Hey Bob! Bet You Could Use a Cocktail Right Now!

Think “smart cities” and you might think of that somewhat disturbing scene in Minority Report where video screens scan Tom Cruise’s eyeballs to hawk personalized ads from Lexus, The Gap and Guinness Beer. Well, that future may be a little closer than you think as several companies have recently started deploying feature-rich information kiosks and other “connected urban appliances” in large and small cities around the world. While none (so far) can recognize a particular pedestrian, their capabilities are still formidable.

Two kiosk programs that seem to be the furthest along are LinkNYC (operated by Qualcomm, CIVIQ Smartscapes and Intersection – a division of Google’s Sidewalk Labs) and Palo (developed by LQD who was recently acquired by Verizon). Both technologies and approaches are similar. Both offer free, high-speed WiFi, phone service and device charging. Both also offer access to maps, news, city services, directions and so on. And yes, all offer intelligently targeted, hyper-local advertising. LinkNYC is currently deployed in over 500 New York locations and is planning expansion into the UK. Palo kiosks are scheduled to go into pilot testing in the US in 2017.

Although there are certainly community benefits to having access to the internet and city services at every turn, it’s clear that ad-driven kiosks are just the tip of the iceberg. As more and more internet-connected kiosks are deployed, many companies and municipalities are starting to see beyond the ad revenue, focusing more on data collection and analysis that can increase efficiency and improve quality of life.

Flow (another Sidewalk Labs initiative) is hard at work on software that can leverage the kiosks and other connected urban appliances to make metropolitan travel easier and more sustainable. Using data they collect from kiosk sensors, they’re tackling urban transportation issues like city parking and studying trends to help vehicles and pedestrians move through cities more efficiently.

And then there’s the 30-kiosk program designed by Smart City Media which is scheduled for a downtown Washington, DC, rollout soon. While the Smart City Media information kiosks are not currently slated to provide free WiFi, they will be loaded with sensors that record noise levels, temperature, air quality, humidity and barometric pressure. Additionally, the kiosks will interface with sensors placed in nearby business district buildings to monitor energy and water usage, waste production and other information related to building occupancy.

Assuming all the data from projects like Sidewalk Labs, Smart City Media and others can be easily gathered and analyzed, it’s likely that cities and municipal governments may soon enter an era of unprecedented efficiency.

So, how does Universal Air Filter fit into the new cutting edge future of urban connectivity? Put simply, it’s dirty outside. Harsh urban environments require more filter changes, and in many instances, custom filter applications. Kiosks and appliances outfitted with internet-connected sensors will no doubt make our job a little easier as remote maintenance sensors can warn us if temperature, pressure or air flow is operating outside of normal parameters – a good sign that it’s time to replace some filters.

It’s hard to know whether all this hyper-targeted data about our movements and habits will be a good thing or a dystopian nightmare. It all sounds very exciting, but personally we’re not sure we need a talking sign on the sidewalk to tell us it’s time for a libation. We already know that.

3D Printing: From Lunar Habitats to Filter Bezels

3D Printing – it’s all the rage with everyone from Fortune 50 companies to backyard garage tinkerers printing everything from soap dishes to on-demand, injection-molded parts to car chassis to body parts. Only a few years ago, 3D printing was considered pie-in-the-sky science fiction, but today you can pick one up for about $500 at Office Depot. Granted, yours won’t be as versatile as, say, the ESA 3D which is currently being used in a study by the European Space Agency to print additive lunar colonies (think gigantic). That said, 3D printing is becoming more mainstream and (in some cases) more affordable. You’d think that would mean the technology would start to become more standardized, but as scientists and engineers dream up more interesting ways to render 3D printed material, the technology tends to get a little more complicated.

Put simply, 3D Printing is considered additive manufacturing where an object is created by adding materials by layers. Although 3D printing is relatively new, the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) has developed 7 standards for 3D printing which include vat polymerization, material jetting, binder jetting, material extrusion and others. If you want to know the particulars of each standard you can find a few more details here.

