Composite machining is generating a lot of combustible dust. Therefore, most workplaces in this sector need to use dust extraction and collection systems to maintain a safe working environment for the employees. By using systems that are customized, configured and optimally dimensioned for your production you can also reduce energy consumption, increase production efficiency and avoid downtime.
Risks of combustible dust in composite machining
When processing composite materials by using methods such as cutting, grinding, milling or polishing, the materials release harmful and potentially explosive dust, particles and fibers. The amount of combustible dust released in composite machining is particularly high compared to many other sectors and this brings some risks.
Firstly, if the combustible dust spreads in a workplace it will negatively affect both breathing air and product quality. To safely join components made of composites, such as aircraft parts and blades for wind turbines, clean and dust-free surfaces are essential. Secondly, when dust covers equipment used in the production process it will impact maintenance frequency and machinery uptime. Thirdly, if the dust should explode inside the workplace the consequences can be disastrous for employees, production equipment and the facility.
Optimally configured dust extraction and collection systems
The first and most important step is to minimize the occurrence of fine, potentially explosive, dust in the air by capturing the dust right at the source to prevent it from spreading. This is usually done by using tools with dust extraction hoods when grinding and polishing the composite material. It is also important to use cleaning equipment to facilitate the important housekeeping to avoid dust accumulation on the floor or other machinery.
Using a dust extraction and collection system does not mean that explosions due to combustible dust will never occur. However, if an explosion would occur, the system controls the explosion by containing it inside the dust collector’s filter unit instead of in the open workplace, provided that the filter unit is strong enough and able to release or suppress an explosion in a safe way.
The right dimensioning and configuration of the dust extraction and collection system is decisive to improve safety, air quality as well as energy and production efficiency. For example, if the system has too low capacity, dust will remain in the air, and the purpose of the system is lost. Using an over dimensioned system may improve air quality but also require unnecessary energy use. In addition, if the system is not suitable to the specific workplace, an explosion can result in unnecessary production downtime.
Nederman’s solutions contribute to high production efficiency, minimized energy use and future-proofing
At Nederman, we always create customized and configured solutions to meet the specific needs of our customers. There are various aspects to this configuration. Instead of having one large system, Nederman’s modular designed system can provide backup capacity to the factory if a breakdown in one area would occur. The factory can then choose to disconnect only the damaged filter unit instead of shutting down the whole system. This means a bit reduced production capacity while fixing or replacing the damaged filter, but the factory can still keep the production running which is highly valued.
Nederman’s modular designed system also enables you to automatically disconnect and connect the individual filter units to fit your actual production flow, which will reduce energy consumption. Another important aspect is the dimensioning of the entire system. By customizing the dimensioning to the specific factory we can make sure that all combustible dust gets extracted with minimum energy use. In addition, the modular design makes it easy to change the capacity to fit future needs.
Providing a global manufacturer or rotor blades for wind turbines with energy-efficient filtration systems
Apart from customization and configuration, we are continuously working to make our products as energy efficient and long-lasting as possible. With high-quality and reliable solutions we want to contribute to increased safety, production efficiency and uptime in our customers’ operations. A global manufacturer of rotor blades for wind turbines compared the energy consumption of different solutions; one tailored by Nederman against those of our competitors. Their analysis indicated that while Nederman’s offering consumes 340,000 kWh, other filtering solutions consumed 510,000 kWh - a 33% efficiency gap.
Our customer has a strong focus on sustainable production and manufacturing their large blades takes place in facilities close to where the wind turbines will be installed. Nederman now delivers energy-efficient filtration systems to their manufacturing sites worldwide with short delivery time. This is achieved thanks to Nederman’s global organization with manufacturing sites on five continents.
Since the amount of combustible dust is relatively high in composite machining, extraction and filtration systems are always required. In the European Union, employers are referred to the ATEX directives to create a safe workplace. Do you have any questions regarding ATEX or how to be compliant? Feel free to contact us! Also, visit our Knowledge Center for more interesting blog articles.