MIG Welding Fume Extraction

Process Intro

Metal Inert Gas (MIG) welding process uses a wire feeding system, and the fed continuous solid wire acts as a filler metal and an electrode. The process requires a shielding gas, supports multiple modes of metal transfer, can weld thick or thin materials, and has a good metal deposition and welding speed. The two base materials are melted together, forming a join.

MIG welding is probably the most common process in the manufacturing industry. However, it tends to generate a lot of toxic fumes in factories. Fume extraction is mandatory or recommended by health and safety organizations in all US states and Canadian provinces.

We offer a wide range of solutions to control MIG welding fumes.

AIRGOMIG & Portable Vacuum Unit

If you only have a few workstations to cover or need to be able to move easily, an HV103, HV105, or HVMAX portable unit and AIRGOMIG guns will be a perfect solution. The mobile fume collector will provide the necessary vacuum to the fume extractor MIG gun and filter the air. Add a remote starter to increase the motor’s life and stop the vacuum noise when nobody is welding, and you will have an efficient, low cost, and elegant solution to your MIG fumes problem.

AIRGOMIG is the perfect solution for MIG welding fume extraction as the welding gun is also the extractor. It is always well-positioned no matter how long the weld is or the welding position.

Here are some of the configurations we usually recommend to get the proper airflow at each MIG gun all the time:

Vacuum Unit AIRGOMIG Automatic Valves
Name Power Filtration Quantity Max. Amp. Quantity
HV103 2.3 hp 225 sq. ft 1 350 0
HV105 4.6 hp 225 sq. ft 1 500 0
HVMAX2 6.75 hp 225 sq. ft 1 600 0
HVMAX2 6.75 hp 225 sq. ft 2 500 0
HVMAX2 6.75 hp 225 sq. ft 3 500 3
HVMAX4 20 hp 450 sq. ft 4 NA 0
HVMAX4 20 hp 450 sq. ft 8 NA 8

AIRGOMIG & Central Vacuum System

Investing in a central vacuum system for larger projects makes more sense. Our turbines can simultaneously provide vacuum for up to 60 AIRGOMIG guns. Compared to many portable units, a turbine will cost less, take less floor space, require less maintenance, and reduce the overall noise as they tend to be installed outside or in mechanical rooms.

A dust collector might be necessary if you want to recirculate the air or if required by environmental laws. You can also use our HVAV automatic valves to shut off the vacuum on unused MIG guns, lowering energy costs and stopping the vacuum noise.

Here are some of the configurations we usually recommend to get the proper airflow (>100 cfm) at each MIG gun all the time:

Vacuum Unit Dust Collector (opt.) AIRGOMIG Automatic Valves
Name Power Name Filtration Quantity Quantity
HV5 20 hp DPH2 620 sq. ft 4 0
HV5 20 hp DPH2 620 sq. ft 8 8
HV20 40 hp DPH4 1240 sq. ft 10 0
HV20 40 hp DPH4 1240 sq. ft 20 20
HV35 60 hp DPH6 1860 sq. ft 15 0
HV35 60 hp DPH6 1860 sq. ft 30 30
HV50 100 hp DPH10 3100 sq. ft 30 0
HV50 100 hp DPH10 3100 sq. ft 60 60

Capture Arm & Blower

We recommend using AIRGOMIG guns for MIG welding fume extraction, except for welding schools. It is the most efficient and reliable way to eliminate MIG welding fumes. That being said, if your welds are usually less than a foot and a half long and you would instead prefer to use a Capture Arm, it is also a viable option. Combined with a blower and, if needed, a dust collector, it will be a cost-effective and maintenance-free option. As long as the arm is always well-positioned, it will extract fumes efficiently. Your Capture Arms will be tailored to your needs (diameter, length).

It could be a simple project with a Capture Arm directly connected to a small blower. But we can also deliver a complete duct network with multiple arms on one end and a big blower and dust collector outside the building on the other end.

Extraction Nozzle & Portable Unit

Once again, we would always recommend using AIRGOMIG guns for MIG welding fume extraction, except for welding schools. It is the most efficient and reliable way to eliminate MIG welding fumes. However, if your welds are less than a foot long or you are working in a confined space, an HV103 portable unit with a flexible hose and an extraction nozzle (round, linear, or self-supported) will be a very cost-efficient solution. Using the magnet or suction cup, position your nozzle close to the welding point. The portable unit will provide you with the necessary vacuum and filtration.

A Note on Downdraft Tables and Hoods

There is a misconception that downdraft tables are suitable for welding fume extraction. But it is nonsense to extract welding fume naturally going up at high speed from the bottom. So, either downdraft tables don’t work at all for welding fumes, or the airflow needed to make it efficient is cost-prohibitive. Use a downdraft table for plasma cutting or a grinding workstation, but not for welding.

In most cases, fume extraction hoods cannot protect a welder as their head would be between the welding area and the hood itself. But they are perfect for robotic welding and offer an unmatched fume extraction efficiency in this case.

Health Risks of Welding Fumes

The welding process produces smoke that contains harmful metal fume and gas by-products. Fumes are formed when a metal is heated above its boiling point, and its vapors condense into very fine particles.

Welding fumes usually contain a combination of metal (Aluminum, Antimony, Arsenic, Beryllium, Cadmium, Chromium, Cobalt, Copper, Iron, Lead, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silver, Tin, Titanium, Vanadium, Zinc) and gases (Argon, Helium, Nitrogen, Carbon Dioxide, Nitric Oxide, Nitrogen Dioxide, Carbon Monoxide, Ozone, Phosgene, Hydrogen Fluoride).

The composition of welding fumes is determined by the metals in the material being welded, the electrode, coatings, and other factors. Stainless steels, for example, can generate more significant amounts of chromium, including hexavalent chromium or nickel in the fume.

The size of welding fume particles ranges between 0.005 and 20 µm (almost all particles are smaller than 1 µm), and inhaled particles may deposit throughout the respiratory system.

According to OSHA, breathing welding fumes could cause the following health effects:

  • eye, nose, and throat irritation;
  • dizziness and nausea;
  • lung damage and various types of cancer;
  • metal fume fever;
  • stomach ulcers;
  • kidney damage;
  • nervous system damage;
  • prolonged exposure to manganese fume can cause Parkinson’s–like symptoms;
  • suffocation;
  • asphyxiation.

Our technology can help you comply with the current ACGIH threshold limit value of 0.02 mg/m3 of manganese oxide. Test results were satisfactory with various welding parameters and working positions.

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