As for printing mediums, in most cases the material (polymer, metal, concrete, food, whatever) is sprayed or extruded in layers and then molded (often by light, oxygen) into the finished product. Although the applications for 3D printing are limitless, the most common segments where 3D printing is taking off are in rapid prototyping, molds and tooling, digital manufacturing and personal fabrication. For industries like aerospace, automotive and industrial, 3D printing allows for the quick and cheap testing of the final geometry of complex parts without expensive and time-consuming design, forging and manufacturing. For industries like fashion, 3D printing allows for the creation of custom one-off products such as a unique pair of custom Nikes. And in healthcare, researchers and scientists are using 3D printers to create everything from custom prosthetics to ears, heart valves and bones.

So, where does UAF fit in to all of this? The short answer is that we seem to be somewhere right in the middle. While we don’t yet use 3D printers for any of our filtration products, we’re seeing a lot more 3D printed prototype parts arriving at the office for filter fitting. For example, one of our customers was working on a new telecom chassis and in addition to sending us the CAD specifications they also sent us a 3D printed piece of the chassis to demonstrate how they wanted the filter to attach. Other companies have sent 3D printed prototypes for plenums, bezels and other components so that we’re better able to mate our filters to the finished product.

In addition to working with more 3D printed prototypes (which seems to help quite a bit with creating the final filter product), we’re also supplying filters for 3D printer manufacturers, most notably Silicon Valley-based Carbon. Carbon has recently released one of the most advanced 3D printers on the market, the M1, that creates isotropic parts with mechanical properties and surface finishes like injection-molded plastics. With exceptional levels of detail on form, fit and function, the M1 may be the first 3D printer that bridges the gap between prototype and manufacturing. One of the hottest 3D printing manufacturers today, we’d like to believe Carbon is known for their advanced filtration capabilities but they’re probably best known for the unique way they create 3D objects using Continuous Liquid Interface Production (CLIP). What’s so great about CLIP? Think Terminator 2 and check out the video below.

Having seen how our customers are getting more value and saving time and costs using 3D printing, UAF is currently evaluating ways to better integrate 3D printing more into our processes. Clearly, 3D components, even in lower resolution, allow us to visualize the end application beyond the CAD specifications. And if we can make a few Darth Vader helmets and soap dishes on the side, all the better!

Is UAF Finally Going to the Super Bowl?

In late 2017, the cutting-edge Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta will open to the public and Universal Air Filter may be there. With its signature open air, retractable roof, wide seating, state of the art audio and phenomenal outdoor fan plaza, the stadium will be a technologically peerless home for the Falcons, Atlanta United FC and dozens of other sports and entertainment programs that have already been booked in advance. While other venues in the world already incorporate some of the same fan-friendly features of new Mercedes Benz Stadium, one area where no one can compete today is in video and data display. In this area, US-based, large format LED company Daktronics has created something truly revolutionary.

Since 1968, Daktronics has helped its customers impact audiences throughout the world with large-format LED video displays, message displays, scoreboards, digital billboards and control systems in sport, business and transportation applications. But for the new Atlanta stadium project, Daktronics has truly set a new bar. The new stadium will have roughly 83,000 square feet of Daktronics video displays installed, but the highlight will be the 360-degree halo display that will collar the arena from the ceiling down. 58 feet high and nearly 11,000 feet in circumference (wide enough to fly a helicopter through), the halo contains 62,000 square feet of a viewable space, making it the largest video display in all of sports. Running at full HD, fans will have unprecedented views of instant replays, statistics, graphics, player information, animations and (of course) sponsor messaging. The halo will certainly make for an infinitely more immersive college football championship, Super Bowl and NCAA Final Four, all of which have been scheduled for MB Stadium in 2018, 2019 and 2020 respectively.

So how does UAF fit into this historic project? First, a little background on the filtration challenges Daktronics and other large-format LED display manufacturers face. Efficient and reliable air filtration is essential in areas where sophisticated electronics are deployed in outdoor environments – areas challenged by excessive dust, high temperatures and (especially in the case of Georgia) high humidity. In these environments, forced air cooling is more critical than it might be in, say, some electronics clean rooms, a data center or a telecom central office. In other collaborations with Daktronics, we’ve had to look for ways to provide adequate airflow for cooling without compromising airborne dust filtration or EMI shielding requirements. Daktronics displays rely on a combination fan/filter management system to cool high-density LEDs and other critical electronics to extend their life and assure reliability. In past projects, Daktronics has chosen Universal Air Filter’s Dual EMI and Quadrafoam air filters as the Quadrafoam frame design has proved to provide the maximum amount of clean, cooling air to areas of the enclosure that need it most.

