Dust collector maintenance variables play a large role in how often you need to service your machine. Unfortunately, ongoing and preventative maintenance for blasting cabinet dust collectors is not a black and white issue. A fixed maintenance schedule won’t work for every machine and every application, but knowing how these ten variables affect dust collector maintenance can help you establish a maintenance schedule that works for your needs.
Pro Tip: A good rule of thumb is the hardest abrasive on any dust collector is one that costs the least like slag and garnet.
Dust Collector Maintenance Variables
- The type of abrasive you’re using. If you’re using a softer abrasive with a shorter recycle rate, your dust collector may need additional cleaning and maintenance.
- The abrasive mesh size you’re using. If you start with a fine abrasive mesh, it will accumulate in the dust collector faster as it wears smaller.
- Separator Reclaimer. A machine with a good separator reclaimer is able to remove the dust and recycle the abrasive for longer, this reduces the dust collector cleaning cycles required and also the dust collector maintenance.
- The blast pressure used. Most direct pressure models can easily exceed maximum abrasive impact velocity, and it’s hard to control this in any manually operated machine. Often operators turn up the pressure to clean faster not realizing they are exploding the abrasive on impact, which quickly builds up in the dust collector as waste. Dry abrasive delivery systems can deliver 5 to 10 pounds per minute and quickly load up the dust collector by being turned into dust.
- The hardness of the part being processed. Harder parts being processed will break down abrasive faster, recycle fewer times, and fill up the dust collector faster.
- The size of the gun you’re using. The amount of cfm being used with blasting pressure will vary the frictional heat in any dry abrasive delivery system. This impacts the abrasive recycle rate and how quickly the dust collector reaches dust storage capacity.
- Your daily machine operation. Some operators feel that using a machine one day a year for 8 hours has no real affect on the general maintenance of the cabinet dust collector so they buy a less expensive model. In reality, if the machine has only a 10% to 25% duty cycle you need to clean the dust collector four to ten times as much because the general suggested cleaning cycles considers only the machine use of 10% to 25% daily duty cycle.
- The amount of abrasive inside the machine. Less abrasive means it’s being recycled more rapidly and will wear out more quickly.
- Some users stay on top the dust collector cleaning cycle, others let the maintenance service interval slide as long as possible. A clean dust collector produces a clean area and best visibility inside the machine. It also puts less stress on the entire system.
- The interval between complete abrasive replenishments. Despite best practices, some people never change the oil in their car and just top it off from time to time. The same is true of abrasive in blast cabinets. Unfortunately, as abrasive wears out it takes longer and longer to process a part costing more in manual labor and machine wear and tear.
Is there a fixed maintenance schedule for a blasting cabinet?
Unfortunately, no. With so many variables impacting machine performance, we can only make suggestions based on normal machine operation for the model purchased. This handy list of dust collector maintenance items is another good reference.
Cleaning and maintaining the dust collector is the responsibility of the user. General Guidelines can be offered based on specific applications and machine models to help establish a good maintenance schedule.
Pro Tip: When first using a blasting cabinet, make sure to monitor the dust collector filters for the first few weeks. This will give you a good idea of how many times or how many hours you can run the equipment before a cleaning cycle is required. Be aware the duration between services can vary greatly with the blower operating the dust collector.
To Sum It Up
Dust collector maintenance variables mean there is no one-size-fits all service schedule. Always remember that changing the blasting pressure, mesh size, type of media, or the hardness of the part being processed will all affect your maintenance needs.
Just because the abrasive is still inside the machine does not mean it should remain inside the machine. Treat blasting cabinets the same as oil in your car – drain it and replace it regularly in accordance with your operational needs.
Pro Tip: You can never have enough dust collector on any blasting cabinet, purchase the most you can budget then add more but make sure it matches the daily duty cycle of the equipment you are thinking about purchasing.