When it comes to welding fume extraction, a couple of questions are frequently asked. Often it is about the performance, weight or handling of fume extraction torches, but also the service life of welding fume filters in extraction devices or the correct volume flow control are recurring topics.
Since welding fumes are toxic and the extraction of welding fumes should be mandatory to protect employees, we answer the most frequently asked questions about welding fume extraction and clear up common prejudices and concerns so that you can find the perfect solution for you and your welders.
1. Do fume extraction torches perform less?
The use of fume extraction torches is not associated with a loss of performance! So you're not sacrificing performance in exchange for safety and better health protection. Today's fume extraction torches withstand the performance comparison with regular welding torches in the range of 200-500 amperes (air or liquid-cooled) and that in almost every possible situation that you can handle with a standard MIG/MAG welding torch. The functional scope of the torches is also identical.
2. Can I connect fume extraction torches to my welding machine?
Fume extraction torches can basically be configured for industrial welding machines without any problems.
If the welding machine does not have a Euro central connector, connecting it with adapter solutions or suitable hose packages with other power source connections is no problem. In addition to the welding machine, a fume extraction torch must also be connected to an extraction system. There are also suitable connecting hoses or adapter pieces for different hose diameters.
3. Are the outer hoses of fume extraction torches sensitive to fire and how long do they last?
The suction hose of fume extraction torches is made of a special material that can withstand UV rays and heat. As with all hose package components, the outer hose of fume extraction torches must also be replaced from time to time, depending on the conditions of use. However, the hose packages including the outer hose are designed to be so robust that they achieve a long service life when used properly in industrial applications. Additional covers, e.g. made of leather, are available to protect the outer hose.
4. Is the shielding gas also captured by fume extraction torches?
This question arises very frequently with fume extraction torches. Under certain circumstances, improper handling may result in shielding gas being captured as well. Then the atmospheric air reaches the weld seam, which can lead to pore formation and expensive rework. However, if you follow a few simple things, both welding fume extraction and optimum shielding gas coverage are ensured. If the extraction is too strong or too close to the welding process, turbulences will form near the end of the shielding gas nozzle. Therefore, when extracting the fumes, make sure that the air flow, which is only intended to capture the harmful fumes, does not reach the zone of the shielding gas. Many fume extraction torches also offer a slider in the handle to regulate the amount of external air and thus adjust the extraction power. In addition, exact settings can often be made on the extraction unit.
5. Are fume extraction torches heavier compared to standard welding torches?
If you look back at the first generations of fume extraction torches, you can say that this was definitely a problem.
The weight of the additional components to be accommodated in fume extraction torches made them heavier, bulky and unwieldy compared to standard welding torches. A lot has happened in the meantime, and the development of fume extraction torches has placed a lot of emphasis on weight reduction, better accessibility, as well as the ergonomics of the welding torch.
As a result, modern fume extraction torches are much more ergonomic and user-friendly than their predecessor models. The development even goes so far that some fume extraction torches - and this also includes the ABICOR BINZEL fume extraction torches - weigh less than comparable welding torches that do not have a fume extraction function.
6. Is welding with fume extraction torches more physically demanding for my welders, even if it is healthier?
This depends on various factors: Which welding torch was used before? In which welding position do you weld? How heavy is the fume extraction torch being used?
If a heavy, cumbersome fume extraction torch is used, this can affect the welder's endurance. But here, too, the individual exposure to an extraction torch depends on which welding torch was used before and how heavy it was. Since there are now fume extraction torches on the market that can keep up with most standard MIG/MAG welding torches in terms of handling and weight or even weigh less, it is not necessarily assumed that there will be increased physical strain.
The strain also depends on the welding position in which the welder has to work. Overhead or vertical up positions are generally more stressful than horizontal or vertical down positions. In this case, using a heavy fume extraction torch can be more physically demanding and, depending on the welding position, can also negatively affect the extraction performance if less welding fume is captured by holding the fume extraction torch unfavorably than under ideal conditions. For more tips, read our blog Welding correctly with fume extraction torches: 3 practical tips.
Try out which fume extraction torch fits best for your circumstances and see for yourself if you can tell a difference. There are also welding torches available with a ball joint at the connection of the hose package and hose packages that are weight-reduced and similar to those of a MIG/MAG welding torch without extraction. This can improve handling and reduce physical exertion during use.
