A solder fume extractor is the machine used to evacuate solder fumes from a working environment. Solder fumes are the particles generated during a soldering process. Soldering is a process in which two or more metal items are joined together by melting; a filler metal, having a low melting point, is then flowed into the joint. This technique is used mainly in manufacturing electronic components. When melting the metals, fumes and micro particles form from the material and these substances are harmful to our body. Therefore, a solder fume extractor is required to remove the harmful substances.
The solder fume extractor is essentially a system which contains a fan to pull the fumes and particulate matters into a filtration system that extracts the harmful chemicals and particulates from the air. The performance of a solder fume extractor is majorly determined by the filtration system. The solder fume extractors, depending on the applications and models, can utilize a variety of filters. The higher the quality of the filtration media is, the more efficient a solder fume extractor can filter out the harmful chemicals from the air.
Solder fumes are created as a result of the soldering process for manufacturing electronic products. The fumes contain a range of acid particles based on the materials that are melted and these particulates can result in long term discomfort and health conditions. Solder fumes are airborne particles; they enter the human body through the upper airway passages or eyes. Once they enter the eyes, nose, mouth or skin, they cause symptoms such as coughing, shortness of breath, allergy, irritation, headaches and dizziness. The use of a solder fume extractor is a relatively effective way to avoid these conditions.
A solder fume extractor mainly consists of a fan and a filtration system. The exhaust fan serves as a drive to pull the air that contains the solder fumes into the filtration system. The air is transported into the filtration system through a ducting. After the air is freed from the harmful particulates, it will be released back into the room air through an exhaust port. The filtration system consists of a series of filter media. As the air passes through the media, the fumes and particles will be captured and extracted from the air. Therefore the air that is released from the machine is cleaned. The three common types of filter media include pre-filters, HEPA filters and carbon filters.
Typically made of pleated cotton, the pre-filters are able to trap particulate matter and fumes in relatively larger sizes. The substances that cause choking and irritation can be extracted from the air by this type of filter. The particles that are trapped by the pre-filters can be seen in the filtration media. The pre-filters can be cleaned only by a vacuum cleaner; water cleansing is not recommended. The filtration power declines through use; it is thus required to be replaced periodically. They do not filter out odors and gases.
The HEPA Filters are considered the most effective choice among the options. HEPA stands for high efficiency particulate air, or high efficiency particulate absorbing and high efficiency particulate arrest. This type of filters is made of fiberglass and they are capable of trapping very fine particulates in the air. According to the US Department of Energy, the authority approved HEPA filters should be able to remove up to 99.97% of airborne particles. The true HEPA filters can extract smaller substances that cause allergy and asthma. They cannot be cleaned and need to be replaced. Like pre-filters, the HEPA filters do not filter out odors and gases.
Carbon filters are sometimes referred to as the activated carbon filters. They are made up with a series of carbon filters which aims at filtering out small particles and fumes that are created during a laser cutting operation. The key feature of this type of filtration system is that it filters out not only fumes and airborne substances but also odors. They can be cleaned to extend the life too but the periodical replacement is still required. The operator or technicians know it is time to replace the carbon filters when the fume extractor no longer extracts odors.
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