September 19, 2022

Compressed Air Operated Air Knife Basics

Compressed Air Operated Air Knife Basics

Compressed air-operated air knives are popular for several reasons: they reduce compressed air use; reduce noise levels and improve safety as dead-end pressure is far below the maximum allowable OHSA standard.

They’re used to blow off liquids, dust, and debris from a material’s surface prior to the next operation such as packaging.

They can also be used to cool down a product’s surface.

With proper engineering design, the airflow produced is laminar which makes the force effective at a greater distance than, for example, a row of holes in a drilled pipe.

The most difficult part to produce in a compressed air-operated air knife is a consistent air “gap”, generally maintained with a shim, creating a relatively even flow across its length, whether it’s a short length of a few inches or much longer.

A well-manufactured, quality air knife like the Nex Flow® Air Blade® series requires a flat surface across the cap and body and high tolerance in these parts when they are mated.

Even the shims require the width to be within a high tolerance range.

The design of both the interior and exterior surface is also important for even flow to be maintained as the uneven flow can cause inadequate cleaning or drying of a surface and for certain, uneven cooling if that is its purpose.

In addition to the importance of both interior and exterior design and tolerance, the quality of the material is important.

It still is a surprise that so many compressed air-operated air knives are supplied in aluminum which is not anodized perhaps because of the extra care manufacturing requires to maintain flat surfaces.

However, Nex Flow® does anodize its aluminum air knives and in fact has both a regular anodized and a hard anodized version.

Comparing performance is certainly important as long as you can obtain usable values.

Because of consistent design across different lengths, the plenum chamber inside the units is typically the same size which means that the force per inch will be higher in shorter lengths and lower in longer lengths.

This is why Nex Flow® publishes its engineering data on air consumption and force per length, sometimes copied and changed inappropriately by knock-offs which you must be careful of to be sure their data is actually true.

When comparing performance you want the greatest amount of force with minimal inlet pressure.

This is because the lower the inlet pressure you need to produce, the less energy required to produce it.

For example, typically the Nex Flow® X-Stream® Air Blade® air knife will produce the same force as some alternate designs with the same air consumption BUT at a lower pressure: ie: 60 PSIG inlet instead of 80 PSIG inlet.

This has resulted in many replacements of competitive designs, often not anodized, being replaced with Nex Flow® units.

Noise level is also an indication of efficiency and Nex Flow® designs, especially the Nex Flow® X-Stream® Air Blade® air knife is extremely quiet hence we call it the Silent X-Stream Air Blade air knife.

When you compare air consumption at a given inlet pressure you must also check the force, and check the force/unit of air consumption to obtain the true efficiency.

Do not be fooled by biased sources to only check one aspect of an application – both consumption (a measure of energy use) and force or output flow (measure of the result you need and pay for) is important.

The basics are really simple: quality of manufacture (even flow, material it’s made from and how it is treated, tolerance), and performance achieved from what you pay for (force or flow ratio against energy input).

September 12, 2022

IF NOTHING ELSE REDUCE THE NOISE!!!!!

IF NOTHING ELSE REDUCE THE NOISE !

One of the advantages of compressed air amplification technology in the form of air knives, air jets, annular flow air amplifiers, and engineered air nozzles that gets the most attention is energy saving.

Yet the safety aspect (dead end pressure OSHA standard) and lower noise levels tend to be relegated to a secondary position.

Insignificant energy savings in some applications may end up discounting the technology when in fact noise reduction can actually have a significant impact on the environment and employee productivity.

Noise pollution is an invisible danger that cannot be seen, but it is present nonetheless, both on land and under the sea, in the work environment, and outside of the factory.

Noise pollution is considered to be any unwanted or disturbing sound that affects the health and well-being of humans and other organisms.

The most common health problem it causes is Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) but exposure to loud noise can also cause high blood pressure, heart disease, sleep disturbances, and stress which can affect all age groups.

We measure and record noise levels in decibels, or dBA where the higher the noise level, the louder the noise.

You can listen to sounds at 70 dBA or lower for as long as you want but sounds at 85 dBA can lead to hearing loss if you listen to them for more than 8 hours at a time.

Sounds over 85 dBa can damage your hearing faster and the safe listening time is cut in half for every 3-dB rise in noise levels over 85 dBA.

That means if the sound goes up to 91 dBA, your safe listening time is down to only hours.

There are strict noise level rules in manufacturing operations around the world but once people leave work, many then often deliberately expose themselves to loud music, and have to also deal with environmental noise outside work over which there is often little control.

Compressed air amplification technology only reduces exhaust noise from compressed air but the technology is simple, low cost, and easy to implement.

Every little bit to reduce noise helps everyone.

September 5, 2022

WHY ARE NEX FLOW AIR KNIVES SO POPULAR?

WHY ARE NEX FLOW® AIR KNIVES SO POPULAR?

Sometimes it’s wise to reflect on success.

Nex Flow® X-Stream® Air Blade® air knives have had knockoffs by no less than three companies – a backhanded compliment to be sure.

But why the popularity of our design?

When we first introduced our design there was some pushback from competitors claiming high air consumption in comparison which was poorly described.

Two important factors in a properly designed compressed air operated air knife are noise and force/unit of compressed air consumed ie: lb-force/Scfm or gram/Slpm.

In confirmed tests against other designs, the force per energy use has been higher with the Nex Flow® designs.

In fact, often a Nex Flow® X-Stream® Air Blade® air knife can do at 60 PSIG supply pressure what a competitive unit does at 80 PSIG.

As it takes less energy to produce 60 PSIG than to produce 80 PSIG it’s actually more efficient.

Replacing competitive air knives has always been very easy with the vast number of replacements highly successful.

Another reason for this success is that all aluminum versions are anodized while other designs are not which really makes no engineering sense.

Nex Flow® even offers a hard anodized version of the X-Stream® Air Blade® air knife which provides better protection against wear and tear and is is easier to clean in oily atmospheres.

One would think that in a factory environment, that anodizing would be a basic requirement.

Nex Flow® also uses stainless steel shims to maintain the gap while many other designs use plastic that wears out much faster.

Feedback from customers has also indicated that our X-Stream® Air Blade® air knives are much quieter supporting their higher efficiency.

One significant customer did some comparative tests against other designs and found our air outlet flow across the length of the air knife to be more even, even over a wide range of inlet pressures – something difficult to achieve with an anodized product attesting to our high standard of quality (and one in which knock-offs have a great challenge to come close to match).

The Nex Flow® design is efficient, compact and sleek in design making it popular.

And yet, even with the high quality, the anodizing on aluminum versions, and stainless shim as a standard, Nex Flow® still offers a very competitive and often lower price than other designs.

New design improvements are pending for special industrial applications where it’s not just about even flow and high force/unit air consumption as Nex Flow® maintains an active R & D program and special partnerships.

Consultation for such special products is available.

August 29, 2022

Don’t Ignore the Small Stuff

Don’t Ignore the Small Stuff

One of the most ignored applications of compressed air used for blow-off is small tubing, sometimes crimped tubing or otherwise very small openings exhausting compressed air used for cleaning and/or drying.

A small number of these may not be too much of an energy cost, especially if the compressed air is cycled on and off.

However, when the numbers add up, it can translate into a significant energy cost which can be reduced if addressed.

It is understandable that many machine builders use this method as adding engineered nozzles adds to both material cost and assembly time.

And again, one or two machines with several open tubes may only be a small marginal added energy cost.

But when several machines are installed, each with multiple open blow-off openings, then the marginal energy cost can be significant.

Machine builders can offer significant value-added simply by offering engineered nozzles as an option, not only emphasizing energy savings but also reducing noise levels and better performance since properly designed engineered nozzles such as the Nex Flow® Air Mag® series produce a laminar flow over a long distance providing much more productive and effective cleaning and drying.

Safety is another benefit as dead-end pressure from engineered nozzles should meet OSHA and other international standards.

Any manufacturer with a large number of machines with open tubes used for blow-off can do a simple audit of the number of machines and count the number of compressed air blow-off outlets, noting the size, and total use time (actual total duration of blowing).

Even compressed air-operated blow guns used in production, if used extensively may benefit from such an audit.

Blow-guns in particular give added safety benefits using engineered nozzles, even using older versions such as the Nex Flow® Standard Air Nozzles.

As for some guidelines on when such an audit is justified, it varies on the extent of the compressed air use.

If the machines or blow guns are used extensively, once even ten compressed air outlets are involved, a quick audit may be justified but, if used rarely, 50 numbers or more may be an appropriate guideline.

There have been cases where adding engineered air nozzles have been added and negligible air savings have resulted because of losses elsewhere with factors that may overwhelm end-of-use applications.

Also, air nozzles, while they are air flow amplifiers, are also not as efficient in energy savings as compared to larger air flow amplifiers like air knives and annular air amplifiers.

This is also why it is important to have an understanding and expertise in end-of-use compressed air applications, a competency available at Nex Flow® to assist if needed in such an evaluation.

If assistance is required, online consultation is available at low cost – don’t ignore the small stuff.

August 22, 2022

APPLYING SPECIALTY PNEUMATICS AROUND THE WORLD

APPLYING SPECIALTY PNEUMATICS AROUND THE WORLD

Nex Flow® has worked on several unique projects around the globe, especially in Germany and Spain on the European continent and in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand in SE Asia which is also supported by our regional office in Thailand.

The internet has made it possible for other countries to tap into the knowledge and experience offered by the company on specialized pneumatics.

Before such communication technology existed, specialized pneumatics as offered by Nex Flow® was primarily centered in the countries where they originated.

Once the internet expanded, unique and niche products like ours could be found more expeditiously and while it was sometimes copied, usually poorly, the knowledge behind the technology which is based on years of experience in both manufacture and especially application is not always available and in fact even sometimes difficult to tap into.

This is evidenced by often poor support, especially outside the country of origin, the use of untrained representatives, and the focus primarily on sales instead of support.

Waiting too long for customer support is one thing, but when the main approach is to offer some small add-on for free that you do not even need, with a product you do need, or some “deal” as if you are in a department store, it is quite clear that the sale is the goal and not the service.

An evaluation of website content often gives a good idea on the company if it can truly provide support.

Is the content useful, educational, or even realistic?

Does the content address misconceptions or perpetuate them?

For example, are air amplification figures used truly real, and explained, and do you see statements that almost defy physics such as removing static at some great distance (without the context of an application) are clues that the focus is to sell and not problem solve, nor at least educate so you gain knowledge which might address a future problem.

One customer actually told us that their previous supplier from whom they switched advised them that Coanda angles on an air wipe could not be anodized (which they required) as then the product would not work but that is incorrect (Nex Flow® anodizes aluminum parts as it makes sense to do so, while not doing so makes zero engineering sense).

It only makes sense if you want to offer an inferior product at a high price.

Nex Flow® obviously needs to sell to survive as a company and we do, but we grow because we focus on problem-solving and educating.

That is what drives our growth and we are proud to mention it.

