Find out how simple preventative maintenance can keep your presses running at peak levels and head off costly downtime and quality issues.
By Rick Fuqua
The type of machine you have and the amount of air your machine consumes influences the importance of your air-delivery system to overall machine performance. If your machine consumes more that a few CFM, then the water and air filtration or pretreatment of air going into your machine is critical. Trapping and filtering contaminants is made more difficult when your air compressor and storage tanks change air out rapidly. In these scenarios the airborne contaminants do not have a chance to settle out and instead are passed through the system more easily into areas that cause performance problems.
Machine manufacturers most always provide an FRL (filter, regulator, and lubricator) on the machine to filter some of these contaminants out of the air supply and introduce a small amount of clean oil into the air/machine. However, the FRL is not designed to handle large amounts of moisture or contaminants. Other air pretreatments should be part of your system—mainly an aftercooler and refrigerated dryer, as well as additional filters.
The aftercooler is the part of the compressor (optional when purchasing the compressor) that is responsible for cooling the air (heated by compression) so that the air exiting the compressor is lowered to a temperature within the working range of the refrigerated dryer. Aftercoolers are usually no more than metal or aluminum fin strips that help to radiate heat away from the pipes that the air flows through.
The refrigerated dryer uses actual electricity to power a refrigeration system. All refrigerated dryers specify the max inlet temperature of incoming air and warn that the unit will not perform if recommended limits are exceeded. Therefore, an aftercooler is required when a refrigerated dryer is used. More recently, however, some companies have made combination aftercooler/refrigerated dryers that are contained in one cabinet. These units look like a slightly larger refrigerated dryer but with a fan to provide the function of the aftercooler. Purchasing this unit eliminates the need for the aftercooler. I like the idea of both for areas that experience high humidity.
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