Weld Fume Management Guide: Finding the Right Ambient Air Filtration System

April 6, 2016

How to Choose an Industrial Ventilation System for Controlling Weld Fumes

In the search for industrial ventilation systems, buyers are typically met with similar marketing language for every make, model and solution. “Optimized cartridge cleaning system,” “high-performance collector,” and “industry-best warranty” are typical phrases. But what does that really mean, and how do those things translate into actual system performance – both now and down the road?

With the importance of removing toxic weld fume from a plant environment and so many seemingly “best-in-class” solutions to choose from, deciding on the ideal industrial ventilation system for a facility can seem overwhelming.  This weld fume management guide, Finding the Right Ambient Air Filtration System, will touch on a number of considerations to think about as facilities decide on the appropriate clean air technology.

4 Ambient Air Filtration System Considerations to Keep in Mind

Instead of spending valuable time decoding features and benefits during the search for industrial ventilation equipment, keep the following four considerations in mind and enjoy a more efficient process. Some of the subjects are straight-forward while others, like necessary airflow, may require the assistance of professionals.

The Airflow Required to Move Weld Fume and Smoke

Understanding airflow, which is measured in Cubic Feet per Minute (CFM) and references how much air a system can move, is critical to designing ambient ventilation solutions. Necessary CFM does not simply mean how much airflow is needed to recycle shop air – remember to consider outside forces in airflow projections.

For instance, a moderate breeze can move air at about 700 feet per minute. This amount of force could easily overpower a fume extraction system designed to capture weld fume moving 80-150 feet per minute in a closed environment.

Furthermore, automated welding units will create a great deal amount more weld fume than manual welders due in part to their increased productivity. If your facility utilizes automated systems, this should be taken into consideration to ensure any installed system will be powerful enough.

To properly predict the effectiveness of a given CFM, use a professional Airflow Calculator. Performing this in-depth modeling will ensure systems can be up and running at full capacity as soon as possible after installation – instead of experiencing growing pains.

What to Look for in Filters

Air-to-cloth ratios vary by application, and the ideal ratio will be unique to each environment. A common rule in regard to the amount of filter material is the lower the air-to-cloth ratio, the longer the filter life will be. An increase of filter media upfront can extend filter life up to twice as long in some cases.

After calculating the necessary amount of filter material, there are potential challenges to account for such as spark and mist. As filtered contaminants – dust, mist, etc. – accumulate, the risk of fire increases. While filters are fire-retardant, the contaminants are flammable. To prevent dangerous sparks from becoming more, a system should incorporate spark arrestance – a mechanism that thwarts sparks as they enter the cabinet and before they reach the filter.

If your facility environment is one where oil mist is prevalent, this should be taken into account when choosing filters. Paper filters will quickly become overwhelmed by the presence of oil mist leading to shorter than normal filter life. Specialty filter processes can be employed to combat the presence of mists and maintain reasonable filter life spans.

Directing Weld Fume Away from Respiratory Zones

If manual welding is taking place in your facility, it is important to keep the position of the weld operators in mind when planning the location of ambient units. After all, employee health and safety is one of the primary reasons for investing in an industrial ventilation systems in the first place.

Improper placement of push or pull units could draw fume and smoke through the welder's respiratory zone, reducing the overall effectiveness of the system and potentially doing more harm than good. To make sure new airflow patterns do not put welders in danger, you can partner with an industrial ventilation expert to simulate system performance and provide in-depth airflow models.

Long-Term Cost of Maintenance

To avoid repetitive maintenance costs, make sure to invest in a well-made system upfront. Durable, heavy-duty systems will feature sealed cabinets made of resilient materials and protect internal components from any potential hazards. The best industrial ventilation partners will install units themselves, be willing and able to handle any comprehensive maintenance, and provide a lifetime warranty for the duration of the contract on all parts and labor as proof that they stand by their design. After all, a very important and costly investment was made, and it is reasonable to expect it to last.

Controlling Weld Fumes with RoboVent

RoboVent are the leaders in clean air technology with decades of experience providing a variety of industrial ventilation solutions. More important, RoboVent is more than a supplier – they are a team of engineering professionals committed to delivering systems and products that improve the environment, process systems, and the health and safety of your workers.

RoboVent assumes total project responsibility for the systems it delivers meaning there is a single source of responsibility for you to rely on. While quality and construction and continued technological innovative are vital to the service RoboVent provides, it is the personalized customer care that sets our solutions apart.

Contact RoboVent today to learn more about our innovative systems, processes and approach.