The Case for the Cold Gun

Heat is an unavoidable by-product of any cutting or machining operation. Think about it: you’re creating friction on a piece of material with a fast-moving piece of harder material in order to forcibly separate pieces of the original material from its existing shape & size. No matter what, something’s going to get hot: the work piece, the tooling, or (almost always) both. If you don’t do something about it, your parts can become damaged, your tooling can become dull and brittle, and productivity will suffer.

There are ways to alleviate the problem…you can slow the speed of your tooling, but that’s hardly practical, and only marginally effective.  You can use liquid cooling…in fact, you may have to if the particulars of the operation require the lubrication you can only get from a cutting oil or liquid coolant.  But those can be messy, expensive, and the time you spend maintaining the coolant could certainly be spent better elsewhere…like, on machining your products!

The EXAIR Cold Gun Aircoolant System is a novel solution to these problems…heat related and otherwise:

  • The Cold Gun uses compressed air to produce a stream of clean, cold air at 50°F (28°C) below supply air temperature.
  • They use Vortex Tube technology…no moving parts to wear out.
Instant cold air flow with no moving parts!
  • Cold flow and temperature are preset to optimize cooling capability, and are non-adjustable to prevent freeze-up during use.
  • Eliminates the expense of both the purchase & disposal of cutting fluids.
  • Removes the potential for health problems associated with breathing mist & vapors, and the safety issue of slipping on a wet floor.

Cold Gun Aircoolant System selection is easy & straightforward…we offer a standard, and a High Power version to meet your specific needs.

Four systems to choose from, to meet most any need.

We also offer Single & Dual Point Hose Kits, to further meet the needs of your application.  Right now, you don’t have to decide up front…order a Cold Gun Aircoolant System with a Single Point Hose Kit before December 31, 2018, and we’ll throw in the Dual Point Hose Kit for free.

If you’d like to find out more about how Cold Gun Aircoolant Systems can improve your machining or cutting operations, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Super Air Knives Provide Dry Surface for Printing

I’ve always liked Halloween.  My friends and I got to go trick-or-treating together around the neighborhood, under the supervision of a parent or two, until one year when we were deemed old enough to go around the immediate neighborhood (gasp) by OURSELVES!!!

You need to know that, for any of our Moms, that was a HUGE investment in trust they were putting in us. One that, I’m afraid was undeserved. See, we’d all heard rumors of “tricks” from some cool older kids, and were eager to try our hands at it. Now, we were a relatively mild mannered bunch. We certainly weren’t going to break anything or hurt anyone. But the tales of soaping windows had an irresistible appeal…so, after we donned our costumes that evening, we all sneaked a bar of hand soap out of the house, and set about on our great adventure. Which was not so great, for a couple of reasons:

First, Halloween that year fell on a particularly drizzly night.  We weren’t in danger of a rain-out, but there was a layer of “wet” on everything…especially the windows on which we planned to display our art. That didn’t stop us from trying, though…it just wasn’t near as effective, or fun, as we’d hoped.  Basically, we got some weak smudges here and there.

Second, our parents & neighbors were a lot more savvy than we’d expected. I’m not even sure what happened first…the discovery of the missing bars of soap, or the neighbors calling our parents to tell them what we were up to. We were all punished according to our respective families’ customs, and the next year, we were the oldest trick-or-treaters out there under adult supervision.

I think about that night whenever I see one of those “World’s Dumbest Criminals” shows, but it popped into my head recently while discussing a Super Air Knife application with a customer.  The caller worked in facility that produced pizza dough, and had recently implemented a quality tracking system that applied a temporary code to the rims of the plastic trays that carried the loaves of dough along a conveyor.   Thing is, the trays could still be wet from the wash/rinse cycle, and the ink (which is water soluble and is supposed to be removed by the washer anyway) really, really needs a pretty dry surface, or it’s just going to be a weak, smudgy mess, much like the great Window Soap Fail of 1970-something.

