Do Mobile Welding Fume Extractors Work

Date: 27-05-2024

The Pros and Cons of Mobile Welding Fume Extractors

  

The Mobile welding fume extractor suits many Australian workshops, but is not necessarily the best welding smoke extractor system for every application. 

In this guide we cover:

The pros and cons of portable weld fume extractors, or welding smoke extractor, and a comparison with other welding fume control solutions, to help you determine which is the right one for you.

Plus a breakdown of the features and differences to be aware of when comparing portable portable fume extractors for welding. 

 

What is a Mobile Welding Fume Extractor?

What is a Mobile Welding Fume Extractor Illustration

A Mobile Welding Fume Extractor, or fume cart, is a portable device designed to remove harmful fumes and particulate matter generated during welding processes. These extractors typically feature a flexible arm or hose that can be positioned near the welding area to capture fumes at the source. The device filters the captured air to remove contaminants, for a safer and cleaner working environment. Mobile units are equipped with wheels or casters, allowing easy relocation to different workshop areas as needed. 

 

How do Portable Welding Fume Extractors Compare with Other Solutions?

Here we cover some of the key pros and cons of the 4 main types of welding fume extraction system: Mobile Fume Extractors, Fume Extraction MIG/TIG Torches, PAPR Welding Helmets, and Ducted Central Fume Extraction systems:

Fume Control System

Pros ✅

Cons ❌

Mobile Fume Extractor

Portable Weld Fume Extractor Example

  • Extracts fumes at the source
  • Can be moved to different locations
  • Versatile: can be easily deployed, and utilised only where/when needed by each operator
  • Easy to maintain
  • Does not interfere with operator ergonomics or comfort
  • Need to be manually moved to the fume source / welding location
  • In very confined spaces, wall mounted, or other systems may be better option
  • May not suit robotic use / non-stop welding
  • May not suit extremely high fume volume

Fume Extraction MIG or TIG Welding Torch

Fume Extraction MIG Torch

  • Extracts fumes directly at the point of generation for high efficiency removal
  • Eliminates need for additional set up / movement, with extraction point always at the fume source
  • High set up cost: Fume torches costs substantially more than standard torches & each torch requires a dedicated extraction & filtration unit
  • Torch is bulkier, heavier and more cumbersome than standard torches
  • Torch cannot be used in some applications where there there is confined space at the weld joint
  • More complex with additional components to service / repair
  • Ongoing cost of torch consumables can be significantly higher than standard torches
  • Not suitable for Stick/MMA welding

Welding Helmet with PAPR Respirator

PAPR Welding Helmet

  • Relatively low cost for initial purchase
  • Very mobile and allows for unrestricted movement
  • Quickly & easily deployed
  • Powered air provides additional operator comfort
  • Only protects the user
  • Does not remove fumes from the environment, or protect others in the environment
  • Depends on battery power
  • Requires frequent filter replacement
  • Operator carries additional weight & bulk

Ducted / Central Fume Extraction System

Ducted Welding Fume Extraction Example

  • Extracts fumes at the source
  • Suited to large-scale workshops, especially if all workstations are typically active at the same time
  • Minimal maintenance, or down time for operators
  • High cost
  • Time consuming to procure and install
  • Can be inefficient if workstations are used at different times, and/or some workstations are not always utilised
  • Not suitable where portability & flexibility is required

 

Got a Burning Fume Question? Ask Here 

 

Are All Mobile Weld Fume Extractors Similar in Design?

Various brands of portable welding smoke extractor

 

While they serve the same function and may have similar appearance, between different welding smoke extractor brands and models there are some fundamental differences 'under the hood', which can affect:

  • Performance
  • Unit Cost
  • Operating (or 'lifetime') Cost

Here's some of the main differences to be aware of:

1) Air-Flow / Suction Capacity

Obviously you don't want to invest in a fume extractor, only to find that it doesn't have enough airflow or suction power to do the job. There are significant differences between the air flow rate (m3 per hour) between brands and models, so it pays to check this out. Keep in mind that airflow rates are measured when the filter is new/clean, and the advertised flow rate is not the whole story. 

It's also just as important to be aware that the air flow rate typically reduces as the filter becomes full (because there is more air flow obstruction), resulting in lower suction and reduced extraction efficiency.

This can be more significant for some types of filter systems vs others, as shown in the following diagram, and explained in more detail below. 


Air Flow Trend vs Filter Type, as Filter Becomes Full:

Graph of Airflow vs Filter Type in Portable Welding Fume Extractor

 

2) Replacement Filter Costs

This factor is often not given enough consideration prior to purchase of an extraction unit. The two questions here are a) what do replacement filters cost? and b) how often will I need to replace them?

Replacement filters can cost anywhere from around $500 to well over $1,000. However, the price alone is somewhat meaningless without some indication of service life. A filter might be higher cost than others, but last longer in service and result in a lower overall cost.

Determining out how long a filter will last is one of those "how long is a piece of string" questions. There are so many factors and variables that can affect the service life (volume of fume, frequency of use, etc), that most manufacturers will only provide a ballpark figure at best.

To get some indication, or comparison, of the "lifetime" filter costs between one unit and another, it's critical to understand the type of filter system used. Read on!

 

3) Filter System

All mobile extractors have replaceable filters. The three main types of filters used are Box Filters, Disposable Cartridge Filters, and Cleanable Cartridge Filters, and here's how they compare:

Type

Pros ✅

Cons ❌

Box (or Cassette) Filter

Usually box-like in shape, typically comprising of main filter plus pre-filter mats and mesh/gauze spark arrestor.

