Which capture method is best for Weld Fumes?

Welding Exhaust Systems

Removing weld fumes to protect workers and other resources

The need to control weld fumes is more serious than ever. Substances in weld fumes such as hexavalent chromium, beryllium, cadmium, cobalt, and nickel have proven to be dangerous inhalation hazards. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issues air quality regulations for these substances and many others. Fortunately, affordable welding exhaust systems exist to mitigate these fumes.

Exhaust and Makeup Air vs. Filtration

Welding exhaust systems comprise a wide variety of air quality solutions. The simplest systems exhaust contaminated air to the outside. This option might be attractive for small operations with irregular welding volumes. The method has downsides, however, including high energy bills caused by the need to re-heat or re-cool make-up air. In addition, exhausting welding fumes to the outside sometimes runs into environmental air quality regulations.

The way to avoid those problems is to filter your contaminated air. This avoids any potential breaches in air quality regulations, while saving money on energy bills. The higher startup costs that come with air filtration are more than offset in the long run by energy savings. In addition, facilities with filtration systems tend to have cleaner rooftops and grounds.

Source Capture vs. Ambient Air Quality Control

Choosing between source and ambient capture comes down to the welding application involved and the facility’s physical constraints. The more toxic the fume, the more likely a source capture solution is needed. These solutions grab fumes at the source, preventing them from lingering in a worker’s breathing zone or spreading throughout a facility. Applications that produce a high volume of weld fumes are good candidates for source capture, as well.

Some applications make source capture of fumes difficult. For example, welders working on large parts often find it difficult to reposition fume arms to capture fumes. Sometimes facility constraints—such as overhead cranes—make source capture solutions difficult to implement, as well. In these situations, ambient capture solutions can mitigate a large amount of dust and fumes. These units are facility-wide solutions that churn the air through an entire building in order to run the air through filters.

Best Welding Exhaust System Options for Manual Welding

Manual welding operations require particular attention to workers’ breathing zones and the direction of airflow. The best air quality solutions pull fumes away from the breathing zone while making sure the welder can work without interruption. Systems like RoboVent’s CrossFlow Table provide a convenient work surface while sucking weld fumes away from the welder. Fume arms are another good source capture option. These can be repositioned easily to capture fumes where they are produced.

For welding situations that are unconventional or inconvenient, a fume extraction gun might is a good solution. Recent innovations have improved fume guns and made them a strong alternative for these situations. A good MIG fume gun creates a perfect weld while pulling fumes away from the welder.

Best Welding Exhaust System Options for Robotic Welding

The air quality challenges stemming from robotic welding come from the toxicity of the weld fumes and their high volume. Vigorous and well-designed systems are needed to mitigate these fumes. To begin, a good system will confine the weld fumes in order to prevent them from spreading. Next, a welding exhaust hood should provide enough suction to capture the contaminated air and send it through a collector.

For robotic welding applications which don’t fit under an exhaust hood, a tip extraction system is a good alternative. This technology has made leaps in recent years, and today’s systems produce perfect welds while pulling away up to 95% of weld fumes. These units promise to make robotic welding even more effective over the coming years.

SOURCES:
Components of Weld Fumes: https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA_FS-3647_Welding.pdf

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