It shows in our content; in shows in being available, it shows with strong technical support; and it’s evidenced by our international reach and the many special projects we address.

Nex Flow® maintains a significant research and development program behind the scenes to keep improving the products and developing new ones.

This is also why we can offer competent consulting in our area of expertise.

August 15, 2022

Why Pneumatic Systems?

Why Pneumatic Systems?

Pneumatic systems have been criticized as loud and inefficient but remain popular and in fact, a growth industry.

Pneumatic tools are extremely reliable, lightweight, and often less problematic than electric power tools while providing a great deal of power in a relatively compact package.

Similarly, blower-operated blow-off systems are sometimes touted as energy efficient without the consideration of how noisy they can be, their large footprint, and often less effective force produced in addition to higher maintenance and capital cost because of intrinsically greater complexity in design.

There are numerous advantages to pneumatic technology and it is used all around us.

Dentistry utilizes tiny machines that use air pressure to clean your teeth and air conditioners and refrigerators have pneumatic devices in them that cool and preserve food and medicines.

Trains and buses have air brakes to use in case of an emergency.

Pneumatic systems are quite safe as they use nothing besides the air you breathe!

Some hydraulic fluids and certain types of lubricants are potentially dangerous, but pneumatic devices never require such hazardous compounds.

Pneumatics poses no risk of electrical shock since no electricity is moving through anything but the compressor itself.

Air is not flammable and air leaks will not negatively affect the outside environment.

Consider how hydraulics often use oil, which is flammable and combustible, and where one oil leak can create a giant fire hazard.

You can use compressed air technology in areas where you’re working with highly combustible materials and it’s also useful in places where conservation issues might be a concern.

For example, you may use pneumatic devices to clean up oil spills, and pressure-clean without worry.

Air is abundant and free, so you won’t have to pay to charge up your tank any more than what it costs you to run your compressor’s motor.

In most circumstances, pneumatic systems require very little cleaning compared to alternative power sources as pressurized air constantly forces dirt out of the system, so you won’t often experience much in the way of blockages although proper equipment should be in place.

If you do get blockages, you’ll usually be able to clear them fairly easily because pneumatic technology tends to be quite simple from an engineering standpoint.

It’s easy to take apart a pneumatic circuit when compared to other more complex technologies.

You generally don’t need to invest in as much physical material to set up a pneumatic system reducing initial startup costs and pneumatic parts are relatively inexpensive.

They do not need to be replaced as often as hydraulic or electronic system parts and are relatively easy to replace usually at a lower cost.

Troubleshooting pneumatic systems tends to be much less often than with alternatives.

Reliability is a major advantage with pneumatic systems.

If you’re in an area where short, intermittent power failures occur, your equipment will keep on functioning as long as you still have some compressed air stored in the system and you might not even realize that the power went out.

In most cases, pneumatic tools produce more power in a smaller and lighter package compared to other technologies.

This is true as well for blow-off and cooling products and despite the talk of blowers replacing compressed air, compressed air use has only increased over time.

Pneumatic equipment is ideal in situations where weight is at a premium because of this high power output for its size.

Noise pollution is a great concern in manufacturing for safety and productivity reasons and the technology exists to keep compressors quiet.

Where blow-off is used, engineered air nozzles, air knives, and other blow-off devices such as Nex Flow®’s Air Amplification technology keep noise levels low.

If you require assistance in deciding whether to use a pneumatic system or need to improve it or address it in some way, Nex Flow®’s consulting services can be of assistance.

August 8, 2022

Air Amplification Applied for Real Savings

Air Amplification Applied for Real Savings:

We and others have written about air amplification but often the figures provided, while they look impressive, is not always the real result when applied in the production environment.

You will see savings claimed as high as 90% using engineered air nozzles, amplifiers, jets, and air knives which are impressive but it really depends on what the initial situation was.

For example, you may have a situation where a pipe with drilled holes is used for a drying application and the pipe may have had many holes close together and therefore consuming a great amount of compressed air.

This may have been done because the part being dried was some distance away and drilled pipe will produce air for blow-off that is highly turbulent so much more will be required than if the part was close to the pipe, and this means that more energy will be required.

The advantage of air flow amplifiers such as air knives is the air flow produced remains laminar for a greater distance so if the initial situation had the “target” as much as 4 to 6 inches away, the savings can actually be as much as 90%.

However, if the target was very close to the pipe with drilled holes it is certainly feasible that there would be perhaps fewer holes, or less air pressure simply because it was close to the pipe, and using an air knife may only save as little as 10% which can still be significant but not close to 90%.

Airflow amplifiers become much more efficient for flow amplification as they get larger but, as they get larger you get less force produced per unit area.

Engineered air nozzles are the least efficient just because of size and we have written elsewhere on how even nozzles which look exactly the same on the outside can be significantly different in efficiency because of how they are designed on the inside.

Link 1: Factors to Consider when Selecting an Air Nozzle
Link 2: Why Does No One Pay Attention to Engineered Air Nozzles – Mostly!

There have actually been applications where engineered air nozzles have been installed with negligible savings either from misleading specifications or because the initial conditions were not properly considered.

If open pipe and jets have been used at a very low pressure, and then engineered air nozzles installed, there is actually the possibility that air consumption and energy cost can increase because of the way they work – converting pressure normally lost as pressure drop and noise into flow.

Even open pipe, and tubing and holes in drilled pipe entrain air as the air exists the opening except that the air develops turbulence right at the air exit and turbulent air does not have the energy, or velocity to work as any significant distance from the exit point.

Air amplification is qualitative as the further you are away from the exit the more you “entrain” and we estimate for engineering purposes that any air flow will have this downstream entrainment at approximately three times the air at the exit point.

So when you read a figure of 25 times air amplification, you need to realize that you are comparing against 3 times from an open tube, hole or pipe.

The real advantage of the engineered airflow amplifiers, nozzles, jets, air knives, etc. is that it is really 25 divided by 3 but it is still significant.

And of course it also depends again, on what situation you are replacing.

If the original air blow-off, say a pipe was operating at 80 PSIG and you add an engineered air nozzle, you can save up to about 40%.

But if that original pipe only used 30 PSIG (or maybe only “needed” to use 30 PSIG), then the savings may be only 10%.

You really need to use your initial reference point and reference pressure and flow conditions.

And this explains why in some applications, especially when air nozzles are involved, that results may be below expectations.

However, even when realizing all of the above, there are savings for the most part using engineered nozzles and other airflow amplifiers but also recognize the other key advantages they offer which is intrinsic safety (meet OSHA standards for dead end pressure), reduced noise levels (because they do convert energy lost as noise and pressure drop) into useful flow, and that the airflow is laminar allowing its energy to be more useful at a greater distance from the blow-off to the target.

This laminar flow is especially useful for cooling as the high velocity amplified laminar flow cuts through a heat boundary layer to accelerate cooling and annular airflow amplifiers are particularly useful for such cooling applications: Read more

In summary, when viewing an “Air Amplification value”, recognize from where that figure is supposedly measured and that it is a qualitative value as air density and temperature can have that figure vary.

What is most important is to compare the initial conditions you have for a blow-off application to recognize how the technology can be useful.

It may not even be air savings as much as improving safety in use and noise levels and improving performance because of the laminar flow.

When considering the use of airflow amplification, Nex Flow® offers online consultation to assist in sorting through the particular conditions in your operation and direct you to the most productivity-improving solution.

August 1, 2022

Engineered Air Nozzles and Pressure Drop and Importance Especially when Replacing Air Nozzles

Engineered Air Nozzles and Pressure Drop and Importance Especially when Replacing Air Nozzles:

The pressure drop effect and the application of air nozzles is an area that is very much misunderstood.

Even the use of open tubes and pipe for blow-off is affected by pressure drop.

Pressure drop is a term used to characterize the reduction in air pressure from the compressor discharge to the actual point of use.

Pressure drop occurs as the compressed air travels through the treatment and distribution system.

Excess pressure drop is caused by undersized piping for the lengths and bends used, devices in the distribution system from connectors, measuring devices, filters, regulators, etc.

Even the last twelve inches can be important when applying blow-off products, especially for engineered air nozzles.

For example, if you take any two different brands of compressed air-operated engineered air nozzles of the same size, that may even look the same on the outside, can perform differently in an application.

When choosing the appropriate air nozzle, the primary figure one normally uses is the force at 80 PSIG (or 5 bar in Europe) and for our example, let’s assume both have the same force at 80 PSIG.

But the other figure often not considered adequately is the air consumption (SCFM) or SLPM at the specified pressure.

Engineered air nozzles are not inexpensive so a lower-cost nozzle is chosen over the original higher-cost air nozzle if the air consumption difference is negligible, even by 1 or 2 SCFM at the specified pressure.

Lower-cost air nozzles usually use more air (and energy) as they are easier and less costly to produce, but not all lower-cost nozzles are inefficient either when from a fair-priced supplier.

What is important is to check both the force produced at a given pressure AND the air consumption at the pressure.

The reason is this: The actual pressure into the nozzle depends on the pressure drop, even from the last 12” of pipe or tubing to the nozzle, and the actual force can go down from the specified figure if the real pressure entering the nozzle is only 79 PSIG.

If you replace that air nozzle with one that uses even 1 SCFM more, the actual pressure can be significantly lower, perhaps to 78 PSIG or less which translates into less force, and then the force may not be adequate for the application at hand.

This is actually a good reason to replace any nozzles that may be worn, or dirty with the same brand and model and this is usually the case.

However, before replacing, if a replacement make or model that uses the same (or more) force at their published pressure has the SAME SCFM or LESS than the original make and model, then it will work and if the force is too high, a regulator can cut back the flow and save more energy.

With this approach, rather than just replacing an old nozzle with a new one of the same make, there is an opportunity to actually reduce energy by paying attention to even the slight difference in SCFM against the same specified force at specified pressure.

A video elaborating on this further is available:

Compressed air is invisible so it is not something that is always on top of one’s mind but how it is distributed and used should have more attention as it can significantly impact overall energy cost.

For this reason, Nex Flow® offers compressed air consultation especially to address issues such as pressure drops for point-of-use applications.

July 25, 2022

Problems caused by Moisture in Compressed Air Lines & Processes

Problems caused by Moisture in Compressed Air Lines & Processes: 

When compressed air is produced there is always moisture created in the pressured air which then goes through various processes for removal.

First, the compressed air leaves the compressor and enters an air receiver where it can sit and cool.

As the compressed air in the tank cools, additional moisture condenses out, so it is imperative that the condensed liquid is removed from the tank.

Then the compressed air enters the piping system, usually through an air drier that further removes the moisture.

Depending on the type of drier the final compressed air has a certain dew point (the temperature at which the air at pressure will further condense liquid) and this dew point will be determined by the types of drier used.

Due to leaks and the possible entrainment of atmospheric air into the delivery system and from other factors, moisture can still enter the compressed air system prior to the delivery to the final point of use, which may require a point of use drier such as the point of use drier system offered by Nex Flow®.

Moisture in compressed air is undesirable for several reasons:

Corrosion: Water in compressor lines will wash away machinery lubricants and speed up the rate at which metal parts rust leading to a higher maintenance cost as compressor parts will require earlier than usual replacement.

Pneumatic Control Damage: Various industrial processes incorporate pneumatic control systems that regulate critical production equipment. Moisture can lead to malfunction and damage and costly downtime.

This is why instrument air typically has compressed air supplied at a very low dew point.

Plant Air Contamination: Most industrial manufacturing processes require moisture-free, compressed air. The onset of corrosion caused by moisture can clog the circulating compressed air lines and reduce process efficiency with excess pressure drop and also due to leaks caused by corrosion.

Suspended water vapor can also shorten the life of sensitive equipment that may be costly both in capital/replacement cost and downtime.

Cylinder and Valve Damage: Condensation in a compressed air receiver, when not drained properly will carry into the delivery system accumulated debris that will coalesce with other solid impurities like dirt and oils and damage the manufacturing processes.

These mixtures coat and reduce the inside diameter of the delivery lines and dry the lubrication on machinery parts slowing down production speeds.

Such compressed air contamination can also damage rubber components of equipment valves causing them to stiffen or even rupture.

Quality of Finished Products: In the food and pharmaceutical industry regulations are quite strict on the need for quality, dry compressed air.

Moisture impurities from the compressed air entering packed food or medical items cause a significant alteration in the quality and shelf life of the finished products.

Get the Water Out! – Even when factories use moisture traps, filters, and driers they may still have issues for various reasons related to design, and choice of equipment, and they may not be aware of modern solutions available.

Nex Flow® offers its consulting services to help address these issues for a reasonable cost especially when related to a specific point-of-use process to keep the assistance to a reasonable cost with timely answers.

July 18, 2022

ASSURING COOLING CAPACITY PERFORMANCE WHEN SELECTING ENCLOSURE AIR CONDITIONERS VS VORTEX COOLERS

ASSURING COOLING CAPACITY PERFORMANCE WHEN SELECTING ENCLOSURE AIR CONDITIONERS VS VORTEX COOLERS:

When selecting a traditional electrical or electronic enclosure air conditioner, the ambient temperature has a significant impact on the cooling capacity performance.

As the ambient temperature increases, any refrigerant-operated air conditioner’s BTU/hr capacity decreases.

The extent of the effect depends upon the design characteristics of the unit, the choice of refrigerant, the compressor design, and the type of expansion device used as well as on the climatic and environmental conditions at the site plus any other special requirements that may exist.

For vortex coolers (compressed air operated vortex tube-driven air conditioners like the Nex Flow® Panel Coolers the BTU/hr capacity is solely dependent on the temperature of the compressed air and the percentage of the input air that is cooled by the vortex action and which enters the control panel.

As a first step, determine the maximum desired enclosure temperature taking into account the thermal sensitivity of the components inside the enclosure.

It’s wise to adopt a conservative approach to ensure that electronic equipment such as PLCs and variable speed drives don’t exceed their design temperatures.

Then, calculate the heat load using one or more of various heat load calculators available such as the Nex Flow® Cabinet Cooling Calculator.

Different calculations may have slightly different approaches and may give varying answers depending on the factors considered but all are generally adequate for engineering purposes.

The ambient temperature at which a traditional refrigerant-operated air conditioner’s nominal capacity is calculated is generally 105º F(41º C) but the ambient temperature around an electrical enclosure could be much higher so it’s necessary to understand the effect temperature has on the performance and capacity of the unit.

For example, the actual capacity of a refrigerant-operated air conditioner at 125º F (52º C) may be less than half its capacity at 85º F (29º C) so it is important in selecting an enclosure air conditioner, to refer to the manufacturer’s specifications to establish the cooling capacity under actual operating conditions.

For vortex tube-operated air conditioners, the ambient is not important but the compressed air temperature is.

Nominal capacity ratings for a vortex tube air conditioner are usually based on a compressed air temperature of around 70 degrees F. (21 degrees C.) and inside heat of 105º F (41º C).

If the compressed is very hot, although rare, the nominal rating should be de-rated by 20% for temperatures between 90º F (32º C) to 100º F (38 C) and by 30% for temperatures above100F (38º C).

All refrigerant-operated air conditioners have an expansion device used to control the expansion of the refrigerant liquid into the evaporator with the simplest device being a capillary tube which is ideal if used when limited temperature changes occur such as would be expected with a refrigerator.

This is not well suited to the wide variations in temperature expected of an enclosure air conditioner as the performance loss of a capillary tube between 80º F (27º C) and 131º F (55º C) is as much as 85 %.

If the ambient in which a vortex-tube operated air conditioner is very high, there may be some adjustments made internally to the device to make it more efficient to perform the necessary cooling and to ensure any components can withstand very high temperatures.

For example, Nex Flow® has high-temperature Panel Coolers to operate in ambient temperatures of 150 F to 200 F with slight changes in internal components and settings to handle the presumably higher compressed air temperatures at a minimal extra cost.

For panel cooling with refrigerant-type air conditioners, a thermal expansion valve is better suited to adapt to temperature and load changes and maintain an adequate supply of refrigerant to the evaporator and is twice as efficient as a capillary tube and therefore a much better solution for an enclosure air conditioner, providing better performance over a wider temperature range.

A vortex-tube-operated air conditioner, however, does not have nor require such an expansion device as there are no refrigerants used.

Air performance curves for refrigerant-operated air conditioners should be carefully examined and not just accept the nominal rating because of the major effect the ambient temperature may have.

Since vortex-operated air conditioner performance does not depend on the ambient temperature and only on the temperature of the compressed air, performance curves are not necessary and a cursory examination of the compressed temperature is adequate as well as knowing the maximum ambient.

It is not unusual to have higher nominal capacity refrigerant-operated air conditioners replaced by lower nominal capacity vortex-tube-operated units in extreme ambient and factory environment conditions as many are because of their simplicity, near-zero maintenance and performance not being affected by ambient temperatures.

Refrigerant-operated air conditioners are significantly more vulnerable to problems leading to a shutdown in extreme and difficult environments where the vortex coolers are far better suited.

Refrigerant-operated air conditioner suppliers offer wide variations in the amount of information supplied on their different models, and sometimes that makes it difficult to assess all the factors that need to be considered and applied at high ambient temperatures, so it is very important to verify the unit’s cooling capacity performance at all times and temperature range.

For vortex-tube operated air conditioners, however, the compressed air temperature is typically all that is required to verify whether the design has to be altered.

July 11, 2022

Compressed Air Guidelines for General Use

Compressed Air Guidelines for General Use:

Here are some general guidelines for quickly estimating certain things with compressed air that are quite useful, especially when evaluating the use of compressed air for applications.

For example, when using compressed air in production, the energy cost is important in relation to the value it provides for production output.

Energy use: For every horsepower, a compressor delivers 4-5 SCFM (standard cubic feet of air) at 100 psi pressure. This varies due to the actual pressure range in which the compressor operates as well as the type of compressor, so using 1 HP = 4 SCFM is a good figure for most engineering application purposes.

Energy Cost: Energy costs can vary greatly and with the advent of sophisticated monitoring systems it can be estimated quite accurately.

But for general engineering calculations, an estimate of $0.30 USD per 1000 cubic feet is a reasonable value to use in 2022 in western countries but a bit more in Europe.

Blowoff and Cooling: In considering compressed air for blow-off and cooling, compressed air energy use will be 10 times the use of alternate technologies for the most part UNLESS the compressed air is used at a lower pressure than 100 PSIG and/or the compressed air use is intermittent.

For every 10 PSIG reduction from 100 PSIG in the pressure set at the air compressor, a 5% savings in energy is realized.

Compressed air has the advantage of being “stored” and can be used only when needed “on-demand.”

So, if it’s used 30% less often (on-off) the cost is only 7 times more, not 10.

Even if it’s still more energy used, that cost needs to be compared to the cost of the equipment for alternatives (usually much higher in value and has a depreciation cost) and often there is a significant added maintenance cost using alternatives to compressed air.

These costs can match and even outweigh the compressed air energy cost.

The other factor you need to consider is the rate of production such that, if compressed air increases production output and therefore productivity, it needs to be quantified, and usually the higher the value of the end product, the more advantageous it is to use compressed air.

Water generated by the air compressor: For every horsepower, a compressor generates approximately 1 USgallon of water maximum for a 24-hour period of continuous operation but ultimately depends mainly on the relative humidity and temperature of the ambient air.

Aftercoolers, driers, and drains are then used to collect and dispose of this water.

Sizing of Air receivers: A big air receiver helps to keep the compressed air system stable and acts as a buffer for sudden air consumption spikes.

But as a minimum, air receivers should be at least 4 USgallons capacity for every SCFM of compressor capacity.

However, the larger the air receiver, the less often the air compressor has to start and stop, which is better for their life and maintenance cycle so going larger is advisable and is a very minimal extra cost.

A larger air receiver helps to remove oil and water from the compressed air as you will get a greater buildup of condensation in the receiver (which is then removed with an auto drain).

Pressure drop cost: Pressure drop is something that is often ignored in compressed air systems yet can often be easily corrected by changing line/hose sizes and using properly sized connections.

Pressure drop is created by resistance in the system between the compressor and the compressed air-operated device.

It means we have less pressure at the point of air consumption.

Less pressure at the point of use reduces the device effectiveness.

Too often companies then set a higher pressure at the compressor to account for the pressure drop which then uses more energy.

As a rule of thumb, a 2 psi pressure drop costs 1% more in extra energy required to maintain the pressure needed at the point of use.

Take care of the oil in your air compressor like the oil in your car: Oil in rotary screw compressors especially will degrade faster when the air compressor runs at high temperatures.

Generally, for every 18 °F above 200 °F, the compressor oil life is reduced by 50%. So if your compressor runs hot, you need to change the oil more often to maintain optimum performance.

These simple guidelines can assist in planning projects that can use compressed air and also make your system run more efficiently.

Compressed air online consultation services are available from Nex Flow® if required either for a short call to address immediate requirements on project bases.

July 4, 2022

WHY VORTEX TUBE PANEL COOLING OR CABINET COOLING SYSTEMS BECOME MORE IMPORTANT OVER TIME

WHY VORTEX TUBE PANEL COOLING OR CABINET COOLING SYSTEMS BECOME MORE IMPORTANT OVER TIME:

Vortex-tube-based cooling systems for electrical and electronic enclosures have been used to correct problems associated with overheated control systems for decades.

Cabinet enclosure coolers provide advantages for everyone involved in the purchasing cycle — engineers, maintenance, and purchasing. Using clean compressed air along with a point-of-use water/dirt filter separator, vortex-tube coolers provide a long-lasting cooling alternative.

Vortex tubes, are the core operating system of these coolers and use compressed air to create and provide cold air into an enclosure.

Engineers benefit from the materials, cooling capacities, installation options, and minimal space requirement that is offered by vortex-tube cabinet cooling systems.

The best value providers, which include Nex Flow®, supply the coolers in 304 and 316 stainless steel.

In addition, proper electrical certifications such as UL, ULC, and others internationally, are provided by reputable manufacturers.

Nex Flow® in particular offers these Panel Cooling Systems in three (3) tested and certified NEMA type classifications:

  • Dust-tight, oil-tight Panel Coolers rated to NEMA 12 (IP54) for general industrial environments.
  • Dust-tight, oil-tight, and outdoor rated Panel Coolers rated to NEMA 3R (IP14) for outdoor use in all types of weather conditions.
  • NEMA 4-4X (IP66) for dust-tight, oil-tight and splash-resistant cabinet cooling applications for both indoor/outdoor service and especially for food service.

All Nex Flow® Panel Coolers are made in stainless steel for corrosive environments.

Cooling Capacities

Selecting the right cooling capacity is an important factor in maintaining the efficiency of the plant and the efficient operation of a cabinet cooling system. Vortex-tube cabinet cooling systems come in a range of cooling capacities up to 2900 BTU/hr per cooling unit and two or more can be used when more cooling capacity is needed.

Nex Flow® has made it easy to assess the size and number of the units needed with their Cabinet Cooling Calculator.

Vortex-tube-based cabinet cooling systems give installation flexibility in circumstances where space is limited and location difficult to reach for service due to their compact design.

When dealing with high temperature, remote or dirty locations, a vortex-tube cooler is ideal and can handle ambient temperatures up to 200°F (93°C) with little to no maintenance, and are not affected by the surrounding environment because its performance is based only on the temperature of the compressed air source.

Maintenance and plant personnel will find it simple and easy to install a system in only one hour or less, and not the many hours involved in installing coolant-based air conditioners.

Servicing is minimal if any as no air intake filters to change, no coolant levels to check, and no leak checks because no coolant is involved.

Vortex-tube cooling systems create a positive purge inside the panel when they are in operation to keep out dirt and dust from the surrounding environment.

Some manufacturers like Nex Flow® with their optional bypass system offer vortex-tube coolers that provide a continuous positive purge, allowing a small amount of air to enter the cabinet even while the cooler is not providing cold air into the cabinet enclosure.

Purchasing will like the low-cost alternative to traditional air conditioners that vortex-tube coolers provide.

Panel Coolers, or Cabinet Enclosure Coolers offer flexibility, durability, low maintenance, and low cost to make them a viable choice in many situations when considering cooling options, especially in a crises situation when installation must be quick, or when space is an issue and especially when a very dirty and/or humid factory environment is the norm that can cause premature damage or failure to control panels.

July 4, 2022

WHY VORTEX TUBE PANEL COOLING OR CABINET COOLING SYSTEMS BECOME MORE IMPORTANT OVER TIME

WHY VORTEX TUBE PANEL COOLING OR CABINET COOLING SYSTEMS BECOME MORE IMPORTANT OVER TIME:

Vortex-tube-based cooling systems for electrical and electronic enclosures have been used to correct problems associated with overheated control systems for decades.

Cabinet enclosure coolers provide advantages for everyone involved in the purchasing cycle — engineers, maintenance, and purchasing. Using clean compressed air along with a point-of-use water/dirt filter separator, vortex-tube coolers provide a long-lasting cooling alternative.

Vortex tubes, are the core operating system of these coolers and use compressed air to create and provide cold air into an enclosure.

Engineers benefit from the materials, cooling capacities, installation options, and minimal space requirement that is offered by vortex-tube cabinet cooling systems.

The best value providers, which include Nex Flow®, supply the coolers in 304 and 316 stainless steel.

In addition, proper electrical certifications such as UL, ULC, and others internationally, are provided by reputable manufacturers.

Nex Flow® in particular offers these Panel Cooling Systems in three (3) tested and certified NEMA type classifications:

  • Dust-tight, oil-tight Panel Coolers rated to NEMA 12 (IP54) for general industrial environments.
  • Dust-tight, oil-tight, and outdoor rated Panel Coolers rated to NEMA 3R (IP14) for outdoor use in all types of weather conditions.
  • NEMA 4-4X (IP66) for dust-tight, oil-tight and splash-resistant cabinet cooling applications for both indoor/outdoor service and especially for food service.

All Nex Flow® Panel Coolers are made in stainless steel for corrosive environments.

Cooling Capacities

Selecting the right cooling capacity is an important factor in maintaining the efficiency of the plant and the efficient operation of a cabinet cooling system. Vortex-tube cabinet cooling systems come in a range of cooling capacities up to 2900 BTU/hr per cooling unit and two or more can be used when more cooling capacity is needed.

Nex Flow® has made it easy to assess the size and number of the units needed with their Cabinet Cooling Calculator.

Vortex-tube-based cabinet cooling systems give installation flexibility in circumstances where space is limited and location difficult to reach for service due to their compact design.

When dealing with high temperature, remote or dirty locations, a vortex-tube cooler is ideal and can handle ambient temperatures up to 200°F (93°C) with little to no maintenance, and are not affected by the surrounding environment because its performance is based only on the temperature of the compressed air source.

Maintenance and plant personnel will find it simple and easy to install a system in only one hour or less, and not the many hours involved in installing coolant-based air conditioners.

Servicing is minimal if any as no air intake filters to change, no coolant levels to check, and no leak checks because no coolant is involved.

Vortex-tube cooling systems create a positive purge inside the panel when they are in operation to keep out dirt and dust from the surrounding environment.

Some manufacturers like Nex Flow® with their optional bypass system offer vortex-tube coolers that provide a continuous positive purge, allowing a small amount of air to enter the cabinet even while the cooler is not providing cold air into the cabinet enclosure.

Purchasing will like the low-cost alternative to traditional air conditioners that vortex-tube coolers provide.

Panel Coolers, or Cabinet Enclosure Coolers offer flexibility, durability, low maintenance, and low cost to make them a viable choice in many situations when considering cooling options, especially in a crises situation when installation must be quick, or when space is an issue and especially when a very dirty and/or humid factory environment is the norm that can cause premature damage or failure to control panels.

June 27, 2022

COOLING CASTINGS QUICKLY AND EVEN FURNACE WALLS

COOLING CASTINGS QUICKLY AND EVEN FURNACE WALLS:

Today is an environment of shortages and supply chain problems and anything that can assist in increasing output is welcome.

The casting of materials, whether it’s iron, steel, brass, or any other material, even “candy”, is necessary due to its nature and is ideal for many complex shapes.

Many times “casting” provides for a final product of lower manufactured cost.

But they need to be cooled.

And just natural air cooling can be time-consuming in the production process.

The Nex Flow® Fixed X-Stream® Air Amplifier has been used many times for cooling castings.

These units themselves are a cast zinc-aluminum alloy designed to withstand the harsh environment where it is used.

The amplified laminar flow blowing onto the casting itself or sometimes the container of the casting cuts through any boundary layer caused by the heat of the “hot” material and takes away the heat quickly using the wind chill effect from the high-velocity airflow.

Even smaller cast items on a conveyor can be cooled quickly under a series of amplifiers blowing onto the part as it passes under the units allowing them to be handled more easily or moved to the next stage of the manufacturing process.

The molds or containers that contain the casting may be cooled and some designs use water which, in some cases can be a hazard due to the high temperatures involved.

Cooling with vortex tubes has resulted in positive results for very small molds and is an area being explored.

Another cooling application is on furnace walls in casting (and other) operations.

In order to do maintenance on these furnaces, they need to be cooled down and if very large, can take days to cool down if left to cool with only open air.

There was one significant application at a major steel plant when several large Nex Flow® Fixed X-Stream® Air Amplifiers were used to cool down the interior of a large furnace.

This reduced downtime by one day, which in that industry saved a significant amount of downtime and production income.

If you are producing a part that needs to be cooled during manufacturing, it would be appropriate to review the current cooling method, if any, and its effectiveness to determine if alternate methods like the air amplifier or vortex tube technology can improve productivity and output.

June 20, 2022

Worried about Point of Use Dew Point ?

Worried about Point of Use Dew Point?

Whether you have an existing central air drier or not with your compressed air system, even if you have filtration, and still have water going into your compressed air operated device, you likely have a dew point problem.

Dew point is the temperature at which water vapor in your compressed air is no longer vapor, and condenses to a liquid form. As your compressor is compressing air, the stored air can become very warm, meaning that it contains a lot of water vapor. As the air cools down, that vapor will turn to condensation. You can have free-flowing water in your air delivery system if enough condensation forms. Having water in your compressed air is never a good thing, but depending on the application, it can become catastrophic.

Condensation typically ruins compressed air for most applications, so it is important to make sure you monitor your unit’s dew point as it is in operation.

In order to monitor your compressor’s dew point and keep the air dry, an air dryer is often used. They can be integrated (built-in) to the compressor, or they can be standalone units. Air dryers will lower the dew point of your compressed air, making it more difficult for the air to condense vapor into water. This keeps your air dry and your piping system free of any moisture and potential for bacteria.

However, leaks, environmental factors, and the age of the existing system can create a situation where even with a dryer, there is a possibility of moisture getting into a system. Compressed air under pressure that has been dried to a very low dew point will actually absorb moisture that can get into the compressed air delivery piping so that the dew point may actually go up by the time it reaches the point of use.

This is not always a problem as the dew point may still be below the temperature at which moisture may appear but not always. In using compressed air for “breathing”, or for plastic drying it can be a problem if the dew point rises beyond a certain level during compressed air transmission to the point of use.

Another example is where the compressed air is further cooled near the point of use with a cooling device such as a heat exchanger or a vortex tube where the compressed air is further cooled and falls below the dew point, causing moisture to form in the system. This can even lead to some ice particles forming in the very cold zone affecting the equipment performance.

There are some filter suppliers claiming that driers can be replaced with filters but that is simply not the case. Filters can and do remove moisture it “sees” but it does NOT reduce dew point.

A simple solution to bring the dew point to an acceptable level for the particular application is to use a low-cost in-line point-of-use dryer designed specifically for the point-of-use installation.

Nex Flow® offers these Super Dry dew point lowering systems which would be placed after the filtration system prior to the tool that requires the lower dew point.

In this way, the filters will remove the particulate and loose moisture while the drier will reduce the dew point to a manageable level before the compressed air enters the air-consuming device.

If even loose moisture and particulate is a problem, then the Nex Flow® Super Separator can be installed before any existing membrane filters and prior to the point of use drier.

Moisture from your compressed air supply onto your product not only can be detrimental to the product, but also to the equipment used prior to the product.

If assistance is required to address a serious moisture problem at the point of use, Nex Flow®’s consulting service is also available.

June 13, 2022

Better Ways to Deal with Deep Hole/Blind Hole Drilling

Better Ways to Deal with Deep Hole/Blind Hole Drilling:

A blind hole refers to a hole that is reamed, drilled, or milled to a specified depth without breaking through to the other side of the workpiece.

The etymology is that it is not possible to see through a blind hole.

Drilling a small diameter, deep hole, or what is called a blind hole, can be both difficult and messy.

First, when drilling to any depth some lubrication is necessary to prevent the tool from binding, breaking, or just producing a poor quality result.

Second, heat can be generated especially when drilling very hard materials that can slow the operation and cause further quality issues.

Third, once the hole is made, cutting fluid, or particulate from the operation can be left inside the hole that must be removed which can be messy and even dangerous unless it is done carefully.

Two technologies unique to Nex Flow® have been developed to address these three issues:

The Mist Cooler is a patented design by Nex Flow® that uses vortex tube technology to cool the cutting fluid to around 5 degrees C. and is applied to the cutting tool as a cold mist to aid in lubrication and assist in the machining process.

Because the fluid is cooled, as much as 20% less is required therefore reducing the impact on the work environment, and even reducing fluid cost.

The Blind Hole Cleaner is a specially designed system by Nex Flow® to be able to clean a blind hole with a diameter of up to 1 inch and a depth of up to 27 inches.

The key feature of the design is that the work area is cleaned without a mess.

The hole is completely covered while the force of compressed air blows the particulate and waste liquid up and out of the blind hole, collecting it in a collection bag (in the case of the manual unit) or is collected and conveyed with the semi-automatic (non-manual) system which can be integrated with machine automation.

This keeps the environment clean with no mess on the workpiece and enhances the safety of cleaning by keeping the waste contained while removed.

By eliminating the post-hole waste removal workplace cleanup, production time is also improved.

Both products are relatively low in cost with rapid payback in time, efficiency and environmental improvement.

June 6, 2022

Reasons why you should use Nex Flow®’s products for blowing or cooling with compressed air!

Reasons why you should use Nex Flow®’s products for blowing or cooling with compressed air!

Nex Flow® Air Products Corp. has one of the most advanced designs for compressed air blow-off applications.

Nex Flow® engineered air nozzles alone can reduce sound levels as much as 50% and compressed air energy by up to 40% (and even more with air knives and airflow amplifiers) when compared to an open pipe or tube.

In addition, they are designed to operate and meet OSHA safety standards for dead-end pressure greatly minimizing the chance for personal injury.

Nex Flow®’s technology reduces turbulence to create a more uniform, smooth, and laminar flow of air which also allows for the device to be more effective at a greater distance from the exit of the blow-off product.

1. Reduced noise level from Superior Design

Blowing with compressed air can generate high sound levels, which can harm operators.

Nex Flow®’s compressed air-operated blow guns, air nozzles, air knives, and other blow-off devices are designed to reduce sound levels when blowing with compressed air.

The products reduce turbulence, which enables a reduction in noise levels.

Nex Flow® has designed all of its blow-off products to be at least equal to, or superior in performance to competitive products and this performance assists to lower noise levels.

As an example, the patented Air Mag® series of air nozzles are made to perform with laminar flow to greater distance than competitive models of similar design and significantly reduce air exhaust noise levels.

2. Enhanced Safety Reduces Occupational Injuries

Nex Flow®’s air nozzles have a special design that prevents the nozzle orifice from being blocked by the operator and keeps dead-end pressure under 30 PSIG.

In many blow off applications larger devices such as air knives, and air-flow amplifiers, are even superior to air nozzles in their efficiency, providing even greater noise reduction and safety.

If the exiting air pressure is greater than 30 PSIG, the compressed air can penetrate the operator’s skin leading to serious injuries such as air embolisms and cerebral hemorrhage.

Nex Flow®’s technology minimizes the risk of this type of injury and meets strict government safety requirements in advanced countries around the world.

3. Significant Reduction in Energy Consumption

Turbulence wastes energy, so to reduce energy consumption, it’s important to reduce the turbulence that occurs when blowing with compressed air.

Nex Flow®’s technology increases air entrainment in their blow-off products, which means the compressed air draws the surrounding air with it, converting energy normally lost as noise and pressure drop into useful kinetic energy to address most cleaning, drying, and cooling applications.

With this approach, the same useful energy required for a specific application can be provided with much less energy input, with the added benefit of enhanced safety and lower noise levels.

Summary

Wherever open tubes, open-ended pipe, or even drilled pipe is used with compressed air for blow-off or cooling, engineered air nozzles and other blow-off devices can provide tremendous benefit with minimal investment and often with a rapid return on investment in under a year and in many cases, in a few weeks.

May 30, 2022

CLIMATE vs ENERGY COSTS – WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE AT THE FACTORY LEVEL?

CLIMATE vs ENERGY COSTS – WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE AT THE FACTORY LEVEL?

It’s quite a quandary when we want a sustainable climate but also crave the energy required to maintain at least a stable lifestyle.

Wars, pandemics, geopolitics, and culture are constantly affecting the nature, speed, and direction of events but two things remain certain – love or hate it –

  1. Energy costs are going to be high and will remain important in decisions made
  2. The direction to clean up, create and maintain a sustainable healthy environment, whether local or international, will continue.

It’s hard to argue against fresh air if all the cars on the road do not emit fumes.

It’s also hard to argue against a cleaner, safer factory environment, and in fact, it’s demanded.

Compressed air as an energy source receives a great deal of attention as a high-cost source of energy but its use has actually grown and continues to do so for two reasons.

  1. Its relatively clean AND relatively safe – it’s the air you breathe.
  2. When used, virtually any compressed air-operated product from a pneumatic cylinder, air tool, air knife, air nozzle, vortex tube, or vortex cooler is relatively low cost, lightweight, compact, rugged, zero or near-zero maintenance, with long life.

When these factors are considered compressed air becomes significantly more of an advantage.

With the possibility of rising equipment costs, even delivery and availability become issues due to supply chain problems, and lack of qualified labor.

The compressed air-operated devices transform into a more secure source of production equipment.

The only evidence you need is one occurrence of a singular, broken blower motor shutting down a production line.

Compressed air-operated factories tend to have backup compressors that are a central supply of energy for the entire plant and therefore more secure than a separate, high equipment cost energy source per production line that may not have a backup.

Vortex Tube technology has long been utilized in packaged form as in cabinet enclosure coolers like the Nex Flow® Frigid-X® Panel Cooler.

Despite their use of compressed air, these devices air condition electrical and electronic control panels with virtually no maintenance cost, and no need for replaceable filters (which require costly labor as well as filter disposal and replacement cost).

New refrigerants that are required in traditional air conditioners are becoming ever more costly (as well as the upgrades to air conditioners themselves to handle the more aggressive, but more environmentally friendly refrigerants).

Most of these new refrigerants are also more flammable requiring more costly redesign of air conditioners.

Vortex coolers do not have these issues and use no refrigerants – only the “air you breathe”.

Engineered air nozzles, air knives, and other blow-off products can also be used for cooling as well as cleaning and drying.

Compressed air-operated units again are compact, generally less costly, and often more effective than alternate energy methods.

With problematic supply chain and labor issues, these devices are usually more available, typically less costly, and a lot less work and worry than alternate energy methods.

Compressed air is also an energy source that is “storable”.

That means it’s only consumed as needed and proper controls can optimize the energy use in any of these devices and can often keep real energy use surprisingly low.

Nex Flow®’s consultation service addresses these point of use issues and the company has provided special controls to optimize point of use applications of compressed air.

Compressed air can be an economic, climate-improving technology when applied properly.

May 23, 2022

WATER AND DEBRIS IN COMPRESSED AIR LINES IS A VERY BAD THING!!!!!

WATER AND DEBRIS IN COMPRESSED AIR LINES IS A VERY BAD THING! :

Every so often we receive pictures or even items that have been in service for a couple of years and they are very dirty and even damaged.

Examples have been vortex tube operated devices such as panel coolers that have stopped working because they were gummed up with sticky oil and dirt.

Air Knives and air amplifiers have stopped working properly with uneven airflow due to debris clogging up the parts of the air exit gaps, and even damaging shims that maintain these gaps. All this is due to oil, dirt, and debris in the compressed air lines.

A great deal is written about the necessity for keeping compressed air delivery lines clean and dry as much as possible but over time it will still simply deteriorate.

Because of this, it is very important to have point of use filtration.

Compressed air filter suppliers sometime have to deal with conditions that are so bad that typical membrane filters cannot address very well because the lines are in such bad condition, that traditional filters with replaceable cartridges do not hold up well or long enough, allowing dirt, oil, and debris into the item that uses the compressed air whether it’s an air tool or an air knife or vortex tube.

This has led to the development of point-of-use separators such as the Nex Flow® Super Separator which uses a multi-chamber spinning system to remove 99.99% oil and water and debris.

Such units remove most of the damaging material but even the most costly cannot guarantee a maximum micron size smaller than 1 micron so oil mist for example can still get through.

So it is still necessary for most applications to retain a membrane or cartridge filter to address micron size but it will increase that filter life dramatically with most of the problems being corrected by the separator.

The best example we experienced was a large paint facility with severe water problems in the system that the Nex Flow® Super Separator corrected.

These units are ideal to address any compressed air system with endemic water and dirt issues, especially if traditional filter maintenance cost is high due to high levels of cartridge and/or filter replacement.

If there are water and dirt issues in the device using the compressed air, whether it’s an air tool, pneumatic machine, air nozzle, or anything else that uses compressed air, and especially if the compressed air is used on the product being manufactured, then a product like the Nex Flow® Super Separator should be seriously considered!

May 16, 2022

WATER OR COMPRESSED AIR FOR CLEANING

WATER OR COMPRESSED AIR FOR CLEANING:

Both water and compressed air have, and are, used for cleaning and it’s a choice that is sometimes difficult to make.

In choosing the process these things should be considered:

  • Extent of cleaning necessary
  • Is sterilization required
  • Cost and availability of compressed air
  • Cost and availability of water
  • Rate of output

Water can be used to wash and clean very thoroughly but it costs to acquire it, possibly heat it, assure the water itself is clean, and then the cost of disposal.

Water cleans much slower if used to clean the inside of a container as it needs to be filled, and then emptied slowing production.

Hot water can also be used for sterilization which may be required for some products made.

By its nature compressed air in many cases can allow for faster production output, especially when used to clean the inside of a container.

However, compressed air will not sterilize and not get the cleanliness that water can provide without some careful use.

Ultraviolet light can be used to sterilize and then clean compressed air can do the cleaning with appropriate blow off technology using engineered nozzles, air knives, and other air amplification technology as supplied by Nex Flow®.

This is an ideal option if sterilization is important and hot water is detrimental to the product that is cleaned such as some sensitive plastics.

When cleaning plastics in particular with compressed air, the blow-off products can be supplemented with Nex Flow®’s static elimination technology.

With static control, dirt particles can be removed for cleanliness to acceptable levels in most cases although care needs to be taken when used to clean the inside of a container.

Nex Flow®’s online consultation services are available when complex parts need to be cleaned or a system needs design assistance.

The overall cost of using water versus the use of compressed air needs comparison and should be compared to each source’s impact on the rate of production output and not just in the cost of each utility by itself.

If the output can be the same or faster with adequate quality, compressed air is a preferred choice as the cost of obtaining, treating, using, and disposing of water continues to rise.

May 9, 2022

ADVANCES IN DRY MACHINING

ADVANCES IN DRY MACHINING:

The trend toward dry machining continues with advances in machine design as well as the use of new materials and composites that lend themselves to dry or near dry machine applications, whether it is drilling, routing, or milling as well as grinding.

Dry machining of plastics, glass, ceramics, and some metals such as titanium have long utilized dry machining processes, sometimes only using compressed air to cool and clean the machined area.

The ever-increasing costs of obtaining, using and then disposing of cutting fluid increase yearly along with the continued trend to improve the work environment and protect the environment in general.

Cutting fluid has three (3) functions – cool, lubricate and remove chips (waste).

Their downside is environmental pollution, with some materials considered toxic, both for the operator while being used, and for the environment when out for disposal.

Machining techniques and new tooling materials and designs have been developed to withstand the cutting heat and forces in dry machining and to ensure long life in use.

Special tools have been developed which include the use of gasses to cool and even heat pipes to conduct away heat more quickly.

Micro lubrication systems apply lubricant when needed in a precise way to minimize the amount required for cooling and where lubrication is needed.

One product which been available for some time to cool in dry machining has been vortex tube technology of which the Nex Flow® Frigid-X® Tool Cooler is an example as well as a smaller capacity version Nex Flow® Frigid-X® Mini Cooler for very small tool applications.

These devices have long since addressed the cooling needed by converting a small amount of compressed air into very cold temperatures and then applied directly to the cutting tool.

These products are continually adapted to machines that route, cut, or drill plastics, glass, ceramics and titanium, and other materials that must be machined dry and even reduce energy while often improving tool life, product quality and even reducing energy rather than just using compressed air alone.

The patented Nex Flow® Frigid-X® Mist Cooler incorporates a vortex tube to cool mist when lubrication is required such as in deep-hole drilling to prevent chattering and reduces the amount of lubricating needed by up to 20% reducing lubricant costs and improving the environment and often improving the quality of the machining process.

Machines used in dry machining take more care to design the systems for easy removal of waste (mostly chips) from the machining process in the absence of lubricant.

The vortex tube operated devices generate some blowing energy for waste removal but typically additional engineered nozzles such as the Nex Flow® air nozzles or Nex Flow® Air Amplifiers can be used to remove the waste.

As special materials are developed and enter the market the demand for colder vortex tube outlet temperatures increases.

Nex Flow® continues to develop and has provided specially designed vortex tube operated systems for even lower than usual cooling temperatures and sees growth in the use of the technology due to its positive environmental impact as no chemicals are involved.

May 2, 2022

WHEN COOLING FAST AND SECURITY IS IMPORTANT

WHEN COOLING FAST AND SECURITY IS IMPORTANT:

In a production situation maintaining output is important and being able to maximize output contributes positively to the company’s profits.

Despite its energy cost, compressed air remains a very secure source of energy as the factory normally has adequate backup to maintain their compressed air needs.

And in many situations a high production speed and security of supply offsets such energy costs.

For spot cooling (normally under 2 square inches) in open space or for cooling small enclosures, the Nex Flow® Frigid-X® Vortex Tube technology is usually the most applicable, but not always.

In some applications, and for applications involving a larger area using Nex Flow® Air Amplifiers can be the best solution.

Examples of industries that successfully utilize air amplifiers for cooling are casting plants (cool the part prior to the next operation or for handling), plastic industry to cool the part prior to packaging, (and if static is a concern the Ion Blaster Beam® which incorporates air amplifiers to cool and eliminate static to prevent debris attraction to the part), and in just about any situation where material, when cooled, can improve the production output.

On more than one application, Nex Flow® Air Amplifiers have dramatically reduced energy, and noise for cooling items such as small motors in heavy industry (paper mills, steel plants, etc.) that previously had pur compressed air only, blowing on them to prevent overheating.

They can be a low-cost, and “within budget” solution for many applications where a quick fix to cool is required, even if temporary.

For example, twice a refinery that had issues with a system ducting hot gases, had a problem with insulation breaking away from the duct system creating dangerous hot spots that Nex Flow® Air Amplifiers effectively cooled until the time for scheduled shutdown for repair.

When the area is small or enclosed, the Nex Flow® Frigid-X® Vortex Tube technology or packaged versions cool effectively.

One popular packaged version, the Nex Flow® Frigid-X® Tool Cooler is used for dry machining, especially in machining plastic, glass, ceramics, and materials such as titanium that are adverse to liquid cooling.

In these situations cooling with vortex tube technology can increase production output, improve quality and extend costly tool life – all very important factors.

There is even a patented Nex Flow® Mist Cooler that uses vortex tubes to cool liquid mist when some lubrication is required in the machining operation but mostly dry which makes for a much cleaner, friendlier work environment.

Compressed air can be costly on its own, but when used with air amplification or vortex tube technology when appropriate can lead to cost savings and greater output, with a high level of security.

April 25, 2022

THE AMAZING FLEXIBILITY OF COMPRESSED AIR OPERATED CONVEYORS

THE AMAZING FLEXIBILITY OF COMPRESSED AIR OPERATED CONVEYORS:

The use of Nex Flow® Ring vac® compressed air operated conveyors continues to grow because of their flexibility in use.

They are used for two basic purposes:

  • To move solid material from one location to another.
  • To vent and move gaseous material.

The size and capacity of the Ring Vac us determined by the vertical and horizontal distance of the material that is conveyed and limited by the size and shape of the material.

The most common conveying application is simply hopper loading of materials ranging from plastic pellets to bottle caps but has been used for materials such as metal fittings, dried food, and solid waste material.

For venting applications, they have major use in the venting of the crankcase of large gas compressors in gas transmission lines and special versions have been used for venting all sorts of gaseous material.

In such venting applications often special materials are required if the gas is corrosive or of a certain high or low-temperature range.

It is particularly suited for dirty gas venting as its design inhibits the buildup of deposits that can occur over time from the dirty gas minimizing maintenance and downtime such as in the semi-conductor industry where special units have been provided.

The Nex Flow® Ring vac® compressed air-operated conveyor is supplied as standard with inlets and outlets to allow for the clamping of hose but also with threaded versions to attach standard pipe.

One standard stainless version with sanitary flanges is offered to convey medicinal material for the food and pharmaceutical industry.

Special flanges and special materials are easily provided and materials range from aluminum to plastic to PTFE and more.

With an increasing labor shortage, use is growing for even simple, relatively short distances to move all sorts of materials that were typically lifted and moved by personnel.

If it’s small enough, if compressed air is available, and if it can be conveyed instead of carried, these units have application.

April 18, 2022

OTHER USES FOR COMPRESSED AIR OPERATED WIPES

OTHER USES FOR COMPRESSED AIR OPERATED WIPES:

Compressed air-operated air wipes like the Nex Flow® Ring Blade® air wipe are popular for drying and cleaning extruded items like wire, cable, rope, window profiles, automotive trim, and other extruded products.

But it’s not only extruded items where they have been used.

Several locations now have these units integrated into machining processes where the machined product, usually a cylindrical part such as reconditioned tool is dropped through a Ring Blade® air wipe after the machining process for removal of residual debris prior to the next process.

In other manufacturing processes where discrete products are made, the Ring Blade® air wipe is used for cleaning and drying.

They have found use in the resource industry for cleaning cable used in mining processes to reduce costly replacement time, extending use in between cable maintenance and/or changes.

Special single-piece units have been made for proprietary applications where the standard two-piece units are not needed.

These special applications include their use as air barriers, for venting and for special drying applications where regular units are not appropriate.

But their regular use in extrusion drying is still the most popular due to their high efficiency, and low cost compared to old-style units that tended to be less energy efficient and costly.

Standard sizes range from internal diameters as small as 3/8” (ideal for high-speed small diameter wire production) to 11” for pipe production.

Special internal diameters can and have been produced for specific applications as necessary.

So whenever a circular air curtain can address a drying or cleaning (and now venting and barrier) application, compressed air operated air wipes may offer a simple, cost-effective and, ideal solution.

April 11, 2022

AIR AMPLIFIERS AND AIR KNIVES AS BARRIERS AND VENTS

AIR AMPLIFIERS AND AIR KNIVES AS BARRIERS AND VENTS:

Advances in sensors for manufacturing operations trend to more choices, economically priced options for material identification, and quality inspection.

However, many of these sensors are placed in environments subject to dust, fumes, mist, steam, and/or smoke that then negatively affect their operation.

Most of these difficult environments are in steel, aluminum, and other metal production, foundries, casting plants as well as in intense machining operations.

In such cases, these sensors need protection from an environment that can impair their operation.

In one example the Nex Flow® Model FX75 X-Stream® Air Amplifier is effectively used to prevent water mist from obscuring two laser beams shot through the center of the unit that are used to detect defects in the moving product.

In another example, the same Nex Flow® Model FX75, and in some instances, the smaller FX40 X-Stream® Air Amplifier is used to vent steam away from a product being quenched to allow for another inspection sensor to evaluate the manufacturing process at the station.

Both Nex Flow® Standard Air Blade® air knives and X-Stream® Air Blade® air knives have been used as barriers.

The laminar “amplified” airflow from that air knife, and the same in the air amplifier, makes an effective barrier from surrounding mist, smoke dust, fumes, steam, smoke and moisture.

Air Amplifiers are common for venting due to their compact size, easy installation, flexibility and minimal maintenance (apart from cleaning) and are even used to boost a weak main fume removal system.

The key to their success as barriers is the laminar flow exiting the air knives and the amplifiers.

The air amplifiers move a large volume of particles, fumes, and gas for successful venting applications.

And they offer easy and simple solutions to keep sensors working in nasty environments!

April 4, 2022

IT’S THE SIMPLE THINGS THAT MAKES WORK-LIFE EASIER

IT’S THE SIMPLE THINGS THAT MAKES WORK-LIFE EASIER:

Sometimes it’s these little accessories that make life easier and where a little extra quality goes a long way.

Sometimes is an air gun like the Nex Flow® Easy Grip that’s a bit more money but comfortable, quiet, and safe.

Maybe it’s just quality but low-cost air nozzles that make it quite more quiet in a factory setting like the standard air nozzles.

And it also can be something so simple and useful like a magnetic hook.

Not just any magnetic hook – a really strong magnetic hook.

How many times have you looked around for a place to put something and couldn’t find a place to put it.

If it has a handle with a hook, you can hang it – but where?

As long as there is a metal surface that a good magnet can stick to, then just get a magnet with a hook.

There are many on the market but when you just need a really strong one, the Nex Flow® EXTRA Strong Magnetic Hook might be useful since it can even support a fire extinguisher.

Not a lot of magnetic hooks can do that!

So the next time you are looking around for a place to put something, maybe hang something, think about it!!

March 21, 2022

THE FORGOTTEN LOSSES! (PRESSURE LOSSES!)

THE FORGOTTEN LOSSES! (PRESSURE LOSSES!)

In all applications with compressed air, while leaks are an obvious source of energy loss, the one area that tends to be overlooked, yet is so basic, is energy loss due to pressure drop.

When dealing with liquids, it is often obvious that the smaller the piping, the longer the piping, the more the bends, then the larger the pump needs to be to move that liquid.

So if the pump cannot be changed, then the piping needs to be changed if the pump does not do the job.

Liquids are easily visible which is why even for leaks, a liquid leak is readily addressed where a compressed air leak is too often ignored.

This invisibility of compressed air is one factor that may contribute to this lack of awareness.

One way to address it is to get into the habit of always checking the air consumption at operating pressure of the device using the compressed air – whether it’s a machine, and air tool or a nozzle, air knife or vortex tube device.

Once you know this, you can easily check pressure loss charts available from the internet to choose the appropriate size feed line and even to know if you have enough compressed air available.

For example, a customer had difficulty getting adequate cooling from a Panel Cooler that consumed 30 SCFM at 80 PSIG because it was hooked up to a supply line 10 feet (3 meters) long that was only 8 mm in diameter.

The main air supply was 80 PSIG where the 8 mm line was connected and for that length the pressure loss was over 13 PSIG from utilizing the small diameter line and in fact another 2 psig was lost by using quick disconnects.

That meant the cooler was only seeing 65 PSIG and therefore not working at optimum performance.

By simply changing the line size to 12 mm and removing the quick disconnect the pressure loss was barely over 1 psig and the unit then worked well.

The use of engineered air nozzles is an interesting one is that you can find these nozzles very similar in appearance but brands are not always so easily interchangeable.

For example, you can take three different ¼” nozzles and they all may differ only by 1 SCFM in performance at a measured inlet pressure of 80 PSIG which are all designed to provide an equivalent force.

On first glance that may not seem like much but, especially for air nozzles it can make a huge difference, because the longer the piping connected to that nozzle becomes, the ones using the additional air will see a lower actual pressure at the inlet to the nozzle due to greater pressure drop from the increased flow.

This is why when choosing to replace existing nozzles, it is important to make sure the replacement nozzle consumes the same or less air for the same pressure (and output force desired) to prevent performance issues.

This is the reason Nex Flow® Air Mag® nozzles in particular are designed to provide the same force at the same inlet pressure using the same or less compressed air than competitive designs allowing for easy replacement.

As hinted earlier, it is not only line length and diameter that needs to be considered but other things that can cause such losses which include bends, quick disconnects and often undersized fittings.

Pressure loss is not seen and not heard but starting from the point of knowing what you need for the product consuming the air, and then working back will improve that awareness.

March 14, 2022

Don’t Forget to Check for Leaks Everywhere

Don’t Forget to Check for Leaks Everywhere:

While there is a general awareness of the cost of compressed air, and a recognition of the importance to fix leaks, it still tends to go unnoticed in many operations.

Yes leaks can account for as much as 30% of wasted compressed air energy in factories that do not attend to them.

The reason is quite simple – it’s air so you do not always see it, hear it nor feel it.

If you cannot see it, feel it, nor hear it then it’s simply out of mind especially when other priorities tend to take up time.

Yet there are numerous leak detection devices that can be purchased to check and monitor these leaks from simple hand held ultrasonic measurement products to more costly, system monitoring.

Not all manufacturing systems are able to install central monitoring either practically or economically so many use hand held devices.

Apart from ensuring that these devices are used on a regular basis, whether it’s once a week, or once a month the following guidelines can act as a check for effective use.

  • Key locations where leaks can occur should be checked being auto drains, pipe joints, quick disconnects, and other points where there is movement or potential wear and tear in the compressed air system.
  • Identified leaks should be recorded and acted upon when appropriate.
  • The device used, typically an Ultrasonic Leak Detector should be easily usable which means proper headphones to blot out extraneous factory noise and be sensitive enough to identify and pinpoint leaks, even from a distance, such as the Nex Flow® Ultrasonic Leak Detector.

Not only do compressed air leaks waste air being created, they can also cause unnecessary pressure losses in the compressed air system negatively effecting the performance of the item using the compressed air whether it’s an air tool, a cylinder or an air nozzle.

Engineered air nozzles and air knives in particular can be quite sensitive to pressure drop which is aggravated by unnecessary leaks.

There has been more than one instance over the years where air leaks from worn out quick disconnects used with such blow off products, when replaced, cause significant improvement in performance (and saved energy) just be replacing these worn fittings.

Even though you may not see it, feel it, or even hear it, leaks can be costly in many ways and a regular program to check for them is warranted for every compressed air system.

March 7, 2022

AIR WIPES – THE NEW WAY VERSES THE OLD WAY

AIR WIPES – THE NEW WAY VERSES THE OLD WAY:

Why are Nex Flow® Ring Blade® air wipes so popular?

This product continues to get a great deal of attention, even in applications that go beyond the original intended use of drying extrusions from wire, cable and profiles to large pipe sizes.

One reason is possibly because it’s an excellent application of compressed air flow amplification technology that converts energy normally lost as pressure drop into flow which often results in reduced energy consumption.

Another reason is that the “old way” was approaching such air wipe applications where each one is a special design resulting in effective but normally higher cost solutions.

This “new way” of providing a lower cost product is certainly attractive, especially if it can work the same or better than a specialized design.

And in fact, there are situations where multiple “old way” units have been replaced with the “new way” and some units were actually eliminated because the “new way” dried better.

This is much the same result that air knives often create like the Nex Flow® X-stream® Air Blade® air knife which often replace rows of traditional air nozzles and drilled pipe.

Additional benefits are reduced noise levels and enhanced safety as these products meet OSHA standards for both noise and dead end pressure.

While compressed air flow amplification technology has been around for decades, applications for it still has much room to grow as awareness grows and as we look for ways to improve upon old methods.

February 28, 2022

HOW ADDRESSING PRESSURE DROP MADE A BIG DIFFERENCE BY ADDRESSING THE DELIVERY SYSTEM.

HOW ADDRESSING PRESSURE DROP MADE A BIG DIFFERENCE BY ADDRESSING THE DELIVERY SYSTEM:

When using compressed air at any manufacturing operation one of the lesser priced implications is the effect of air supply line size.

When a factory is designed, and compressed air is to be used, well designed operations will optimize the compressed air line sizes to minimize pressure loss for anticipated equipment capacity use.

However, in reality, over time, several things can happen:

  • Equipment using compressed air is changed, moved or added (or removed) – all which can effect pressure drop at particular points of operation as point capacity requirements can change.
  • Delivery systems do get dirty over time which can cause some pressure losses which get aggravated as items such as extra filtration is added to the system to address this deterioration.
  • Pressure drops mean that the actual pressure produced from the air compressors is less at the point of use and as the above events occur, there is a tendency to raise the pressure settings that the air compressors produce which also increases energy use and costs.
  • Even point of use hookups to compressed air can cause issues when a connecting line from the compressed air mains is undersized to the item using the compressed air creating excess pressure loss to the product.

Once example was the use of compressed air operated air knives such as the Nex Flow® X-Stream® Air Blade air knives.

The bottle filling processes at a facility was using air knives to remove moisture after filling and prior to labelling which is a standard application for air knives.

Initially the connection tubing used to hook up the air knives were undersized which caused unnecessary drop in pressure resulting in less than optimum performance of the blow off application.

Also, despite a closer connection to the main line to the point of application, the supply tubing was much longer than necessary as it was connected to a location further away, dropping the point of use pressure even more.

Once corrected the air knives worked well beyond expectation and in fact a regulator was installed prior to the setup to reduce the pressure even more saving further energy.

Energy lost due to pressure drop can be significant and it is always critical to consider the compressed air delivery system.

February 21, 2022

Even Minimizing Dirt Buildup Saves on Labor and Downtime

Even Minimizing Dirt Buildup Saves on Labor and Downtime:

In many manufacturing applications, if not most, the end product must be clean and dry.

Various products are available to do this pneumatically where possible such as amplification products (nozzles, jets, air knives, air wipes, amplifiers) and for parts which produce a static charge (that can attract dirt) amplification products attached to static eliminators like the Ion Blaster Beam® and Air Blade® Ionizers.

Thinking the “old way” tends to minimize the number of units, especially for the cleaning of dirt and debris, while there has been strong evidence that multiple installations to keep the dirt low provides some benefits.

It is easier to clean surfaces that have less particulate buildup so often two or more units spread apart on a conveying system can do a better job than one unit which may have to operate at higher pressure and possibly not clean as well.

A multi-station approach may provide a better quality end product and the potential to even operate the line at a faster, and higher output, speed.

Some applications have come up where manual cleaning is still used, a major issue with rising labor costs and the traditional focus on a single station solution (possibly tried before and failed).

This is a limitation for an actual solution that a multi-static cleaning approach can solve.

There are some manufactured products that are still highly manual and require cleaning, usually by the person doing the work at a particular station.

But incorporating pneumatic cleaning technology to alleviate at least part, of not all of the cleaning can translate into higher productivity as well.

One example is where a Nex Flow® Ring Blade® was used to clean a machined part which was dropped thru a Ring Blade® after machining to clean the part eliminating the manual wiping operation which detracted from the machining activity.

Developing a mind set to identify those aspects of production that involve cleaning and drying that can be improved can have significant improvement in factory output, quality and in employee effectiveness.

February 14, 2022

WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU CAN’T GET ANYONE IN TO FIX IT!!!!!

WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU CAN’T GET ANYONE IN TO FIX IT!!!!!

The short answer to the title is of course, not much.

In times of labor shortages, material shortages and delays, equipment delays coupled with rising costs, it’s time to review your factory equipment to address, reduce and even eliminate unscheduled shutdowns and repairs.

And where repairs need to be made, to perhaps establish a program where possible to complete them in house.

In the past there has been reluctance in utilizing compressed air for some applications for blow off, conveying and cooling due to energy costs and of course that remains an important consideration.

But with major advantages of ruggedness, near zero or minimal maintanance, low initial cost and very high reliability, and even long life, the advantages outweigh the energy costs more often.

Specific areas receiving interest:

  • Blow off for cleaning and drying: compressed air devices, especially products like engineered nozzles and air knives which are more quiet, maintenance free, and can be operated instant on/off as needed to offset energy cost.
  • Conveying materials: while there is a practical limit as to how much volume material can be conveyed, for relatively small quantities and especially if intermittent, products like the Nex Flow® Ring Vac® (LINK) eliminates more costly, high maintenance machinery and often man power used to move things from one place to another.
  • Cooling: vortex tubes offer ideal spot cooling and used extensively for such applications but a major packaged version is the cabinet enclosure cooler like the Nex Flow® Panel Cooler which is a near maintenance free, and reliable air conditioner for control panels.

With rising refrigerant costs, labor shortages, and with the critical nature of control systems in any factory, these devices make for much more reliable alternative to traditional air conditioners.

