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Martin Engineering Celebrates 50 Years of Air Cannon Technology

The world leader in bulk handling solutions Martin Engineering is marking the 50th anniversary of its invention of the world’s first low-pressure air cannon.

Air cannons have transformed material flows in bulk processing systems, eliminating problematic internal buildups and blockages. After five decades of continuous innovation, Martin Engineering remains at the forefront of air cannon advancements, enabling industrial plants to run more profitably, efficiently and safely than ever.

The company launched the world’s first low-pressure pneumatic air cannon – its legendary Big Blaster® – in 1974. It was devised and developed by Carl Matson, a member of Martin’s senior team and cousin of the firm’s founder Edwin F. Peterson.

By the 1990s Martin Engineering had developed an extreme heat and velocity version of the Big Blaster, the XHV, with an all-metal construction capable of withstanding the harshest of conditions. In the 2000s Martin became the first to introduce safer positive-pressure firing valve with its Tornado air cannon – technology that prevents unintentional firing if there’s a drop in system pressure.

Soon after that came the introduction of the Hurricane valve, located in the rear of the air cannon tank rather at the tank and nozzle junction, greatly improving safety and ease of maintenance.

In 2008, Martin Engineering opened its industry-leading Center for Innovation, which accelerated the company’s air cannon technology advancements – including the SMART™ Series Nozzles with multiple nozzle tips. Its clever Y-shaped assembly means the nozzle can be installed, accessed and serviced without removing the air cannon or further disruption to the vessel structure and refractory.

The Martin® Thermo Safety Shield acts as a safety barrier to allow timely and safe maintenance of air cannon systems. It protects workers from exposure to severe temperatures so that maintenance can take place safely and production stays on schedule.

Martin Engineering’s current ground-breaking air cannon designs are the result of the research and development in the Center for Innovation, located at the company’s headquarters in Neponset, Illinois. The center will open its doors to visitors in the Summer of 2024 as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations.

For more information, visit

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