Air Blasting Takes the Glare Off the Electrical Grid

Tales conflict about which First Lady put the damper on reflections from overhead electrical cables. Some sources point to Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of the US’s only four-time President. She allegedly complained about the glare from aluminum cables interfering with her watching the beautiful birds perched atop. Others claim Lyndon Johnson’s wife, Lady Bird, took the initiative for reducing cable reflectivity during congressional horse trading surrounding the Highway Beautification Act.

Empire’s automated blast systems remove gloss from and create anchoring profiles on aluminum electrical cables ranging in diameter from one-quarter to three inches. The blast system shown above deploys 12 guns firing plastic pellets to remove gloss from aluminum wire at rates of up to 20 linear feet per minute.
Regardless of the history, the US government currently bans “specular” (i.e., highly reflective) overhead conductors from passing through federal parkland. Various communities throughout the world impose similar constraints. In fact, a new ASTM international standard for “non-specular” wires is now under development to update the ANSI standard issued way back in 1975.
Today’s mix of environmental concerns, outdated electrical grids, government stimulus dollars and Empire’s expertise in building equipment to air blast aluminum wire, presents opportunities.
Beyond removing gloss from aluminum wire, our automated systems surface-profile cables to maximize the adhesion of coatings.
While preferences in blast media continue shifting from aluminum oxide toward plastics because of concerns about fatigue resulting from ALOX embedment, Empire has both bases covered — we build two product lines, SafeStrip™ and FaStrip®, designed to handle light abrasives.
As demonstrated by a number of major producers, our systems work equally well in line or as a next step in the production of aluminum cables. Further, we excel in engineering systems tailored to customer needs, which should attract new business in an expanding market.