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Blow-dried for that perfect finish!

01 June 2012

A versatile blower-powered drying system replacement at Dana’s driveshaft assembly plant in Wellingborough has improved a pre-paint drying process, ensuring effective paint coverage of drive shafts and related components. The superior performance of this new system has also reduced manufacturing costs as it avoids a previous practice that involved a final hand drying stage using a compressed air line.

Drive shafts and components undergo wash-down prior to passing through the drying process, in preparation for painting. In the previous configuration, products travelled through an oven before passing between static air-knives located immediately before the paint application chamber, and mounted on rigid frames that had to be repositioned according to the different sizes and shapes of the various products. A problem, with this drying arrangement, was water becoming trapped as a result of their complex and irregular shapes.

The new blower-powered drying system, designed and supplied by Air Control Industries, comprises two opposing banks of reciprocating air-delivery nozzles, mounted vertically at the entry point into the oven. The nozzles sweep up and down to deliver a moving volume of high-velocity air, to ensure effective surface drying, while at the same time creating turbulence to dislodge water trapped in obscured recesses, including blind holes.

The installed drying unit, an ACI RN15, has 15 nozzles on both sides with each set of nozzles motor driven in unison to provide a reciprocating vertical movement. ACI is able to manufacture anything between an RN3, three-nozzle assembly up to an RN15, 15-nozzle assembly.

The nozzles are flexible and they can be supplied in various lengths, permitting products to brush against them without risk of damage - a feature that proved ideal for this particular application because of the variation in product shape and size. Both sets of nozzles are fed by a common 37kW blower, an ACI APF direct-driven 2-pole EV, which is housed in an acoustic enclosure.

Dana’s Wellingborough plant quality manager, Nigel Atterbury is very pleased with the result. “It can cope with all our products without adjustment and saves time and cost by avoiding manual finishing and use of a compressor.”

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