Compressed Air Safety with EXAIR’s Intelligent Compressed Air Products

Compressed air is a necessary utility in any manufacturing environment. When used improperly, this compressed air can pose very real and serious dangers to your personnel. It’s imperative that you’re aware of the potential risks associated with the use of compressed air and educate yourselves and your operators to ensure you’re operating safely.

OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) provides standards designed to mitigate the risks of compressed air usage. If not adhered to, fines can be administered for each infraction. Fines are given out for each individual infraction. Meaning, if you have unsafe blowguns that are used in your facility you’ll get a notice for each individual gun that is identified during an inspection. Inspections aren’t something that happen often, but they will show up unannounced and often at the worst possible times.

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.

With this in mind, there are only two options for staying within compliance of this standard. Either install an engineered solution that will reduce the air pressure to less than 30 psig if dead-ended, or regulate the pressure below 30 psig. For the vast majority of operations, regulating the input pressure below 30 psig is useless. The force and flow from the nozzle at this pressure is greatly reduced and likely not enough to be effective in most applications. All of EXAIR’s Safety Air Guns 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.

In addition to being concerned about dead-end pressure, OSHA 1910.242(b) also states that compressed air used for cleaning should include effective chip guarding. By this, they mean that some method or equipment must be installed that will prevent chips and particles from coming back into the eyes or skin of the operator. In addition to offering OSHA compliant nozzles and guns, EXAIR also has Chip Shields that can be installed onto any of our Safety Air Guns. The polycarbonate shields protect the operator from any flying debris while performing a drying or blowoff operation. Simply add a “-CS” to the end of any Safety Air Gun Model number to have a Chip Shield installed on the gun.

Hearing loss due to high noise levels is another common problem in many industrial facilities. Without the use of proper PPE, hearing loss can occur quickly. This is a serious concern as hearing loss is permanent and once the damage is done there’s no way to reverse it. Due to this risk, OSHA strictly enforces standard 29 CFR-1910.95(a).

Hearing loss is the best known, but not the only, ill effect of harmful noise exposure. It can also cause physical and psychological stress, impair concentration, and contribute to workplace accidents or injuries.

This directive discusses the effects of noise and limits exposure based on the dBA. The table below indicates the maximum allowable exposure time to different noise levels. Sound levels that exceed these levels should first be addressed by proper engineering controls such as isolating the source of the sound from personnel or replacing the cause of the sound with something like an engineered compressed air nozzle. When such controls aren’t feasible, proper PPE must be worn to protect the operator.

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 does not contain any provisions that allow for the approval or endorsement of equipment. Alteration or the misapplication of what was once a safe piece of equipment would create a dangerous scenario that is out of the control of the original manufacturer. Any nozzles or guns marketed as “OSHA approved” should immediately throw up a red flag. Identifying and implementing a safe, OSHA compliant solution rests in the hands of the manufacturer themselves. 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!

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

Custom Atomizing Spray Nozzle Gun For Decontaminating Workspace Due to COVID-19

EXAIR does not shy away from an application or solution that doesn’t involve a stocked or catalog product. We often provide customized solutions for a wide variety of customers across nearly each and every industry. Sometimes the cataloged products we  stock on the shelf doesn’t quite fit the application as best as it could. If we can modify them or make something custom from scratch, we absolutely will!

Recently I worked with a customer who was looking to solve a new application related to the current COVID-19 pandemic. He owned a cleaning company that contracts with a variety of local businesses to provide cleaning and sanitation services. Typically, that would consist of a bi-weekly visit to tidy up the office spaces and provide a general cleaning. With the current risks of COVID-19 running rampant, he’s seen a dramatic increase in businesses looking to implement a daily sanitization of common surfaces throughout the office.

While this is a service that he’s offered for some time, the current crisis has led many more companies to request additional cleaning within their offices. To perform this disinfecting procedure, the droplet size of the mist is critical. The spray gun that he was previously using did not provide a fine enough mist to reliably decontaminate the area. In addition, this gun was consuming too much liquid that would puddle up on various surfaces that would have to be later wiped down and dried. He was looking for a handheld solution that provided a fine enough atomization to both effectively eliminate any pathogens as well as prevent the unnecessary step of having to come behind and dry everything off.

Our line of Atomizing Spray Nozzles is an ideal solution for applications where a fine mist of fluid is required. But, these aren’t designed to be used in a handheld operation. Fortunately, we do have a variety of Safety Air Guns, extensions, and fittings that allow us to install an Atomizing Nozzle on the end of a handheld gun. In the photo below, we used a Model SF2020SS No-Drip Siphon Fed Atomizing Nozzle to produce the atomized flow of disinfectant. With standard fittings that we have in stock, we’re able to connect the nozzle to the end of a gun with a 24” extension. The operator carries a jug of disinfectant that is then drawn into the nozzle without the need for a pressurized tank or pump.

atom nozzle gun

This is just one example of a custom product designed specifically for a particular application. A quick search here on the EXAIR Blog will show a variety of various special products we’ve created over the years. Even though we regularly roll out new products and have been in business for nearly 37 years, there are still cases that we encounter for something we haven’t done before. If you have an application that you believe may be better served by something a bit customized, give us a call. An Application Engineer would be happy to discuss your application and help to determine the best solution.

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

Atomization: What is it?

