Options for Controlling Graphite Dust
Depending on the amount of graphite being machined, dust can become a dilemma in some shops. Precautions should always be taken to avoid health problems caused by graphite dust. Wearing safety glasses and gloves is always recommended. It is also important to determine a method of dust removal while machining graphite, as dangers to the respiratory system are most serious. There are two main means of removing dust- either with a high air velocity system or the wet graphite machining process.
Shops that machine smaller amounts of graphite might consider a portable dust collection system like a “shop vac” that can be easily moved from station to station. This is a simple and inexpensive method, but special attention must be paid to the filter as submicron particles must be captured. Another vacuum option (recommended for shops that machine larger amounts of graphite) is the installation of vacuum heads on each machine. These heads are connected to a high velocity duct system, which transports dust into a collection system located outside the building.
Wet graphite machining is the other option for dust collection. This method employs streams of fluid, which are directed around the spindle head and capture dust before it can become airborne. This process requires filtration to remove graphite sludge as the fluid is recycled in the system. Rust inhibitors should also be used in conjunction with this method in order to protect the machine tool. Wet graphite machining can become somewhat complicated, but is a trusted method for dust removal.
So high air velocity or wet machining? It is important to evaluate the most reasonable and appropriate dust removal system for any facility that machines graphite, as each has unique arrangements and practices.