Keeping the air clean is a major factor in any type of precision tool grinding application, and the use of an industrial dust collector is the way to manage this problem. The dust and mist from the different types of grinding services has to be dealt with properly.
The major applications for toolmaking, such as surface grinding, tool-and-cutter grinding, ID/OD grinding, all generate very fine metal particulates that are damaging, both to the workers and the machinery.
I have seen one case where a very expensive EDM machine was short-circuited by the fine graphite dust that had settled in the control panel. This caused so much damage that the manufacturer was unable to repair it. Eventually a local whiz kid, aged 16, was able to find the problem and fix it.
Graphite and copper dust
Every single injection mold shop in the world generates a ton of dust from the grinding and milling of either graphite or copper. Neither graphite nor copper dust is considered carcinogenic, but both can cause other health problems. Needless to say, it is in everyone’s best interest to filter the dust from the work area.
The use of particle masks has proven to be ineffective. This is because the paper quickly clogs up and the wearer is left breathing in his own bad breath, mixed with the shop’s dusty air. It would be interesting to see how long the owner of most shops would tolerate wearing a particle mask!
Grinding dust and mist
The dust and mist generated during grinding consists of sub-micron particles and must be filtered from the environment. The slippery floors, greasy working surfaces and general mess are simply out of place in a precision grinding workplace.
There are several options commonly in use to filter this dust and mist: cartridge filtering systems that use different methods to extract the contaminants. A good supplier will be able to determine which method best suits the individual needs.
One popular system, the Donaldson Torit mist collector filters 3 types of mist, all in one collector-all that is required is to change the filter. Smoke, water and oil are typically difficult to filter, this collector takes care of all of them.
Portable dust collectors
One simple remedy for filtering grinding operations is to use a portable dust collector. This works well, if the filter matches the application. It does no good at all to use a shop vacuum that merely sucks in the dust and blows it back into the room. Yet this is more common than imaginable. It is as if somebody’s conscience is soothed by having some type of vacuum.
Shop wide dust collection
By far, the best method is to have a well planned industrial dust collection system that covers every part of the shop. Ideally, which isn’t likely to happen, the dust and mist from grinding can be so effectively filtered that even the odor is negligible.
Shops that are building new facilities have the opportunity to get it right and should include dust collection in the planning process and make it a priority.