We are looking for an industrial vacuum for our powder coating department. What are our choices? Are there any regulations I need to follow when it comes to an industrial vacuum?
Powder Coating VacuumsWe are looking for an industrial vacuum for our powder coating department. What are our choices? Are there any regulations I need to follow when it comes to an industrial vacuum?
There are several types of industrial vacuums commonly offered for your application. Portable vacuums are available in single-phase electric (typically with brush-type motors for 115 V power) or three-phase electric power, and compressed air-powered vacuums. Central or stationary vacuum systems typically operate on three-phase power. Shop-type vacuums have been used for many years, but powder coaters and their insurance companies have become better educated about the risks associated with using those vacuums in an industrial environment.
As far as regulations, powder coatings themselves have explosive potential in the proper (or improper) conditions, so most powder coaters are trying to reduce their risks. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the Powder Coating Institute (PCI) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have taken positions that should influence your decision when specifying a vacuum for your powder coating facility. NFPA 77 addresses static electricity and the need for proper grounding and bonding of equipment. PCI Technical Bulletin No. 16 states that all equipment (including vacuum cleaners) used in the powder coating environment must be grounded for the safety of personnel and facilities. OSHA's General Safety Rule states that all employees have a right to work in a safe environment.
Air-Powered VacuumsI have heard that an air-powered vacuum is my lowest cost option. How do I know if I have enough compressed air to operate one?
The purchase price of an air-powered vacuum is only a small portion of the lifetime cost. Compressed air consumption varies greatly from one brand of air vac to another. So, you might save some money on the purchase price of one brand, but you will pay for it later in the compressed air consumption. A good rule of thumb is that that a typical compressor will generate 3 to 5 scfm of compressed air at 90 psi per 1 bhp (brake horsepower). An air-powered vacuum might require 35 scfm @ 60 psi to operate properly and that translates to a 10 to 15 bhp air compressor. Another brand might require 60 to 100 scfm @ 100 psi. The volume of compressed air (scfm) is the critical component for optimum performance. You must maintain the manufacturer's minimum pressure as long as the vacuum is operating.
Compressed air is more expensive to produce, but an air-powered vacuum has a much lower maintenance cost over its 10- to 20-plus-year lifespan. Also, an air-powered vacuum will not burn out if it is operated continuously with a clogged filter.
Filtration is another consideration. A good filter and filter cleaning system could mean the difference between success and failure of your vacuum. PTFE filter media, also known as DuPont's Teflon, has great dust release characteristics and an efficiency of more than 99 percent for particles greater than 0.5 to 1.0 micron.
Without a good filter cleaning device such as a pulse-jet filter cleaner or manual filter shake mechanism, you will spend more time cleaning the vacuum cleaner than using it to clean the powder booth. Also, the filter media should be static-conductive and part of a bumper-to-bumper bonding and grounding design to satisfy NFPA and PCI.