Static Eliminator Selection Example

I like jigsaw puzzles. I start with the outside…there’s something to be said for establishing the boundaries of any project…but I don’t necessarily work my way in from there. Oftentimes, a number of same-colored pieces go together quickly, and I make a little part of the big picture somewhere in the middle. If it’s a big enough picture and/or if there’s a sufficient number of pieces, I might get a few of those little parts going on, until some of them get joined together. Once that happens, the big picture develops faster & faster, and before I know it, the puzzle is solved.

As an Application Engineer for EXAIR, a jigsaw puzzle is an apt analogy for assisting a customer in selecting the right solution to an application. A recent situation proved what a good analogy this is: a caller from a custom label making shop needed to eliminate static from a bunch of thin Mylar film that was die cut into special little shapes so they could be laid out in specific arrangements. You know…like a jigsaw puzzle!

Now, there aren’t many better ways to generate a static charge than doing ANYTHING to Mylar. The magnitude of static charge created by the cutting process is downright vicious. As difficult as it was to put the first piece in place, it was IMPOSSIBLE to keep it there when they put the NEXT piece down adjacent to it. Same thing with the piece after that, and the piece after that, etc. They needed something to remove the static, and that something turned out to be an EXAIR Ion Air Knife. By installing a Model 8106 6″ Gen4 Standard Ion Air Knife along one side, they were able to gently blow a ‘whisper’ of ionized air that moved the freshly cut pieces from the die cutter’s platen so the operator could then lay them out to make the desired label design.

Gen4 Standard Ion Air Knife

So, how did we arrive at the Gen4 Standard Ion Air Knife? Wouldn’t the more efficient & quieter Super Ion Air Knife be the “go to” solution? In an awful lot of cases, it certainly is. A couple of things made the Standard Ion Air Knife more attractive here:

Profile-wise, a Gen4 Standard Ion Air Knife takes up less than half the space of a Gen4 Super Ion Air Knife.
  • Compressed air consumption: if this were an application for a continuous 36″ wide ionized air curtain in a fast moving product application with a high static charge, we’d have talked about the difference in consumption, at a high pressure (like 80psig) for the two different Ion Air Knives:
    • 36″ Super Ion Air Knife: 104.4 SCFM, or 12,528,000 standard cubic feet per year*
    • 36″ Standard Ion Air Knife: 123 SCFM, or 15,350,400 standard cubic feet per year*

*Eight hours a day, five days a week, 52 weeks a year. Assuming a compressed air cost of $0.25 per 1,000 standard cubic feet, that’s an operating cost difference of:

(15,350,400 – 12,528,000) SCF X $0.25/1,000 SCF = $705.60 per year.

  • In this case, though, it’s a 6″ Ion Air Knife, blowing a short puff of ionized air a few times a minute, at about 5psig supply pressure…anything more would blow those small mylar pieces all over the place:
    • 6″ Super Ion Air Knife: 1.85 SCFM, or 23,088 standard cubic feet per year*
    • 6″ Standard Ion Air Knife: 1.5 SCFM, or 18,720 standard cubic feet per year*

*Three 2-second cycles per minute, eight hours a day, five days a week, 52 weeks a year. Assuming a compressed air cost of $0.25 per 1,000 standard cubic feet, that’s an operating cost difference of:

(23,088 – 18,720) SCF X $0.25/1,000 SCF = $1.09 per year.

  • Sound level: again, this would be a prime consideration if they were operating at higher supply pressures. But, at the lower pressure necessitated by this application, the Standard Ion Air Knife’s 66dBA, a second or two at a time, is hardly noticeable.
  • Price: The purchase price (2021 pricing) of the Standard Ion Air Knife was ~17% less than the Super Ion Air Knife. Normally, we’ll talk about the operating cost…but not when the difference (see above) is just over a buck a year.
  • Air flow pattern: Since a curtain of ionized air was a good fit for this application, an Ion Air Knife (Super or Standard) was the logical choice. If a more concentrated flow was called for, we’d have used an Ion Air Cannon or Ion Air Jet. If they were looking for something handheld, a Gen4 Ion Air Gun or Intellistat Ion Air Gun would have been offered. For static dissipation on the entire circumference or perimeter of a part, we’d have talked about a Super Ion Air Wipe. The size & shape of the air flow, in fact, is frequently where we “start the negotiations” on product selection…sort of analogous to starting with the outside border pieces of a jigsaw puzzle!

EXAIR Corporation has a broad range of Static Eliminators, that are just one part of our diverse offering of Intelligent Compressed Air Products. If you’ve got questions, we’ve got answers…give me a call.

Russ Bowman, CCASS

Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Jigsaw Puzzle (detail) photo courtesy of James Petts Creative Commons License

Static Season is in Full Swing, Super Ion Air Knives can Remove the Shock!