As for Universal Air Filter’s involvement in this particular stadium project, here’s what we know so far. Since 2007, Universal Air Filter has been an approved source of supply for Daktronics. We’ve designed filtration products for several stadium sign projects around the country, including their Galaxy Message Center and the large-screen LED ProStar video displays that are featured in sports, entertainment and commercial facilities. More recently, we’ve partnered Daktronics’ transportation division which provides the LED highway information signage that millions of drivers see every day during their commute. We’re also currently evaluating Daktronics-requested prototypes that we’re told are being designed for a 1-3-year project which we assume is Mercedes-Benz Stadium. So, while you may not actually “see” Universal Air Filter at the NCAA championship game, the Final Four or the Super Bowl, we’re hopeful that we’ll be there behind the scenes making sure that all the thrilling replays, player information and (most likely) beer ads go off without a hitch.

Cyber Attacks: A Quick Guide to What’s Going on With Our Internet!

On October 21, 2016, a three-wave Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack was launched against the New Hampshire-based internet performance management company, Dyn. During a typical Denial of Service (DoS) attack, one computer system floods another system with so many requests that the target system becomes overwhelmed, thereby interrupting normal service. A DDoS is a similar form of attack launched by multiple systems. Typically, DDoS attacking systems are part of a botnet, or a series of zombie computers that have been previously compromised.

One of the important distinctions of October 21 attack is that rather than attempt to disrupt services for a large internet site (as typically happens in DDoS events), the culprits attempted to incapacitate the managed DNS services of one of the larger service providers, Dyn. By disrupting DNS requests, the attackers were attempting to make it difficult or impossible for web requests to route to the correct sites. The analogy many commentators used during the event was to compare it to attacking the post office so that the post office didn’t know where all of their packages were supposed to be delivered.

As for the specifics of the attack, Dyn became aware of the first wave around 7AM ET. Although they were never taken down completely, their East Coast servers were impacted for about 2 hours, during which time many internet users were unable to reach some of the largest web sites in the world. At about noon ET, a second wave of attacks began against Dyn’s global infrastructure. Although larger in scope, Dyn was able to mitigate the second wave in under an hour. There was a final, 3rd wave attack later in the day but it was quickly detected and stopped before any damage had been done. You can read the full statement here.

DoS and DDoS attacks are common these days, but the attack on the 21st was one of the largest in recent memory. At Universal Air Filter, we tend to focus on improving system performance through advanced air filtration and EMI shielding rather than intrusion detection and prevention. That said, some of our products may have been installed in the affected systems, so we hope we were able to help keep things clean and cool while those systems were running hot.

Game of Maintenance: New Challenges for Network Uptime

The Iron Throne

According to the most recent Sandvine Internet Phenomena report, streaming video now accounts for over 70% of peak downstream internet traffic in North America. Of that, more than a third of the bandwidth is consumed by Netflix alone. As for upstream traffic, popular cloud services like Dropbox, iCloud and Google Drive are chewing up the majority.

The point is, today’s IP infrastructure is getting hammered up and down, around the clock — and according to Cisco’s Visual Networking Index, broadband activity is only going to intensify in the coming years. In 2010, a little over 20 exabytes (20,000 petabytes) of IP traffic travelled over North American networks and Cisco estimates traffic in 2016 will exceed a zettabyte (1000 exabytes). That number will likely more than double by 2020 leading Cisco to predict that, globally, we’re likely to measure 100-fold growth in IP traffic between 2005 and 2020.

Besides keeping pace with the needs of data hungry users and applications, the challenge for network providers is compounded by the myriad of network types, access device types and new hardware demands. But while end users may find the data consumption numbers and network growth challenges fascinating, they still want to be able to watch Game of Thrones from their cell phones on a transatlantic flight just as seamlessly as if they were sitting in their living rooms.

