Dust Collection for Structural Steel Fabrication and Building Materials Supply

Clean Air Matrix

RoboVent engineers are experts in every category of air filtration and ventilation. The four categories below represent the major options for treating your contaminated air. RoboVent has designed solutions for each of these categories and has manufactured air filtration systems of unrivaled quality.

For more information about these categories, see Indoor Air Quality 101.


Large blowers and air filtration equipment draw contaminated air from the plant (typically at the ceiling level), filter it and return it to the plant. This is a proven solution in plants welding large parts with overhead cranes. It reduces the haze in the air, resulting in a cleaner working environment, with no negative pressure or heat loss.


Air in the immediate area of the welding activity is captured in a hood system, then filtered and returned to the plant. This is the best solution whenever possible. It allows for a more flexible system and removes the smoke directly from the operator's breathing zone. There are many types of source capture, including overhead hoods, crossflow hoods, fume arms and fume guns, some of which work better than others.


Large exhaust fans draw contaminated air from the plant and exhaust it directly into the environment, typically through the roof or walls. This is a traditional method and often results in negative air pressure. Also, it is very difficult to climate-control your plant and the system may not work well in the winter.

Air in the immediate area of the welding activity is captured in a hood, sent through ductwork, and exhausted directly into the environment. This is a lower capital cost alternative to filtration, but tends to result in high operating costs and large, unsightly ducting systems that work less efficiently with modifications. It also results in negative pressure problems.

Introduction to Dust and Fume Collection for Structural Steel Fabricators and Construction Suppliers

From bridges to buildings, structural steel undergirds our infrastructure and much of our economy. Structural steel's tensile strength and durability make it an ideal material for applications that require bearing heavy loads or withstanding shocks. It's also easy to weld and work with.

Fabricators use structural steel to create a broad range of products for the construction industry as well as for oil & gas infrastructure, shipbuilding, power plants and energy infrastructure. Some of the most common uses of structural steel include:

  • Bridges
  • High-rise buildings
  • Parking garages
  • Stadiums
  • Commercial buildings (warehouses, retail stores, prisons, office buildings, and manufacturing facilities)
  • Pre-fab housing, office buildings and building materials
  • Dams
  • Power stations and energy infrastructure
  • Oil rigs, pipelines and offshore platforms for the oil & gas industry
  • Playground equipment
  • Shipbuilding and transportation equipment
  • Security fencing
  • Agricultural structures and equipment

Structural steel is also used in a broad range of other building materials and heavy construction equipment.

Of course, construction work for large structures like high rises and bridges happens outdoors and onsite. However, smaller structures such as playground equipment or stadium seating are usually assembled and welded in an indoor facility. Structural steel fabricators also pre-assemble smaller components of larger structures that will be shipped to the construction site for final assembly. This may include drilling, cutting, grinding and welding of structural steel beams—all of which will produce dangerous dust or fumes.

Dust and Fume Collection Challenges in the Structural Steel Fabrication Industry

Fabricators working with structural steel face a number of challenges when it comes to indoor air quality.

  • Structural steel fabrication often depends on a lot of manual welding. Welding structural steel produces toxic weld fumes that put employee health at risk. In particular, alloys used for structural steel, as well as welding consumables, are usually high in manganese, putting workers at risk for manganism or other nervous system disorders. Depending on the exact composition of the structural steel alloy, workers may also be exposed to hexavalent chromium, nickel, beryllium or other toxic substances. Exposure to these elements is linked to metal fume fever, lung cancer, kidney disease and other health problems.
  • Cutting and grinding structural steel produces high volumes of dust—especially laser and plasma cutting, commonly used to cut large steel I-beams and girders down to size. These particulates are irritating the lungs, toxic when inhaled or ingested, and potentially damaging to other equipment and processes. They can also be very challenging to contain and control.
  • Metal dusts created by laser cutting, drilling or grinding of structural steel are combustible. If they are allowed to accumulate in an enclosed area, they create a serious risk of explosion.
  • Structural steel components that will be exposed to the elements are often treated with corrosion-resistant paints or other treatments to improve their longevity. However, the materials and coatings used to increase corrosion resistance often contain highly toxic elements such as cadmium, which makes working with the dust or fumes even more dangerous.
  • Structural steel beams and the products made from them are usually very large and heavy. Most structural steel fabricating cannot be contained under a hood. Fabricators may also need to use overhead cranes to move beams and final products around. These factors make source capture, which is usually the most economical and effective method of air quality control, challenging.

