A wise investment - Budgetary concerns

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Portable systems have been selling successfully, as well as stand-alone systems, says Witter. These products include the company’s portable Mini-Gorilla and Cobra systems, and the Gorilla and Pro central-style systems.

Witter attributes the popularity of these cyclone products to new technology making its way into the woodworking industry. Before the portable and central cyclonic systems emerged, the only types of dust collection products available were the single bag-style systems. Now, woodworkers have a range of options to best suit their shop.

A cyclone-style collector is categorized as a two-stage system with a cyclone separator, blower and filter for the fine dust. A single-stage system is strictly a blower that sucks up all of the dust and debris into a series of filter bags. With a cyclone, the debris goes into the cyclone — a tapered cone-type vessel — spins around, loses its momentum and falls into a container, while the very fine dust is captured by filters.

Budgetary concerns
Curt Corum, of Air Handling Systems, says he’s seen all different kinds of dust collection purchase scenarios from clients during this slumping economy. One example is a client who recently installed a CNC router in his shop. Instead of getting a new 10-hp dust collection system for the entire shop, the client settled for a 5-hp machine to connect solely to the CNC router and keep the cost down. The minor drawback is that the extra machine is taking up a little more floor space.

“We’re seeing a lot more of that sort of thing now,” says Corum. “Usually when times are good and customers want to increase production and upgrade, instead of adding more unitary collectors, they would generally go for a more full-blown central system with expansion capability down the road. But that’s not the case in this economy.”

Customers are still buying, however, says Corum. They still understand the need for dust collection from a health standpoint, for producing a good quality product and for retaining good employees.

Know your shop
To eliminate some of the confusion when it comes to purchasing a system, Corum gave a few suggestions about what’s important and what’s not.

First of all, the size of the shop doesn’t matter and has little to do with the dust collection setup. But existing machinery does matter, as well as any machinery that might be purchased in the future.

“The whole key to proper dust and fume control is to sit back and get an overview of the shop and pinpoint the requirements of all of the different pieces of equipment,” says Corum.

The number of employees will be representative of the magnitude of the facility, and may affect the dust collection products needed.

“You have to thoroughly assess what you have, take notes and make sure that you isolate the conventional dust collector requirements — which are your table saws, your general floor machines, sanders and so forth — and then you analyze the high velocity vacuum dust collector requirements.”

Corum says in many cases, to properly equip a shop, a woodworker needs two types of systems — a regular dust collector to provide for floor machines, with pipe sizes of 4" and larger, and then all of the setups for small vacuum requirements.