July '20

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4 4 G R A P H I C S P R O J U L Y 2 0 2 0 G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M R unning a shop with the newest and latest equipment can help a business stay ahead of the competition. However, mak- ing sure working conditions are both safe and comfortable is also crucial. This is especially true for producers working in markets like laser engraving, sublima- tion, and wide-format printing. These heavy-duty machines emit fumes and byproducts that can at best make a work area uncomfortable and at worst, unhealthy or even dangerous. Quite often, these elements aren't visible to the human eye, either. "With these processes, you have extremely fine particulates being pro- duced," says Wayne Baird, PAT Technol- ogy Systems. "Ninety percent of those par- ticulates, whether it's plastic, glass, paper, or leathers, are 1 micron or less in size." In addition to employee safety, Brian Tefertiller, BOFA, stresses that mitigat- ing these fumes and particulates also helps maintain machine life. "Fumes and particu- lates released into the air by the laser cut- ting/engraving process can be damaging to the optics and other sensitive components of the equipment." To help alleviate some of these issues, shops can install a fume extractor to help minimize the number of byproducts gen- erated by these processes. Although vent- ing may seem like an easier, more afford- able option, Tefertiller points out that a venting process is less energy efficient over time since a shop is pumping out air that a producer has already paid to heat or cool. "These fumes and particulates can also be harmful or offensive to neighbors, and po- tentially harmful to the environment when vented outside," he adds. Producers should also be aware that not all fume extractors are the same, so some preliminary research is essential to ensure they purchase a machine that fits their busi- ness model. WHAT TO LOOK FOR When shopping around, build quality is a crucial starting point since that is indicative of how long the machine will last, and how durable it is. Scott Snell, Purex Fume Ex- traction by BSE, also suggests that produc- ers look to manufacturers that offer a broad set of fume extractors. This way, if a shop ramps up output or expands its production space, they'll have the option to upgrade to a larger machine that can handle higher- capacity fume and particulate content. Tefertiller suggests shop owners consider what materials they process, the size and type of equipment they use, the amount of airflow required, location of the operation and equipment, and how many hours a day they plan to use the fume extractor. For laser engraving and cutting, it's cru- cial to find a unit that can handle fume extraction for materials ranging from PVC to Kevlar. "You'll want to change your filtra- tion media to adjust to the toxins coming Clearing the Air CHOOSING AND INSTALLING A FUME EXTRACTOR B Y M I K E C L A R K (Image courtesy Purex Fume Ex- traction by BSE) A W A R D S & C U S T O M I Z AT I O N

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