As a result of all of this, today’s networks need to be faster, more reliable and more efficient at all hours of the day and night than ever before. That means no more taking systems offline for maintenance in the wee hours and no more midnight hotfixes. In this perpetually streaming environment we’ve created, the network needs to be up and performing at peak 24/7/365.

Although air filters only represents one component of the 24-hour streaming puzzle, we know that proper maintenance can mean the difference between network tranquility and all out chaos. Having the right filters, at the right time, delivered in a convenient manner for your equipment and basing your change schedule on Industry Standards are the critical first steps towards minimizing downtime and keeping us all engaged on who controls the Iron Throne. Contact us today and we can help you come up with strategies and solutions that are tailored to your particular network. We’re waiting by the phone – at least we are until season 7 of Game of Thrones kicks off.

Air Filters and the End of Society as We Know It

Rise of the Machines

Every now and then you’re likely to stumble across a military threat assessment, a conspiracy theory blog or even a summer blockbuster that paints a grim picture of life after any of our national grid networks fail. Hypotheses range from a full return to the stone ages to a world in which Skynet computers are hunting down the human race like animals. Whichever way it actually turns out, it’s clear that a full on grid failure would not be a pleasant experience. Luckily, Universal Air Filter is here to help prevent that from ever happening.

The Power Grid
Put simply, if the power grid goes down, modern society as we know it would come to an end. Because the majority of our society’s systems are controlled by powered devices and interconnected networks, we would say goodbye to mass food production, transportation, product creation, voice and data communications, heating and cooling (with the notable exception of the blazing sun and frigid cold), fuel production and just about everything else that makes modern life bearable and survivable.

The Communications Grid
It’s true that you wouldn’t be able to call your mother or play Pokemon Go if the communications grid failed, but worse than that, the entire command and control structure of our country would be disabled. The early days of a communications outage would likely be the worst since coordinated communication between first responders and local and federal government agencies is typically critical in the first hours and days following a national disaster.

The Water and Wastewater Grid
71% of the Earth is covered in water, but the lack of clean, treated water that normally passes through the water grid would make it difficult to grow food, stay clean, hydrate, and generally survive.

So How Does Universal Air Filter Fit Into All of This?
Putting aside the possibility that our computers may one day rise up to conquer us, the number one reason for equipment failure is overheating. And one of the most common reasons that systems overheat is because of dirty filters. When filters aren’t changed at regular service intervals, dust can build up over time which in turn makes the fan work harder. When the fan works harder, components can overheat which can lead to a full system shut down. Air Filters keep equipment and electronic applications clean, minimizing overheating and maximizing system performance.

So What Can You Do To Help Prevent the Apocalypse?
While there is no “one size fits all” filtration solution, it’s best to keep your equipment protected using solutions to meet the dust filtration and EMI shielding demands of high end electronics. For outdoor applications, you’ll want to be more aggressive with your filtration in order to reduce water, wind-driven rain, salt fog and other harsh contaminants that typically accompany fresh and direct-air cooling systems. For high availability electronics applications specifically, custom air filter assemblies with tailored media configurations allow filters to produce low pressure drop and high dust loading capabilities. As an additional safeguard, fire retardant filter media is available in cleanable open cell foam or disposable non-woven polyester.

OK, Maybe We’ve Been Reading Too Much Sci-Fi
While it’s unsettling to think about the full scale breakdown of any or all of our interconnected grids, it’s unlikely we’ll ever experience it. And if by some chance, one of the grids does fail, it’s unlikely that air filters will be the primary culprit. Most critical networks have built-in redundancies and most systems trigger alarms when network components are operating at compromised efficiency. Alarms trigger, technicians are deployed and the world keeps on spinning.

That said, most people would agree that the best way to avoid disaster is to prepare for it. And the best way to prepare for systems disaster due to filtration is to make sure that you A) have the right filters for your application, B) have plenty of filters readily available when it comes time to replace them, and C) have a regular system maintenance strategy that includes changing your filters regularly.

