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A systems approach to dust collection

A growing number of shops are acknowledging that proper dust management is essential for adequate productivity, cleanliness and employee health, according to manufacturers of dust collection and air filtration products.

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When discussing their latest and most popular products, company representatives indicate sales have increased over the years with everything from cyclones to air filters, to gadgets and accessories, such as quick-connect hoses and remote controls for blast gates. They speculate the underlying reason is that shop owners know these systems are an investment, so quality is important.

Festool's Rick Bush says that when he entered the tool industry 12 years ago, he noticed that dust collectors were put in place to capture chips and cut down on cleanup time. Now they're a standard, especially when it comes to healthy breathing.

"They weren't really seen as part of a system, let alone some of the other benefits that we're now seeing come to the forefront when it comes to dust extraction," says Bush. "People have become much more health conscious, they're also much more aware of the fact that a lot of the woods they're working with can have things like fungus and other things that they can be very sensitive to, allergy-wise, so they become very careful about the air they breathe."

Cyclones dominate
Dust collection system sales in the cyclone category have been consistent at Oneida Air Systems, which caters to the small woodworking shop.

"In general, our sales increase every year and more people are going to central dust collection and you see less bag systems," says Robert Witter, the company's president. "Mostly, we sell cyclone-style systems. They've become more popular because they're more sophisticated than standard bag-style units. They're the next step up."

The most popular Oneida systems, according to Witter, are the smaller 2- and 3-hp Gorilla cyclones. The company has recently added a 5-hp model to broaden its product line. The three models range in price from $800 to $2,000.

Witter also notes that more companies are offering cyclones than ever before. "It's just a better mouse trap," he said. "It pre-separates the material so that your system runs better. It doesn't bind or clog the way the single-stage systems do. Typically, the filter medias are higher tech, or better.

"I think people are moving from the portable to the central-style unit styles just because it saves time. You don't have to hook each machine up and instead of using flex hose, they use a blast gate."

Oneida recently launched the Dust Pod, which allows users to redesign their current single-stage or inefficient two-stage dust collector — up to 3-hp machines — into a cyclonic dust collector.

"These days, we're finding a lot of woodworkers are gravitating toward cyclone systems," adds Ed Levey of Penn State Industries. "Cyclones have many advantages over stand-alone systems. They are primarily cleaner in the sense that most of the particulate goes into pre-stage, and all the debris doesn't go into a filter, and the air flow is not inhibited."

Penn State offers three cyclones in its Tempest 'S' series, all designed to fit under 8' ceilings. Available in 2-1/2, 3-1/2 and 5 hp models, they range in price from $845 to $1,295. Penn State also offers new 2,500 CFM ambient air cleaners with a wraparound filter, as well as numerous accessories for controlling dust, such as lathe adaptors and table saw hoods.

At JDS Tools, owner John McConnegly said the company recently redesigned its 2- and 3-hp Cyclone dust collectors with more features and more performance in effort to keep products up to date, and that sales have been steadily increasing with the current product line.

The JDS 3-hp Cyclone stands only 86" tall. It features a "Turbo-Fan" impeller design that provides 2,300 CFM of maximum airflow and a one micron efficient canister to ensure that fine dust doesn't get back into the shop. The self-cleaning canister filter is equipped with its own motor that automatically turns on when the cyclone is turned off. The quick-connect steel collection drum is on wheels and makes disposing of collected waste faster and easier.

Catching what escapes
But to do a complete job of cleaning the work environment, you need to eliminate the fine dust that escapes collection, says McConnegly. And that's where air filtration comes in. JDS offers Air-Tech systems featuring a slide-in, slide-out filter changing system.

"The dust collection is source capture," says McConnegly. "You want to capture it at its source where it's being produced. And no matter how good any dust collection system is, the machines that we're collecting from don't lend themselves to perfect dust collection. So fine dust still becomes airborne, and the second prong is the air filtration."

Powermatic's Barry Schwaiger touts the company's PM1200 Air Filtration System, stating it traps up to 99 percent of all 5-micron particles and 85 percent of all 1-micron particles. The unit can be operated with a remote transmitter that uses radio frequency, eliminating the need for line-of-sight operation. It has a timer allowing for continuous operation for up to nine hours, then will automatically shut off. Three blower speeds modify air flow.

Schwaiger said that, in general, people believe the premise that small means good in regards to micron numbers on dust collection systems. But he warns buyers to look out for marketing stunts that indicate low micron emission, as air filtration units are the only units that truly rinse the air of the most harmful particle sizes.

