FAQ CATEGORY: Portable Weld Fume Extractors

Portable Weld Fume Extractors

What are portable weld fume extractors used for?

A portable weld fume extractor is a small dust collection unit that can be easily moved and repositioned. Portable weld fume extractors are commonly used in environments where centralized fume extraction systems are not feasible or practical. Their primary function is to capture and filter hazardous fumes generated during manual welding, thus improving air quality and worker safety. (Note: highly hazardous fume, such as hexavalent chromium produced by stainless steel welding, may require a secondary air filtration solutions, such as a HEPA or activated carbon filter.) Portable units offer the flexibility to be moved to various locations, making them ideal for jobs that require mobility or for spaces that can't accommodate larger, fixed systems. These include:

  • Small workshops, educational facilities and maker spaces that do not have stationary dedicated spaces for welding
  • Field operations and temporary worksites requiring weld fume extraction  
  • Manual welding operations requiring high welder mobility, such as applications involving large weldments (e.g., heavy equipment or infrastructure)
  • Welding operations involving tight quarters where traditional fume extractors are not practical (e.g., tanks, ship hulls)

How does a portable weld fume extractor work?

A portable weld fume extractor consists of a fan or blower that pulls contaminated air into a filter chamber, where contaminants are filtered out. The intake nozzle is attached to some form of capture device or hood, such as a fume arm, backdraft plenum or a fume gun. Some portable fume extractors, such as many from the VentBoss line, are all-in-on units that include a fume arm, backdraft or downdraft plenum, or flexible hose that attaches to the extractor. Others, like the RoboVent ProCube II, are designed to be hooked up to a production cell, fume gun or hood. A portable weld fume collector will usually come with wheels/castors and a handle that make it easy to move the unit from one location to another and may have other features such as built-in spark control.

What is a hi-vac weld fume extractor?

A high-vacuum (Hi-Vac) extraction unit is a specialized system designed to capture and remove fine particles, fumes, and hazardous materials directly at their source. Compared to general dust collection systems, Hi-Vac units have lower airflow (in Cubic Feet per Minute, or CFM) but higher suction power. They are tailored for highly localized fume extraction (for example, using fume guns or on-torch extraction). Hi-vac systems usually have smaller hose diameters for weld fume collection compared to other portable collectors. A smaller hose diameter means that less air is moved, but the air is moved with greater force, making it more effective at capturing fine particles. High-vac extraction units are often used with fume guns, on-torch robotic tip extraction, and other highly localized extraction methods. Portable weld fume collectors come in both hi-vac (ProCube II and VentBoss G130) and general models (the rest of the VentBoss portable line).

What are the benefits of a portable weld fume extractor?

Portable weld fume extractors are a valuable tool for any setting where welding occurs, offering a flexible and cost-effective solution to improve air quality and protect worker health. They offer several benefits, contributing to both worker safety and operational efficiency. Here are some key advantages:

  • Flexibility and Mobility: Portable fume extractors are easy to move from one workstation to another. This makes them a good fit for temporary job sites and field applications, as well as smaller shops that require flexibility in setting up welding operations. They are also ideal for manual welding operations requiring high welder mobility. 
  • Cost-Effectiveness: Portable extraction units are generally less expensive than installing a centralized system, making them a budget-friendly option for small operations needing occasional weld fume collection.
  • Easy Installation and Maintenance: Most portable weld fume collection units feature "plug-and-play" operation and require minimal setup and maintenance.
  • Efficient Use of Space: A portable dust collector can be moved out of the way when not in use, which is beneficial for environments where space is limited.

Can portable weld fume extractors be used for robotic welding?

Portable weld fume extractors are generally designed for manual welding operations where the source of fumes is relatively localized and mobile. In robotic welding operations, the welding activities are usually fixed and highly automated, often taking place in larger, enclosed spaces. These settings frequently employ centralized fume extraction systems that are integrated into the overall welding setup, offering greater extraction capacity and efficiency. (See RoboVent Senturion™ and RoboVent Spire™.) However, some portable units, such as the RoboVent ProCube II, may be suitable for light-duty robotic weld fume extraction using on-torch extraction.

What types of hoods can be used with a portable weld fume collector?

A portable weld fume extractor is attached to some type of hood or collection device. 

  • Fume guns, or extraction torches, are a natural companion to a high-vacuum portable extractor. These devices integrate fume extraction into the torch itself. A MIG fume gun with a portable hi-vac extractor enables a high degree of welder mobility for working on large weldments. The ProCube II portable hi-vac extractor can handle up to two welders using fume guns. 
  • Fume extraction arms can be attached directly to the extraction unit. The fume arm is positioned over the weld seam to collect fumes. Fume extraction arms are usually articulated to enable easy positioning.
  • Some portable fume extractors use a simple flex hose with a cone for fume collection. The cone is simply laid near the fume source. However, the flex hose does not hold the intake in place like a fume arm.  
  • A small portable dust collector may also be ducted to a small extraction hood or backdraft plenum. For manual welding, the plenum must be positioned behind the welding surface to pull weld fumes up and away from the breathing zone.