Airtec Air Systems UK News

The History of Air Knife Technology

Here at Airtec, we believe that an in-depth understanding of a product is important to the customers’ ability to use it to its full potential. After all, our humidification products can be utilised in a variety of different industries including cooling, drying and coating, however they weren’t always as advanced as they are today. Read on as we go over everything there is to know about the history of air knife technology…


Before air knives were used in industrial applications, many companies relied on the use of heat lamps in order to remove moisture particles from production lines and ensure that the finished product was fit for transportation. With this said, it was only a partially beneficial solution as solid particles and residue could not be removed and it was a very time-consuming process that required a lot of space on the shop floor.

Willis Whitfield

The very first air knives were known as ‘air doctors’ and were a successful invention of the 1950’s because their use of a laminar airflow allowed debris to be blown off products and the thickness of liquids to be closely controlled. Willis Whitfield was an American physicist who noticed a need for sterile cleaning in nuclear research and created the laminar-flow cleanroom in 1959 as a response, which utilised air knife technology in order to create a solution that was almost 1000 times more effective than any other previous invention.

Modern Air Knives

By the 1960’s and 1970’s, industry professionals moved away from the ‘air doctor’ origins of air knives in order to develop the product that we know and recognise today. After all, air knives were used almost exclusively for blowing debris off objects during the first half of the 20th century, however advancements in technology now allow them to be utilised in cooling and drying applications too.

There are hundreds of different industries across the UK that rely on air knife applications in order to carry out day-to-day operations. After all, a lack of humidification control in food packaging applications can allow dust to linger and surface moisture to cling to the containers themselves. To find out more information about the benefits of air knife technology, get in contact with a member of the Airtec team today!