OSHA requires manufacturers working with structural steel to maintain a safe and healthy working environment for all employees. They have set permissible exposure limits (PELs) for airborne contaminants, which may be different for General Industry, Construction and Shipbuilding. No matter what industry sector a particular manufacturer falls into, failure to meet OSHA PELs can have significant legal and financial repercussions for manufacturers.

Many manufacturers creating products with structural steel are finding that meeting these minimum standards is no longer enough to remain competitive and attract skilled workers. The American Welding Society estimates that manufacturers will see a shortage of 290,000 skilled workers by 2020. Maintaining a pleasant and safe workplace will help manufacturers attract and keep the best workers.

In addition, following OSHA standards may not fully protect worker health. The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) has developed voluntary guidelines for exposure to toxic airborne particulates based on the latest scientific evidence of harm. In most cases, these guidelines are lower than OSHA PELs.

Solutions for Dust and Fumes in the Structural Steel and Building Materials Industry

RoboVent knows how to control weld fumes and dust for fabricators working with structural steel. From pre-fab housing to playground equipment, we can help you analyze your processes, identify your challenges, and design an air quality solution that is tailored to your needs.

We have been an industry leader in clean air since 1989, and we are continually innovating to make our equipment safer, more effective, and more energy efficient. And RoboVent guarantees satisfaction. Our manufacturing standards are the highest in the industry, and our warranty is the best in the business.

We have a wide range of solutions for the oil & gas manufacturing industry.

  • Our Plaser® Series of dust collectors has been specially designed to address the challenges of dust collection for high-production laser and plasma cutting.
  • The Extractor™ Fume Gun is the perfect solution for manual welding of large infrastructure components. Pair it with the powerful, compact ProCube™ Hi-Vac Dust Collector for a practical, portable solution for weld fume control.
  • Our powerful Fusion™ Series of dust collectors can be ducted to multiple cutting stations or weld cells to provide dust and fume collection for your entire manufacturing line.
  • When source capture is not an option, we offer a variety of ducted, ductless and floor-mounted ambient air filtration options, including Spire360™, Vortex™, and Vista360™.

To see which other industries RoboVent partners with, click here.


Plaser Series: Laser Cutting Ventilation System by RoboVent

Laser Cutting

RoboVent's solution for laser cutting is a powerful ventilation system that both protects workers and ensures the air is as clean as it needs to be. RoboVent's engineers have decades of experience helping customers be leaders in manufacturing.

Ventilation Solutions for Plasma Cutting

Plasma Cutting

Plasma cutting is growing in popularity, and RoboVent has developed a ventilation system that is perfectly suited to its demands. The Plaser Series offers powerful airflow, long filter life and the longest warranty in the industry.

Manual Welding Source Capture

Source capture is a proven way to reduce weld fumes in manual welding operations. Collecting fumes at the point of welding ensures a more efficient means of capture and a higher degree of safety for workers.

Ventilation Solutions For Portable Weld Fume Extraction

Portable Weld Fume Smoke Extraction

These self-contained systems enable workers to capture weld fumes from any location. When production lines or welding cells must remain flexible, these systems safeguard workers, no matter the situation.

Robovent Manual Welding Ventilation Solutions

Manual Welding Ambient Systems

Ambient solutions for manual welding stations capture weld fumes from the environment, improving the air for workers and the entire facility.

Robotic Welding Ventilation Systems by RoboVent

Robotic Welding

RoboVent offers multiple systems for addressing the special concerns of robotic welding. Cutting-edge collectors provide workers and facilities the highest levels of protection possible.

Ventilation Solutions for Laser Welding

Laser Welding

Laser welding is a growing field, and RoboVent offers solutions for the unique weld fume issues involved. Our enclosed capture solutions are ideally suited for the high-volume, precise nature of laser welding.

Resistance Welding

Resistance welding produces serious weld fumes. RoboVent offers powerful solutions for whatever kind of welding operation you have, in order to protect workers, comply with regulations and improve your facility's environment.

Ambient Oil Mist Collector

Oil Mist Ambient Systems

RoboVent's ambient capture solution for oil mist is a facility-wide system engineered to address the problem in the broadest, yet most effective, way possible. This system's proprietary design creates a circulating airflow throughout your facility that produces extraordinary results.

Source Capture Solutions for Oil Mist

Oil Mist Source Capture

RoboVent's source capture solution for oil mist is the result of a rethinking and redesigning of oil mist collection. The final result delivers exceptional performance to protect your workers and your facility. As always, satisfaction is guaranteed.

Abrasive Blasting Dust Collection

Abrasive Blasting Dust Collection

Abrasive blasting operations produce a wide variety of dusts, and RoboVent has the expertise and equipment needed to clean the air of any operation.