"The size of the particle that presents the most health-hazard to your body is actually in the .3 to 5 micron range. If it's below .3 microns, it actually goes in and out of your lungs like a gas. But the .3 to 5 are what the experts say get lodged in your lungs, and you generally can't see them."

Enviro Technologies makes two ceiling-mounted air filters: model SK1500, capable of cleaning 25,000 cu. ft., and model SK3000, rated for cleaning up 60,000 cu. ft., according to the company. Enviro also offers the GB300 for basement or garage shops.

"What makes our Enviro Air Cleaner unique is the amount of air turbulence it creates and how the airborne particles are captured," says company spokesman Stu Johnson. "Over 60 percent of the surface of the unit is [a rolled] filter. A sensor inside the unit senses air volume loss, causing the filter to advance. A warning light will tell you when you have only a few feet of filter left on the roll. Replacing the dirty roll of filter is a very simple procedure."

At the source
Festool has developed an impressive line of portable shop vacuums, featuring two compact models — the CT MINI and CT MIDI — for job-site use, and the larger capacity CT 22 and CT 33 models. The company offers HEPPA filters and a clever boom arm accessory, which keeps the hose and power cord out of the way, on the CT 22 and CT 33, plus a wide selection of cleaning accessories.

3M has come up with a new dust management system, incorporated into the company's first line of air-powered finishing tools. Introduced in February, the line features more than 20 orbital sanders and 3M's Clean Sanding Disc technology.

"The system is revolutionizing the dust evacuation process because the patented multi-hole pattern balances cutting surface with dust removal and helps trap and contain more dust during the finishing process compared to other 5- or 6-hole products. Uniquely designed backup pads further optimize dust removal, allowing the discs to cut more and last longer while lowering dust levels in the work environment, ultimately helping to lower overall costs," according to 3M.

3M adds that its filter bags contain electrostatically-charged Filtrete fibers that work like tiny magnets to attract and retain more of the micro dust particles sucked in by the vacuum. Capturing the dust inside the bag's "web" helps prevent dust from releasing back into the tool and into the air, which is critical in high-dust environments such as solid surface and woodworking shops.

More new products
Delta Machinery has introduced two new 1-hp portable units, models 50-720 and 50-720CT, which deliver superior filtration of fine dust and convenient fill-and-toss disposable bags, says the company. The 50-720 ($249) is equipped with a 1-micron, spun-bound filter bag designed with a patented integral halo support. Similarly, the 50-720CT ($349) features a 2-micron pleated canister, which allows for better air flow efficiency because of an increased filter surface area and an internal manual agitator for frequent and mess-free filter cleaning.

Woodstock International has added the Shop Fox 5-hp cyclone, model W1810. The unit, rated at 2,450 CFM, has a remote control with automatic shut-off timer and a spun-bond polyester filter system. It sells for $3,250.

Extrema has an extensive Typhoon line, including 2- to 5-hp portable collectors, 3- to 10-hp cyclone collectors, 5- to 10-hp modular collectors, as well as blowers and accessories.

JET's offerings include the JC-3BF cyclone with a 5-micron bag filter. It captures the chips in a 55-gallon drum and separates out 99 percent of the dust, virtually eliminating the need for ambient air cleaners, according to the company. The unit's 14" impeller provides 1,450 CFM of air flow. The collection bag has a 'snap-in' design for quick changes, while JET's exclusive pressure tube lets you use a plastic collection bag in the drum without worrying that it will get sucked into the cyclone.

Grizzly has extensive offerings in the dust collection category, including downdraft tables, portable units, air filters and cyclones. Dynabrade is also worth checking out for its line of portable vacuum systems and downdraft tables.

Air Handling Systems markets a variety of ducting and collection machine accessories to enhance and simplify dust collection systems. The company's newest product is the 360-degree Quick Flexhose Disconnect, a flexible hose with easy latch connection.

"The advantage of it is it's a 360-degree disconnect fitting, meaning there's no alignment involved," says sales manager Curt Corum. "The disconnects are used in woodshops where you take a hose connection and move it from one machine to another and you don't want to undo a hose clamp the manual way."

The products run in 4" through 12" in diameter, the typical spectrum on hose connections in any woodshop. Corum explained that with lack of knowledge in some cases, or lack of budget, people often use inferior materials to accessorize their systems, especially in ducting.

"The ducting end is critical," says Corum. "People think that in many cases, they'll go buy a dust collector and all of a sudden just grab any round pipe they can get their hands on to hook it up without knowing that to get the best efficiency out of a dust collector, there are actually proper fittings to utilize. If those fittings aren't utilized, in many cases they can sacrifice up to 30-plus percent in performance, in some cases 50 percent."