Protecting the welder by capturing the harmful welding fumes does not have to be paid for by more physically strenuous work.
7. Are there differences in wear parts for fume extraction torches?
With fume extraction torches, the extraction nozzle is the only additional wear part. The structure otherwise corresponds to that of a common MIG/MAG welding torch: gas diffusor, tip holder, contact tip and gas nozzle. At ABICOR BINZEL and most other manufacturers, the wear parts such as the gas diffusor, tip holder and contact tip are exactly the same as with regular MIG/MAG welding torches.
8. Are all filler metals suitable when it comes to fume extraction?
In a nutshell: Yes, fume extraction torches are suitable for every wire - regardless of whether you use flux-cored wire, metal core wire or solid wire as a filler material. However, depending on the wire being used, this can lead to increased welding fumes. When welding with metal core and solid wire electrodes, higher currents are usually used and hotter gas mixtures are generated. Therefore, the welding fume spreads faster and the welding position becomes more difficult for capturing the welding fumes directly at the source.
A common misunderstanding when it comes to fume extraction is with metal core wire. There is a widespread myth that welding metal core wire with a clean gas mixture such as CO2 releases a “clean” smoke that does not need to be captured. Since toxic particles still escape into the ambient air when the base metal is melted, welders and all other employees in the vicinity breathe in these toxic particles when welding is carried out without a suitable extraction torch or extraction system.
When welding cored wire, a clearly visible, thick smoke is generated. In addition, many particles are released that should be captured directly where they are generated. Extraction at the source is significantly simplified, since cored wire is generally used for welding with low currents.
9. How long does the welding fume filter last with an extraction system?
How long welding fume filters last is difficult to predict. In systems with an automatic cleaning mechanism, the filters usually last between 6 and 12 months. In systems without an automatic cleaning process, there are many factors that affect the service life of the welding fume filter: the size of the filter itself, the used filler metal, the base material and the settings for the welding process. When using e.g. high vacuum systems without an automatic cleaning system, the filter may have to be replaced after just two coils of cored wire.
LEV systems usually do not have an automatic monitoring of the filter, i.e. there is no signal to indicate whether the filter is due to being replaced. It is difficult to specify an interval for the filter change, because how long the filter will last depends on the duty cycle, the welding process, the welded material and much more. For fume extraction systems from ABICOR BINZEL, we guarantee a minimum service life of the main filter cassette of at least 4 weeks to 12 months with a daily operating time of 3 to 4 hours.
Regardless of this information, it is important to always keep an eye on the efficiency of the extraction system. If the extraction wears off, the filter should be checked first! In some systems, built-in sensors or displays alert you when the differential pressure in the filter becomes too high.
Read more in our blog What you should consider with welding fume filters.
10. What is the maximum volume flow rate for a fume extraction system? Which volume flow is the right one?
With fume extraction arms, the volume flow should be in the range of 1000-1200 m3/h. With some extraction arms, however, this value is also lower. Compared to solutions that are combined with fume extraction torches, these systems ideally have a higher volume flow and a lower static pressure. It should be noted that the volume flow rate is the main performance indicator for fume extraction systems.
Mobile extraction devices, on the other hand, are rated more according to static pressure and not according to volume flow. The typical range here is 100-170 m3/h.
An important point to keep in mind is that the volume flow mentioned in most product catalogs does not imply any restrictions, which is seldom the case in reality. There is no simple answer to which volume flow is the right one when you connect a fume extraction torch to an extraction system. Since fume extraction torches only allow settings to a limited extent, when choosing a fume extraction system, consider that it must generate a sufficiently high static pressure in order to compensate for the pressure losses that always occur in the torch and to meet the standards. The currently valid standard DIN EN ISO 21904 states that fume extraction torches with a power of >200 A at the extraction nozzle must achieve an induced speed of 0.35 m/s. For fume extraction torches in the power range of <200 A, the required induced speed at the extraction nozzle is reduced to 0.25 m/s.
11. Can I adjust the volume flow directly on the fume extraction system?
There are fume extraction systems where you can adjust the extraction power (min/max) directly at the system. Ask your consulting company about such solutions. With the xFUME® ADVANCED, ABICOR BINZEL offers a fume extraction system with adjustable volume flow control.
Read all about fume extraction in our free eBook: