New Gen4 Super Ion Air Knives Stop Painful Shocks on Printing Operation

Kirk Rudy inkjet
Customer’s Inkjet Machine

I recently received an inquiry from a customer that was having an issue with static on their Kirk Rudy inkjet machine. They print on a variety of different materials for a range of applications, but had some concerns with static that was being generated. Once printed, the material is transported along a conveyor. Operators then remove the pieces by hand. While doing this, they’re receiving shocks as a result of the static, some of which are quite painful! After a little discussion, we determined that a Model 112012 Gen4 Super Ion Air Knife would be the most suitable solution. I recommended the knife to be positioned so that the ionized air stream would pass over the material as it’s coming down the conveyor. The ionized airflow from the Super Ion Air Knife eliminated any residual static, allowing the operators to remove the material without experiencing any painful shocks. This drastically improved workers attitude about performing this operation and eliminated the repeated written complaints that management was getting as a result. Their issue of finding a willing participant to be repeatedly shocked was rectified and the worker quality of life was improved.

EXAIR has just released the new Gen4 Super Ion Air Knives and Ion Bars. The new bar provides a 34% improved performance from previous models, allowing you to achieve the same or better results with less compressed air. These bars and knives are also now CE approved. Some improved features of the Gen4 Super Ion Air Knives are:

-Up to 34% improved performance

-Rugged metal armored and electromagnetically shielded cable

-Integrated ground eliminates additional ground connection

-Durable stainless steel connections to Power Supply

-UL component recognized/CE Compliant

-Modular Power Supply cable eases connections and routing

If you’d like to talk about the benefits of upgrading to the new Gen4 Static Eliminators or have a new application in need of a static eliminating solution, give us a call.

Tyler Daniel
Application Engineer
E-mail: TylerDaniel@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_TD

Solving a Printing Problem with EXAIR Static Eliminators

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Unrolling plastic into this machine created a static charge throughout the process

One of the most common sources of static electricity in automated processes is friction.  As two (or more) materials move against each other, static is produced due to the triboelectric effect.  By definition, the triboelectric effect is a type of contact electrification in which certain materials become electrically charged after they come into frictional contact with a different material.  If these materials are non-conductive, or if they are not grounded, the static charge will remain.  This was the case for the machine shown above.

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Multiple stations of this machine, all experiencing static problems

This machine is a Chesnut 150 Gravure Print Station.  It is used for printing, coating, laminating, and sometimes die cutting of paper, light paperboard, films, polyester, flexible packaging and aluminum foil.

In this application, a roll of plastic is dispensed, but a static charge is preventing proper printing on the plastic as it travels from roll to roll.  As the film is separated from the roll, a static charge is produced, and this charge is carried through the process at values ranging from 3,000 – 20,000 volts.  The manager for this production area contacted EXAIR to see if there’s a viable EXAIR solution to remove this static charge.  They were interested in a solution that could eliminate static on the full width of the plastic, could be mounted 200-300mm away from the rollers, and could be replicated at multiple places along the machine.

With this in mind, the best solution was to use a series of 18” Super Ion Air Knives installed periodically along the path of plastic within the machine.  Operating at a low pressure of 1-2 BARG (14.5 – 29 PSIG), the Super Ion Air Knives create an evenly dispersed, quiet airflow of static eliminating ions with a low compressed air consumption.  Using the laminar, static eliminating airflow from the Super Ion Air Knife, this solution can be mounted away from the static charge, allowing the ions to “rain” down on the affected areas.

For this application finding a solution meant finding a method to keep production on schedule.  Without static elimination this machine faced defects, downtime, and decreased efficiency.  Using EXAIR Super Ion Air Knives brought this application back up to optimal operating speeds, keeping the revenue generating process of this manufacturer ongoing.

Colder weather is here and static comes along with it.  If you’re experiencing a static related problem in your facility, contact one of our Application Engineers.  We’d love to help you find a solution.

Lee Evans
Application Engineer
LeeEvans@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_LE

Static Electricity – What is it?

