Welding Fume Ventilation
Welding is a high skill process that has been around since the Bronze Age. It was a simple forge-based process in the times of antiquity, but is now an intricate discipline with a large variety of different processes. With advancements in technological processes also comes an increase in hazards. Among the most serious and common sources of danger in welding are the fumes. The various chemically infused fumes that result from this high temperature process can have disastrous effects on the unprotected human body. As a result, the industry takes a myriad of safety precautions to protect its workers. Welding fume extraction and ventilation are a very important part of any welding operation as the ductwork involved helps to transfer harmful fumes and vapors away from human proximity and out of the area.
Welding ventilation is used to control the amount and exposure to the fumes and gases during the actual welding process. A good welding exhaust system will keep dangerous fumes away from the welding technician’s breathing area and divert it elsewhere. The type of weld fume extraction generally depends on factors such as the size and shape of the workplace, the volume and type of operations, the contents of the fume, and the position of the welder’s head.
The right kind of welding ventilation can be established through means that are natural, mechanical, or both. There are three general categories of welding fume extraction: natural dilution ventilation, mechanical dilution ventilation, and local exhaust ventilation.
Natural dilution ventilation is the simplest method of weld fume ventilation. All it requires is that any vents, doors, and windows remain open in order for air to provide a natural level of ventilation. This type of welding fume extraction does not necessarily require the use of any type of welding duct or any other kind of mechanical system. It is meant for light-duty welding jobs where the presence of contaminants is at a minimal level. Although this type of welding ventilation is very low-cost, it is considered the least effective method because there is no direct control over the way the contaminants flow throughout the area.
Mechanical dilution ventilation follows the same general principle as natural dilution, but it involves the use of wall fans, roof exhaust fans, and other similar mechanical tools. Although it is overall more effective than natural dilution ventilation, it still suffers from the drawback of having a lack of control over the flow of contaminants.
Local exhaust ventilation is by far the most widespread and efficient method of welding fume extraction. Suitable for light to heavy duty welding applications, this type of welding ventilation involves the use of a welding duct in conjunction with a capture device and fan. This welding exhaust system can remove high volumes of fumes and gases directly at the source. Professional welding operators prefer this weld fume ventilation method because it works well for a range of welding operations.
Flexible ducting plays an important part in local exhaust ventilation systems. The welding duct is what actually transfers the various noxious fumes away from human proximity during the welding process. Flexible ductwork comes various forms and sizes. Operators will use different types of hose depending on the particular setting. While the hoses for welding fume extraction can be made of different materials like neoprene, aluminum, silicone, and stainless steel to name a few. They all have the ability to operate at different rates of high temperatures and can survive contact with chemical fumes.
Given the significant dangers associated with welding fumes, it is important to use the best welding exhaust system for your specific application. The right kind of welding fume extraction will go a long way in keeping the work area’s productivity operating at acceptable levels. Welding technicians should be aware of the proper safety requisites to keep themselves safe from the fumes that come with their line of work.