The Benefits of Air Knives: Reduction of V.O.C.

Many lighter duty metal-stamping processes are performed with “vanishing lubricants”. These products traditionally were based on volatile, petroleum-based solvents that would volatize/evaporate over time to yield a comparatively dry part. This was attractive to metal-stampers as they could eliminate cleaning processes and provide their customers clean, “dry” parts—free of noticeable tacky or oily residues. Notable drawbacks of this class of lubricant are the tendency for odors, drying of skin and potential combustible or flammable ratings for the products

Flammable Pictogram

In the past 10-15 years, the use of synthetic (water-based and oil-free) or semi-synthetic (water-based with emulsified ingredients) lubricants have been used in comparatively low concentrations to replace many vanishing lubricants. Their improved cooling and tool protection and comparatively “eco-friendly” labelling have drawn a lot of attention. These products can sometimes require forced warm air drying prior to packaging and/or shipping to ensure proper dryness of the surface and residue.

Air knives can benefit these processes utilizing vanishing lubricants by allowing stampers to  replace those fluids with water-based stamping fluids used in their heavier duty processes. What would the potential benefits be?:

  1. The forced air of the air knife blower does not require heating—reducing energy needed for temperature forced drying of parts.
  2. Eliminates or dramatically reduces V.O.C. in production processes through the use of water-based fluids as they do not contain volatile solvents.
  3. Vanishing lubricants are used “as received” (100%), whereas water-based stamping fluids can typically offer improved tool and punch life, improved part finish and cooler parts—while running at concentrations potentially as low as 20:1 or 9:1.
  4. Improved worker and plant safety through reduction of volatile chemical odors and combustible or flammable materials.

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