One of the most important components of a blast cabinet setup is the dust collector.
Dust collectors remove the dust, dirt, and debris that is created during the blasting process. Without proper dust collection, your visibility is greatly reduced, and you cannot see what you are doing.
The dust collector pulls the dirty air into a canister, where it is run through a filter. Heavier particles are deposited at the bottom of the canister housing, and the finer dust particles are filtered out.
Choosing the right dust collector for your blast cabinet is crucial. Let’s look at some of the things you should consider when choosing a dust filtration unit for your sandblasting cabinet.
Why Dust Collection is Important
When you are blasting a surface in a contained unit, like a blast cabinet, two things are happening. First, the corrosion, coating, dirt, or debris being blasted is disintegrating into small particles. This dust is being kicked up into the air inside the blast chamber. Second, pressurized air from the blast nozzle is being introduced into the blast cabinet.
If the resulting dust is not removed at a faster rate than it is being created, not only will visibility be diminished, but the resulting dust will escape from any crevices in the blast cabinet.
It is for this reason that you should use a dust collector that is appropriately sized for the cabinet.
When you use an under-powered dust collector, your sandblasting work becomes harder to do, and you create a mess to clean up later. This is especially true in down-market blast cabinets that are fabricated with rivets or screws, and do not weld the seams, creating gaps where the abrasive media can escape.
What Type of Dust Collector Is Right For My Blast Cabinet?
Generally, the larger the blast cabinet, the more powerful your dust collector will need to be.
For small to medium sized blast cabinets, a bag-filter dust collector should be adequate. For medium to large blast cabinets, or for heavy duty use blast cabinets, a cartridge style dust collector is recommended. Cartridge style dust collectors are also necessary in specific environments where cross-contamination is a concern.
In facilities where there is a high volume of blasting work being done, an abrasive reclaim system is a good addition to your blast cabinet setup.
A reclaim system uses centrifugal force to separate broken-down abrasive media from heavier, unused media, which falls to the bottom. The lighter, used media is filtered out through the dust collector. The unused, non-contaminated media is sent back through the blast gun, being “reclaimed” for further use.
What makes a reclaim system appealing is when you are using harder media like aluminum oxide or silicon carbide. By recycling and reclaiming the media, it helps keep your media costs down.
Additional Considerations When Choosing a Dust Collector
Selecting the right sized dust collector will depends on several factors, including: the CFM of the blast gun, how much you use your blast cabinet, the size and volume of the blast cabinet, the type of surfaces you are blasting, the type of blast media you are using, the typical humidity of your shop, and the floor plan of your facility.
Most dust collectors range from 300 to 900 CFM. The higher the CFM, the better the efficiency, or the larger the cabinet capacity. The higher the volume of dust you are creating, the higher the CFM your dust collector should be.
If you need to filter very small particles, choose a cartridge style dust collector. Bag filters can usually remove particles down to 50 microns, while cartridge filters can remove particles as small as 0.5 micron.
If you are removing coatings that contain chromates, you may need HEPA cartridge filters. HEPA filters may also be necessary if the surfaces you are blasting contain certain chemical compounds.
Ideally, a dust collector will provide 6 to 8 air changes per minute.
If you are using a smaller abrasive blast cabinet, use the right size motor for your dust collector. An industrial grade blast cabinet has much different needs than a DIY blast cabinet or smaller, down-market blast cabinets.
When in doubt, select the most powerful dust collector available for your needs. Working with an under-powered dust collector can be frustrating, as it lowers your work efficiency.
Final Thoughts on Dust Collection
Choosing the right dust collector for your blast cabinet is about assessing your needs, and matching the right units for your workload. Keep in mind that several factors go into choosing the right cabinet, air compressor, and dust collection systems. If you have questions, we can help you make a good choice. Feel free to contact us, and we can point you in the right direction.