Handling large production runs? Need to take high-resolution measurements? An air gage can help! Air gaging currently represents the method of choice for these tasks. Compared to mechanical gages, air gages are pretty reliable and durable. Air gages, however, require a higher level of maintenance. That’s just part of the deal.
Proper Air Gage Maintenance Ensures Accurate Air Gaging
There are two main things you need to do to achieve accurate air gaging. Be mindful of the air supply and properly maintain the tooling. Although you (the gage user) can’t control the factory air supply, you must ensure that the air that reaches your gage is clean, stable in pressure, and dry. It has to be this way because the air lines and compressors may be shared by dozens of other users. Tooling is directly under your control, so there’s no reason not to maintain it!
The Basic Requirement of Maintenance
Air gage maintenance involves keeping the tooling dry and clean inside and out. You cannot let contaminants such as cutting fluid, coolant, dirt, and chips to be picked up from work pieces. Oil and water are known to originate from the air source itself. So, be very careful.
Some air gage users depend on air flow to clear out certain air passages (this can happen on its own). This is not always recommended. You should keep in mind that some contamination may still occur in the measuring jets and master jet. You can throw off the measurement if you allow even a few millionths of an inch of contaminants to accumulate. If you master repeatedly and it produces inconsistent readings, it’s a sign of dirty jets!
Prevents Air Leaks
Air gage inaccuracy is typically caused by air leaks. To confirm your suspicions, observe the indicator needle after covering the measuring jets tightly with your fingers. If the needle does not remain stationary, check all of your connectors, tubes, and fittings for leaks.
Avoids Damaging Sensitive Tooling
Although most factory air lines run at approximately 100 psi, the final amount still depends on other air users’ demands. Air gages that are properly designed should be able to operate reliably between 40 psi and 150 psi. A small amount of fluctuation is acceptable.
It is important to check the sensitivity of your air gages. A part of maintaining them includes isolating them from fluctuations via a semi-dedicated or dedicated air line. With that in mind, sensitivity checks can be conducted by leaving a master in place on the tool. Next, take note of the indicator’s movement while other air line users facilitate normal tasks.
Prevents Moisture Build-Up
The accumulation of water mist and oil can cause moisture to build up. When they do, these elements can act as an abrasive and accelerate part wear over time. Will air dryers work? If you compress air, the process produces moisture. Additionally, the compressor will need lubrication, which will generate oil mist in the line. A better solution is to employ an air line design that intercepts oil and water mist before they enter the meter. You can also consider taking air from the top and not the bottom of the mains. This will prevent moisture from draining into the feed.