So last week I blogged about how I was using my leaf blower to disperse colored powders at a Color Fun Run for a school event. Well, while it did work, the outcome was not our desired effect. Instead of getting a nice plume, we got a considerable cloud/smoke screen of colored dust. It looks like a pollen tornado. So we had to scrap it. Were still able to make the event a blast and my ruck is still covered in purple powder from a reloading mishap. We learned a tremendous amount though. We also built a nine-square game for the first time and learned how not do put it together as well.
During the testing, we tried several introduction methods for the powder and where we ultimately landed was, we need way less air and intermittent bursts. Much like a Line Vac with an Electronic Flow Control set to a few seconds of cycle time. Then fill the breech of the powder cannon with a charge of colored powder. The trick is just enough of a blast of air to entrain the powder and discharge it, not a ton of air like a leaf blower gives off.
The best part of this process is the number of middle schoolers that got involved throughout the process of us testing it before the event. The ideas, the questions, the shock and awe that we would try something like this, and then the disgust when we told them they weren’t allowed to use it because we didn’t like the performance. What it did give me the chance to discuss with them each though is one of my favorite sayings, “You can’t teach experience.” They didn’t all get it. So we would share with them how we thought it would work, we tested, we changed variables, and ultimately, it didn’t work. What did work though is our ability to recognize what changed and to come up with a plan for next year that will give us some more time and testing and what didn’t work.
Experience is what EXAIR brings to the table with all of our Application Engineers. We all have different backgrounds, and we all have experienced a lot of things throughout life. Some of us have also found out that we can be somewhat of a slow learner sometimes too and that’s okay. If I don’t have experience and confidence in an application here, I may discuss it with one of the other AE’s, or I may just go and test the closest setup I can get. The point is, we put the effort in, we try, and we do it all to help our customer’s experience improve. This also gives us a chance to grow.
If you would like to discuss an application or experience you have and need help with, contact an Application Engineer today!
Here on the EXAIR blog we discuss pressure drops, correct plumbing, pipe sizing, and friction losses within your piping system from time to time. We will generally even give recommendations on what size piping to use. These are the variables that you will want to consider when selecting a piping size that will suit your need and give the ability to expand if needed.
The variables to know for a new piping run are as follows.
Flow Rate (SCFM) of demand side (products needing the supplied compressed air)
System Pressure (psig) – Safe operating pressure that will account for pressure drops.
Minimum Operating Pressure Allowed (psig) – Lowest pressure permitted by any demand side point of use product.
Total Length of Piping System (feet)
Piping Cost ($)
Installation Cost ($)
Operational Hours ( hr.)
Electical Costs ($/kwh)
Project Life (years) – Is there a planned expansion?
An equation can be used to calculate the diameter of pipe required for a known flow rate and allowable pressure drop. The equation is shown below.
A = (144 x Q x Pa) / (V x 60 x (Pd + Pa)
A = Cross-Sectional are of the pipe bore. (sq. in.).
Q = Flow rate (cubic ft. / min of free air)
Pa = Prevailing atmospheric absolute pressure (psia)
Pd = Compressor discharge gauge pressure (psig)
V = Design pipe velocity ( ft/sec)
If all of these variables are not known, there are also reference charts which will eliminate the variables needed to total flow rate required for the system, as well as the total length of the piping. The chart shown below was taken from EXAIR’s Knowledge Base.
Once the piping size is selected to meet the needs of the system the future potential of expansion should be taken into account and anticipated for. If no expansion is planned, simply take your length of pipe and start looking at your cost per foot and installation costs. If expansions are planned and known, consider supplying the equipment now and accounting for it if the additional capital expenditure is acceptable at this point.
The benefits to having properly sized compressed air lines for the entire facility and for the long term expansion goals makes life easier. When production is increased, or when new machinery is added there is not a need to re-engineer the entire system in order to get enough capacity to that last machine. If the main compressed air system is undersized then optimal performance for the facility will never be achieved. By not taking the above variables into consideration or just using what is cheapest is simply setting the system up for failure and inefficiencies. All of these considerations lead to an optimized compressed air system which leads to a sustainable utility.
In case you weren’t aware, the answer to “How much force does it take?” is always going to be, ALL OF IT. At least that is what we generally think when trying to blow product off a conveyor belt or diverting parts into bin, etc. Speed and efficiency play a direct role in to what nozzle or blow off device you should use in order to get the job done and be able to repeat the process.
The question we are often asked by customers is, “How much force to I need to move this?” That is a question that we cannot often answer without asking more questions. The good part of this is, there is a formula to calculate just how much force you need to move an object. A good video explaining friction is shown below.
In order to answer the question of how much force do I need, we really need to know all of the following:
Weight of the object
Distance from target
Is it on an incline or level
Distance needed to move
Then, the usually unknown variable, the coefficient of friction between the target and what it is sitting on.
Often times it is the thought process of, my target weighs 5 pounds, I need 5 pounds of force in order to move it from the center of this conveyor belt to the edge, this is not the case. If you wanted to lift the object over a break between two conveyors then you would need slightly more than 5 pounds in order to ensure you are lifting the front edge of the unit high enough to meet the other conveyor.
Whether you know all of the variables or only a few, if you need to get an object moved and you want to try using compressed air to do so, give us a call and we will help you find the best engineered solution for your application. Then, we’ll back all stock products with a 30 day guarantee if you don’t like how the system performs – but rest assured, we get it right almost every time.