While UAF might not be able to prevent the total collapse of critical network grids, we can certainly help you ensure that your filters aren’t the root cause. Contact us today.

How Often Should You Change Commercial Air Filters?

How often do commercial filters need to be replaced? It’s a common question for design engineers and those who are tasked with servicing and maintaining equipment, but the simple answer is… it depends.

In clean, controlled indoor environments like data centers or switching offices, it’s typically best to change filters 3-4 times a year based on a disciplined maintenance calendar.

For harsher environments, such as outdoor enclosures, or for highly active systems like those used in medical, military or telecom capacities, the frequency of changing filters is exponentially higher. In most cases, the need to replace filters in specialty equipment is dictated by maintenance sensors. When sensors indicate that temperature, pressure and air flow are registering outside of optimal operating parameters, it’s typically a good sign that it’s time to change filters. Replacements in these environments can and still should be performed on a regimented basis but it may take some trial and error to determine the optimal schedule.

Bottom line, filters that are loaded with dust and debris reduce airflow, which leads to inefficient system operation, and in some cases, equipment failure.

Two simple things you can do to minimize the risk associated with clogged filters are to change them regularly and make sure you always have an adequate supply of replacement filters on hand. Developing (and sticking to) a filter replacement calendar is the best way to ensure all systems and equipment function efficiently throughout the year. As for always having replacement filters readily available, feel free to contact us. Universal Air Filter Company is a leading OEM filter supplier providing replacement filters for existing applications and new filter designs to support product development. We’re here to help.

Visit the link below for our general filter service and maintenance guidelines.

Air Filter Service and Maintenance Guide

Installing Your Filters the Wrong Way?

There’s a lot of precision science and technology that goes into manufacturing a commercial grade air filter including thermal design, shielding, contamination and air flow control, fire safety and pinpoint compliance with domestic and international certification bodies. Unfortunately, that’s all irrelevant if the filter is installed, replaced or removed incorrectly.

Over the last 50+ years, we’ve seen our fair share filtration issues, most related to an end user not changing filters on a recommended interval. However, you’d be surprised how many times we see high energy costs, performance degradation and even outages caused by a filter that was simply not installed correctly.

We believe we make the highest-quality, most exacting filters on the market, hands down. Where we’ve gone a step beyond over the years is in ensuring that all of that precision manufacturing doesn’t go out the window due to improper filter installation and removal. Even seemingly minor variations in the mounting, fittings and seals can lead to issues such as particle buildup on sensitive circuits, reduction of heat dissipation, fans overheating and so on.

After over a half century in the field, visiting sites and working side-by-side with onsite technicians, we’ve identified the primary issues related to filter installation and removal. As a result of these findings, we’ve made uniquely innovative modifications to our filters to minimize the risks associated with mishandling. Here are just a few:

Fastening On UAF filters, you’ll see a variety of options that ensure the filter is mounted properly and is held firmly in place. Fastening features include through-holes, captive panel fasteners, captive nuts, adhesive tape, magnetic tape, and hook and loop tape.

Sealing Air bypass or water ingress is a concern in many applications. UAF carries a variety of gasket/tape profiles in open cell foam, closed cell foam, and EDPM rubber to prevent filter bypass. Tension springs can also be installed to ensure a snug fit between the filter and enclosure.

Removal Filters can be difficult to access and remove after installation. Aside from frustrating the technician, a difficult-to-remove filter can also compromise the integrity of the enclosure. To make it easier to remove and replace our filters, UAF provides a variety of tabs and handles for easy removal. These handles are available in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials including rigid plastic, thin flexible plastic and sturdy metal.

Specialty Features For our customers that have unique needs and/or equipment architecture, UAF has a variety of other specialty options including hinges, locking mechanisms, brackets, and other unique offerings.

At UAF, we’re constantly innovating our flagship filtration solutions and working collaboratively with our partners to develop custom prototypes and products. That’s the foundation of our business, but these aren’t just products we simply engineer and ship out. We understand that they’re being stored, installed, replaced and removed out in the field and we’re constantly trying to improve the entire end to end process.

