressed air can be just about the most inefficient method there is for cleaning parts. If you just look at the risks, it’s potentially very dangerous too. Don’t even get me started on the insufferable noise it can make.

For cleaning parts, most folks are familiar with the use of an air gun. You can find the simplest of these in many industrial settings: a valve (often in the form of a handheld trigger device) fitted with a nozzle of some sort (often in the form of an open ended tube, pipe, or fitting to focus or direct the air flow). These have all three of the “downsides” I opened this blog with. Of course, these concerns can be mitigated to a high degree by using the right tool for the job. That’s where engineered products like EXAIR Safety Air Guns come in. Let’s look at how we can address these three “downsides”:

Efficiency: This is all about compressed air consumption. In the simplest of air guns mentioned above, consumption is only limited by the passages in the valve (or trigger) and the discharge fitting…and those limits are usually negligible. Modifying the ends (see examples below) to focus the air flow usually has minimal effect, because you’re not appreciably changing the total cross sectional area of the discharge opening:

Here are a few modified thumb trigger air guns that were sent in for Efficiency Lab testing. Left to right, compressed air consumption at 80psig supply pressure was 34.2 SCFM, 30.9 SCFM, and 28.2 SCFM. For comparison (more on this later,) EXAIR Model 1210 Soft Grip Safety Air Gun uses only 14 SCFM and generates a very similar flow pattern.

Safety: Remember learning about kinetic and potential energy in grade school? Well, when you compress air to 100psig, fitting all that air into a much smaller space creates a TREMENDOUS amount of potential energy:

The block on the left represents a cubic foot of air at atmospheric pressure. The one on the right represents how much space the first one takes up when compressed to 100psig. The energy imparted by this process HAS to be handled with care.

One problem with the thumb guns above is, if you were to jam into the palm of your hand and pull the trigger, a large component of that potential energy (pressure) turns into kinetic energy (force)…more than enough to break the skin and cause a potentially fatal condition known as an air embolism. In the United States, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) regulates compressed air devices used for cleaning purposes. All EXAIR Safety Air Guns comply with Standard 1910.242(b) by providing a relief path to ensure that it cannot be dead ended, and thus never create over 30psi measurable at the outlet)

EXAIR Super Air Nozzles cannot be dead ended, ensuring the outlet pressure won’t reach OSHA limits, regardless of supply pressure.

Noise: Another problem is, another component is turned into sound pressure…discharging air from a direct opening is quite loud. OSHA standards address these with limitations on outlet pressure and sound level. All EXAIR Safety Air Guns comply with Standard 1910.242(b), which limits the outlet pressure (by providing a relief path to ensure that it cannot be dead ended, and thus never create over 30psi measurable at the outlet) and all but our largest Super Blast Safety Air Guns comply with Standard 1910.95(a) limits for continuous 8 hour sound level exposure.

Which brings us to the topic of this blog: How exactly did THEY (our customer who used to use the thumb guns above) select the right Safety Air Gun, and how can we apply that to getting the right Safety Air Gun for YOU?

These steps aren’t all-inclusive, and they don’t necessarily need to be followed in order, but if you call an EXAIR Application Engineer about selecting a Safety Air Gun, here’s what we’re gonna talk about:

Ergonomics: We offer five distinctive styles of Safety Air Guns:

From small part cleaning by hand, to wide area blowoff, and all points in between, EXAIR has a Safety Air Gun for most any application.

Our thumb gun user (as I alluded to above) chose the Model 1210 Soft Grip Safety Air Guns (top right). They had a number of typical industrial applications where the operators had the parts or surfaces to be blown off right in front of them. They liked the integral storage hook and rubberized hand grip, but the VariBlast Compact (top middle) or Heavy Duty Safety Air Guns (bottom left) were also considered. The VariBlast Precision (top left) and Super Blast Safety Air Guns (bottom right) were too focused or more powerful, respectively, than needed.

Airflow pattern: Honestly, I could make a good case for this being the first consideration. Selection of any blowoff product – be it an Air Nozzle, Air Amplifier, Air Knife, Air Wipe, etc., will largely depend on the size and shape of the airflow.

variety of airflow patterns…and effective distances…are available from EXAIR’s comprehensive line of Super Air Nozzle products.

Application specific concerns: Everything we’ve discussed so far has involved aiming the blow off stream away from the operator, in the direction the device is aimed. In addition to wide variety of engineered Air Nozzles, EXAIR offers a number of options for these products:

Atto Back Blow Nozzles can blow out recesses or holes as small as 1/4″ in diameter.
Scrape off, and blow away, stubborn debris with the Model 1244-48 Soft Grip Super Air Scraper.

If you’re looking for a portable, hand-held compressed air blow off product that’s quiet, safe, and efficient, look no further than EXAIR Corporation’s extensive line of Safety Air Guns. If you’d like to find out more, give me a call.

