It is essential to manage weld fume to promote worker safety and energy efficiency. In many cases, this is highly complicated due to the size or dimension of the part being welded. Additional challenges may include the layout of the facility, other equipment occupying space in the welding process area, and other work environment challenges.
In order to engineer an effective solution for managing welding fumes in large scale or other challenging applications, it is often most advantageous to develop a custom approach or use a combination of strategies. The performance of a fume collection system in a particular application can be greatly enhanced with slight modifications.
Advanced Source Capture
Source capture technology is a reliable weld fume management option that has the ability to capture fume at the source. Capturing weld fume before it reaches the operator’s breathing zone is critical to maintaining a clean and safe work environment. Recent advances in source capture technology have made this option more feasible for large applications with a much larger fume extraction area than offered by previous systems. The larger capture zone allows for minimal operator interaction with the fume extraction arm. Weld quality and productivity are improved with less need for adjustments.
Local hoods are available as a simple, single, benchtop slotted hood or multiple fixed hoods in a configuration that targets fume generating zones. This approach is effective when workers have the ability to reposition the hood and weld in relatively consistent locations. In the case of a welding assembly, two or more hoods can be strategically placed at different welding areas for a highly efficient solution.
Local containment isolates the area in which fumes are generated and evacuates the air from that area to prevent contamination from the rest of the plant. This approach offers freedom of movement and also results in less contaminated air volume requiring treatment. A local containment area can be created by fabricating some type of enclosure or booth from sheet metal or weld curtains. Since a smaller fume collector can manage the job, equipment and associated operational costs are reduced. Extra measures may be needed to protect worker safety with this method.
Ambient Fume Extraction
This type of system maintains the desired air quality levels by filtering the air volume of a specified area. An air change schedule is set to remove fume concentrations at a faster rate than fume is being generated by the welding process. In most cases, four to six air changes air changes per hour can effectively control the fume, but for heavy fume concentrations, more changes may be needed.