Atomization is a word that can be seen throughout the industry in rinsing, coating, painting, lubricating, and cooling applications. The act of atomization is simple, we often refer to it when looking at liquids and it means to break up the liquid stream and form fine droplets.  This is essentially a transfer of energy. There are two mainstream methods to atomize liquids for an application, both with their own advantages.

142 distinct models. 8 different patterns. Liquid flow rates from 0.1 to 303 gallons per hour. If you’ve got a spraying application, EXAIR has an Atomizing Nozzle for you!

The first is air atomizing. This action is done by combining a stream of compressed air with either a pressurized fluid or a siphon/gravity fed liquid.  The air stream can be combined with the liquid internally to the nozzle, hence Internal Mix Atomizing Nozzles. It can also combine outside of the nozzle, like the External Mix Atomizing Nozzles. We have blogged before on where to use each of these as the reason to select between Internal Mix or External Mix is its own topic.

Benefits to air atomization are, smaller droplet/particulate size is achievable.  The compressed air atomization gives the ability to break up more viscous fluids to get better coverage or thinner layers of spray.  Air atomization also gives the ability to use smaller amounts of liquid because the air takes up a portion of the total flow exiting any nozzle.

The second type of atomizing nozzles are hydraulic atomization. This uses the energy from the liquid being pressurized to break up the liquid stream.  Sometimes there are physical impacts within the nozzle that cause the atomization, other times it is just the liquid leaving an orifice that causes the atomization. This gives the ability to still spray a liquid into droplets of various shapes, dimensions, and flow rates. The lack of compressed air often results in larger droplet sizes as well as higher liquid flow rates. Because the liquid has to be pressurized to certain levels it also becomes difficult to spray higher viscosity fluids through hydraulically atomized nozzles.

Benefits to hydraulically atomized spray nozzles range from stronger spray force for rinsing, ease of installation from not needing to plumb compressed air, ability to flow slurries, or other liquids that may clog or dry due to the design of air atomized spray nozzles.

If you would like to discuss the correct nozzle for your spray application, feel free to contact us.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

 

Air Atomizing Nozzles for Blue Jean Manufacturing

Acid washed Jeans

I wrote an earlier blog on how a blue jean manufacturer used EXAIR Air Operated Conveyors to help transport pumice stones into washers for stonewashed jeans.  You can find it here, “The EXAIR Air Operated Conveyors with stonewashed jeans.”  This same company contacted EXAIR again for another application.  With great customer service and thousands of products in stock, this customer stated it was an easy decision to come back to us.  This time it was for a spraying application.  I was happy to help them again.

Beside stone-washing, there are other ways to give that “worn out” look to blue jeans.  In this operation, they would scuff areas on the denim material with sandpaper.  To brighten that area, they would manually spray Potassium Permanganate over the jeans.  This reaction would fade the blue in the scuffed areas during the washing cycle.  They wanted to automate this process and move away from the manual operation (reference photo above).  So, I recommended our Air Atomizing Nozzles.

No Drip Atomizing Family

To tell you about EXAIR Air Atomizing Nozzles, they use compressed air to shear liquid into very fine particles.  The smaller the particles, the more surface area is produced.  Thus, less liquid material is required which will save money on the expense of the liquid.  EXAIR offers three different body sizes in NPT or BSP conversions; 1/8”, 1/4”, and 1/2”.  They are made from stainless steel for corrosion resistance.  We have an Internal Mix and an External Mix for use with pressurized liquid, and a Siphon Fed for open containers.

With each body style, we have a variety of liquid caps for different flow amounts, and an assortment of air caps to direct the fine mist.  For the Atomizing Nozzles, EXAIR can offer a No-Drip option and brackets.  The No-Drip option will stop liquid flow when the compressed air is turned off which will not allow the liquid to drip from the nozzle.  The brackets fit snugly around the body to support the Atomizing Nozzles for precise spraying.

For this application, I recommended the model AW9010SS.  This is a 1/8” NPT No-Drip Internal mix Atomizing Nozzle with a wide-angle round pattern.  The liquid flow rate fit their application with a maximum of 3.5 GPH (13.2 LPH).  The wide spray angle was able to cover the patterns on the denim material.  The potassium permanganate was delivered to the Atomizing Nozzle with a liquid pump, and with the No-Drip Option, they could start and stop spraying accurately and quickly with a simple compressed air solenoid valve.  Also, the model AW9010SS is a durable lightweight nozzle; and with the model 901786 bracket, the Atomizing Nozzles were easily mounted to the end of a robot arm for automation.

The EXAIR Atomizing Nozzles were able to replace the manual operation.  The amount of liquid material that this denim manufacturer was able to save was near 20%.  Depending on the expense of the fluid that you use, this can be quite a savings.  Also, they found that the “worn” areas were more consistent with accurate spraying and an even amount of potassium permanganate.

And as an added note with the safety issues in spraying potassium permanganate, the Atomizing Nozzles were a more effective way to reduce the hazard as a substitution control.  The operator with personal protective equipment, or PPE, is the least effective way for controlling occupational hazards.  The automated system with EXAIR Atomizing Nozzles was able to remove the operator from the hazard.

If you have a liquid that you would like to spray evenly, efficiently, and effectively; EXAIR Atomizing Nozzles can do that for you.  As with the customer above with the Air Operated Conveyors or Atomizing Nozzles, the quality of the products and the great customer service was what caused this customer to use EXAIR.  If you would like to experience the EXAIR way, you can contact an Application Engineer.  We will be happy to help you.

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

 

Photo: Stonewash Jeans by realworkhardPixabay License.