The Gen4 Super Ion Air Knife is a powerful static eliminator that prevents jamming, tearing, shocks and dust build up by neutralizing static and blowing away the debris.

They combine the quiet and efficient Super Air Knife with the compact design of the rugged Gen4 Ionizing Bar resulting in a total solution to remove static electricity from plastics, webs, sheet stock and other product surfaces. Removing the static helps reduce or eliminate the process issues that the static electric causes, allowing for greater production speeds, improved product quality and a cleaner product. Some of the issues static causes include, dirt and dust buildup on surfaces, misreads for sensors, poor quality from ink jets, poor print quality on printed surfaces, and personnel getting shocked.

The Gen4 Super Ion Air Knife floods an area or surface with static eliminating ions. With a uniform airflow across its length, misalignment to critical surfaces like webs is avoided.  The force can be adjusted from a light breeze, to a full out blast of air. The Gen4 Super Ion Air Knife is electrically powered, is shockless and has no moving parts.

How It Works

gen4siak_hwrks_800x
How The Gen4 Super Ion Air Knife Works

In the diagram above, compressed air flows through an inlet (1) into the plenum chamber of the Gen4 Super Ion Air Knife. The flow is directed to a precise, slotted orifice. As the primary airflow exits, it creates a uniform sheet of air across the entire length, pulling in in surrounding air (2). An electrically powered Gen4 Ionizing Bar (3) fills the curtain of air with positive and negative charges. The air stream delivers the static eliminating ions to the product surface (4) where it instantly neutralizes static and cleans off dust and other particulates.

The Gen4 Super Ion Air Knives are powerful tools, and very quickly dissipates 5kV of static even at low compressed air supply pressures. At 5 PSIG, only 3.7 SCFM (0.3 BAR, only 105 SLPM) of compressed air per foot of length is required!!  Sound levels are also very low, resulting in quiet operation.

super ion air knife performance

Added Features –

  • Compressed Air Inlets are provided on each end and the bottom of the Super Air Knife
  • Thicker shims can be installed easily if more force is needed.
  • Emitter points are durable stainless steel
  • The high voltage cable is armored to resist cuts and abrasion, and has integral grounding.  Threaded bayonet connector is fully assembled and ready to use
  • Electromagnetically shield cable protects sensitive electronics
  • Gen4 Ionizing Bars and Power Supplies are UL Component Recognized to U.S and Canadian safety standards and are CE and RoHS compliant
  • Power Supplies are 115/230 VAC selectable and come with 2 or 4 outlets
  • Standard lengths from 3″ to 108″ (76mm to 2743mm) are offered, and custom lengths are available to meet your process needs

Successful applications include web cleaning, pre-paint dust removal, shrink wrapper machinery, printing equipment, package cleaning,and bag opening/filling operations.

If you have questions about Gen4 Super Ion Air Knives, other types of Static Elimination products,  or any of the 16 different EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air® Product lines, feel free to contact EXAIR and myself or any of our Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.

Jordan Shouse
Application Engineer

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When, And Why, Should I Have My Static Meter Calibrated?

Instrument calibration is a big deal in a number of situations. Companies that sell product by weight are (or should be) adamant about keeping their scales calibrated. If they read light, they’re giving unintended discounts. If they’re reading heavy, they’re gouging their customers, and their local Weights & Measures folks take a dim view of that.

A much more serious situation, involving errant instrument readings, took place on a U.S. Navy submarine, USS Greenling (SSN-614) in the spring of 1973. They were conducting tests on a firing a new torpedo that was specifically designed for greater depths. While operating at what they THOUGHT was the ship’s “test depth” – the point at which the designers say the hull can be expected to maintain reliable integrity – the Captain, who was in the Torpedo Room, noticed a pressure gauge on a torpedo tube showed a higher-than-expected reading. They quickly realized the depth gauge in the Control Room was not operating properly, and they were, in fact, alarmingly close to “crush depth” – which is exactly as bad as it sounds. That’s a story every submariner hears early in their career, and it’s the reason that instrument calibration (for ALL systems…not just the depth gauges) is taken QUITE seriously.

In certain industrial and commercial ventures, instrument calibration is critical in that same vein: atmospheric monitoring equipment needs to be accurate or people can be poisoned by toxic gases, or suffocated from lack of oxygen, for example. Other processes aren’t life-threatening, but can have major impacts on production and quality. One of these (and the main subject of this blog) is the ability to measure static charge.

EXAIR’s Model 7905 Digital Static Meter is a handheld instrument that quickly & accurately indicates the static charge that resides on an object’s or material’s surface. If it’s in proper calibration, it can be used to gauge the effectiveness and efficiency of static eliminators, by measuring the static charge before, and after, exposure to the static eliminator product. It can also help to identify the source of static charge by showing specifically where the highest charge resides on an object or piece of material.