Even if the above technology is implemented, choose the source of the products carefully and make sure there is adequate information online and that the company responds quickly and competently to solve any problem that arises.

If consultation and support is responsive and competent, it will usually follow that the product is also of good quality.

So if you cannot get someone in to fix it, get something that does not necessarily need to be fixed, at least not as often, but has readily available an good support when needed.

February 7, 2022

CHOOSING COMPRESSED AIR OPERATED AIR GUNS FOR YOUR APPLICATION

CHOOSING COMPRESSED AIR OPERATED AIR GUNS FOR YOUR APPLICATION:

There is a plethora of compressed Air Guns on the market.

If air guns are being damaged or replaced often, if noise levels are a concern, and if labor concerns on air gun use are frequent, it may be a good idea to re-evaluate the air guns being used in your operation.

Factors to consider are: cost, comfort (ergonometric), performance, safety, energy consumption, longevity, and sound levels (related to comfort and safety).

What is interesting is a slight shift in the various importance of these factors over the last couple years.

Where cost consideration tended to be higher in past rankings of importance, quality considerations (comfort, longevity, safety) has risen in importance, likely due to product supply concerns as well as higher demand from labor for a better working environment (with higher quality product that can provide comfort and safety in use).

Higher cost of product tends to be associated with longevity which would be more important in environments of heavy usage of air guns as well as in more difficult work environments where the unit would be subject to rough handling.

Safety, comfort and energy consumption also increase in importance with the amount of usage in any manufacturing facility.

A recommended process for choosing an appropriate Air Gun is as follows:

First is Performance – It has to work for your application and for this there are a variety of size ranges available such as the Nex Flow® Range of Safety Air Guns from very light applications (Easy Grip Light and Comfort Air Gun), general use (Easy Grip range), and for applications where stronger force is needed (Heavy Duty Range). Availability of accessories such as extensions and even swivels to orient the air nozzles can be important.

Second is Quality verses Cost – If the air gun is used very infrequently then even a very low cost unit may be quite adequate for the application but as frequency of use increases, longevity which is highly related to quality increases in importance.

Third is Safety – While safety should probably be of utmost importance, if the use is infrequent, this may not have been such a critical factor in choosing the final product in the past. But labor demands today has made it critical and as frequency in use goes up, safety ranks higher in importance and designs that do not incorporate safety features in the air gun itself and the nozzle at the end of air gun should be dismissed. (All Nex Flow® Air Guns incorporate their quality safety air nozzles which reduce sound levels along with a quality, ergonometric designed air gun).

Fourth is Comfort – The more frequent the use, the more important is the comfort and ergonometric design of the air gun, as well as sound levels which depend more on the air nozzle than the air gun itself.

Fifth is Energy Saving – Surprisingly, this generally tends to take a back seat to comfort and safety and that is primarily because rarely are air guns constantly on. But energy saving does come as a byproduct with certain nozzle designs such as the ones offered by Nex Flow® and in large operations or where there is heavy use of air guns, it should be a consideration).

Air Guns can still be a major consumer of energy if you have a significant number of them that are also used extensively. But certainly after making sure of performance, comfort, safety (especially noise level and gun design) and longevity (quality) should be considered along with the cost.

January 31, 2022

When You Need It Adjustable or Need it Stainless and You need to Mount It Easily.

When You Need It Adjustable or Need it Stainless and You need to Mount It Easily:

Nex Flow® Air Amplifiers come in two basic versions – fixed and adjustable, with the fixed being cast aluminum/zinc alloy and popular for their high efficiency, ruggedness and easy mounting with built in mounting holes and, the adjustable versions in two materials: aluminum and stainless steel.

In some applications the adjustable aluminum is used when adjustability is important or simply the lightness of the product is an advantage, while stainless steel may be the only choice for applications in food and pharmaceutical or in corrosive and in high temperature environments.

In many instances, and in fact most applications, the amplifier can be secured with the inlet piping but sometimes the application requires some mounting system to secure the unit.

For the most popular sizes – 1-1/4” and 2” adjustable air amplifiers, and for both aluminum and stainless steel, we have mounting brackets which can be added and secured by the lock nuts on the amplifiers.

The brackets are stainless steel as a standard so they can be used with both the aluminum and stainless steel adjustable versions.

We have also supplied them with air amplifiers specially made in other materials as well.

These sometime obscure accessories can often make things easier for customers so they can focus their resources on more important endeavors than trying to mount the product.

Nex Flow® understands this and continually finds ways to make it easier to use any of our products.

This is why we have other mounting systems.

For example mounting systems for air knives, and even a simple item like a magnetic base can save time and effort better focused elsewhere.

Ideas and suggestions always are welcome and we do listen.

January 24, 2022

MAKING THE WORK ENVIRONMENT AND THE WORLD JUST A LITTLE BIT BETTER

MAKING THE WORK ENVIRONMENT AND THE WORLD JUST A LITTLE BIT BETTER:

In many applications mist coolers are used where some cooling is required but cannot go completely dry in the machining process due to the nature of the material (requires some lubrication) and where volume does not justify more costly machinery such as those that use micro lubrication.

Nex Flow® developed a patented Mist Cooler which incorporates a vortex tube to cool lubricant as it is syphoned up from a container.

The unit operates on 50 PSG compressed air minimizing use (around 5 SCFM at 50 PSIG) and to actually not over-cool the lubricant which must be water based (both for the environment and for easy rinsing from the system after use).

By using this system, the colder liquid translates to as much as a 20% reduction in use for the same operation when applied at room temperature.

This means less atmospheric mist and also less environmental effect benefiting the employee and the world.

The Nex Flow® patented Mist Cooler has even been used when dry machining would have worked but where compressed air was in short supply.

In one application four systems were required that needed 20 SCFM total.

If they used Nex Flow® Tool Coolers (which are used for dry machining applications), the requirement would have been for 60 SCFM which was beyond the capacity of their compressed air supply.

For the liquid, they simply used clean water in the mist machining process.

It provided even more cooling than the totally dry system as liquid heat capacity is superior to that of air alone.

This means that for normally dry machining operations, if the material machined can tolerate water mist, it becomes an option if compressed air capacity is limited.

And of course, upgrading any existing mist system to a Nex Flow® Mist Cooler has its advantages as well.

January 17, 2022

Where Have All The People (Worker’s) Gone!!! What Can We Do?

Where Have All The People (Worker’s) Gone!!! What Can We Do?

With labor shortages rampant and no end in sight for qualified personnel, (and maybe even trainable personnel in sight!) getting things done is increasingly difficult.

But there is a great deal that can be done.

Labor saving ideas and products have over the years crept into our society at home and at work.

Machinery keeps coming to produce output that requires less people, less material and this will continue.

But sometimes we focus too much on the big things (like new machinery) when even small investments can alleviate the labor shortage.

For example, if you have a new, high output plastic injection molding machine, you still need to load a hopper with resin.

If that is still highly manual, that small task be assisted with a Nex Flow® Ring vac® and indeed, is a common application.

In fact, an application where labor is required to move something from one place to another can sometimes be addressed with Ring vac’s.

We often miss observing problem areas that draw the attention of personnel and their time, especially maintenance time because it’s been endemic for so long when maintenance reducing products can address these applications.

For example, in plastic production lines, if jamming occurs from static, and one or two or more personnel spend time addressing these production issues, perhaps a simple static control solution can be used like the X-Stream® Air Blade® air knives.

Nex Flow® Panel Coolers have been expanding in use as downtime from overheating on control panels is aggravated not only from the downtime caused by overheating, but the stress and difficulty due to lack of personnel to fix the problem when these units can help minimize downtime since they are relatively maintenance free.

The point is this: Notice what task can be automated with simple, low cost solutions, not only with pneumatics (which we do), but with other options that may also be available.

So look around – what can be done easier and differently to make it better?

January 10, 2022

Rapid Support and Flexibility verses This is All We got!

Rapid Support and Flexibility verses This is All We got!

Have you noticed the extreme reactions you get when you want to address a problem with suppliers?

You get either “sorry, this is all we got” or, “let’s try this….”

The pandemic and subsequent supply chain issues, labor shortage issues and everything else from that has resulted in a great deal of stress.

But it has also has tended to sort the companies that you may or may not want to deal with.

For example, we had a call during the Christmas week and we reacted quickly as the customer needed assistance.

They also wanted to vary the product which we accommodated.

  • The application was for our Ion Blaster Beam for a static elimination application but they wanted to magnetically secure the unit with our magnetic base.

To be certain it would hold the weight we tested it (yes, we contacted one of our personnel during the holidays who took the time to test) and it worked well but we had to test to be sure.

We contacted a courier to pick up on New Year’s Eve but, unfortunately, they could not and advised we wait until after the holiday to avoid being jammed up in a cue as there were only deliveries but no pickups that day.

Instead we expedited the shipment after the holiday at our extra cost.

It’s a difficult time for business in a lot of ways, but it is interesting that the ones that continue to succeed are flexible and do try to support the customer as best as possible, and customers – I think for the most part, recognize that.

There may be times when we simply cannot assist or do everything the customer wants.

While Nex Flow® is certainly not perfect, we do try to maintain an attitude of flexibility and support and are fortunate to have staff that, for the most part, share that attitude.

We also chose to work with customers that are also flexible because not everyone acts differently from 2019 because things certainly have changed since that year.

It’s a new kind of supplier/customer relationship that is occurring – where both parties now have to consider their positions more carefully and compatibility.

I think it’s a good thing, do you?

January 3, 2022

THINK LESS NOISE AND LESS ENERGY AND ESPECIALLY SAFETY!!

THINK LESS NOISE AND LESS ENERGY AND ESPECIALLY SAFETY!!

As 2022 begins we enter a world of manufacturing where the work environment demands greater concern for safety.

For compressed air this means greater safety in the use of compressed air, especially if there is potential contact with the air, and consideration of the noise from the use of compressed air.

Coupled to the above demands is the rising cost of energy, a particular concern with compressed air use.

An area where compressed air is still extensively used is for blow off and cooling applications despite publications touting the use of alternative methods, as compressed air remains often the only viable alternative.

Despite many years in the development of engineered air nozzles, there is still an extensive use of open tubes, drilled pipe and open jets.

Below is a chart indicating the compressed air consumed using various hole sizes.

While there may be some variation in the values from different studies in general, even very small holes can use a significant amount of energy.

In general, engineered air nozzles can reduce the energy required for many blow off applications between 30% to 40% depending on pressure, and type of air nozzle.

They also reduce noise up to 10 dBA as they generally operate by converting noise lost as pressure drop and noise into flow.

The flow is also laminar so they work at a greater distance from the air exit at a useful force.

The dead end pressure meets OSHA and other similar international standards for safety.

Apart form nozzles, other engineered air nozzle versions incluse air jets, air amplifiers and air knives.

Examples can be found here: NEX FLOW® ENERGY EFFICIENTCY BLOW OFF PRODUCTS

In 2022, perhaps its time to consider a look at open tubes, pipe and dilled holes and improve the factory environment to the benefit of the employee and the company.