Example of Box Filter for Welding Fume Extractor

  • Can be larger size / capacity with higher surface area and last longer in a single-use comparison
  • Replacing rather than cleaning can be more convenient for the operator
  • Pre-filter prevents larger particles entering main filter & can be replaced at lower cost
  • Don't require access to compressed air (for cleaning)
  • Not cleanable / re-usable
  • More frequent main filter replacement / cost
  • Pre-filter replacement costs & down-time
  • Operating cost over service life of the extractor is typically much higher than cleanable filters
  • Without ability to clean, as the filter becomes full, air flow (suction) decreases and unit/motor has to work harder
  • The larger the filter, the more strain on the motor
  • Operators may replace filters before they are completely full, to rectify airflow drop (more cost)
  • Every particle, large or small, that enters into the unit settles on/into the filter system = faster clogging, decreased air flow
  • Even with spark arrestor mesh in place, any hot particles 'sit' on top of the filter assembly which increases the risk of burnout/fire
  • Risk of burnout/fire is increased further if the operator neglects to replace spark arrestor

Disposable (Non-Cleanable) Cartridge Filter

Single disposable unit, without pre-filters. 

Example of Disposable Cartridge Filter for Mobile Fume Extractor Cart

  • Can be larger size / capacity with higher surface area and last longer in a single-use comparison
  • Replacing rather than cleaning can be more convenient for the operator
  • Don't require access to compressed air (for cleaning)
  • Not cleanable / re-usable
  • More frequent filter replacement / cost
  • Filters can be higher cost due to size
  • Operating cost over service life of the extractor is typically much higher than cleanable filters
  • Without ability to clean, as the filter becomes full, air flow (suction) decreases, and unit/motor has to work harder
  • The larger the filter, the more strain on the motor
  • Operators may replace filters before they are completely full, to rectify airflow drop (more cost)

Manually-Cleanable Cartridge Filter

Designed to be cleaned and re-used, with compressed air nozzle via a special access door.

Cleanable Cartridge Filter on AllClear Mobile Welding Fume Extractor

  • Significantly lower operating costs as filters are designed to be cleaned and re-used many times
  • There is no pre-filter to replace, further reducing cost
  • With cleaning, air flow (suction) is higher & more consistent, and unit/motor does not have to work to overcome a large volume of dust in the filter

 

  • Some operator down time required to clean filters periodically (unless unit has auto cleaning function, see below)
  • Compared to some other types, can be smaller in surface area, and hold less fume dust in a single-use comparison
  • Requires access to compressed air for cleaning

 

 

 

Auto-Cleanable Cartridge Filter

Designed to be cleaned and re-used, with compressed air via a built-in automatic cleaning system.

Cleanable Cartridge Filter on AllClear Automatic Mobile Welding Fume Extractor

Same advantages as above, plus:

  • Saves operator down-time (start cleaning cycle at end of shift & walk away)
  • Extends filter life & reduces costs even further due:
  • Very even, automated 'pulse jet' cleaning that maintains good filter condition
  • Allows for more (hundreds) of use cycles per filter before replacement is required
  • Frequent and very thorough cleaning further improves air flow consistancy and reduces flow drop
 
  • Requires access to compressed air for cleaning

Pre-Separator Impact Plate

In addition to cleanable filters, ALLCLEAR units also have a Pre-Separator 'Impact Plate' that shields main filter from coarse particles & sparks, and redirects them to a dust collection tray/bin.

  • Further increases filter life & costs by keeping larger particles out of the filter
  • Significantly reduces the risk of burnout/fire, as sparks & larger hot particles are diverted away from the filter
  • Is a fixed component & not reliant on an operator 'remembering' to replace a spark filter
n/a

 

Ask a Question | Get a Quote 

 

ALLCLEAR Mobile Welding Smoke Extractors by Weldclass

AllClear welding smoke extractor range

 

If you're considering a mobile welding fume extractor, or want to know more, we'd love to help. The ALLCLEAR range of mobile extraction units by Weldclass have been tried and proven in Australia for many years.

ALLCLEAR units offer a unique combination of features, that continue to deliver value long after the initial purchase, including:

  • Low operating costs & proven reliability
  • Cleanable cartridge filter for extended life and significantly lower filter replacement costs
  • Exceptional suction power with max air flow rate of up to 3,500 m3/hr
  • Cleanable cartridge allows for consistant suction, with minimal flow drop
  • Pre-Separator 'impact plate' shields filters from coarse particles & sparks & redirects them to the dust collection tray, significantly reducing the risk of burnout and further increasing filter life
  • Large surface area filters with high filtration efficiency
  • Patented dust collection tray/bin allows fast & safe removal of dust ejected from filter cleaning
  • Exhaust airflow is directed upwards & away from the floor/ground, for minimal disturbance of dust in surrounding environment
  • 3 Year Warranty offer
  • 100% Australian owned, operated, & supported
  • Range of units available with manual and auto cleaning, 1ph or 3ph power, single or twin arms

Mobile Extractor Selection Chart 

For more info, or to get a quote, complete the enquiry form below.

 

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This article is intended to assist with enquiries regarding: How do I choose a fume extractor?, Welding fume extraction systems australia, Welding fume extractor australia, Welding fume extractor portable, Why are fume extractors so expensive? How do Allclear Mobile Fume Extractors compare with other brands?

While all care has been taken to ensure the information presented is accurate, Weldclass accepts no responsibility for any errors or omissions in this article. The information given is of a general nature only, intended to provide readers with a basic overview of the topics presented, does not take into account the specific circumstances of any individual application or situation, may be simplified and/or abbreviated, will not be a complete or exhaustive resource, and should not be used as a substitute for professional advice or personal research and due diligence. All applicable standards, industry guidelines and regulations should be consulted and followed. E.& O.E.