They purchased two Model 110003SS 3″ Stainless Steel Super Air Knives and installed one on each side of the conveyor, just after the rinse tunnel.  The Super Air Knives blow off the rims of the trays, leaving a clean, dry surface for the printer.

EXAIR Super Air Knives come in a wide variety of lengths to suit a wide range of applications.

EXAIR Super Air Knives come in a variety of materials, lengths from 3 inches to 9 feet, and are the quietest & most efficient compressed air operated blow off products on the market today.  If you’d like to find out more about they can help you, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Going Outside The Box With Vortex Tubes

Among EXAIR’s comprehensive line of Intelligent Compressed Air Products, the Vortex Tube stands out as a unique, and fascinating, solution for a variety of applications requiring a flow of cold air:

  • Cabinet Cooler Systems: clean, cold air to protect electrical and electronic components housed in an enclosure.  Installs in minutes; no moving parts; reliable & maintenance free.
  • Cold Gun Aircoolant Systems:  Direct, focused flow of cold air to replace messy coolant in machining, cutting, drilling, grinding, etc., applications.  Integral magnet base for quick & easy installation; single or dual outlet hose kits; standard or High Power to meet any need.  Optimized flow for maximum cooling and freeze prevention.
  • Adjustable Spot Cooler: Similar to the Cold Guns in many ways, but with variable performance for specific applications.  Cold air to -30°F (-34°C) on demand.
  • Mini Cooler: Similar to the Cold Guns and Adjustable Spot Coolers – magnetic base mounting and single or dual outlet hose kits, but more compact.  Lower flows for smaller jobs.

Then there are the Vortex Tubes themselves…at the heart of all of these products, but perfectly capable all on their own.  In fact, in certain situations, “plain old” Vortex Tubes have been used to do the exact same jobs as all of the above products.  They can even be customized, in and of themselves, to meet specific installation, operation, and/or performance needs:

  • High Temperatures: It should come as no surprise that cold air is often needed because a heat-sensitive item is located in a high heat environment.
    • Vortex Tubes come standard with plastic Generators and Buna o-rings, which are good for ambient temperatures up to 125°F (52°C).
    • High Temperature Vortex Tubes are fitted with brass Generators and Viton o-rings for environments where the temperature can reach 200°F (93°C).
High Temperature Vortex Tubes are suitable for use in environments up to 200F (93C).
  • Preset temperature & flow: Many times, the ability to adjust the performance of a Vortex Tube is a big benefit, but occasionally it’s a liability.
    • I know none of your co-workers are like this (nor are mine) but I’ve heard of people who think they “know better” and are prone to tampering with something that is (or WAS) working just fine, thank you very much.
    • Perhaps you actually DO know better, through experimentation and experience, the optimal performance setting for your application.  Let’s say, for example, you install Vortex Tubes on a line of your products, and a technician has to “dial it in” to a specific Cold Fraction.
    • Any Vortex Tube can be fitted with a drilled orifice (or “Hot Plug”) to replace  the Hot Valve, which presets performance to a specific, non-adjustable value.  If you know the Cold Fraction you need, it’s as easy as that.  If not, it’s as easy as getting a stock Vortex Tube, setting the Cold Fraction where you want it, securing the Hot Valve in position (piece of tape works just fine,) and sending it in.
Preset Vortex Tubes feature a fixed plug, replacing the Hot Valve shown in this picture.

If you’ve got any other specific requirements – special materials, fittings, custom flow/temperature parameters, etc., give me a call; let’s talk.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Is It Safe To Use Compressed Air?

Think about it…compressed air is, by definition, gas under pressure: potential (stored) energy.  This energy is intended to do work, like operation of pneumatic tools, actuation of pneumatic cylinders, debris removal with an air gun or blow off device, and (even though I haven’t done it in a while) my personal favorite:

High pressure compressed air is meticulously made, prepared, and stored to ensure the number of surfaces equals the number of dives.