Now that the air is cooling and the humidity is dropping, you may often experience the phenomena of static electricity, and the resultant shock when touching something metal. As a child, you may have learned about static electricity by rubbing a balloon on your head and then seeing it stick to the wall. What is the science behind static electricity?

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All materials are made up of atoms, which have a positively charged core called the nucleus surrounded by a cloud of negatively charged electrons.  Each material is different, and in some types of materials the positive nucleus has a very strong pull on the electrons while in other materials the pull is very weak.  If we were to put a strong  pull material in contact with a weaker pull material, atoms from the weak pull material will migrate, and when the materials are separated, additional electrons will remain with the strong pull material.  Due to the overall increase in electron quantity, the material becomes negatively charged and the other material becomes positively charged. If the materials are rubbed together, the opportunities for the electron migration increases, and thus more electrons are exchanged.

Electrons build up more easily in dry conditions. When the air has humidity, static build up is less common because a very thin layer of water molecules coat most surfaces, which allows the electrons to move more freely and make most materials conductive and static free.

In some cases, static electricity can be a good thing – laser printers and photocopiers use static electricity to transfer ink from the drum to the paper.  Also, some power plants and chemical factories use static electricity  to remove pollutants in a process that takes place within the smokestack.

But generally when EXAIR gets involved, it is because the static electricity is causing an unwanted build up of static charge that affects a manufacturing process. The results of a static charge imbalance can result in a shock to an operator, materials sticking together, poor print quality, sensor or counter malfunctions, bad surface finish, or any number of other problems.

EXAIR offers systems for total static control, such as the Super Ion Air Knife and Ionizing Bars for wide applications such as paper, film and plastic webs, the Super Ion Air Wipe for narrow, continuously moving materials such as wire, tube, or extrusions.  Also offered are the handheld Ion Air Gun for use on three dimensional parts prior to assembly, packaging painting or finishing. Other options include the Ion Air Cannon for limited space or remote mounting applications, Ion Air Jet for tight spaces and concentrated airflow, and the Ionizing Point to provide close distance and accurate static removal.

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Super Ion Air Wipe

To discuss your static elimination concerns , feel free to contact EXAIR and one our  Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.

Brian Bergmann
Application Engineer

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Twitter: @EXAIR_BB

Spark Photo Credit – Eric Skiff – via Creative Commons License

Static Eliminators Solve Multiple Label Printing Issues

Recently, I visited a local customer to look at a specific application. This company prints over 146,000 different labels on plastic film, paper and foil. They called because they were seeing several different static related issues during printing and stacking processes.

On their first application, involving a 60″ wide sheeter, they were having an issue with irregularities as the sheet travels over several rollers where it enters the print head of the machine, then is cut and stacked. At the time of the visit, they were using a competitor’s product after the printer but those products were not effectively removing the static. We were able to determine they were not working by using  our Digital Static Meter which told us there was still a 2.7 kV charge after the treatment area. I recommended the customer replace the ineffective units with our 60″ Ionizing Bar. The Ionizing Bar produces a bulk of positive and negative ions to eliminate the surface static of an object when mounted within 2″ of the surface of the material. The bar features a mounting flange that would allow the customer to use the existing bracket for easy installation.

Ionizing Bars Work
Ionizing Bars – available from 3″ – 108″.

The second machine we looked at was a 42″ 3-sheet press. Our readings ranged from 4.2 kV on the top sheet, 1.4 kV middle sheet and 9.9 kV on the bottom sheet going into the press/print head and around 15.6 kV at the discharge. This unit also had another anti-static device taped in place but was clearly no longer operational. I again recommend the Ionizing Bar for this application as well. After speaking with the operator, he was saying he was also seeing an issue with the sheets lifting and trying to separate as they were being stacked. To remedy this problem I recommended using our Super Ion Air Knife at low pressure to blow ionized air from behind the sheet to help it float onto the stack and remove static at the same time. The Super Ion Air Knife is our Super Air Knife with the Ionizing Bar attached and is capable of dissipating 5kV in less than half a second.

Super Ion Air Knife
Super Ion Air Knife provides laminar sheet of ionized air across the length of the knife.

