Top 4 Weld Fume Collection Methods

Weld smoke and fumes are a leading source of air contamination in metal fabrication facilities. Without a way to control and capture these pollutants, there's a raised concern for health and safety.

Fume extraction systems are used to control overexposures to the fumes and gases that develop during welding and cutting. An adequate fume collection system will prevent exposure by keeping dangerous contaminants below the acceptable limits. When choosing a welding fume extraction system, it's important that it's designed and built to accommodate your application demands. Here are the four most common welding fume collection methods:

Graphic showing Portables, Downdraft Tables, Central Dust Collector, and Ambient Air Cleaners for fume extraction.

1. Portable Fume Extractors

Illustration of a machine operator using a portable fume extractor.

A fume arm (snorkel) attaches to a blower and filter inside of a frame with casters.

Pros Cons
Affordable and fast Only so much filter media fits inside which means that filter changes are required more frequently when compared to other methods.
It's easy to buy more portable fume extractors when needed. If the fume arm isn't used correctly, weld fume exposure is still an issue.
The fume arm must be positioned at the center distance to be effective. This means the operator will be moving the fume arm as they move around the project.

2. Self-Contained Downdraft Tables

Illustration of a machine operator working at a downdraft table.

Note: Not all downdraft tables are created equally. While there are biased opinions, downdraft tables can provide stronger velocity and higher efficiency when designed properly.

Self-Contained downdraft tables pull air into a frame with a blower and filters that are located inside of the table.

Pros Cons
Mid-range price, doesn't cost much more than a portable fume extractor depending on table size. The high is set which can be troublesome for tall or short operators.
The safest possible solution. The application must be bench welding.
Can be used for both welding and grinding._
Minimal installation requirements.
Requires little operator involvement, they simply need to make sure the unit is turned on.
Easy to purchase and add more tables as your business grows.

Empty Downdraft Tables

Illustration of a machine operator working at a downdraft table.

Note: Not all downdraft tables are created equally. While there are biased opinions, downdraft tables can provide stronger velocity and higher efficiency when designed properly.

Empty downdraft tables are unpowered and ducted and rely on a central dust collector or fume extraction system to pull the air down away from the operator and into the external collector.

Pros Cons
Flexible and customizable workstation. Ductwork adds installation costs.
Can be connected to any central dust collector or fume removal system. Not easy to expand with business growth.
Can be custom fabricated to meet application requirements. The welding area is relatively permanent, you will not be able to move units easily without significant expense.

3. Central Dust Collectors

Illustration of machine operators working while using a central dust collector.

Ducted to fume arms (snorkel) or "empty" downdraft tables.

Pros Cons
All filters are at the central dust collector making maintenance easy. Not easy to expand, the weld area must be determined and accounted for ahead of time for growth.
Filters will only need to be changed once a year or longer (if properly sized). The welding area is relatively permanent. You will not be able to move units easily without significant expense.
Lowers total cost of ownership. High initial costs.

4. Ambient Air Cleaners "Push, Pull"

Illustration of a machine operator working while an ambient air cleaner works behind him.

A central dust collector with duct, or several ambient air cleaners.

In environments where welding processes are performed, ambient air cleaners work as a secondary system to extract what isn't removed by the primary collection solution.

Pros Cons
An affordable & fast solution. Filter changes can be difficult because these units are installed/ mounted 12-14 feet off the floor.
Cleans ambient air. Operators are exposed to fumes as they pass their breathing zones on the way up.
Best used when parts are very large and source capture is impractical, Ex: trailer manufacturing Not an ideal solution for at-source capturing.

How Big is Your Facility or Workshop?

The type of fume extractor and the number of systems required for your application will vary based on how much floor space and wall space you're working with. Facilities that have machining processes confined to a specific area or have limited floor space may benefit more from a fixed system - while applications, where adaptability is required, may benefit more from a flexible system.

How Much Welding Takes Place?

Based on how many hours per day/month that welding, grinding, or other machining processes take place will determine what type of fume extractor meets your requirements.

If welding is only done occasionally in your workplace, you may prefer lighter portable units that offer flexibility and can easily be stored. If you're working in a facility where welding takes place 8+ hours a day, you may prefer fume extraction systems that provide longer filter lives and are self-cleaning.

What Regulations Need to Be Met?

Remain current on OSHA, NIOSH, state, and local regulations to ensure that your facility or workshop meets standards.

For example, according to NFPA 484, it is against OSHA standards to utilize a dry downdraft table for combustible dust control (such as Aluminum or Titanium). A wet downdraft table is required in any facility where explosive dust is present.

Does the Filter Meet Your Application Requirements?

It's critical to choose a fume extraction system that comes equipped with a filter that's capable of meeting your application demands. The proper filter configuration prevents issues like frequent filter changes, filter overload, and equipment malfunction.

Does the Fume Extractor Offer Flexibility?

If applications or machining processes involve metals that can create explosive dust, such as aluminum, magnesium, titanium, a wet downdraft table is right for you. To keep combustible dust controlled, it has to be captured at the source.

Is the Fume Extractor User-Friendly?

Flexibility is key in the comfort and efficiency of machine operators. Fume extraction systems that provide smooth articulation are easier to move around work projects, or out of the way when not needed

If you're working in a small space or a shop where machining isn't frequent you might benefit from a portable fume extractor. If you're working in a large facility, or in a facility where machining is frequent, you may be interested in a larger or fixed fume extraction system.

Does the Fume Extractor Meet Your Required Airflow?

Fume extraction systems must meet the CFM requirements of your application. There is a range of things that impact the airflow required by a machining process - for professional assistance, get in touch with our team of experts.

FumeXtractors was developed to combat the health hazards that industrial machine operators are faced with on a daily basis. We offer a dynamic selection of equipment to accommodate facilities where welding, grinding, deburring, cutting, and other machining processes take place, or where explosive dust is present. Protect your work environment with a solution from FumeXtractors!

Welding Fume Extractors

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