According to Kaeser, manufacturer of air compressor systems, the amount of energy required to run an air system for just one year can easily exceed the purchase price. This makes compressed air one of the costliest utilities in the shop. In order to cut down on air consumption, consider using a spindle fan to blow off parts and fixtures. They won’t get parts squeaky dry, but they’ll remove about 90% of coolant and chips with a few simple passes above the part.
We tested a 160mm Lang fan from Big Kaiser. This smallest model has a working range of 6000 to 12000 RPM. Programming it was a breeze. We had the best results by telling our machine we were running a 6″ shell mill with a 75% stepover. Per Lang’s safety recommendations, we gave it an initial speed of 2000 RPM, let it spin for 1 second and then sped it up to 6000 RPM (We would have gone up to the 12000 RPM limit if our machine went that fast). We fed it at 400 IPM, 3″ above the part.
A nice feature about these fans is their compatibility with thru-spindle coolant. Say there’s a pocket or deep hole that needs to have chips flushed out. Instead of an operator reaching in and blasting the debris out with an air gun, simply program the tool’s center in line with the hole and turn on the thru-spindle coolant. Once the holes are flushed out, continue with the fan cycle.
Overall, we liked the construction and performance of the unit. If your shop doesn’t have one, you might be spending extra labor and energy by using only an airgun. Needless to say, we’re big fans.