Russ Bowman, CCASS

Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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OSHA Safety, Efficiency, and Flexibility from Engineered Compressed Air Nozzles

Throughout my years here at EXAIR as well as my years in the metal cutting industry, one of the most common quick fixes I see in production environments for compressed air blowoffs in a process is an open copper pipe that is contorted into a position, pinched at the end, and more often than not kinked from repositioning. I call this a quick fix because it does blow air, more often than not it will get production up and running, but it does not meet or exceed OSHA standards for safety and is an inefficient use of compressed air. [OSHA Standards 29 CFR 1910.242(b) and 29 CFR 1910.95(a)]

EXAIR Super Air Nozzles that are easy replacements for 1/8″ and 1/4″ Copper pipe.

The first engineered solution I could offer to prevent any costly OSHA fines and to lower the ambient noise level caused by these blowoffs is to implement an EXAIR Engineered Air Nozzle. We offer a wide variety of nozzles ranging from a 4mm thread up to a 1-1/4″ NPT thread. With this wide range comes a wide variety of forces and flows as well.

Today, I would like to focus on the common sizes of copper blowoffs which are 1/8″ and 1/4″. To simply adapt a nozzle to copper line a compression fitting can be easily sourced, often from EXAIR, and convert the copper tubing in place to an NPT threaded outlet for easy installation of an EXAIR nozzle. More often than not a compression fitting is how the copper tubing is tied into the machine’s compressed air system.

We have a total of 37 engineered air nozzles from stock that will easily fit a compression fitting which goes to a 1/8″ NPT or 1/4″ NPT thread. Several of these are also adjustable through a gap adjustment or a patented shim adjustment to vary the force and flow out of the nozzle from a forceful blast to a gentle breeze in order to me your application needs. What if you want to eliminate the copper line and compressions fittings?

EXAIR offers a replacement option for the ever-common copper tube that is more robust and does not require a tool to be properly repositioned. We currently offer twenty-four different models of our Stay Set Hoses that can be easily connected to any of the nozzles mentioned above. The lengths that are available are 6″ (152mm), 12″ (305mm), 18″ (457mm), 24″ (610mm), 30″ (762mm) and 36″ (914mm).

These lengths are available with two separate connection options. 1/4″ MNPT x 1/4″ MNPT or 1/4″ MNPT x 1/8″ FNPT. The Stay Set Hoses can easily be bent by hand into position for a precise placement of the air pattern from the engineered nozzle attached to it. This permits operators a tool free adjustment for fast and reliable location to keep production up and running. They can also be paired with Magnetic Bases.

EXAIR Magnetic Bases are available in single outlet or dual outlet configurations. Both include a 100 lb. pull magnet that will hold tight to any ferrous metal surface for secure mounting, as well as a quick 1/4 turn miniature valve on each outlet. This permits independent customization of the force our of each output for the dual outlet mag base. Each magnetic base offers a 1/4″ FNPT inlet port and outlet port. We offer these with any of combination of the Stay Set Hoses mentioned above as well as any of the Super Air Nozzles mentioned above.

Mag Bases come with one or two outlets. Stay Set Hoses come in lengths from 6″ to 36″.

The Super Air Nozzles, Stay Set Hoses, and Magnetic Bases can be easily combined before they ship to your facility to make a complete blowoff station that is easily installed and adjusted to fit any of the needs your process may have for a point of use blowoff. If you want help determining how much compressed air you would save by replacing the open pipe blowoffs with an engineered solution like a Stay Set Magnetic Base Blowoff System please contact myself or any Application Engineer here at EXAIR.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

 

Not All Compressed Air Guns Are The Same

If you work in an industrial plant or manufacturing environment, chances are you use some type of compressed air gun for cleaning parts, work areas, etc. Many air guns purchased through large industrial suppliers are a common choice due to the cost of the gun but as the saying goes – “you get what you pay for”. These types of guns may be cheap to purchase but they are also made cheap and have parts that can break easily, like the trigger or nozzle. In many cases, the nozzles on these guns are also in violation of OSHA requirements, producing dangerous discharge pressures and loud noise levels, which can lead to costly fines or potentially deadly injuries.

EXAIR offers 5 different styles of Safety Air Guns that not only eliminate these concerns, but also provide a more efficient operation, which can reduce energy costs. All of our Safety Air Guns are fitted with our engineered Air Nozzles  which meet OSHA Standard 1910.242(b) for 30 PSI dead end pressure, as they provide a relief or safe path for the air to exit if the nozzle were to be blocked or pressed against an operator’s body so the exiting air pressure will never reach 30 PSIG. They are also engineered to entrain surrounding air across the profile of the nozzle, which produces a smoother airflow, ultimately reducing wind shear, resulting in much lower sound levels, meeting OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910.95(a).