American Fabric Filter Co. offers new heavy-duty disposable plastic collection bags designed to save time and simplify cleanup. The bags fit most dust collectors including Delta, Dustek, Grizzly and Jet. They come in two sizes: 21" diameter x 50" long and 24.5" diameter x 72" long, and are available in rolls of 50.

Source list
For information on the products listed in this article, and for other dust collection and accessory sources, contact:

  • 3M Corporate Headquarters, 3M Center, St. Paul, MN 55144. Tel: 888-364-3577.
  • Active Machine and Tool, 6778 18th Ave., Jenison, MI 49428. Tel: 616-662-9730.
  • Air Handling, 5 Lunar Dr., Woodbridge, CT 06525. Tel: 800-367-3828.
  • Air Systems Manufacturing of Lenoir Inc., P.O. Box 1736, Lenoir, NC 28645. Tel: 828-757-3500.
  • American Fabric Filter Co., P.O. Box 7560, Wesley Chapel, FL 33543. Tel: 813-991-9400.
  • Bay Verte Machinery Inc., 975 Parkview Road, Green Bay, WI 54304. Tel:
  • Carothers and Son, Ltd. Industrial Systems, P.O.Box 2709, Eugene, OR 97402. Tel: 541-484-4270.
  • CNC Sales of New England LLC, P.O. Box 1428, Arlington, MA 02474. Tel:
  • Dantherm Filtration Inc., P.O. Box 429, Thomasville, NC 27361. Tel: 800-533-5286.
  • Delta Machinery, P.O. Box 2468, Jackson, TN. Tel: 800-223-7278.
  • Diversified Machine Systems Inc., 2310 Executive Circ., Colorado Springs, CO 80906. Tel: 866-255-2947.
  • Dynabrade Inc., 8989 Sheridan Dr., Clarence, NY 14031. Tel: 716-631-0100.
  • Enviro Technologies, 13538 Floyd Circle, Dallas, TX 75243. Tel: 214-751-2222.
  • Extrema U.S.A., P.O. Box 1450, Albany, LA 70711. Tel: 877-398-7362.
  • Fein Power Tools, 1030 Alcon St., Pittsburgh, PA 15220. Tel: 412-922-8886.
  • Festool USA, 400 N. Enterprise Blvd., Lebanon, IN 46052. Tel: 888-550-6425.
  • General International, 8360 du Champ-d'Eau, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, H1P 1Y3. Tel: 514-326-1161.
  • GreCon Inc., 15875 S.W. 74th Ave., Tigard, OR 97224. Tel: 503-641-7731.
  • Grizzly Industrial Inc., 1821 Valencia St., Bellingham, WA 98229. Tel: 800-523-4777.
  • Hermance Machine Co., 178 Campbell St., Williamsport, PA 17701. Tel: 570-326-9156.
  • HTC Products Inc., 332 E. Lincoln, Royal Oak, MI 48067. Tel: 800-624-2027.
  • JDS Tools, 108 Leventis Dr., Columbia, SC 29209. Tel: 800-480-7269.
  • Lobo Machinery Corp., 13731 Proctor Ave., City of Industry, CA 91746. Tel: 626-369-6677.
  • MLS Machinery Inc., 1415B Cross Beam Dr., Charlotte, NC 28217. Tel: 704-426-6001.
  • Nilfisk ALTO, 300 Technology Drive, Malvern, PA. Tel: 800-645-3475.
  • Nordfab Ductwork, Tel: 866-652-1588.
  • Oneida Air Systems Inc., 1001 W. Fayette St., Syracuse, N.Y. 13204. Tel:
  • Penn State Industries, 9900 Global Road, Philadelphia, PA 19115. Tel: 800-377-7297.
  • Rockler Companies Inc., 4365 Willow Dr., Medina, MN 55340. Tel: 763-478-8201.
  • Scientific Dust Collectors, 4101 W. 126th St., Alsip, IL 60803. Tel: 708-597-7090
  • Steel City Tool Works, P.O. Box 10529, Murfreesboro, TN 37129. Tel: 877-724-8665.
  • The Flexaust Co., 1510 Armstrong Road, Warsaw, IN 46580. Tel: 800-343-0428.
  • WMH Tool Group, Inc., 2420 Vantage Dr., Elgin, IL 60124. Tel: 800.274.6848.
  • Woodstock International Inc., P.O. Box 2309, Bellingham, WA 98227. Tel: 800-840-8420.
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