For more information on how to install, replace and remove your UAF filter, please contact us.

Solved: Air Filtration in Harsh Environments

Equipment overheating. Alarms triggering. Emergency maintenance deployed. For a major wireless carrier running high volume, critical communications systems, this is not a pleasant way to start each day. Yet, that’s what was happening when we arrived on the scene.

The RBS 6200 outdoor base station pictured here belonged to a major wireless telecom provider. The unit had been plagued by ongoing maintenance issues and the customer suspected the main culprit might be the air filtration system.

After examining the system, we noted the electronics inside the cabinet required forced air cooling for wattage dissipation and to keep the system operating at ideal conditions; however, the original system design did not include proper air filtration. As a result, the fans and cabinet were exposed to harsh contaminants, causing the enclosure to fill with dirt and debris. Equipment would overheat and alarms would trigger for emergency maintenance. Operating costs for the equipment were skyrocketing due to excessive service calls to remote locations, fan replacements, and additional technical hours spent cleaning internal system components.

UAF’s solution to the problem was a custom metal mesh filter designed for exact fit within the front air intake louver to eliminate air bypass and provide total system filtration. This greatly improved system operating efficiency and reduced overall maintenance expense. The sturdy frame and durable, cleanable metal mesh media turned out to be perfect for this particular outdoor environment.

UAF’s Metal Mesh Air Filter can be configured to fit any enclosure and promote clean, cooling air flow through the system. When it comes to solving time-consuming and costly customer issues, UAF works with operations and maintenance personnel to find the best solution. And a sample filter for fit check and performance evaluation is always free.

Metal Mesh Video

Metal Mesh Product Page

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When packaging electronics, don’t forget the air filter

Packaging electrical and electronic medical devices includes sizing proper air filters. But ignore the task of specifying or building the filter till late in the design cycle and it can become challenging, costly, and time consuming. The factors often overlooked in fast-track designs include power consumed, heat load, EMI shielding, and ventilation. A few considerations at the right time make it easier to settle on a best air filter.
A trend to smaller medical enclosures has spurred innovative filter designs, such as low profile and edge-to-edge air filters. Low-profile filters are less than 0.25-in. thick and well suited for use in limited-space equipment. Low-profile filters are about two-thirds the size of standard filters. Edge-to-edge versions either cut back the framing that might run around the perimeter or eliminate it completely. Edge-to-edge filters let clean, cooler air pass along chassis’ interior walls and across boards likely to carry heat-generating electronics. Filter assemblies can have a perforated pattern or metal finish to serve as part of the enclosure exterior or a decorative bezel. External mounting also makes filters accessible for maintenance.
Filter media comes in a few colors but trim size and bracing are available as needed. One way to test a filter design is with a no-cost custom prototype. It ensures the air filter meets product specifications and industry standards.
Thermal-analysis software simulates airflow and heat transfer through enclosures and pinpoints hot spots and dead air zones. The software also lets users quickly and accurately predict pressure drops across filter elements. The trend to smaller medical enclosures on devices with more functions results in higher heat densities. Thermal analysis software helps factor in the effect of an air filter on the system pressure drop.
Dual EMI Honeycomb filters, from Universal Air Filter Co., facilitate uniform air diffusion and are easily removed for cleaning
  In addition, filter companies have developed media to meet the stringent medical industry standards and requirements for flame safety. For instance, polyester and open-cell polyester polyurethane-foam media are rated UL 94 HF-1 for self-extinguishing flame safety. This rating meets CE, UL60950, and EN60950 for flame safety standards. In addition, these media offer low pressure drops, high-dust-capture rates, and are available in white, black, gray, or green. EMI noise, another consideration, has been solved with recent filter innovations. Previously, honeycomb or perforated metal panels were specified separately and then mounted to shield against moderate EMI levels. The new technology, such as dual EMI honeycomb filters, provides filtration and EMI shielding in a single, cost-effective design that is compact and removable. Cells in the dual honeycomb filter trap and deflect EMI noise while maintaining 95 to 99% openness for minimal airflow restriction. Honeycomb media also facilitates uniform air diffusion.
Read the full Article at Medical Design

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