December '20

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Page 48 of 168

4 2 G R A P H I C S P R O D E C E M B E R 2 0 2 0 G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M HOW TO CHOOSE A FUME EXTRACTOR Typically, the fume extractor manufacturers are best suited to define the optimal fume extractor for your needs. Start by choos- ing a manufacturer that specializes in fume extractors designed for laser applications. Look for high-quality machines that feature metal-cased filters (aluminum or steel). This ensures safety and maximum capacity as the filter media is well supported, sealed, and will not cave in under the vacuum pressure. Also, look for manufacturers that offer independently separated filters. This al- lows you to maximize the capacity of each individual filter. For example, if you have a combined filter (HEPA and activated car- bon media combined in one case), and the HEPA is blocked before the carbon filter is spent, you will have no choice but to waste the perfectly good carbon section of the fil- ter. Independently separated filters reduce waste and cost as you can just replace the individual filter that is spent when the time comes. Then put together some critical informa- tion that you need to provide to the fume extractor manufacturer. For example, your basic list should include: 1. Laser model and size 2. Material(s) being lasered 3. Type of lasering (cutting or engraving) 4. Production throughput and usage time Providing additional information such as whether or not you intend to upgrade your laser in the future, whether or not you intend to run multiple lasers in the future, distance between the fume extractor and laser, and room size can help the manufac- turer hone your options down to the best machine for your business and budget. INSTALLATION REQUIREMENTS Filtered laser fume extractors are mostly free-standing, plug-and-play units, so there isn't much to worry about. That's the beauty of this type of machine; it comes with the required power cord, flexible ducting, and laser coupling adapter. They mostly run on standard 120V, 15-amp circuits, but if of time. The constant airflow within the enclosure and active fume removal reduces the accumulation of dust on moving parts and optical surfaces. Bearings and belts will require less main- tenance and less frequent replacement. Lenses and mirrors will be cleaner, allow- ing the laser light to be optimally focused and powerful for crisper images and cuts. A dirty lens can absorb too much laser en- ergy, subjecting the lens to thermal stress, which can lead to catastrophic failure of the lens and even the beam delivery sys- tem. So, these side benefits are not trivial. Since the fume extractor is filtering all the contaminants out and not pumping them outside, you might also feel a bit bet- ter knowing that you won't be contribut- ing to an already alarming level of air pol- lution. continued on page 86 GET MORE DISCUSSION ON THE DIY FUME EXTRACTION UNIT (AND WHY YOU SHOULD AVOID IT) HERE: Many fume extraction options exist to optimize your space and requirements. For example, the Filtrabox Micro on the far left can fit underneath a desk like a computer tower, while the Filtrabox Basys (on the right) can serve as a solid base for the laser. The Compact and Expand in the center offer the most dust and VOC capacity in this product line. The Expand can be expanded to extract from a second laser if needed. (Image courtesy Chau Vo) An oversized HEPA filter (99.995% at 0.3 micron; 24" X 14" X 6") has the capacity to handle extreme dust output from laser appli- cations while maintaining maximum filtration efficiency. The aluminum case provides the necessary strength and rigidity under the high- pressure load. (Image courtesy Chau Vo)

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