Air Purification Manufacturing

3D Printing Fume Extraction

3D Printing Fume Extraction

Three-dimensional (3D) printing is an increasingly popular technique for prototyping and additive manufacturing. The  ever expanding number of applications for 3D printing technology means the industry is expected to increase from $0.7 Billion in 2019 to $5.6 Billion in 2026. 3D printing can use a variety of materials including plastic, resin, ceramics, wood, metal, graphite, nitinol, and paper. Due to the diversity of 3D printing applications, the scalable nature of 3D printing technology and the rapid growth of the industry, every 3D printing company is likely to hit a point where the need for fume extraction becomes apparent. Similar issues surrounding fugitive fumes caused by various production and fabrication processes exist in comparable industries like laser printing, laser etching and laser cutting to name a few. For the majority of these industries, there is an alarming lack of awareness and education revolving around the negative health impacts attributed to fugitive fume inhalation in the production phase. Even though 3D printing is a fairly new idea, fume extraction is not. For more than 20 years, Aeroex Technologies has been at the forefront of developing mist and fume extraction products for the industrial and commercial sectors. With decades of experience and expertise in air purification systems, the team at Aeroex was able to modify and improve on already highly efficient filtration technology to meet the specific needs of the 3D printing industry. 

Challenges of 3D and Laser Printing

With many institutional and DIY newcomers to the 3D printing realm, health and safety is becoming an increasingly discussed topic. To understand the health hazards associated with fugitive fume inhalation, we must first understand where the fumes come from. In the process of 3D printing, filament reels are melted by the printer as it moves along the pre-programmed path. While heating and melting the material, fumes are generated as a byproduct of the process. The composition of the fumes will depend on the material being printed. Some of the most common materials like thermoplastic polymers (e.g. ABS) are known to emit styrene, a suspected carcinogen that also causes headaches, drowsiness, and fatigue. Some materials can be substituted to reduce the toxicity levels of fumes, but this does not discount that fumes will be generated regardless of material. 3D printing often takes hours and even days to complete a project, with machines running for a long time to print each layer. 3D printing is an incredibly powerful and scalable technology, but output rates should not be limited by health and safety concerns and you should not have to downgrade your materials from durable thermoplastics to reduce the risk of these fumes. Instead, an air purification system designed for fume extraction in 3D printing will allow you to safely continue your prototyping or manufacturing work without compromise to productivity or health. 

Aeroex’s 3D Printing Strategy

Before proposing a solution for 3D printing fumes, the engineers at Aeroex spent considerable time researching  the nature of the fumes generated by 3D printing including the materials involved, equipment used, typical shop configurations, and the nature of the fumes released (composition and quantity). Much like our medical-grade air purification systems and/or mist extraction systems that are used  for other processes that generate fumes like CNC machining, we apply the principles of source capture  and ambient control. In the case of 3D printing, processes are usually quite modular and the sources of fumes are easy to pinpoint. Therefore,  the source capture method is bound to be highly efficient because fumes can be extracted before they enter the ambient conditions of your shop, which would require purification of much larger volumes of air at lower concentrations. Our attention to strategy and deployment planning is a key consideration when many other air purifiers cite the performance of MERV or HEPA filters without a plan for you to experience this level of performance.

The Right Filter for the Job

Beyond our overall strategy, the filters in question will ensure complete fume extraction during 3D printing or laser printing. For fumes like styrene which are associated with 3D printing, Aeroex uses activated carbon filters with a HEPA standard for particle size and efficiency. HEPA (also known as high-efficiency particulate absorbing, as defined by the US Department of Energy and the EPA), has an efficiency rating of 99.97% for particles as small as 0.3 μm. Typically, fumes exist in the particle range smaller than one micron, making the HEPA filter the optimal application for 3D printing. 

Commercial HEPA Air Filtration Systems with Activated Carbon

Activated carbon is a powerful technology that removes airborne gaseous chemicals through adsorption (adhesion of molecules to a surface without inducing solubility), which is why it’s a trusted part of sacred processes like the treatment of drinking water and wastewater. Activated carbon is also the focal point of Aeroex’s air purification systems design for fume extraction in 3D printing and laser printing. In an industry where claims about carbon are abound, Aeroex goes beyond the competition. We use real carbon made of coconut shells. While some companies will use small sprinkles of carbon in their filters so it can be cited in their product description, Aeroex goes as far as filling the filter media with small elongated pellets. During fume extraction, the air is pushed through the pellets to maximize the adsorption process, providing you with superior efficiency and long lasting filters.. The composition of our activated carbon and the sheer amount of it we use is a key reason to choose Aeroex, especially once you begin to understand the underlying “gold standard” technology of our products versus others who claim to provide fume extraction.

There are both established 3D printing practices in North America as well as quickly emerging companies that are still fine-tuning their processes. 3D printing companies are quickly realizing the need to focus on health and safety, but we would encourage you not to rush – instead take time to understand your fume sources and the purification technology. Some companies are offering “technologies” like bipolar ionizers, hydroxyl generators, and disinfectant foggers (as reported by outlets like Mother Jones and Colorado State University) that claim to be quick fixes, when in fact these will leave you at risk without the fume extraction you truly need. Due to the growth of 3D printing and the ever expanding variety of materials used for printing, the industry is still zeroing in on the best methods of industrial air filtration and ventilation, like our HEPA filters. 

We Are Committed to Supporting the 3D Printing Industry

We understand 3D printing is a growing industry, and we want to ensure the health and safety of your workplace for the long term. Our superior quality means the fume extraction technology you receive will be long-lasting and scalable as your 3D printing business grows, while the filters we use have large amounts of media that reduce the overall costs of filter replacements, by widening the maintenance intervals and lowering the labour hours required for maintenance. This is why we have stationed every aspect of our product lifecycle in Canada, from manufacturing to customer support. While many larger companies outsource their customer service internationally, purchasing a made-in-Canada product means your air purification supplier is with you for the long haul. We want to make sure that your operations are successful and we will be there to help you make the right deployment and get the most out of our products. Check out our operation in Barrie Ontario, and contact us today to get started with your Canadian partner for air purification in laser printing and 3D printing. 

Air Purification Manufacturing

Plastic Welding Fume Extraction

Plastic Welding Fume Extraction

Plastic welding is a popular technique for assembling goods from plastic components or materials because it allows you to directly join two compatible pieces without relying on adhesives or fasteners. This technique often produces products with a seamless appearance due to the components all being the same plastic material, without joints or clamps. The surface of the plastic is usually melted with a hot air welding gun. Although, there are other techniques like acoustic vibration, friction welding, laser welding, and contact welding. These manual techniques are useful for small operations, while larger operations can scale up with automatic welding. With these technologies, many of the goods we use in our everyday lives can be produced fairly inexpensively. However, any production technique that involves melting plastic will produce fumes that raise health and safety concerns and operational issues like accumulating by-products on the facility’s equipment. 

Challenges with Fumes in the Plastic Welding Industry

Plastic welding poses some unique challenges for air quality due to the types of materials being used and their operating conditions. Typically, rigid thermoplastics like PVC are welded at air temperatures of around 350 degrees Celsius to avoid discoloration or scorching of the product. Unfortunately, the melting point of these plastics and the operating temperature of the equipment mean that the emissions produced are bound to contaminate the ambient air in the facility.. The following are a few indicators  associated with industrial fume emissions: 

  • Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) is known to produce black smoke and soot flakes.
  • Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) produces black smoke.
  • Acrylics produce a lot of odor.
  • Polycarbonate (PC) produces yellowish smoke and soot.

In each of these cases, fumes are producing chlorine, styrene, and other harmful by-products that cause acute effects like irritated skin or eyes, nausea, and headaches – with chronic effects including cancer. The rate at which these toxins are released can vary with your operating temperatures, complicating matters further. A plastic welding operation that wants to scale up has to manage these risks to remain safe and sustainable. 

As mentioned above, plastic welding smoke is often dark and mixed with fumes (the finer solid particles). Suspended in these emissions are large and fine airborne solid particles produced by vaporizing and condensing plastic particles, causing the dark color. The transient state of these particles means that they do not remain vaporized or airborne. The result? Condensation of smoke and fumes from plastic welding, leaving behind waxy residues! Setting aside the health and safety concerns of the fumes, these residues will impact and clog your machinery and conventional HVAC systems – driving up maintenance costs and reducing the useful life of your assets. The variation of particle sizes from smoke and fume combinations means that a uniform approach will not mitigate all emissions equally.

Strategies for Industrial Air Filtration and Ventilation

The waxy fumes and smoke from plastic welding are a reality of the production process that should be managed effectively for both safety and the longevity of your shop. This unique challenge is where Aeroex’s air purification systems perform as advertised while some competing air purification systems fall short as they advertise high efficiency, yet provide insufficient airflow to fully mitigate the inbound emissions. To manage waxy residues, a special design is needed to prevent clogging. Otherwise, you will be stuck doing perpetual maintenance without realizing the true benefits you should expect from your air purification system. 

 

Aeroex’s industrial air filtration units use progressive filtration technology where each stage is designed to complement the shortfalls of the last, and ultimately results in longer-lasting filters as well as allows filtration of particulate sized emissions and emissions on the molecular level. . Typically, this is where other air purification systems fall short and get clogged as these systems rely on the filter itself without primary mechanical elements. While these air purification systems “perform” well when brand new or during demos, they don’t have a design that will sustainably deliver the service you need. 

 

Since waxy emissions are a reality of plastic welding, then, there needs to be a way to deal with them in a way that does not impact your maintenance budget significantly. Your competitors are likely dealing with the same issue, due to the nature of plastic welding emissions. The progressive filtration approach allows the wax to accumulate on the primary washable elements, keeping your consumable activated carbon and HEPA filters in an environment where minimal wax residue is able to get through. The primary filtration elements are easily removable and hand-washable, a periodic and very low-cost maintenance activity. This design choice was intentional because it will prevent you from having the frequent filter replacement costs seen in other competitor models. 

Industrial Air Filtration Systems Designed for the Long Haul

Future-proofing your business is one of our core mandates, and Aeroex aims to outfit you with quality, made in Canada air purification systems. The longer your systems last, the better your investment return is, something Aeroex has strived for both in design and materials used. The nature of plastic welding is that it will incur costly maintenance to your filters if the correct design is not deployed. Aeroex has developed a solution that will cut through any issues you have had with clogged filters in the past. Our clients regularly report satisfaction at how durable our products are. For instance take Laker Energy, one of our first clients. Their mist collector (a similar product to what we would recommend for plastic welding) is going strong after 15 years, with the SAME FILTER inside – working smoothly after all this time. 

 

Our industrial air filtration systems will cut out the headaches of smoke and fumes during plastic welding, allowing you to focus on the things that matter like scaling up your business into automatic plastic welding. Contact Aeroex to talk to a specialist team member, get the specs, and plan an air purification deployment for your plastic welding operation today.