 

 

The Precision Safety Air Gun body is made of a durable high impact, glass reinforced nylon, providing for a lightweight, ergonomic operation. These guns feature a curved extension, ideal for delivering a powerful stream of air in hard to reach areas, like clearing debris from drilled holes. All of the nozzles used with these units are either 316ss construction for durable, corrosion resistance or PEEK plastic for non-marring applications. The air inlet is 1/4 FNPT and there is a convenient hanger available for safe storage.

 

 

 

Our NEW VariBlast Compact Safety Air Guns are ideal for light to medium duty processes, featuring a variable flow trigger to achieve different force levels ranging from 2.0 ounces up to 1 pound, depending on the nozzle. The body is cast aluminum and there are (2) 1/4 FNPT air inlets available, 1 on the bottom and 1 on the back of the gun, as well as a storage hanger, for easy installation. Nozzles are available in zinc aluminum alloy, 303ss, 316ss and PEEK plastic. These guns are available with aluminum extensions from 6″ up to 72″.

 

 

The Soft Grip Safety Air Guns are commonly used in long-term use applications as they feature a comfortable grip and long trigger which helps to reduce hand and finger fatigue. The cast aluminum construction is well suited for more rugged environments and again, features a hanger hook. These guns can be fitted with aluminum, stainless steel or PEEK plastic to meet the demands of a variety of applications and are available with 6″ – 72″ aluminum extensions for extra reach or Flexible Stay Set Hoses , allowing the user to aim the airflow to a specific target area. The air inlets for these guns are going to be 1/4 FNPT.

 

 

 

EXAIR’s Heavy Duty Safety Air Guns deliver higher force and flows than other air guns, as these units feature a 3/8 FNPT air inlet, which maximizes the compressed air flow to the engineered Super Air Nozzle. Like the Soft Grip, the durable cast aluminum body is designed for use in tough industrial processes, and the ergonomic and comfortable trigger are ideal for hours of use. Aluminum extension are available, again in lengths from 6″ up to 72″, but feature a larger diameter for optimal flow and superior durability.

 

The Precision, VariBlast, Soft Grip and Heavy Duty Safety Air Guns are ALL available with an optional, polycarbonate Chip Shield to protect personnel from flying chips and debris, further meeting OSHA Standard 1910.242(b) for the safe use of compressed air.

 

Lastly we offer our Super Blast Safety Air Guns. The Super Blast Safety Air Guns are ideal for wide area blowoff, cooling or drying a part, as well as long distances. They feature a comfortable foam grip and spring loaded valve that will shut off the airflow if the gun is dropped. These units use our larger Super Air Nozzles and Super Air Nozzle Clusters, providing forces levels from 3.2 lbs. up to 23 lbs. Depending on which nozzle is fitted on the assembly, air inlets will range from 3/8 FNPT up to 1-1/4 FNPT. Aluminum extensions are available in 36″ or 72″ lengths.

 

 

For help selecting the best product to fit your particular application, please contact one of our application engineers for assistance.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer
justinnicholl@exair.com
@EXAIR_JN

 

Custom Air Knives, Custom Vortex Tubes, Custom Line Vacs. What About Custom Air Nozzles?

At EXAIR we are far from shy that we offer custom solutions.   As a matter of fact, almost every catalog section has a handful of pictures that are special or custom units that we have made for our customers over the years.   We continue to add special items to our database regularly.   This could be anything from a special length Super Air Knife, a Vortex Tube with a special fitting or temperature setting, sanitary flanges on a Line Vac, or even most recently, a special 2″ Flat Super Air Nozzle.

Special 2" Flat Stainless Steel Super Air Nozzle - Safety Wired Hardware
Special 2″ Flat Stainless Steel Super Air Nozzle – Safety Wired Hardware

Special 2" Flat Stainless Steel Super Air Nozzle w/ Safety Wired Hardware
A closer look at the Safety Wire that holds the bolts from backing out.

This Special 2″ Flat Super Air Nozzle came from the customers requirement to use a mechanical fastener in order to ensure all hardware will not back out or come loose.  The 2″ Flat Super Air Nozzle is already held together by two button head cap screws that are thread locked into place in order to prevent them from loosening.  This customers requirement was not met by our standard procedures, so we stepped outside of the box yet again and have offered them a special 2″ Flat Super Air Nozzle with bolts that are held tight by safety wire.

Safety wire is a very popular practice in Aerospace, motorcycle racing, and even some packaging processes.   The Stainless Steel wire is twisted and wrapped around the bolt heads in a manner that will not permit either bolt from loosening and falling out.   However, it can be removed, the nozzle can then be cleaned, and the safety wire can then be replaced for preventative maintenance needs.

If you are in the need for something that you don’t directly see in our product offering, or maybe you simply need something like a bolt style changed.   Contact us and see what we can do for you.   Chances are, we will meet your needs with ease and even be in a timely fashion.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer Manager
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF