Thermal cutting dust collection: balancing the variables

Supplier: Donaldson Australasia By: Kirt Boston, Program Manager, Donaldson Torit and Bob Walters, Senior Regional Sales Engineer, Donaldson Torit
06 May, 2013

Thermal cutting dust collection is not a one-size-fits-all affair.

Thermal cutting applications, such as plasma and laser cutting, generate considerable levels of fume and particulate. Plasma and laser cutting are bedrock processes of flexible metal fabrication.

Nevertheless, they produce extremely fine particles that can present a variety of risks detrimental to machinery and employees.

Thermal cutting creates particulate that has to be filtered. Material removed during cutting produces slag, smoke and fine, thermally generated particles.

Slag typically drops to the bottom of the table floor, while smoke and fine particles rise above the work piece unless adequate downward airflow — generated by the dust collection system — overcomes the thermal rise. Particles can range from sub-micron to dozens of microns in size, and controlling them requires a properly selected and installed filtration system.

System designs depend on the cutting environment and process parameters. A large plasma table has different airflow requirements than a small last table. Plasma cutting produces different particle-size ranges than laser cutting.

Even related functions, such as automated material loading systems, affect system designs because of increased cutting time. These factor into design requirements just as much as material type and thickness, cutting kerf widths, and part nesting.

In essence, a well-designed dust collection system should transform the entire cutting work envelope into an effective fume-capture system.

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