Chances are if you have never before heard of N95 masks, you have probably become aware of these high-quality masks in the last few weeks. Reports have come in from around the country that our healthcare providers are in dire need of personal protective equipment (PPE) including N95 masks which are also commonly used in construction and fabrication settings. This is why the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also regulate N95 respirators in addition to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
How Are N95 Masks Different from Other Masks?
N95 masks filter out at least 95% of airborne particles. See the infographic below for additional differences between N95 and Surgical masks.
What Do N95 Masks Have to do with Abrasive Blasting?
Media Blast & Abrasive (Media Blast®) is an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) of blasting cabinets for more than 42 years right here in the good old USA. We have used N95 masks in our fabrication facility for years to protect our employees from dust created in the manufacturing process. Protection from small airborne particles is why some construction workers and painters must also wear N95 masks professionally.
Additionally, people who operate poorly constructed abrasive blasters and DIY sandblasting cabinets are often seen wearing N95 masks. Why? The main reason is slow cleaning speed. Often these cabinets come with a smaller gun size is matched with a smaller, cheaper dust collector to get the lowest possible machine price. In addition to a low-cost machine, this results in low frictional heat and a much longer part cleaning time.
ProTip: On average what takes a 12-cfm dry gun 1 hour to clean takes a 24-cfm gun 15 minutes to clean, or a 50-cfm gun 5 minutes to clean, or a 90-cfm gun less than 2 minutes to clean.
Unfortunately, another byproduct of these machines is increased usage of N95 masks. This occurs because the slow cleaning speed of the 12 to 20 cfm blast gun can require hours and hours to clean a larger part and overruns the very small, low-cost dust collector. Not only does this create a messy work environment, it often requires the machine operator to wear a mask that filters the dust particles out of the air.
Media Blast® & Abrasive Cabinets Reduce the Need for N95 Masks
Media Blast® has always been committed to manufacturing high-quality sandblasting cabinets which also helps lower the use of N95 masks. Our cartridge dust collector filters are MERV Tested and Certified for use as dust collector filters. We’re doing our part to help keep the air and work environment around our blast cabinets clean so that machine operators don’t necessarily have to wear an N95 mask. Our goal is to preserve those for our medical professionals and the people that need them.
Our American-made machines include more than 170 separate blasting cabinet models. We pride ourselves in helping customers buy the right machine for their specific needs the first time. Three key elements we use to match each user to the machine best suited to their application are:
- Matching the blasting gun cfm size with user’s needs for part cleaning output to ensure customer satisfaction.
- Making sure the dust collector filter area and blower cfm volume are sized properly for the user’s application. This results in extended time periods between dust collector maintenance, which is particularly important depending on the user’s daily machine operation the abrasive being used.
- Ensuring that servicing the dust collector is as easy as necessary for the user. Some facilities only have operation that have no responsibility of the user for machine service. We can then supply and automatic cleaning dust collector for their application that removes the operator from maintenance service.
Media Blast® offers a full line of Light Duty to Production capacity abrasive blasting cabinets. We offer fifty-seven (57) different Mediablaster® models are available that include: Wet and Dry, Siphon/Gravity Feed & Direct Pressure Abrasive Delivery, Specialty models for Plastic, Soda, Steel Shot, Sandcarving and Micro-Abrasive Flow. Our blast cabinets are designed with Machine Duty Cycles matched to the gun cfm size and daily machine operation (Duty Cycle) based on the user’s compressed air volumes and expectations for machine use. Our machines are available with our Patented Abrasive Separator Reclaimer which is used to clean reusable abrasive during recycle and remove all the dust and spent abrasive. We also offer MERV Tested Cartridge Dust Collector Filtration and HEPA After-Filters for increased dust collector efficiency.
To Sum It Up
There are options besides N95 masks to help keep machine operators safe from harmful particles in the air. More expensive blasting cabinets, such as those manufactured by Media Blast & Abrasive, often have better dust collection, easier semi-automatic dust collector cleaning cycles, and the gun sizes, abrasive separator and blower will be sized to the user’s compressed air and production requirements.