EXAIR Model 7905 Digital Static Meter: Because you can’t manage what you don’t measure.

To do so accurately, though, it has to be maintained in good working order. To ensure this, EXAIR Corporation offers calibration service, available at three levels, depending on your specific needs.

  • Level 1 Calibration is performed in accordance with Mil Std 45662A, and is traceable to NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) standards. It doesn’t include before/after test data, but does ensure the Static Meter is in good working order and reads accurately. For most typical industrial applications, this is all that’s required.
  • Level 2 Calibration complies with Mil Std 45662A, and is traceable to NIST standards as well. It DOES include before/after test results and lists the laboratory standards used (along with NIST test numbers), which may be called for in compliance with your company’s quality programs.
  • Level 3 Calibration also complies with Mil Std 45662A and is traceable to NIST standards. This level of calibration, however, is performed by an independent laboratory that is accredited for ISO 17025 compliance. The calibration certificate issued satisfies requirements of:
    • Mil Std 45662A
    • ANSI/NCSL Z540-1
    • ISO/IEC Guide 25
    • ISO/IEC 17025

If you don’t recognize any of those requirements, Level 1 Calibration is likely all you need to ensure your Static Meter is functioning properly. A prime example of the need for Level 3 Calibration might be a pharmaceutical goods manufacturer who uses Static Eliminators to ensure cleanliness/sanitation in a packaging evolution, and uses the Static Meter to periodically document the dissipation of the static charge on the packaging material. The before/after results, along with compliance to certain standards, could trigger a safety recall on a potentially unsafe product that presented a very real public health risk.

Prime examples of applications where your Static Meter might need different levels of calibration (from left to right) – an artwork maker using a Gen4 Ion Air Gun can ensure consistency in finished products by periodically having their Static Meter calibrated to Level 1 standards. A playing card manufacturer who uses Gen4 Ionizing Points and sells product to casinos can provide quality documentation to their customers with Static Meters calibrated to Level 2 standards. A pharmaceutical company who uses a Gen4 Ion Air Jet can track quality – and hence public safety – by documenting compliance with the highest levels of regulatory control with Static Meters calibrated to Level 3 standards.

As temperatures drop in the Northern Hemisphere, static charge – and attention to the problems it causes – rises. If you’ve got questions about static elimination, let’s talk.

Russ Bowman, CCASS

Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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Static Eliminators Essential To Packaging Operations

I had a headache the other day. Of all the things that can make me grumpy, nothing makes me grumpier than a headache. Luckily, there are over the counter medications that work quite well, and quickly, to boot.  And I had a brand new bottle of them in the cabinet.

When I opened the package and removed the tamper-resistant plastic band on the cap, it stuck to my hand when I went to drop it in the trash can.  This raised my grumpiness just a touch.  I shook my hand to try and get it off, and it fell behind the trash can.  My grumpiness elevated a bit further.  I hit my head (you know, the one I was trying to cure the pain in?) on the counter while bending over to retrieve it.  That activated my grumpiness alarm, which sounds just like mild profanity.  My wife silenced that alarm pretty quickly.

The plastic band stuck to my hand, of course, because it’s made of a non-conductive material, and peeling it from the bottle cap, which is also a non-conductive material, generated a static charge.  As a subject matter expert on the topic of static elimination, I am quite familiar with the phenomenon, the problems it causes, and, more importantly, the numerous ways to apply solutions to those problems:

  • One such solution was related to my problem with the tamper-resistant seal.  A mouthwash manufacturer was actually having trouble getting those seals ONTO the bottles on their packaging line.  The bottle caps themselves had so much static charge on them that they repelled the seal as the machine tried to drop it in place before heat shrinking it.  An Ion Air Jet solved the problem:
Gen4 Ion Air Jet ensures bottle caps & necks are static free for application of tamper resistant seals.
  • Speaking of plastic bottles, the finishing process after extrusion can leave small bits of plastic particulate behind, and static charge can keep them on the bottle.  This was a great fit for an Ion Air Cannon:
Gen4 Ion Air Cannon eliminates static & dust prior to filling bottles.
  • Sometimes, air flow isn’t necessary, like in the case of a film that is eventually made into single-use condiment packages, with a static charge that was high enough to fry the print heads that apply the label text.  An Ionizing Bar protects those print heads:
Initial static charge of almost 17kV (left) is almost completely dissipated by the Ionizing Bar (center) to just 0.04kV (right)

EXAIR Corporation’s Gen4 Static Eliminator product line offers a wide variety of options for total static control.  If you need to get rid of nuisance shocks, clinging dust, tearing, jamming or curling of material, misfeeding sheets or rolls, or any of the numerous other problems that static charge can cause, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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