Uncontrolled, unplanned, or accidental releases of stored energy (regardless of the source) are inherently dangerous, and great care must be taken to guard against such incidents.  This is accomplished, primarily, in three areas:

*Operation.  This might be the most prevalent, because it involves the greatest number of personnel (e.g., everyone) as well as the ways compressed air is used (e.g., all of them.)  It’s also the area where the most involved people (the operators) have the most control:

  • Personal protection.  Don’t even think about operating a compressed air device without eye protection.  Ever.  Hard stop.  Also, if the operation involves flying debris, a full face shield, long sleeves, gloves, etc. might be called for.  Hearing protection may be required as well…keep in mind, even if an engineered device (like any of EXAIR’s Intelligent Compressed Air Products) generates a relatively low sound level, the impingement noise of the air flow hitting the object can reach dangerous levels.
  •  Personnel cleaning is prohibited.  The risk of injury to the eyes, respiratory system, and other parts is just too great to rely on personal protective equipment that’s designed for use while discharging compressed air AWAY from the body.  While this is expressly prohibited in certain situations, OSHA has long recognized it as good practice for all industries.
  • No horseplay.  ’nuff said.  Plenty of better ways to have fun at work.

*Design.  This one usually has the advantage of being traceable to a small number of people, and is also the one that’s most likely to be documented.  This is where it starts…if the system is designed to fail, it doesn’t matter how much care the operators take:

  • Supply lines, fittings, and hoses must be rated for use with compressed air, up to and exceeding the maximum discharge pressure of the air compressor.
  • This goes for any tools, blow off devices, components, etc., serviced by the air system.  The only thing worse than a component failing is a component failing in your hand.
  • Shut off valves should be located as close as practical to point(s) of operation.  This allows you to quickly secure the flow of compressed air to a failed component, hose, etc., and prevent further damage or risk of injury.
  • Hoses shouldn’t be run across the floor, where they can become a trip hazard or subject to damage from stepping on them.   This is a surefire way to find out the value of shut off valves (see above.)

*Product specification.  Or, more simply put, using the right tool for the job.  A broader discussion could include efficiency and performance, but we’ll stay within the confines of safety for the purposes of this blog:

  • Be mindful of dead end pressure.  Blow off devices, especially hand held ones like air guns, are oftentimes fitted with a simple open-end discharge.  If this is pushed into a part of the body, the pressurized air can break the skin and cause an air embolism.  This is a serious injury, and can be fatal if it reaches the heart, lungs, or brain.
    • This is a key consideration to OSHA Standard 1910.242(b), which limits the downstream pressure when compressed air is used for cleaning to 30psi.
    • EXAIR products are compliant with this Standard by design…there’s always a relief path for the air pressure; they can’t be dead ended.
Because the compressed air exits through a series of holes, recessed between a ring of fins, any attempt to block the air flow will simply send it in another direction.
  • Harmful sound levels are a consideration as well.  As stated above, hearing protection is required in many cases, but sound levels can be mitigated through the use of engineered products.  EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products, as a result of their high entrainment, generate a boundary layer of air flow that leads to dramatically lower sound levels than a similar-sized open end blow off device.

If you’d like to explore ways to make your compressed air system safer, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Return On Investment: Does It Matter, And How Much?

I have a friend who participates in a process known as “extreme couponing.” She has multiple subscriptions to the Sunday edition of our major newspaper, and a couple of local papers that also have coupon inserts. When I see her at the grocery store, she’s got two 4″ binders full of baseball card holders, all stuffed with multiples of clipped coupons, organized by store aisle. The insane amount of money saved is a big factor in her being able to be a stay-at-home mother, which is something else she’s pretty good at.

If you get stuck at step one…or even two…extreme couponing may not be for you!

Now, extreme couponing isn’t for everyone. Even beginners to the process can buy a year’s worth of paper towels for next to nothing. However, that may take up so much room in their house that they need to rent a storage facility for other belongings that folks like you and me simply keep in the garage or basement. It also takes a LOT of time and effort to do it right – as well as discipline. Saving half (or more) on a truckload of stuff you don’t need (or will never use) is a waste of money, time, and space. In fact, I know people who have abandoned extreme couponing for those very reasons…the “return on investment” just isn’t there.

That’s the deal in industry too.  Anyone tasked with finding and exploiting efficiencies – or finding and eliminating inefficiencies – is going to be looking at return on investment.  Like extreme couponing, though, it has to make sense in all aspects of the operation.  For example:

*An OEM taking advantage of a quantity discount for components or subassemblies has to not only have the storage space available, but also has to consider the turnover rate…it costs money to keep product on the shelf.

*A machine shop considering a tooling upgrade has to compare the cost difference with the increased performance and/or lifespan of the “new and improved” product.  A tool that costs 10% more but lasts twice as long is probably a good deal.  A tool that costs twice as much but lasts 10% longer might not provide the “bang for the buck.”

*Any facility, before switching a service or utility provider, will “run the numbers” on promotional rates, contract terms, etc. before making a commitment.

Unlike extreme couponing, EXAIR makes it easy – and beneficial – to evaluate the return on investment:

*Our catalog (if you don’t have the latest, get it here) has complete performance & operational data on all of our products.  This is great if you know what you want it to do.

*If you’re not quite sure, our catalog also has a good number of actual application write-ups for most of our Intelligent Compressed Air Products.  You may be able to find something that’s similar to what you want to do, and further inform your selection from there.

*Once you’ve chosen a product, you can use the Calculator Library on our website to determine actual dollar cost savings associated with replacing a current compressed air powered device with an EXAIR product.

*Application Engineers are available to discuss your application and/or product selection via phone, email, or Live Chat.

*No matter how detailed the discussion, and how confident a plan we may make, the age-old saying about how it “looked good on paper” proves itself every now and again.  When this happens, all catalog products are covered by our 30 Day Unconditional Guarantee.  If you’re not satisfied for any reason within 30 days of purchase, we’ll arrange return for full credit.

*Let’s assume that we’re pretty good at this (because we are) and it actually DOES work out (because it usually does) – we can calculate your new (and improved) operating costs and compare them with the cost of your previous devices.  If you don’t have the instrumentation (flow meters, sound level meters, etc.,) this is a free service we provide in our Efficiency Lab.  Send it in, and we’ll do a full performance test & issue a comprehensive report, all at no charge.  And if you qualify for a Case Study, we can even save you some money on your next order.  Contact me for more details if you’re interested.

Free testing. Verifiable data. EXAIR Efficiency Lab.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Coupon Pile Stock Photos courtesy of Carol Pyles  Creative Common License

The Case For The Flat Super Air Nozzles

What do you think of when someone says “air nozzle?” Is it a crimp or a “crush” on the end of a piece of tubing? Is it a device that attaches to the end of a pipe or a hose? If so, does it have engineered features that focus the stream, amplify the flow (through entrainment, perhaps,) reduce the noise level, or provide an element of safety?

If so…you’re right. Any of the above descriptions, strictly speaking, qualify as an “air nozzle,” in fact, just a plain open-ended pipe or tube meets the criteria. As long as it serves to discharge a stream of air towards a target, it’s an air nozzle.

Even the devices with those efficient, quiet, and safe engineered features come in a variety of styles, types, and models. Consider EXAIR’s product line of Air Nozzles and Jets…we have seventy-two distinct models, in a range of sizes, materials of construction, and performance.  That’s a LOT to choose from, and it doesn’t even take into account the products that can be fitted with different shims that, technically, make them a wholly different nozzle, performance-wise.  Which brings us, dear reader, to the focus of today’s blog: the Flat Super Air Nozzle.

Flat nozzles are not unique to EXAIR…there are dozens of others on the market in a variety of sizes and materials.  What IS unique about EXAIR’s Flat Super Air Nozzles is their performance…

Efficiency: When a competitor’s flat nozzle was replaced with a Model 1122 2″ Flat Super Air Nozzle, consumption was reduced from 31 SCFM to 21.8 SCFM.  Since the nozzle was operated 24/7, this resulted in a savings in compressed air cost of $3.31 per day…meaning the nozzle paid for itself in under three weeks.

EXAIR’s Flat Super Air Nozzles have been blowing away the competition since 2003.

Durability: Both our 1″ and 2″ Flat Super Air Nozzles are available in rugged Zinc Aluminum alloy, or heat & corrosion resistant Type 316 Stainless Steel.

Zinc aluminum models are perfect for general purpose blow offs (left,) while 316SS models are specified for food/pharma and high heat or corrosive environments (right.)

Versatility: A 0.015″ thick shim is installed in the Flat Super Air Nozzles.  These provide optimal performance in a wide variety of typical industrial and commercial blow off applications.  We also offer High Power versions, with a 0.025″ thick shim, for additional flow and force.  You can also experiment with other shims, from 0.005″ to 0.030″ in thickness, for customized applications.  These shims are all 316SS, and are available in sets, or individually.  The patented design of these shims, in fact, is key to their high efficiency, as explained in this video:

Ingenuity: While this EXAIR characteristic is not specific to the Flat Super Air Nozzles, our most recent ingenious development features them: the Super Air Scraper.  By combining a scraping blade with the 2″ Flat Super Air Nozzle, we’ve turned our very popular Soft Grip Safety Air Gun into the perfect tool for easy removal of sticky or stubborn debris from most any flat surface.

Scrape off, and blow away, stubborn debris with the Model 1244-48 Soft Grip Super Air Scraper.

EXAIR Flat Super Air Nozzles are Intelligent Compressed Air Products with a 15 year history of successfully solving all kinds of air blowing applications.  To find out more about how they can work for you, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Accessories and the Value Added

The word “accessory” can come with some baggage… it’s become synonymous with “add-on” and “up-sell,” and cost-mindful consumers may see them as just another way for a slick salesperson to make an extra buck. And frankly, they wouldn’t have that reputation if there wasn’t some truth to it.  The server at your favorite restaurant will offer appetizers, or recommend side dishes to go with your entree. If you go to buy a new car, you’ll get a pitch for a variety of aftermarket add-ons.  The paint counter folks at the hardware store always tell me what specific brush and/or rollers I should use with the paint I’m buying…and it’s never the 10-pack of economy brushes that costs less than the single, premium quality brush they recommend.  In all of these cases, these employees are trained, constantly encouraged, and hopefully rewarded on the success of these “up-sell” strategies.

Of course, my boys and I can devour even the largest plate of chili cheese nachos long before the rest of meal comes out.  My wife absolutely loves the remote starter function that the dealership installed on the new car she bought last year.  And, if you’ve ever painted a well-lit room, you know the difference between a $1 paint brush and a $10 paint brush.  So if my server gets a little bigger tip, my car dealer salesperson gets a little more commission, or the paint counter folks get a bonus, then it’s a win-win, as far as I’m concerned.

EXAIR carries a variety of accessories for our Intelligent Compressed Air Products.  Some aid in mounting & installation:

Clockwise from top: Universal Air Knife Mounting System, Stay Set Hoses, Cabinet Cooler Side Mount Kit, Mounting Brackets for Line Vac, Filter Separator, and Pressure Regulator, Swivel Fitting for Super Air Nozzle, Tool Holder for Industrial Vacuum Drums, Spray Nozzle Mounting Clip.

Others make it easy to ensure adequate supply conditions:

The performance of many EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Products can be altered by replacing the shim:

From left to right: Super Air Amplifier, Super Air Knife, 1″ Flat Super Air Nozzle, High Velocity Air Jets, and Air Wipe all feature replaceable shims to modify performance.

In addition to these product-specific accessories, EXAIR carries a complete line of:

Filter Separators are rated for air flow up to 400 SCFM; Oil Removal Filters, up to 310 SCFM.

*Filter Separators to remove water, dirt, and rust from your compressed air system.  Our Automatic Drain Filter Separators have a 5 micron particulate element, and a centrifugal vane to remove moisture.

*Oil Removal Filters with coalescing elements that remove any trace of oil, and also provide additional particulate filtration to 0.03 microns.

 

*Pressure Regulators, so you can “dial in” the performance you need, so you don’t overpower the application, or waste compressed air.  They come in sizes from 1/4 NPT to 1-1/4 NPT, and are rated for flows up to 700 SCFM.  A pressure gauge provides accurate indication of outlet pressure, and the adjustment cap can be removed to prevent tampering.

*Mounting Brackets and Modular Coupling Kits for our Filters and Regulators.  The latter are especially handy for easy, compact, and leak free installation.

*Silencing Mufflers to reduce work area noise from compressed air exhausting from pneumatic cylinders, valves, etc.  There are several styles to choose from, depending on your needs:

  • Sintered Bronze Mufflers are simple in design, with minimal back pressure restriction, and come in sizes from #10-32 thread to 1-1/2 NPT.
  • Straight-Through Mufflers offer noise reduction up to 20 dB, and come in sizes from 1/4 NPT (up to 22 SCFM) to 3/4 NPT (up to 73 SCFM.)
  • Heavy Duty Mufflers have an internal stainless steel screen that not only protects the exhausting components from environmental contamination, but also keeps air system contaminants from being ejected at high speed into the work area.
  • Reclassifying Mufflers are an upgrade to the Sintered Bronze Mufflers and provide the highest level of noise reduction – up to 35 dB.  They also trap oil mist, eliminating breathing hazards to personnel.

*We have manual ball valves (1/4 NPT to 1-1/4 NPT) and Solenoid Valves (120VAC, 240VAC or 24VDC) from 1/4 NPT to 1 NPT, and a Foot Valve, for hands-free operation.

*Swivel Fittings to securely install & aim many of our nozzles, from the Atto to the High Force 1 NPT Super Air Nozzles.  For a little more flexibility, Stay Set Hoses and Magnetic Bases can be used for Air Amplifiers, Super Air Nozzles, and even short Air Knives.

*12 ft Coiled Hoses (1/4″ or 3/8″ ID) and Compressed Air Hose (3/8″ or 1/2″ ID; up to 50ft lengths) can be provided with any Intelligent Compressed Air Product.  We also have a full supply of fittings (tees, elbows, nipples, couplers, reducers, etc.) and adapters to fit our Super Air Nozzles to your existing air guns or blow off devices.

*Receiver Tanks are used to store a ready supply of compressed air.  If you have an intermittent demand of sufficient size, it can cause a pressure transient in your system, which can drag down the ability to supply other points of use.  Installed near the point of intermittent demand, they prevent pressure & volume fluctuations, keeping the operators at all points of use happy.  Model 9500-60 Receiver Tank has a capacity of 60 gallons, is rated to 200psig, and meets ASME pressure vessel code.

In closing, let me offer the following advice that’s served me well over the years:

*Be mindful of the valued added by the accessories & add-ons you’re presented during a purchase of capital equipment…or anything else, really.  Don’t buy something you don’t need, but if you need it…well…it’s OK to buy it.

*Don’t skimp on quality.  Odds are, if an accessory is offered by the manufacturer of the product, it’s going to work well for you.  They should be able to tell you if it will or won’t if you discuss your needs with them.  I know I will if you call me to discuss a compressed air product application.

*Get the big plate of nachos, especially if you’re dining with teenagers.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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