Choosing the right type of dust collector for your industrial woodworking application can improve safety and save money. Wood dust is highly combustible, and as a result, it causes many accidental fires and explosions. Industrial woodworking applications may include cutting, planing, sanding, routing, and sawing. The process and the type of wood help determine your dust collector options.
Wood Dust Filtration Challenges
Many industrial woodworking facilities use several different machines for wood processing. As a result, they produce dust that contains a variety of particle sizes and characteristics. This makes each woodworking dust collection system a unique project.
Because wood dust can absorb water, in a moist environment it can become sticky and start to form clumps of material. Also, wood particles can be sharp-edged and abrasive. The most serious challenge, however, is the highly combustible nature of wood dust. Regardless of the type of dust collection system, it must always include appropriate fire and explosion safety devices.
What Are Your Choices?
Wood dust collection may use any type of dust control system. This includes cyclones, baghouses, and cartridge collectors. Often, a woodworking application may use more than one type of dust collector.
For example, a company that produces large pieces of wood and fine sawdust may use a cyclone to drop out the large material. Then the airflow may proceed to a cartridge collector for the capture of the fine dust. Another company may use a baghouse for wood dust because the material is sticky or fibrous.
First option: a cyclone, which removes large pieces of wood or clumps of sticky material. Because a cyclone doesn’t use any filters, it can handle abrasive or other harsh materials. A cyclone only handles material heavy enough to fall out of the air stream. Lighter dust will pass through.
As part of a wood dust collection system, a cyclone works to remove the rougher materials that might cause problems in a baghouse or cartridge collector. With finer dust, however, you need a dust collector that captures small particles. This means using filters.
One option for a dust collector with filters is baghouse. Baghouses use long cloth bags as filters. These collect dust on the surface. To keep them working efficiently, the baghouse cleans its bags by using fans or compressed air. Older baghouses may shake the bags to clean them, but this is a messy and high maintenance method.
Baghouses excel at capturing fibrous or sticky dust. They can handle very heavy dust loading, and they also handle high temperatures. One serious downside of a baghouse is the work required to change the bags. One baghouse may have hundreds of bags, and nobody wants the job of replacing all of them in a tight, dirty space.
Size can be another issue with baghouses. To provide the needed surface area, baghouses need lots of bags, making them very large. Not all facilities may have any issue with this, but some may seek a smaller, more compact option.
The Cartridge Collector
That smaller option is a cartridge dust collector. The pleated cartridges provide much more surface area in a smaller space. The woodworking industry uses cartridge collectors more often as they prove their usefulness. Woodworking applications such as sanding dry wood produce very fine sawdust.
A cartridge dust collector efficiently captures this fine dust. Pulses of compressed air clean the filters. This gives them a longer filter life, especially in vertical cartridge collectors. Cartridge collectors work well for fine sawdust, but they also work well for dust that contains contaminants that need to be captured.
Some contaminants in wood dust may include resins, adhesives, and dye pigments. Since any of these could cause illness or harm if released into the air, a dust collection system must control these materials. A cartridge collector has the highest filter efficiency for small particles. This means that it captures even very fine dust. With added after-filters, the efficiency goes even higher. Spunbond filter material with PTFE coating will resist most materials, even sticky or damp dust.
What to Consider Before Choosing a Dust Collector for Woodworking
These factors will affect what type of dust collection system you may need. However, this is not a substitute for having your facility assessed by a dust collection professional. Factors include:
- Particle size
- Abrasiveness of dust
- Type of woodworking process
- The moisture content of the material
- Space and cost considerations
- High-temperature conditions
- Amount of dust loading required
- Filter and maintenance costs
For example, a baghouse will require more downtime and maintenance labor to change out filter bags. Cartridge collector filters take less time and effort to replace. On the other hand, bags withstand high temperatures and harsher materials.
Industrial Woodworking Dust Control
Whatever type of dust collection system you choose for your wood dust, make sure the system meets NFPA standards for fire and explosion safety.
Wood dust fires are very common and can spread very quickly. A well-designed system will have safety features to protect people and property. All types of woodworking dust collection require these controls.
Wood dust can easily escape and accumulate around work areas. You can control this fire hazard by using source capture dust collection, where the system captures dust at the source. For example, hoods located over woodworking machines can pull the dust away before it gets loose in the facility.
The best way to find out which type of dust collector is right for your application is to contact one of our dust collection experts. We can discuss your woodworking processes and help you choose the type of system that will work best to control your wood dust.