It may come as something of a surprise, but the primary drivers of shorter-than-expected filter life are actually nothing to do with the filters themselves.
Filter capacity in a BOFA fume and dust extraction system will be closely aligned to a number of considerations – how the extractor is set up, the process, materials being worked, and how an operator maintains the technology on a day-to-day basis.
We asked Josh Evans, Applications Engineer at BOFA, for his insights into extending filter life.
“Generally, there are two principal causes of shorter than expected filter life:
- Check whether the hose between the extractor and the process is too restrictive (too long, too narrow, numerous bends or diameter changes). If this is the case, the extractor will have to work harder. So, for example, if it is losing 50% of its pressure capacity within the ducting system, this will only leave 50% of the capacity to draw air through the filters, hindering overall performance and decreasing time to filter blockage.
- Setting the airflow rate too high on the extractor can also cause issues. If the motors are running at close to maximum speed to deliver the required performance, there is little room left to speed up as filters start to block. In this situation, reducing the flow rate may not capture the fume effectively, which defeats the object of the technology. The point here is that if you need to set the flow rate at very high rates to capture the fume effectively, that’s usually an indication that you need to move to an extractor with a higher capacity.
“Filter life is also impacted by the process and the materials used within the process. For example, when MDF is lasered it often generates lots of small particles, which can cause the more expensive HEPA filter to block quicker than the pre-filter. So, to help extend the HEPA filter life, the operator should invest in a higher efficiency pre-filter – BOFA engineers can advise on the most appropriate set-up for any given process.
“Operators should also consider whether they can reduce the volume of particles or gases they are generating in their processes to optimize filter life. In soldering, for example, turning down the temperature of the solder iron will reduce the amount of particles given off from the process. In laser coding, if it’s possible to reduce the depth of the code while maintaining the desired mark quality, this will emit fewer emissions and increase filter life.
“It’s also worth checking whether it’s possible to change the feedstock or materials being worked. Sometimes, this can result in lower emissions and longer filter life, and also lead to raw materials cost savings.
“Finally, it’s worth reflecting on the role of system control in filter life. BOFA’s Intelligent Operating System (iQ) independently monitors each filter within an extraction system, making it easier for manufacturers to identify any filters blocking faster than anticipated. In this instance, a system log can be downloaded and shared with BOFA engineers, who can assess any root cause of premature filter blockage.”
For help and advice on your filters, speak to a member of the BOFA team via our LiveChat service.