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 Blog

Industrial Air Purification Systems

Industrial Air Purification Systems explained: learn the ins and outs of Aeroex Air Purification Solutions.

Industry powers the economic activity of our society, processing raw materials and manufacturing goods to create supply chains, jobs, and products. With advances in technology, our industrial processes have grown in complexity, scale, and capacity. Workplace air quality is an issue dating back to the industrial revolution, but it is an issue that has evolved and persisted into our modern industries like metalworking and food production.

Industrial air quality issues are more complicated than previously thought, including dust, mist, smoke, and fume issues – if these aren’t addressed with filtration, businesses could face occupational health and safety, production quality, equipment performance, and environmental compliance problems. Aeroex is at the forefront of the air quality challenges experienced by industry and the science behind keeping your workplace safe and clean.

What Are The Industrial Air Quality Issues?

Air quality is threatened by a wide range of substances and mediums. Poor quality is caused by contaminant particles, which can be big or small and in solid, liquid, or gaseous form. Common causes include smoke, mist, and fumes. The nature of your air quality issues will depend on your industrial process (ex. manufacturing, woodworking, food production, etc.) or if you are in a public setting (ex. schools or medical offices). To simplify the wide variety of pollutants that are fully addressed by Aeroex, the most common air quality contaminants in the industrial setting can generally be understood as smoke, mist, or fumes.

Smoke: Solid particulates released into the air as a byproduct of combustion. Particulates will vary in size and composition depending on the temperature of your combustion process and the medium being consumed (for example, diesel). Common sources include engines and generators. Many of the solid particulates vary in size from those such as oil mist, meaning they can be captured at different stages of the same multi-step filtration process used in Aeroex air purification systems. Check out the ARO series products to see how we achieve this.

Mist: Mists are the liquid droplets of a substance or mixture that are suspended in the air. Their safety impacts vary greatly with the materials being used, their chemistry, and whether the mixing of chemicals is taking place. Mists are often issues in industries where water or liquids are used or where spraying takes place. Common use cases that Aeroex caters to include metalworking, laser cutting, spray painting, and food processing. Products like our Mist-Fit Series specialize in oil mist collection for industrial air quality purification.

Fumes: Volatilized solid particles such as iron or aluminum are released into the air, condensing and oxidizing to form dangerous fumes. If unmitigated, fumes can cause health issues including lung damage and cancer. Fumes are commonly associated with industrial processes like welding, textiles, painting, and paving. Aeroex could address these risks with an ambient air purification system (typically roof-mounted). This is suitable for any commercial or industrial setting.

Industrial air quality pollutants may appear complicated, but they can be easily addressed with industrial air purification systems designed by Aeroex and made right here in North America. We are at the forefront of air quality filtration technologies and are equipped to tackle the latest challenges like the need for medical-grade air purifiers.

Industrial Air Purification Systems Aeroex Technologies Air Purification Solutions - 3

How Do Industrial Air Purification Systems Work?

Industrial air purification systems work by pulling the contaminated air from the indoor environment into a filtration system, passing the air through a series of mediums designed to efficiently remove all of the harmful particles before releasing it back into the work environment. For example, the ARO Series Mist Collectors uses four stages of filter media to target increasingly small contaminants with each stage. This is a simplification of a technical process that has been carefully designed by Aeroex engineers, who understand that separation is best accomplished in progressive filters of increasing efficiency that move from targeting larger particles to the smallest and most problematic. This general approach is always tailored and customized for what industrial air purification a user wishes to achieve. Solutions for contaminated air can be engineered to mitigate any industrial, commercial, or institutional contaminant, including oil mist, bacteria, dust and other harmful particulates or fumes.

 

How do industrial air purification systems eliminate airborne contaminants and improve indoor air quality?

It depends on the vendor, as some will use older centrifugal technologies that don’t eliminate fine mist and require frequent after-filter replacements. In the case of Aeroex, we use filter technologies that pass the air through separating layers such as depth loading fiber, oil attracting mesh, HEPA filters that capture the smallest mist, smoke, and bacteria particles.

Ambient and Source Capture Methods

Industrial air purifiers are designed to provide filtration for smoke, mist, and harmful fumes. How you achieve this will depend on whether a source capture strategy or an ambient capture solution is the right installation for your facility.

Ambient solutions are a common approach regardless of your industry or process, and Aeroex clients may choose to mount an air purifier on the ceiling where it can be centrally situated. Like your existing air circulation systems, ambient capture continuously captures plant air, purifies it with the filter, and then circulates it back through your facility. Ambient capture will passively purify all the air in the room, meaning it is best suited for facilities where you do not have a discrete polluter and you wish to provide general protection. The disadvantage of this approach is that it may not be the most efficient approach if you can pinpoint a polluter source and use an air filtration system with an optimized location, in which case source capture will offer you more benefits.

Source capture filtration occurs by placing a mobile purifier at the site, or mounting it directly onto the emitter (Aeroex provides both types), to eliminate industrial pollutants directly at the source. Taking the time to understand the source of harmful contaminants will reduce your costs and improve health outcomes by designing for a more efficient and effective solution, which is why it’s always preferable to put controls on contaminants at the source.

Industrial Air Purification Systems in Action

Industrial air quality is an important determinant of the health of your workers, the performance of your equipment, and the success of your business. There is a wide range of issues depending on your industry that could include oil mist, food production by-products, smoke, or fumes, only a fraction of which are discussed above. The Aeroex series of products is ready to tackle all facilities, which is why Aeroex has completed 3610 projects in 51 industries. Check out our gallery of Aeroex industrial air purification systems in action, and if you have an industrial, commercial, or institutional challenge that was not discussed please reach out to our engineering experts.