Air quality in mold manufacturing facilities is a big concern, and many companies take measures to improve it, such as through-the-wall fans that suck up smoke and vent it outdoors, and/or vacuum systems over carbon-grinding machines that vent to a filter unit outside.
There are many causes—and sources—of air quality problems throughout the metalworking sections of a plant. Most metal/aluminum machining and polishing processes create an extremely fine dust that can create a smoke-like haze throughout the entire facility.
The most popular option for many companies is “source extraction” vacuum systems, which can be costly in terms of energy usage. Tanis Technologies Inc., a manufacturer of industrial air cleaners, says that in the moldmaking industry, one major goal to achieving better air quality is to eliminate coolant and oil mist in machining and grinding areas, as well as mist and odor created by draw oil in metalworking machinery.
To help solve this problem, Tanis introduced the AF 1000 Module-Air Filtration System, a ductless air circulation solution. The AF-1000 Module-Air offers self-contained units that, when placed strategically throughout the facility, continuously recirculate air by training an air current that carries dust, smoke, and fumes to the unit, purifying the air within the building.
The problem with over-machine vacuum systems, notes Casey Prins, general manager of Tanis Technologies, is that the intake hose end must be within 6 inches of the source of the dust or mist in order to capture it. This small area of capture means that much of the dust or oil mist escapes the unit.
With an AF-1000 Module-Air ductless system, units are configured in an area in such a way that creates a consistent air current by using both the draw of the intake and the air blast of the exhaust. “It circulates all of the air throughout the facility,” says Prins. “It’s also a lot more energy efficient because the units help make your heating and cooling system more efficient due to the constant air circulation. The temperature of your production floor is more consistent, and all the heat won’t stay near the ceiling.”
The AF-1000 Module-Air uses energy-efficient motors, the most common unit sold with a three-phase, 2-hp motor that draws just 2.8A. “That’s much less than a vacuum system, which takes more draw and thus more horsepower,” says Prins.
Number of units required varies with the application, but on average, a 20,000-ft2 production facility would need about 16 units. “That might be on the heavy side if you have a lot of smoke, but it could be as few as 12 units if there’s not so much smoke in the environment,” Prins explains. “If there is one area where you’re creating more smoke and fumes, like welding, for example, we’ll focus just on that area.”
The units are very similar in size but come in different configurations. Basically, the size is 6 by 2 by 2 ft. No floor space is lost because the units are either mounted on the bottom side of the crane support rail, if a shop has that, or hung from the ceiling girders or on chains suspended from the ceiling girders.
“That makes these ductless air-filtering appliances very cost-effective and simple to install,” says Prins. “Additionally, they’re easy to take back down, which means if you’re leasing your facility, you can move it with you when you leave. It doesn’t stay with the building.”
Prins adds that the ROI for most plants is about two years or less, depending on the number of units. Also, company owners have the option of installing the units in phases so it’s easier to budget. Much of that ROI is due to the fact that none of the plant’s heated or cooled air is being sucked outside. “Venting your air to the outside through large fans is also becoming an issue with the EPA,” notes Prins. “It’s incredible how many large companies address their indoor air pollution issues by venting the pollution to the outdoors.”
While many air cleaning systems require a proprietary filter, AF-1000 Module Air units use standard 24-by-24-inch filters that don’t have to be purchased from Tanis, making the units cost effective in consumables. Cost for the pre-filter is $16 and lasts about two months, and the bag filter that contains the particles costs $48, and can last from four to six months. —Clare Goldsberry