Plastic welding is a popular technique for assembling goods from plastic components or materials because it allows you to directly join two compatible pieces without relying on adhesives or fasteners. This technique often produces products with a seamless appearance due to the components all being the same plastic material, without joints or clamps. The surface of the plastic is usually melted with a hot air welding gun. Although, there are other techniques like acoustic vibration, friction welding, laser welding, and contact welding. These manual techniques are useful for small operations, while larger operations can scale up with automatic welding. With these technologies, many of the goods we use in our everyday lives can be produced fairly inexpensively. However, any production technique that involves melting plastic will produce fumes that raise health and safety concerns and operational issues like accumulating by-products on the facility’s equipment.
Challenges with Fumes in the Plastic Welding Industry
Plastic welding poses some unique challenges for air quality due to the types of materials being used and their operating conditions. Typically, rigid thermoplastics like PVC are welded at air temperatures of around 350 degrees Celsius to avoid discoloration or scorching of the product. Unfortunately, the melting point of these plastics and the operating temperature of the equipment mean that the emissions produced are bound to contaminate the ambient air in the facility.. The following are a few indicators associated with industrial fume emissions:
- Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) is known to produce black smoke and soot flakes.
- Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) produces black smoke.
- Acrylics produce a lot of odor.
- Polycarbonate (PC) produces yellowish smoke and soot.
In each of these cases, fumes are producing chlorine, styrene, and other harmful by-products that cause acute effects like irritated skin or eyes, nausea, and headaches – with chronic effects including cancer. The rate at which these toxins are released can vary with your operating temperatures, complicating matters further. A plastic welding operation that wants to scale up has to manage these risks to remain safe and sustainable.
As mentioned above, plastic welding smoke is often dark and mixed with fumes (the finer solid particles). Suspended in these emissions are large and fine airborne solid particles produced by vaporizing and condensing plastic particles, causing the dark color. The transient state of these particles means that they do not remain vaporized or airborne. The result? Condensation of smoke and fumes from plastic welding, leaving behind waxy residues! Setting aside the health and safety concerns of the fumes, these residues will impact and clog your machinery and conventional HVAC systems – driving up maintenance costs and reducing the useful life of your assets. The variation of particle sizes from smoke and fume combinations means that a uniform approach will not mitigate all emissions equally.
Strategies for Industrial Air Filtration and Ventilation
The waxy fumes and smoke from plastic welding are a reality of the production process that should be managed effectively for both safety and the longevity of your shop. This unique challenge is where Aeroex’s air purification systems perform as advertised while some competing air purification systems fall short as they advertise high efficiency, yet provide insufficient airflow to fully mitigate the inbound emissions. To manage waxy residues, a special design is needed to prevent clogging. Otherwise, you will be stuck doing perpetual maintenance without realizing the true benefits you should expect from your air purification system.
Aeroex’s industrial air filtration units use progressive filtration technology where each stage is designed to complement the shortfalls of the last, and ultimately results in longer-lasting filters as well as allows filtration of particulate sized emissions and emissions on the molecular level. . Typically, this is where other air purification systems fall short and get clogged as these systems rely on the filter itself without primary mechanical elements. While these air purification systems “perform” well when brand new or during demos, they don’t have a design that will sustainably deliver the service you need.
Since waxy emissions are a reality of plastic welding, then, there needs to be a way to deal with them in a way that does not impact your maintenance budget significantly. Your competitors are likely dealing with the same issue, due to the nature of plastic welding emissions. The progressive filtration approach allows the wax to accumulate on the primary washable elements, keeping your consumable activated carbon and HEPA filters in an environment where minimal wax residue is able to get through. The primary filtration elements are easily removable and hand-washable, a periodic and very low-cost maintenance activity. This design choice was intentional because it will prevent you from having the frequent filter replacement costs seen in other competitor models.
Industrial Air Filtration Systems Designed for the Long Haul
Future-proofing your business is one of our core mandates, and Aeroex aims to outfit you with quality, made in Canada air purification systems. The longer your systems last, the better your investment return is, something Aeroex has strived for both in design and materials used. The nature of plastic welding is that it will incur costly maintenance to your filters if the correct design is not deployed. Aeroex has developed a solution that will cut through any issues you have had with clogged filters in the past. Our clients regularly report satisfaction at how durable our products are. For instance take Laker Energy, one of our first clients. Their mist collector (a similar product to what we would recommend for plastic welding) is going strong after 15 years, with the SAME FILTER inside – working smoothly after all this time.
Our industrial air filtration systems will cut out the headaches of smoke and fumes during plastic welding, allowing you to focus on the things that matter like scaling up your business into automatic plastic welding. Contact Aeroex to talk to a specialist team member, get the specs, and plan an air purification deployment for your plastic welding operation today.