Lastly, we looked at their smaller sheeting machine and on this unit we were seeing around 3.5 kV as they stack was fed into the feeder and 7-8kV at the end stacker. At the beginning of the process we noticed the customer was using an air blowoff on each side of the sheet stack to assist with lifting and getting some separation between the sheets for the mechanical lifter to feed the machine. At this area they were experiencing some issues as occasionally the lifter would pick up more than 1 sheet and cause a jam which shut the system down. It turns out the airflow across the sheets was actually generating a slight static charge as we were seeing higher readings around 4.2 kV. Since they were already using air, I recommended replacing these blowoffs with our Ion Air Jet. This would aid in reducing the static and result in a more effective separation between the sheets allowing for a cleaner lift. For the sheet itself, we would recommended the Ionizing Bar if they were able to mount within 2″ or the Super Ion Air Knife for further mounting distance.

NEW Ion Air Jet
Ion Air Jet produces concentrated ionized airflow.

 

We realize we can’t look at every customer’s process but any photos or videos you could share of your application, we would gladly review and make a possible recommendation. Please contact one of our application engineers for assistance.

Justin Nicholl
Application Engineer
justinnicholl@exair.com
@EXAIR_JN

 

 

Static Eliminators Solve Printing Quality Issues

One of the big issues in winter many manufacturing and process industries experience is static.  An outside sales rep who was responsible for selling and servicing industrial laser printers contacted us after he started to receive more complaints about the quality of the print, especially with customers that used polyester sheets.  One of their customers was printing both sides of a 13” X 19” (33 X 48 cm) sheet, and they noticed that the print on the back side was blurry.  We discussed how static can cause issues like this in printing applications. A static charge can keep ink from landing in the proper location, it can cause ink to spiderweb, spread over defined boundaries or fail to penetrate its target.

Ionizing Bar
Low cost Ionizing Bars eliminate static cling.

Being that EXAIR Corporation is a leader in production and application of active Static Eliminators, we were able to discuss the issues and suggest some possible solutions. Laser printers are designed to use static to pick up toner onto a drum and to apply it to sheets of paper.  If the sheet of paper has a charge on it, that can affect the print quality because like charges repel each other.  In this application, we have two conditions that contributed to the increase in static charge on the polyester sheet, the dry air and the type of material.  Dry air in winter is pretty much a given as cold air cannot hold as much moisture as hot air can.  With a decrease in moisture levels, static fields can build to much higher levels causing discharges, the small “shocks” you experience when you touch a non-conductive material, another person or even a grounded machine.  The other static issue is material.  The type of materials involved in an application determine how they will share electrons when they rub together.  Some materials give up electrons readily and some materials tend to gain electrons.

Getting back to the application; inside the mentioned printer, a rubber roll was used to invert the paper to print on the back side.  If the paper was cellulose, it is harder to generate static as the rubber roll and cellulose are similar in sharing electrons. However, this sheet was made of polyester, it has a higher affinity to take electrons from the rubber roll. A static field would build which was enough to affect the transfer of toner from the drum causing a blurred image.

Our strategy for applying static elimination solutions is to determine the point of static generation and locate the static elimination equipment just downstream of the problem area.  In this instance, it was after the roller just before printing. The space was limited, so the customer went with model 7012 Ionizing bar with the 7901 power supply.  The positive and negative ions that are emitted from the Ionizing Bar will neutralize static fields of positive or negative polarity bringing the surface of the polyester material back to neutral.  The length of the bar was slightly shorter than the width of the sheet, however it still has plenty of capacity to neutralize the outside edges.  The end user mounted the Ionizing Bar in the center of the sheet about 0.5” (13mm) away from the surface.  After he plugged in the Ionization Bar, the static field was removed and the printing on the back side was now clear.  The end user was so impressed that he contacted the manufacturer of the laser printer to suggest they add effective static elimination as  an option for troublesome applications like his.

If you have static issues and you want to remove the pain they cause in the form of injury, lost production time and material waste, contact EXAIR and speak to one of our experienced Application Engineers.

John Ball, Application Engineer
E-mail: johnball@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb