It is important for many industrial firms to have a reliable and at the same time inexpensive tools for their operations. Factories and plants usually have operations which include cleaning, blowing off, drying and cleaning. For traditional method for such processes, electricity, extra labor force and maintenance are essential to keep the operations on-going and hassle-free. Good thing, air knives are readily available for any of the operations mentioned above. Air knife systems are non-conventional way of cooling, drying or cleaning materials and products during manufacture or similar process.
Unlike other bulky machine and equipment, air knives are simple, straightforward and inexpensive mechanical apparatus which utilizes air to function. The apparatus does not need electricity, and thereby it does not pose electrical or explosion hazard. Moreover, it has instant on-off control and readily available as soon as compressed air is supplied. Air knives are also resistance to abrasive operating conditions and can withstand high-temperature environments, especially if made with aluminum or stainless steel. Since air knives do not have moving parts, the tool requires less maintenance or none at all. The tool is also easy to mount and fits in small working area.
The air knife has been called various names, in which air doctor was the first term used to refer to it, which was capable of blow off operations without actually touching or scraping the surface of the object. It was during the 1950’s, the same decade when textile and printing industries heavily relied to the mechanical tool. Eventually other terms used were air doctor blade, air blade, air comb, air nozzle, air jet, and air blast to name a few.
During the late 1980’s, the printed circuit board industry was just starting and opted to take advantage of air knives for their cleaning operations. The industry was among the first to shift from solvents to water-based and semi water-based cleaning systems.
Air knife is capable of creating a laminar flow of air after drawing air from its surroundings along with small amount of compressed air supplied to the device. Industrial air knives have series of holes through which the compressed air escapes which is then used for non-contact cleaning, drying, or cooling of materials passed through it. Among the industries which have great use of air knives are automobile industry, which utilizes the device for cleaning and drying parts prior to painting or assembly; electronics which uses air knives to dry equipment or machine parts irrespective of their form and size; and food industry which might not be able to use water for chilling processed foods.