Stick Welding Fume Extraction
Stick welding, or Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW), is a form of welding that uses electricity to melt a metal filler electrode (often called stick) to fuse two pieces of metal and fill the joint with filler metal at the same time. The electrode acts as a shield, requiring no shielding gas. It’s a very rugged welding method to weld dirtier metal and works great in outdoor conditions. However, it’s mainly used to weld mild steel and doesn’t do well with thinner metals.
Stick welding is a common process in the manufacturing industry. However, it tends to generate a lot of toxic fumes in factories. Therefore, 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 SMAW fumes.
Capture Arm & Blower
A flexible Capture Arm is the best way to get rid of Stick welding fumes. 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).
We have done many projects using this method and have found great success. The arms can be installed on a wall or a beam and easily reach anywhere within up to 20′. 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
If you are working in a confined space where a Capture Arm isn’t an option, 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. This is cost-efficient to extract and filter welding fumes, especially when the weld length is under one foot.
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;
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Montreal QC H4S1E8