What’s an Air Knife?

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Air knives are devices used in manufacturing and other processes to clean, dry, and cool components, belts, and conveyors. They create a sheet of high-intensity balanced laminar airflow and come in two types, linear and circular. Air knives are used in various industries and have many functions, including removing dust and gravel from conveyors, drying circuit boards, and removing viscous contaminants. They can also be used to prevent friction between layers and blowing soil off roots for inspection. Air knives come in various sizes and can cost between $500 and $3000 USD.

An air knife is a cleaning, drying and cooling device used in manufacturing and other processes. By creating a sheet of high intensity balanced laminar airflow along the length of an object, an air knife can clean, dry or cool components, belts and conveyors. Laminar airflow refers to an evenly layered airflow that does not mix with other nearby layers. Air knives come in two types, linear and circular, and can be made of aluminum, steel or plastic.

An example of an air knife is the high pressure air jet device used at the neighborhood car wash to remove any residual water, oil and dirt from a washed car.
Historically, a heat lamp dryer, the alternative to an air knife, was used to remove water particles. The heat lamp dryer, however, did not completely remove the solid phase residues and took up more time and space. An air knife, on the other hand, takes less time, takes up less space and above all dries the components completely.

But drying is only one of the many functions that an air curtain performs. The range of productive uses for airknives is staggering. Typically air knives are used to clean, dry and cool any type of surface, from cans and bottles to fabrics and circuit boards.

In conveying systems airknives are used on continuously produced parts or products. For example, in the cement industry, air knives can be used to remove dust and gravel from the conveyor. In the case of a high-tech product such as circuit boards that go through many chemical baths during production, airknives speed up the manufacturing process by drying the circuit boards after each chemical bath. Rubber extrusion used in making car door and window seals requires a dip in hot salt potassium nitrate to give it a sheen. You can use an air knife to blow off excess salt and restore the shine.

An air knife can also be used to remove viscous contaminants from a surface. The cutting oil used in the production of threaded metal rods can be blown out by an air knife.
In addition to the normal industrial uses, air knives have other uses. Padding two sheets of paper or steel and preventing friction between the layers, acting as an air curtain to prevent mixing of two types of air, and blowing soil off the roots for inspection are some of the other uses of a blade of air. Airknives come in various sizes. A three foot (0.91 meter) long air curtain unit can cost between $500 and $3000 US Dollars (USD) depending on the functionality.

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